Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Tory Leader says it is 'unfair' to fill potholes or buy a fire engine

In her latest gaffe, Cornwall Council's Tory leader Fiona Ferguson has ranted against the amount being spent by the authority on 'council vehicles'. Unfortunately, she has failed to realise that her dodgy dossier includes money for a new fire engine and equipment to fill holes in the road.

Fiona took the published spending information that the council produces every month. She added up the amounts in the 'vehicles and plant' categories to come up with a set of figures which are mostly accurate (but her abacus seems to be out by around £300,000 in one month - not a small amount). She asks if the level of spending is fair.

Except she misses two key points:

- The first is that the list isn't just vehicles. It is plant as well. So it includes things like machines to fill potholes. I presume that she is now against filling potholes. Oh, and a new fire engine. I can't believe that she is against our Fire and Rescue Service having the right equipment to fight fires and save lives, but that's the implication of her words.

- Second, her outburst only shows half the story. For every vehicle or bit of equipment bought, there has to be a business case. In other words, the council has to do things better and cheaper than we were doing without the purchase.

So, in the case of any cars that are bought, they are either pool cars or provided cars (cars used on a full-time basis by a single officer. Oh, and a couple of Fire Service response vehicles too. They are cars that are used by our officers instead of them using their own cars and charging us mileage. And, unlike the system that used to operate under the previous (Tory-led) administration, we only provide cars to staff who do over a certain number of miles per year. So we only provide them where they will save money. And, again unlike under the previous administration, we buy small economic cars, not top of the range Audis.

Is this really the best the Conservatives can do? Campaign against filling potholes and fighting fires?

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