As the dust now settles following Tuesday’s annual budget pantomime in Shitty Hall (short version: MASSIVE CUTS! HUGE JOB LOSSES! OUR CITY RUN BY MORONS!), it looks like fun times are ahead.
Meanwhile, as the party barons bicker amongst themselves over exactly who is responsible for precisely which pile of crap we are all going to be forced to bite down on over the coming year, it’s City Director NICOLA ‘LADY GAGA’ YATES – the city’s six-figure salaried second-choice chief executive – who has been selling the shit sandwich diet to staff.
The fact that it took her the best part of two days to dream up anything halfway optimistic does not bode well, but try she did, with a round-robin message to all staff that she sent out today.
Naturally, the grim news that she will be “reducing the number of people who work for the organisation by around 800 [full time positions]” is left till the end, along with what might be a contender for Least Convincing Promise Of The Year: “I want to say again that wherever possible my commitment absolutely remains to avoiding compulsory redundancies.”
As convincingly as any £160,000-a-year career sacker can try, she attempts to project optimism, claiming that “many” of the £83 million-worth of savings that have to be made “will come from doing things more efficiently including – redesigning services, refocusing resources for the areas that need them most, squeezing more from our contracts and raising income.”
In other words: HELP! WHERE THE HELL IS THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM?!
Certainly if Gaga’s own approach to thrift is anything to go by, we’re all screwed. Look at her published expenses, which totalled around £3,800 for just ten months.
At first glance, nothing spectacularly bad – but when you get into the detail, you realise these are the expenses of the sort of overpaid idiot who thinks .
A Zones 1-2 Underground ticket for one of her trips to London cost us £11.80 – when in fact the TfL fares chart helpfully demonstrates that the cash fare for a single journey is just £4.70 (making it a £9.40 round trip), with electronic ‘Oyster’ fares capped at £8.40 for a whole day of journeys, and One Day Travelcards costing no more than £9.
Similarly, a return train trip to London to a scheduled event was charged to us at £72.50 – when according to the National Rail Enquiries website typically such a journey, booked a fortnight in advance, would cost from around £50-£60, with even bigger savings for earlier booking.
A 1.5 mile taxi journey from City Hall to Portland Square is charged at £7.90, when the Council’s own Final Agreed Tariff Card would have it at £5.30 (plus 20p per 40 seconds of waiting time). Perhaps Gaga got stuck in a ten minute traffic jam and was just TOO POSH TO WALK!
Neither could she be bothered to walk up (or down!) Park Street, so instead she had us fork out £13.60 on a return taxi journey to Bristol Uni for a meeting with well-dodgy Vice Chancellor (and notable Merchant Venturer) Eric Thomas. That’s right – £13.60 for a round trip of BARELY A MILE!
A return trip from Council House to the M-Shed is so obviously taking the piss that it even has its own excuse note: “Not enough time between important meetings to walk”. Well, by foot it’s a mere half-a-mile away – that’s a stroll of five-to-ten minutes. Driving, due to the traffic management around the Centre and the Harbourside, it’s most likely a car journey of approximately two miles, taking about, erm, ten minutes!
And so on, and so on.
And this is the person trusted to find £83 million in savings by “doing things more efficiently”!
What was that old saying? ‘Watch the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves’?
Well, not if Gaga’s in charge of the penny-surveillance!