Frozen Yogurt, Reduced Fat

Today is going to involve a trip into Cheltenham with daughter while Mrs G has a visit to the hairdressers. If the weather holds out it should be a great way to spend a little time with the young 'un during her run up to the 'big day'. She has some items to exchange and of course I need to pick up a refill line for the strimmer.
One thing I haven't done for a little while is have a good rant. Those that have been regular visitors here will know that on occasion I can get on my soap box and start getting all verbose about a subject. Part of the reason for having toned down of late is change. What with having had my cheese moved and attempting to teach pachyderms to dance I've been having a lot to take in and it's tough to find time to put a stake in the ground and make time to carve up the elephant in the room. If you don't know what that's all about (and I pray that you don't for your own sanity) then your levels of management bullsh!t understanding leave something to be desired. I can only look on in awe at Scobi's abilities in this field. Just thought I'd run that up the flag pole to see who salutes. :-) There's also a good one about rats in Rhododendron bushes, but I never really understood that at all.
Generally I'm actually quite quiet. I tend to be the person at the back of the room observing the noisy table bangers and getting my head around the scope of their ideas. I'm a thinker preferring to fit as many views as possible into the bigger picture to get an overall understanding of whatever the subject is rather than leaping in and sounding like a "bit of a d!ck". That doesn't mean it doesn't happen - it does, and more often than I'd care to admit to, but as they say in the places where these things don't worry them... "Meh" and "Whatever"
With that, let's take a little trip to rantville. Having left it a while there are a multitude of subjects to choose from, including "Evaluating the value of evaluation", "The cost of the Costa's... And everything else", "Why Fixing potholes on a Sunday means you can't drive anywhere on a Monday" and the exceptionally explosive "How to behave when someone tells out and out lies about you in a document and then presents that amongst a wide group of colleagues as fact"- I'm sure you can hear the soft undertone of seething and bubbling blood. 

None of these are today's subject though.  I'm interested in "Frozen Yogurt, Reduced Fat"
The BBC are reporting that council tax is being 'frozen or reduced' in a sort of yogurty fatty kind of way. Most council tax bills for homes in England will be frozen or reduced this year with the average bill for a Band D household remaining at £1,439. You can read the full article here:


On the surface this is a good news story. All of us hard working tax payers have been doing our bit to fix the debt brought about by the overspend of the last the lot and we can take a little solace in the fact that our annual contribution to the local tea and biscuit club isn't going up. 

What? Was I born yesterday?  Good old political misdirection (politicians? Magicians more like). While we're all bust feeling smug about our zero percent increase, they're all busy slashing services left right and centre. We might not be paying more, but we're getting less, so in real terms its an increase. And it's not a small increase either. Libraries closing are the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of smaller nicks and cuts as well. For example, I learned this week that we will now have to pay an additional £36 to have our garden waste (Green bin, fortnightly - how fecking complicated can we make recycling?) collected.  What? Say that again?..
RESIDENTS in Gloucester will be charged to have their garden waste collected, council chiefs decided.

Households will be charged £36 a year for a green bin for the first time ever.

The city's opposition Labour group claimed the move would see residents returning to "burning and flytipping rubbish".

But that claim was rejected by the leader of the authority, Councillor Paul James (Con, Longlevens), who said: "The people of Gloucester are better than that."

The decision was voted through at a meeting of full council yesterday despite angry opposition. Before now the service was free to all homes.

Leader of the Labour group Councillor Mark Hobbs (Moreland, Lab) said: "The uptake of green waste recycling is going to drop through the floor.

"People will go back to burning their rubbish, flytipping it and going back to put it in black bins."

He added: "This is an absolute sham, and to ask people to start paying for this service is a disgrace."

But his criticism was rejected by leaders of the Tory-led authority, which claimed one of five households will pay for the bins.

Councillor Steve Morgan, (Grange, Con) cabinet member for the environment, said: "It's patently obvious this is going to be a difficult and unpopular decision to make, we are working on cautious estimates.

"The proposed take up, we imagine will be in the region of 20 per cent."

Councillor Jermemy Hilton (Kingsholm, Lib Dem), said: "The other way we could fund this scheme is to increase council tax by 10 per cent.

"We need to cover a £4 million black hole in the council's budget." People signing up early will get an extra six months free, and will pay for one year but get 18 months worth of collections.

Anyone who gets council tax or housing benefits will be entitled a 50 per cent reduction.

Currently, the authority's garden waste service serves 47,000 households in Gloucester.

It is at full capacity with four dedicated vehicles.

But when ongoing housing developments at Kingsway, Hempsted and other sites are fully occupied, it will be necessary to buy an extra vehicle.

That would cost taxpayers an extra £120,000 if the service remained free.

The council had made no budgetary provision for this, according to a report circulated before the meeting.

Councillors also agreed to charge for bulky waste, items such as fridges and sofas.

It will cost £24 for up to three items, and £8 for every additional item from then on.

The decision took place during a budget meeting, during which £3.9 million worth of cuts were being debated.


Just if you were wondering, a quick poke about on the councils website reveals the following facts  of note.

Housing plans

Kingsway: Approval for 2300 Dwellings

Hempstead: potential for 100 dwellings

Other: There's a long list, but the most significant is Gloucester Quays with the potential for a further 1000 dwellings

This gives us a short term total of 4,400 homes. There is a much longer term plan which puts the numbers up significantly but most of it doesn't have approval at present so it's all pie in the sky and irrelevant for the time being. 

For the mathematically challenged among you (and I'm including e council in that) this gives us these numbers:

4,400 multiplied by £1,439 equals £6,331,600. Minus your poxy £120,000 to keep the service free and you're left with a net increase of £6,211,600. You could use this to provide the other services your supposed to be providing for the new residents that you've moved in which thanks to your dodgy planning processes will all be living in tiny wall cupboards that you and the greedy developers like to think of as band D homes so that you can maximise your returns on them. 

I mean really. Is it me? IS IT ME!?.

And while we're about it, a black hole is an astronomy term and as such has nothing to do with financial accounting. I think you need to get your story straight here girls. How did you manage to make 'no budgetary provision' for 4,400 dwellings that you approved ?

I do understand that running a council is a complex and expensive task. you have to get the right biscuits for a start! but come on!  This is just maths! You do know about maths don't you?

I also note that a polling card for the forthcoming council elections has just fallen through my letterbox.

Oh goody.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous