Friday, 19 February 2010

The mismanagement of money is in and out of the press like most hardworking people's money is in and out of their bank accounts. If it's not MPs expenses it's Council cuts, bankers' bonuses or the BBC.

The South Wales Echo reported today that BBC Wales has commissioned a bronze statue of late Welsh Rugby star Ray Gravell to stand in Broadcasting House in Llandaff. The article states that "BBC Wales has commissioned sculptor John Meirion Morris to create a commemorative sculpture of the late broadcaster, who died suddenly while on holiday with his family.He is to create a portrait sculpture as a permanent tribute to the Grav, from Mynydd-y-Garreg, near Kidwelly, portraying his later role as a broadcaster."

Now I think it's wonderful when we commemorate the great and good of our country, and the BBC certainly has a part to play in this. But their domain is broadcasting, not commissioning artwork for their foyer. But the real sting comes for those staff from News and Current Affairs who are either having to take voluntary redundancy or lose their jobs as BBC Wales downsizes two of its most valued departments. At a time when highly skilled, multi-experienced editors and producers who deal into delivering the news into our living rooms are being forced out of work due to a lack of money, BBC Cymru Wales Director Menna Richards sees fit to be buying busts as they go bust.

If you were to ask people across Wales, many of whom will never set foot inside BBC Wales foyer, whether they would prefer quality in the delivery of Welsh news and current affairs or a scultpure of a Rugby hero, I think you know what they would say. And whilst the BBC are cutting back on staff in departments that provide the people with Wales with information about what is actually happening in Wales, funding for programmes that get little audience share and the many expensive Welsh language shows that probably require more production staff than the audiences they attract do not seem to be under threat.

And moving on from the Beeb, the Independent today is telling us that our vital services are likely to take a hammering as local councils face a jobs cull in order to claw back millions in debt.

Again I have to raise the point that were we not paying so much into the European Union and helping countries like Spain build better roads, we may be able to afford to patch up the potholes that are blighting our highway after the recent bad weather. But the most frightening aspect of these cuts is where they will be made.

We're not talking roads. We're not talking translation services or gimmicky marketing departments or stripping down Quangos of their waste. We are talking about the minority services set up to protect and help the most vulnerable in society.

Taxation has it's origins in tithes, a ten per cent donation set up by the Chruch in the middle ages. The ten per cent was not so much of money but of crops or equipment - whatever it is that a particular village or town may need to store for hard times. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, such taxation was transfered to the crown. We would like to hope that when we pay thousands to the local councils, our money is not being used to pay the inflated salaries of execs who stumbled across their new-fangled, importantly titled quangoid job in The Guardian but affording teachers or careworkers or public services. But just like the EU, non-jobs are protected whilst service delivery is slashed, and we are all told what to do and when or face substantial fines when we put the green bin out on a wheelie bin day. It's enough to make your blood boil.

Welsh local government leaders are predicting between 2,000 and 4,000 job losses, including 400 in Powys and 300 in Cardiff. So if you live in rural Powys, don't expect your street lights to be glowing proudly anytime soon, and watch out for running into gaping craters in the roads as you drive around in the pitch black. And as for you Cardiffians, at least the Council want to cheer us up after all this terrible weather by planning to build a snowdome at the Bay. Perhaps local government officals all intend to line up inside and stick their heads in the ground when the really bad weather sets in...

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