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Pledge to Peace - will Warrington sign up?

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2 minutes ago, grey_man said:

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.

My understanding is that there are individual rows or lines that make up the overall budget. After all the budget lines add up to the total budget - I don't see how it can be any other way.

I used to be asked for input for my budget line at work as was everyone else and a summation was done and then compared against the forecasted income.

Adjustments where then done by either cutting back or going out and gaining extra contracts/income.

This is what we have to do for Charities who more and more rely on fund raising, grant applications etc - it's getting tougher and tougher - the big charities are now going for massive amounts, have a structure in place for such activities - unfortunately those that don't are failing and the services that they provide are going to the wall.

I don't see the Borough as doing their budget in any other way. By saying that there is only one budget - that is so but it is finite and made of parts.

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Sorry Geoff, I don't agree with you on this. The 'City for Peace' concept didn't work and I don't think a bid for 'City of Culture' will benefit from us being portrayed as a town in constant mour

I have to agree with Sha on this too... I have said for years that turning Bridge Street into a shrine to 2 dead children has had a detrimental effect in my eyes. Yes what happened was a disgusting ac

One man's grief trip Baz. 


Please read what Grey_man wrote one more time. He seems to me to be saying that his point is about a lack of break-down in the capital budget for the Town Centre development. H suggests, I think, that there should be different targets for the offices, the market, the cinema and the car park. The council have apparently said that there is no separate budget for the offices. Many folk cannot understand how they can have such a view since they want the offices and they ought to know what they can afford. I don't think he wast commenting on their budgeting process in general.

There is another way of thinking about it, which is just that the council want as big a set of offices as they can get without having to pay for it so there isn't a separate budget. That means the council get what they are given by the developer, I don't recall that being exactly what has been said by anyone but it is what I see in the exec/cabinet documents.

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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. 

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You could always try the following. Ask what the budget for the whole project is and then ask how much of that total is to be used to provide new office space for the council. if they don't know that then call for a public audit of the finances for the whole project with the view to extending it to the total council budget.

I an sure they would quite happily agree to that won't they?

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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."

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45 minutes ago, grey_man said:

PS. I owe Geoff an apology for driving his thread off course somewhat. I wish him well with his campaign.  

No worries grey man - I used to experience the same with the Mayoral Budget when I became Mayor. I asked what budget have I for organising events for raise money for my charities. The officer told me that I had a zero budget. How much I asked again. Your budget is as much as you raise for the event, such as the Mayoral Ball, Digital Art Heritage competition.

Fortunately I had had a zero budget when I used to organise running events in the 80's and 90's, like the Chris Vose 10km. I'd chuck in some seed capital of my own, advertise the race and entrance fee and then wait for the cheques to come in.

After the race had finished I would do the accounts and then take out my seed capital and the rest was profit for the club, i.e. I carried the risk, that was the incentive to make sure I didn't fail. I nearly came a cropper one year when I gave out mugs - I forgot the VAT man wanted his share.. oops.

Anyway if we ever pledge for peace I will be adopting the same methodology for any events I may organise in these times of austerity.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 7/3/2017 at 11:09 AM, Geoffrey Settle said:

I nearly came a cropper one year when I gave out mugs - I forgot the VAT man wanted his share.. oops.


Ahh yes... the mugs. Mine is still going strong 26 years later :)



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20 hours ago, Bazj said:

Ahh yes... the mugs. Mine is still going strong 26 years later :)



Gosh I remember designing the mug and organising the new 10km course from Victoria Park all those years ago - I never met Chris Vise but I did win a bronze team medal in the Tour of Tameside with Ron Hill  when we both ran for Clayton Le Moor Harriers.

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