853

news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

853 reader beats press and politicians to royal borough sums

with 14 comments

I couldn’t be at Wednesday night’s Greenwich Council meeting, having been otherwise occupied for much of this week. So, instead of watching councillors row over debate our council tax bills, I was on the sofa with a laptop, the England match, and a chilled glass of Dioralyte. There’s a lot of it about, you know.

There were no raging Trots in Woolwich Town Hall, though – another tranche of cuts was nodded through, with council tax bills frozen again. The debate sounded interesting from what I read on Twitter. You won’t be reading a word of it in next week’s News Shopper, by the way – the paper which complains “Royal Greenwich” is the most undemocratic in the country once again couldn’t be bothered to send a reporter to the town hall. The People’s Republic of Lewisham had its meeting on Wednesday too, and its sole reporter on duty had to make a choice between Catford and Woolwich. Still, all good for Newsquest’s profits, eh?

When I mentioned the Shopper’s no-shows last month, I suggested that maybe you – yes, you – could help rectify this democratic loss by asking questions the local press or politicians aren’t getting answers to. One 853 reader did just that, and scored a bullseye. Take a bow, Daddy Timmers.

Question from Tim Freeman, Greenwich, SE10 to Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of the Council.
How much money was spent on the Royal transformation of the borough by the council?
What is the breakdown of this spend (i.e. advertising & media, fireworks, new road signs, new stationery etc)?

Reply –
I thank Mr Freeman for his question.

The strategy for ‘transforming’ Royal borough [sic] was to create as much impact as possible at minimal cost. This was achieved by doing all design work in- house, delaying some renewal work until the new status was effective and developing new products to have the longest possible usable life.

The borough boundary signs that were erected 12 years ago have been replaced. The previous Boundary signs were dilapidated, some had collapsed and were in need of urgent replacement. The renewal programme was delayed so that the change to Royal Borough could be done as cost effectively as possible.

The cost of the new Borough Boundary signs was £21.8K. This is significantly cheaper than the cost of replacing the previous signs as a much simpler design has been used. The lamppost banners that have been installed in town centres cost £41.4K. The cost of new street signs only placed in selected areas was £19K.

Across the Royal Borough there is an agreement that we will avoid producing new stationery. Existing stocks are being used up and the bulk of letters will now be produced on letter templates which have been designed in-house thus avoiding pre-printing costs.

The cost of fireworks displays in the three town centres on three successive nights was £32.5K including music, lighting and displays. This was offset partially by contributions from sponsors to the general celebrations.

Which makes a total bill so far of £114,700. Now, some of this stuff would have been done anyway, banners look nice, and I like fireworks. It’s something Mr Freeman feels very strongly about, though, and it’s the sort of discussion we should have (I don’t see any new royal borough signs in Charlton yet) so good on him for getting it out of the council. It’s worth pointing out that there’ll be more figures to come, of course.

That’s the same council which was “unable to provide a cost” to local journalists a month ago. He also did better than Lib Dem Assembly candidate John Russell, who only yesterday complained about the council’s lack of knowledge. Should have gone down the town hall, John.

So, there you go. Asking questions at council meetings isn’t just for the angry, the lunatic, or the politically-minded. And it gets results.

Of course, perhaps this should be something that elected councillors should be querying, but maybe they were too delighted with those free certificates to ask any serious questions.

But how much did those certificates cost? A whole four pence each, replied Chris Roberts to a query from, er, me, explaining that they’d been done on a colour photocopier. I’ve actually got to pause and applaud that, although I do know that in future, I’m getting my photocopying done down the town hall, rather than in Staples. They should have given out certificates to everyone who turned up on Wednesday night, I reckon.

Conservative councillor Nigel Fletcher wasn’t impressed with my question:

Well, quite. Doesn’t he know we’re all in this together?

Here’s all the questions put in advance to the council, together with written answers. Here’s the decisions taken. If you want to put a question to the next meeting (on 28 March) then make sure it’s with committees@greenwich.gov.uk by noon on 21 March. More details here. Be nice to them.

Written by Darryl

2 March, 2012 at 7:30 am

14 Responses

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  1. I was trying to work out how you came to £114,700… have you left a zero off?

    Jim Jepps

    2 March, 2012 at 10:22 am

  2. Ignore me – I’m obviously going funny! It does add up of course.

    Great work.

    Jim Jepps

    2 March, 2012 at 10:24 am

  3. Hearty applause on the “raging Trots” gag :-)

    Mike Griffiths

    2 March, 2012 at 11:19 am

  4. Good work indeed , well done Daddy Timmers & 853

    Some things I don’t see include above -

    The design and production of new royal borough crest
    The design of new royal web-site , logos etc
    Design and production of new staff uniforms
    The cost of maniquettes ( model staues ) – I’ve heard reports of between £150-200k
    I believe the intention of full scale statues of dead monarchs , at a cost of millions has been shelved ….
    for now
    The production of royal video

    Chris Guthrie

    2 March, 2012 at 11:20 am

  5. 5 minutes after posting “royal week-end” video above … it’s been removed by the user !

    Chris Guthrie

    2 March, 2012 at 11:40 am

  6. Think the video was deleted / re-uploaded. Here’s the new link http://youtu.be/NF4f267jKsw

    Rob

    2 March, 2012 at 12:21 pm

  7. John (Russel) put an FOI in on this a while ago but felt confident that this question would be asked anyway on Wednesday (and can’t ask a question because he is from Lewisham!). Still questions unanswered on this as mentioned above though. All round Liberal bashing kept both sides happy – we smiled sweetly in the public gallery!

    Greenwich Liberal

    2 March, 2012 at 6:03 pm

  8. [...] this vinyl costs a fair whack. We know the “royal Greenwich” banners cost £41,400. Each of the 32 London boroughs is getting £50,000 each for those Olympic [...]

  9. [...] to discuss in the intervening 15 weeks, is it? You can ask up to two questions – an 853 reader beat press, politicians and lazy local blog types to the cost of the royal borough rebran… a few months back, so here’s your chance to hold them to [...]

  10. [...] out to save £37,000. This year, Greenwich has treated its head of PR to a £25,000 pay rise, and has blown at least £114,000 on royal borough celebrations. The whole sorry tale of how Greenwich blew 2010′s fireworks cash on a booze-up for the mayor [...]

  11. [...] PPS. I’m going to ask about this at next week’s council meeting, assuming I remember to send the email. You want to ask Greenwich Council a question about something that’s bugging you? Drop committees@greenwich.gov.uk a line before noon on Wednesday – find out more details here. Like I always say, don’t expect someone else to do it for you – the results might surprise you. [...]

  12. […] in August, according to an answer given under the Freedom of Information Act. And last year, it blew £114,000 on fireworks and other public events to mark royal borough status. Three years on, the decision […]

  13. […] 2011, it effectively bailed out Greenwich and Docklands Festival with a £100,000 payout, and spent £110,000 on events to mark becoming a royal borough in […]

  14. […] Since then, Greenwich spent £20,000 last year on fireworks to promote the Sail Royal Greenwich event, and a further £110,000 on events to mark becoming a royal borough in 2012. […]


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