We all know that the Dear Leaders foray into business was exporting fags to Africa from a now defunct company trading out of the bowels of the Tory Party HQ in Chelsea Manor Street, although his CV curiously doesnt mention that, if you click here, or here, or even here. So when our council starts to flirt with business eyebrows at least should be raised, and checks and balances scrutinised - especially as it inevitably involves public money.
In this day and age councils can look to the private sector to come up with the cash to do the necessaries and provided there is an incentive for the company to do it, they frequently do. And yes, making money out of education is a bit of a sore point, but the books they buy, electricity they use and so on are all bought from companies that make a profit, so if the building was erected by a plc, whats the difference?
At the end of the day its quality of education in a fee-free school that counts, rather than if it was provided in a school built by a private company or not.
While she broadly agrees with the previous statement, that doesnt give anyone the right or the obligation to write a blank cheque, or to be a little more blunt if you excuse the venacular take the p*ss and cream from the tax payer as much as possible.
You only have to look at Mssrs Morley, Devine and Ilsley for that, and not forgetting Lord Taylor who also had his snout caught in the trough.
So, provided there are safeguards, as it is our very own Dear Leaders words "Council business belongs out in the open, where residents can keep a close eye." taxpayers money should be respected and treated as if it were their own they were spending.
Now that got Hornet kind of wondering........
Hornet has learned of some very disturbing facts under the "bonnet' of the Great Leaders Trophy Project "Holland Park School.
Far from this project being financed by the sale to Native Land of the Southern Site for £105,000,000 RBKC has amazingly taken on the role of Banker and is currently financing the bulk of the re-building costs out of its reserves. Needless to say this is adding significantly to the overall cost by way of interest- some £4million to date!
The bulk of the sale price will be paid as and when Native Land take possession of the Southern site though this is not a certain outcome.To date Native Land have not submitted their revised plans to the Major Planning Committee.Indeed the gossip on Hornton Street is that there are still ongoing discussions with the Planning department and the applicant about the provision of affordable housing which may or may not be resolved to the Councils satisfaction.
Just imagine the costs and conditions that would have been imposed by professional bankers if indeed Native Land could even find a bank to lend them £105,000,000. But there was not such problem since the Bankers of Hornton Street came to the rescue.Where RBS feared to tread RBKC was only too willing to oblige. So the project is now budgeted at £84,000,000 and rising with further costs to come- namely more interest,affordable housing and other unplanned for contingencies.
For instance there was a complete failure to budget for off site exam space-dismissed at the recent Cabinet meeting by the Dear Leader as "no surprise" even though it was not included in the original budget and the contingency fund had to be raided to the tune of £500,000! Part of the rationale of this project was that £105,000,000 was meant to produce a significant surplus which is rapidly disappearing and who knows could end up in a deficit!
What all this makes clear is that "Trophy Projects" have a life of their own far removed from the real world of the current economic climate of slashed budgets.This is particularly the case in K&C where there are no serious checks and balances in the system.Therefore our "Great Leaders" have no problems spending "Other Peoples Money", ie, yours; to realise their "Trophies" be it a Bentley,Chinese Granite roads or indeed Holland Park School.
Ratepayers were originally given a budget cost of £33 million for this Trophy project. Already the costs are rushing towards £100 million. The personal ambition of the Great Leader to build his Statue of Liberty in Holland Park was so out of touch with political reality that the school is now a policy White Elephant. Michael Gove's new Education Policy calls for small schools, in keeping with today's educational and social needs.
The ostrich farm that is Hornton Street is splurging £100 million of taxpayers money to rebuild a 1500 pupil school - and not creating one extra educational place in the process. In the meantime a whole generation of students (1500 of them) are condemned to a building site for the most important period of their lives.