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TCDC Propaganda Machine Alive & Well 

The TCDC PR unit is at it again - this time with another advertisement extolling the "prudence" of the current Council, and producing "average" rate movements to back up their claims. Mayor Leach then continues to make claims about debt and efficiencies that are demonstrably untrue. But there is an election around the corner, and at least he is not hiding behind the Chief Executive on this occasion.

To really appreciate rate movements, it is necessary to go back a few years. These figures were provided to me in an email dated 6 August 2011 by Chief Financial Officer - Steve Baker.

2005/06    4.48%

2006/07    9.69%    Eastern Seaboard Wastewater Project kicks in.

2007/08   14.55%   Ditto

2008/09   13.36%   First year of 2007 Council and Ditto on wastewater

2009/10     4.16%   Second year of 2007 Council

2010/11     3.10%   Third year of 2007 Council

Add the latest from the advertisement on 7 June.

2011/12     (.92%)   First year of 2010 Council - $9m in capital and maintenance cuts

2012/13    (5.39%)  Second year and further cuts including removal of all planned stormwater works

2013/14     1.34%   Third year and planned additional borrowing of $22m

These are the facts, and no amount of dissembling by Leach along the following lines can alter that:

"We've taken about 15% out of operational costs in the last year" says Mayor Glenn Leach - this is almost entirely due to the adoption of the risky policy of postponing stormwater capital works in particular - for Leach to state that "If we don't need to do a project and still deliver the level of service then we'll defer the project" demonstrates just how far our Council has deviated from "best practice". How on earth will he know whether they can still deliver the level of service if a weather event occurs - events that have occurred with remarkable frequency over the last ten years. Postponing stormwater projects is exceedingly risky, but of course it enables false claims to be made the removal of operational costs.

In case anyone is in any doubt about claims relating to the reduction of staff, let it be known that  a 3.4% increase in staff costs is budgeted this year alone, and staff numbers now exceed those when this Council took over. 

Then our Mayor proceeds to obfuscate in regard to borrowing by claiming "We've also reduced our debt over the last three years. We've done that not through cutting back on projects, but by becoming more efficient and making savings in the way the Council functions on a daily basis". The latter claim is  simply untrue, and in relation to the debt claim, he neatly avoids mentioning the planned debt increase of $22m up to 30 June 2014.

Of course it is easy to make these claims when you have an expanded, and partial PR Department to frame them for you, almost without fear of rebuttal - it is all in the way the words are used to advantage incumbents - the difference with central government is that the people who prepare these hand-outs are political appointees within the staff of ministers - everyone knows the slant, and makes due allowance. When this blatant paid-for political council propaganda is published in local media, few know what to believe - the Mayor says it is so, so it must be true.

I trust as we get closer to this election that the critical faculties of electors become attuned to manner in which they are being manipulated. Mayor Leach, and his cohort may give the impression of being "Good ole boys, and gals", but as we have seen they lack nothing when it comes to manipulating the electorate - believe you me! Note the almost deafening silence when it comes to public statements by the same cohort. The Mayor's prerogatives to appoint and anoint under the new legislation will not have gone unnoticed by this lot, and his power, along with every other mayor is increased exponentially.




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Reader Comments (1)

Bill, what are the "critical faculties" you refer too? Last election it was a bathwater / baby scenario - where were these critical faculties then?
Any hoped-for change to the current regime at election time depends entirely upon the quality of candidates that are prepared to offer themselves up. You are doing a very fine job at providing an alternative narrative to H.H., but, relatively speaking, too few people read and reflect on your blog to make a significant difference to voter thinking. Your critical commentary ought to provide sufficient incentive to rouse good people to action, but will it?
I despair that Thames will ever get a good elected representation (across the sum of local councillors and the Community Board), that puts the whole town ahead of personal politics and agendas.
I have little doubt the staff do the best they can, but working in a policy vacuum must make it very difficult.

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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