Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Mythical Volunteer Army

I think everyone is aware that the future of the inland waterways lies in the hands of an almost mythical volunteer army. This is a secret army that the new charity is going to recruit. During this recruitment process other charities are also going to be trying to recruit thousands of volunteers. I am not convinced by the argument, I don't think the plan will hold water so to speak. I could be wrong, I actually hope I'm wrong, but in my heart of hearts I know it will all end in tears.

Add to into this charity cauldron of evil smelling witches brew. Other charities who are already feeling the pinch when it comes to funding donations who will be actively seeking donations and volunteers. As the new inland waterways charity hotchpotch is asking people to dig deep in their pockets for a regular donation. It will also be asking at the same time donors give free gratis some of their free time.

But recruiting volunteers its not a new plan for this government. When the armed forces cuts were announced one spokes person who was being interviewed on radio said "If anyone made redundant wants to continue as a soldier they can always join the territorial army." That's the same process as "Any BW member of staff who is made redundant is welcome to come back and do the job for nowt as a volunteer.

The new mantra for a failing charity in the future will be " The public have been given the right to decide how and where where their money should be spent. The public has chosen not to collectively support the inland waterways. That's why the receiver has been called in."

It seems like everyone is holding their collective breath, the silence of the impending fiasco is almost deafening. The level of expectation of failour is high, its so tangible you can almost taste it.  I have yet to meet anyone who actually thinks that this is the way forward in the present financial climate. I can't help but think that this could be the next climb-down U-turn for the government. It just does not stack up. No way Jose! is it at this time a viable prospect for the future of the inland waterways to be run as a charity. We can't afford to wait for the later result of an inquest, the whole process needs to be challenged and questioned in fine detail now before it is to late.

My worry is that the new charity could go the way of the Northern Ireland Events Company. This quango folded with debts of only £1.7m. The Department of Trade has now commissioned a Company Inspectorate examination of the NIEC quango, including the role played by its board.

On another Quango tack, do you remember the "Quango Bonfire Party" intended to be part of the "Big Society" that we were all promised by the government! The government has already paid more than £20m in one-off redundancy payments as part of the abolition of hundreds of quangos like British Waterways. Almost 1,000 redundancies so far from just the the first 29 of the 481 public bodies being wound down. The Crown Prosecution Service paid a single recipient £200,000 redundancy in one instance. The total cost of the redundancy process for a further 442 more quango's alone will be staggering. We are in serious U-turn country here.

The Information Commissioner has told quango bosses many of whom are  paid more than David Cameron, that it was not in the "public interest" for their pay details to remain secret. The Commissioner Christopher Graham ordered the disclosure in June. He said "Being open and transparent is an integral part of being accountable to the taxpayer and, like it or not, this level of disclosure goes with the territory."  He also said. "Those who receive some of the highest salaries in the public sector should expect certain information on their public or work life to be made public, including details of their remuneration. There is strong, legitimate public interest in the public knowing how its money is spent, how public sector salaries compare with those in other areas and how money is distributed between different levels of staff."

Cornwall Council has been accused of "squandering" £2,000 a day on the interim chairman of a new business quango. Sir John Banham worked for just 22 days for the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) at a cost to the council of £45,000. Sir John's work included putting together a draft document on dredging Falmouth harbour. The council said in its defence it had got a 50% discount off Sir John's usual £4,000 daily rate.

But lets not forget quango media regulator Ofcom. This is the august body that managed to blow £2.7million on "Thought leadership", the leadership thought they might get away with it. At the same time employing 180 "Consulting providers". Pension top-ups alone cost £14million a year. Ed Richards is on £350,000 for being in charge of it.

If you want to find out the full gory detail of the ones with curly tails in a free for all feeding frenzy at the pay and pensions trough. Look Here



  1. You honestly think BW HAS a future ???????????????????

  2. Of course I do! I also believe that pigs can fly and that there is a tooth fairy.


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