Tax-payers get a soaking as council taps run up £20,000 bill

Taking photographs inside gentlemen’s lavatories can lead to some unwanted outcomes, so in the past week Inside Croydon has gone to great, and most discreet, lengths to bring to you the first picture from inside the toilets of the council’s new offices of the tap which has cost Council Tax-payers £272.69.

The newly fitted, longer spouted automatic sensor tap, the kind which is being fitted in a rush at all the toilet sinks in Fisher's Folly, less than six months after the building opened

The newly fitted, longer spouted automatic sensor tap, the kind which is being fitted in a rush at all the toilet sinks in Fisher’s Folly, less than six months after the building opened

And here it is.

Not gold-plated, as you might expect from the extravagant price.

Nor particularly remarkable-looking, either.

But just the latest instance of how the costs of Fisher’s Folly continue to mount.

On top of the £140million that Croydon’s Tory-run council borrowed to pay for the build, which opened only last October, and the £3.96 million spent on furnishing the place with lovely, no-expense-spared new desks and filing cabinets, there is also the £410.46 for the umbrella wrapper (yes, seriously), and the £272.69 tap.

Except it is not just one tap that needs replacing, but as many as 36 which were fitted as part of the original design brief.

In her official answer (to question CQ167-14) at last week’s council meeting, Sara “Book Token” Bashford, the £43,339 part-time Conservative council cabinet member, was more than a little misleading when she wrote that, “Based on user feedback there is a replacement tap in BWH”, referring to  Bernard Weatherill House.

“The cost to fit and supply a replacement tap is £272.69,” Bashford wrote.

This was deliberately written to imply that there was just a single, perhaps faulty, tap.

In fact, within less than six months of the council office building opening, all of the taps at every sink in every toilet in Fisher’s Folly seem likely to need to be replaced.

The ones originally fitted by the council’s builders were simply not fit for purpose.

That was the “user feedback” to which Bashford referred, as council staff who had the misfortune to try to use the sinks in the new offices ended up with an embarrassing wet patch on their clothes.

Posh automatic sensor taps had been fitted as part of the new build. Trouble was, the spouts on these taps were so short that they did not reach out over the ostentatiously large sinks. Whenever triggered into action and they started to run, the water cascaded not into the sink but over the edge and on to the washbasin work surface.

There are three sinks in each of the gents’ toilets. Being a delicate sort, Inside Croydon’s intrepid reporter has not ventured into the ladies’. We’ll assume that they have three sinks, too. On each floor. There are 12 floors.

So, 12 x 6 x £272.69 … that’s a total of £19,633.68 likely to be spent on new taps if Bashford’s figures are reliable. And all within six months of the building being opened.

Bashford claimed last Monday that the ill-fitting tap “will be retained and reutilised”, though councillors have reported seeing taps dumped in skips near the Cost A Mint Walk location of the Fisher’s Folly offices.

Croydon Council. Where “Efficiency is in our DNA”, according to interim CEO Nathan Elvery, the man who opens a £140 million office building that has taps that don’t manage to pour water into the sink beneath them.

As ever, it is Council Tax-payers’ money that ends up being poured down the drain.

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This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon Council, Nathan Elvery, Planning, Sara Bashford, URV and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tax-payers get a soaking as council taps run up £20,000 bill

  1. davidcallam says:

    Your report suggests the taps are not fit for purpose. If so, the builder should replace them at his or the architect’s expense, depending on who chose them.

    • You’d think so, David, wouldn’t you?

      But this was all built under the secretive CCURV deal with John Laing.

      If the cost of replacing the taps with something more suitable was to be carried at the expense of the builders and architects, Sara Bashford might have stated that in her written answer to the council meeting.

      She did not.

      That suggests yet another procurement disaster.

  2. davidjl2014 says:

    Surely there are far more important things to discuss in a Council Meeting than this ridiculous situation. I am sure that this issue is probably just one of dozens of “snagging” issues at BWH that have gone unreported at such meetings of which Croydon’s Council Tax payers have had to foot the bill for.
    In times of such austerity it was churlish to attempt the project in the first place and now that “mother nature” has turned her “taps” on in parts of the borough, money could have been better spent to avoid the misery of flooding. Affecting the lives of people that will probably never use the faucets in BWH. Time to “tap-up” votes and see an end to this administration.

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