Gina Davidson, Edinburgh Evening News, 17th February:
The trick which Jenny Dawe and Steve Cardownie have performed in the last week is certainly worthy of membership of the Edinburgh Magic Circle. Unfortunately for them, it looks likely that the public will see what their miraculous £26 million spending spree just weeks before the council elections really is – a fiscal illusion.
A straw poll of friends and relatives gave one reaction to the news that, as if from nowhere, the council had discovered millions to spend on services – it’s an election bribe.
Gina Davidson presents a strong case with the observation that this is all being funded by an unexpected £22m windfall from the Scottish Government.
In the paper itself, on the facing page, we were reminded by the transport leader, Gordon “Full Tram Route” Mackenzie, that the present Council’s “initiative” of getting road repairs “Right First Time” (yes, really) has won an award. Seems it’s the sort of award you actually have to take time out to apply for and invariably pay a submission fee – it’s not exactly being singled out for a well deserved yet unexpected prize!
Before we all start dancing around road cones and temporary traffic lights in unbridled celebration it might be useful to dig below the surface.
At an awards dinner over in Derry/Londonderry way back in September 2010, the City of Edinburgh Council does appear to have won an award for filling potholes. The Association for Public Service Excellence did actually hold such an event. It was hosted by an Irish TV personality and sponsored by the Local Authorities Caterers Association.
No less than 300 submissions were received for a mere 22 awards and the hopefully fun packed evening was no doubt thoroughly enjoyed by the 400 people attending from Councils all over the UK – what a worthwhile night out.
You may be interested to know that Cornwall Council won the award for “Best service team – Highways, winter maintenance and street lighting” – so well done them.
Our Council got a prize for fixing potholes and presumably 278 Councils spent time filling in application forms and not getting an award at all!
I am really only half interested to know if anyone from our Council actually flew over to the Emerald Isle to collect the award and if their hotel was nice. Maybe there are some photos of the event which we could all share?
Ryanair’s booking desk awaits reservations to fly off to collect the “Most disappointing, expensive and unnecessary tram project in the world” and “most outstanding mismanagement of Statutory Repairs ever” awards.
Anyway, 8,000 extra pothole repairs it is from the Scottish Government’s £22m – all filled in under the “initiative” of Right First Time too. Surely, Edinburgh deserves more.
I wonder if any airline pilots or surgeons have taken time out to send money and fill in a form for an “award” for doing exactly what we hope and expect they should do?? Right First Time indeed.