grey_man

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grey_man last won the day on July 18

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  1. Like I said, a lot of people know who I am. I have no problem with that. And as a journalist myself, I also understand the restrictions. I'm just not sure that it takes much time and effort when the council issues a press release to say that it has increased the budget for its largest investment to ask 'by how much?' Doesn't take hours to ask, nor to type the sentence 'Although the council has revealed the costs in the past, it has now chosen not to'. It's like it doesn't take much work to have a look at Live Wire's accounts and raise your eyebrows at some of the numbers. So, I suspect that the decision not to dig into uncomfortable matters is based on politics and the need to maintain relationships (which I do understand) than it is about resources. I am reminded of the great work the Rothpol blog has always done with its local issues, purely because it is not constrained in the same way as the local media by commercial and political expediency. This is not a criticism. I do it myself in my own sphere, whereas some independent bloggers don't have to. I wouldn't try to argue it's because I don't have the time, however. As for Dan Price, I didn't need to experience him behaving like he did to know he was deluded. That was apparent about him and everybody else who thought for even a moment Warrington would even be shortlisted for City of Culture. All I'll say about the two exchanges we had is that he exhibited classic DARVO behaviour. As I said to him, however, I hope he's right that we're in a new era for the town with regard to culture and heritage. It's long overdue.
  2. PS. I've recently had a very interesting exchange of emails with Dan Price about the City of Culture bid and Live WIre etc. I maintain that he's a generally well meaning but deluded councillor, but he didn't half take exception to certain opinions and questions. Resorted to misrepresenting my opinions to create a straw man before degenerating into plain old abuse So, I was intrigued to read that Helen Jones shares my views on Live Wire and the libraries and have goaded him about that, for my own entertainment. That will be my last word with him. I just hope he's able to deliver on what he expects. He's quite the snowflake, takes everything personally, thinks disagreement is 'harassment' and is clearly happier punching out at voters than his fellow party members with the same views. Bless him. The reporting about the story on this is interesting. Although Helen Jones and Live Wire have both 'welcomed' the review, it's fair to say that they've done so from very different perspectives.
  3. I can sort of see where Gary is coming from. I'm active nationally in culture and the arts but it's an easy enough criticism to make of people commenting on an internet messageboard, Having said that I'm more than happy to communicate and meet with the people I talk about, and have done. It seems easy to suggest that people who go by monikers like 'grey_man' are hiding, but the truth is that most of us are perfectly happy to share our real names and contact details on a one to one basis, but just don't want them plastered all over the Internet. Judging by the number of people in the council who I have contacted and who've looked at my LinkedIn profile, they know who I am. I just happen to think they get an easy ride from the local media. If you take an issue like the town centre development, they supposedly held talks with the cinema firm about hosting a theatre. I don't know why they thought this might happen, but there you go. The local media should have pressed the council on why IT wasn't taking responsibility for the long overdue creation of a theatre in the town, given the golden chance the development gave them. Then you have to ask why the media didn't ask the council about the recently revised cost of the development. The council has always published the overall cost, until it went up yet again. So, what happened? It's up to us 'keyboard warriors' to speculate that it's because the business case is out of the window. We can all put in FOI requests but it's a waste of time for everybody involved, including the council, and there's an excellent chance the council will avoid sharing the information because they can always hide behind various arguments. It's up to the local media to ask these questions and make life difficult for the council when they refuse to answer and obfuscate. Generally the local media don't do this, so it's up to individuals to bitch about it on the Internet.The council should realise that withholding basic information invites speculation and debate, especially if the media don't make things awkward. Just my view.
  4. Fair enough, but maybe holding the council's feet to the fire more often will achieve something too.
  5. The bid document is irrelevant. You don't need that to realise that Warrington has been subject to years of cultural cleansing from the council. It hardly seems credible that months after the council tried to shut all of the town's libraries, turn down yet another chance to build a theatre and shrug when asked to find a site for a statue of Joseph Priestley, not to mention being named the least cultural place in the UK, it tried to enter this competition. I just hope that the council and local media are stung by this latest news and finally do something positive about culture in the town. Early indications are that this is the last thing that will happen. The council will continue to treat the whole place as a numbers game and the local media won't take them on about it. As ever, it will be down to local people to do and preserve what they can.
