Monday, 12 March 2012

Councillor Jarrett's Waterloo

The Bus station is Jarrett's Waterloo
During last month's preamble and budget Statement Councillor Alan Jarrett, deputy leader of the Conservative group and the portfolio holder for Finance within the council stated that he was lied to about the costs involved in Medway's "Dynamic Water front Bus facility" by Medway Renaissance and that he was unaware, until it was too late, that the Council would have to pour more money into the project to complete it.

This move has been welcomed by some members of the Council who have said that it is about time that officers face the music as well as portfolio holders. The example of Cllr Wicks and the failed "Medway Test" fiasco in which he bore the brunt of the blame even though an equal if not greater share could have been passed down to his lead officer who had a significant part in the organising of the test.

However, for blame one must look to the top. After the fateful day in 1815, who was considered to have lost the Battle of Waterloo? Was it Marshall Ney for squandering the cavalry on a ridiculous charge against Maitland's infantry formations? Was it Marshall Grouchy for failing to march his 30,000 men to the sound of the guns and appearing on Wellington's flank? No... the blame fell squarely upon Napoleon Bonaparte himself and so must it fall upon Councillor Jarrett.

If he was not informed he is to blame for not finding out. He IS the head of finance in the council, should he not have taken a greater look, paid more of an interest in this project?
In fact, some of Medway Renaissance (which conveniently no longer exists) argued that he did know and was kept informed by regular meetings and emails.

I must apologise for this, regular readers will know that I normally site my sources of information but this time I am forced to use an anonymous source and ask my readers to trust me on the reliability of it. I cannot name my source but I trust them implicitly and they have no reason to lie so please - trust me as I trust them.

I have been reliably informed by a source that those on the planning committee  for the Bus station (including Councillor Jarrett) were informed that the glass sections would go from floor to ceiling and that each enclosed passenger area would have automatic doors. They were also told that it was going to go over budget.

Indeed, Brian Weddell former head of Medway Renaissance has argued that Medway Renaissance did a lot of  good work and was monitored by elected members quite closely and indeed;

The Question is, against this background, why would anyone on the Medway Renaissance team lie? It is worth noting that the team was disbanded in March 2011. It seems odd that questions over the building programme have come to light one year later as the accounts should have been settled by the end of the summer 2011.
(sited in the Letters page from Medway Messenger 9-3-12)

This is a very good question. Councillor Jarrett has said that he is considering legal action against the group but it has taken a year for this to come to light - why not when the bus station so spectacularly failed to launch?

Other problems with his recent budget is the claims that they are having to deal with the cuts from central Government that have occurred over the past two years. My question is;

Why has the council not seen this coming? After all we knew in 2009 that there was going to be a financial storm approaching and that money was going to be short. This was confirmed when the Coalition was formed in May 2010 and the "No more Money" note was found.
Surely the time to start making savings and looking at the future was then.

No, Medway Council, like the proverbial cricket failed to put anything away for the winter and carried on spending money hand over fist and have suddenly found themselves without the money to maintain services as they should be. In fact, with poor planning they have cost the Medway tax payer more money with the cockups over photocopiers, Woodlands School rebuild, contested fines over the dubious practises of the CCTV car, the list goes on.

This lack of foresight has cost us, the Medway residents and we should see something for it.

Councillor Jarrett may have done a fantastic job in the past but he has failed spectacularly over the bus station, spending and forecasting and like Napoleon he should be forced to stand down.

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