  6. There wasn't much to predict Geoff. There was never a cat in hell's chance of Warrington being shortlisted.
  7. The thing is Gary, Warrington isn't. And not just by a little. It's a million miles behind even a city like Stoke, with all its challenges. Until the local media and council identify and accept that, nothing will change. As I said before, even a small town like Newcastle under Lyme has more to offer than Warrington. The town is a cultural backwater and it's only been the action of residents standing up to the council that has ensured Warrington has something left to offer culturally, however little. How many RSA reports and rejections do you need to see things for what they are? If the council had its way, there'd be no libraries and no Walton Hall for a start. It's only residents and local groups that ensure there are any green spaces and cultural life at all. The council's vision is purely shit housing estates, out of town retail and business parks with everybody moving between them in cars on inadequate roads. No amount of sloganeering from the council and well-meaning but deluded councillors like Dan Price is going to cover that. I hope the council wakes up soon and people like you start to put real pressure on them instead of making statements like this. Until then, it's up to the people to preserve whatever culture and heritage the town has.
  8. I've yet to see a valid argument why travellers are not subject to the same laws as everybody else. By all means offer them somewhere to pay to live, but why do we have this?
  9. PS. I owe Geoff an apology for driving his thread off course somewhat. I wish him well with his campaign.
  10. No. Unfortunately not, I've tried. All except that last bit about an audit. Of course, there is a simple solution.... By the way, I know Russ Bowden doesn't believe he's lying. For him it's doublethink. He can respond to a simple question like 'what is the budget', with the answer 'there is no budget' and still think he's answering the question and telling the truth. But he isn't. This is how Orwell defined doublethink and it perfectly describes what Russ and other people in the council are doing with this and other matters and explains why it's pointless engaging with them. They need to be bypassed and subject to external scrutiny and humiliation. "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth."
  11. I always end up feeling bad about this sort of thing because clearly Geoff isn't the one who should be getting it in the neck. But there is one other aspect to this idea that the council has no budget for the offices but that proves it has. This is the fact that there is a business case, which should also be in the public domain. This will take into account the divestment and reuse of existing property as well as running costs and so on. Those savings can't be guaranteed and frequently don't transpire, but they are at least known at the outset. But not by the public. Other councils have published this kind of information, but WBC refuses to, which suggests one of two things. Either the cost of the new offices and / or the business plan are too high or don't add up, or that the council doesn't want to deal with the inevitable backlash so is keeping it all secret in the fog of the development. I also note that while they've always announced these overall costs in the past, they haven't following the recent decision to increase them. The overall costs of the project are also now a secret. You have to wonder why. My guess would be that their business plan has gone out of the window and it's now all about prestige. So, it's no good asking people to consult with a council that is keeping a huge chunk of its budget to itself and denying it even exists. You'd simply be wasting your time. As Confused52 suggests, nobody cares about the council's processes. They just want to know the facts. So when asked how much the council's new offices will cost, the correct answer is not to obfuscate but to give a number. The council knows what this number is and by not revealing it, breeds distrust. And I think people should distrust people who are behaving in this way. If I ask a shop the price of a bottle of milk, I don't expect to be told the shop's turnover, how they cost it, its margins compared to other products and the discounted cost breaks. Just tell me the price of the f$*@ing milk. I don't care that there is a separate dairy and housewares budget either.
  12. I am championing it, but it's pointless doing it through the council. I can give you an example of a lie we have all been told by the council. Ask Russ Bowden what the budget for the council's offices and what will he tell you? "There is no separate budget". This is his standard response when asked. Now this isn't your common or garden untruth. It's an uber-lie. It means one of two things. Either the council has no idea what its new offices will cost. Or it doesn't want to tell anybody and so is pretending the issue doesn't exist because they thought they'd get away with it by hiding the cost within the overall budget for the town centre development. Guess which option is more likely? It may be the first, which suggests the council is incompetent. Or it may be the second, in which case we might generously describe it as a lie of omission. Given that we've been told this by the man in charge of finance with regard to the council's flagship £100 million project (or whatever it is now - another secret), what is the bloody point trying to engage with him or anybody else about council budgets? Seriously. Don't even get me started on councillor David Keane and his fellow ward councillors.
  13. What's the point in making our voices known? The council only respond to public humiliations. That is the route people should take if they want things to change. Not only that, the council withholds information from the public all the time and resorts to threats when people press them. What's the point contacting them about the budget when so much of it is either hidden or actively lied about?
  14. What it seems to mean in your case is that you've accepted that you can get more done by bypassing the council, something the active voters of Warrington (and at least one other councillor to my knowledge) realised a long time ago. Be good to hear why you think councils are moving towards a focus on core services. Everything I see from councils suggests that they are primarily interested in councils. As I said, you can see it in Warrington on relatively minor issues as discussed here, but it's also most apparent when you see Kensington and Chelsea where the council's main focus is clearly on damage limitation to its reputation and the preservation of senior jobs. It simply cares more about those things than the consequences of people burning to death in one of its buildings. That can only happen when an organisation has lost all moral sense.
  15. PS The 'different budgets' thing doesn't wash anymore.