Is this what fulfills the definition of “damned by faint praise”?
After committing £200,000 from Croydon’s hard-pressed budgets towards the Opportunity and Fairness Commission, this is all Labour council leader Tony Newman could find to say about the Commission’s interim report, which was published on Thursday:
“The interim report is a thorough and interesting assessment of our situation, offering a number of thought-provoking suggestions for consideration.”
Yep. That’s it.
“Interesting”. Just like snooker player Steve Davis.
And this from the man who staked his political reputation on the Fairness Commission providing him with something – anything – that might help his council out of the financial hole they found themselves in when taking office in 2014, and which they have proceeded to make deeper ever since.
It is fair to assume that Newman will have carefully reviewed the contents of the report – he’d ensured that his fellow Woodside councillor, Hamida Ali, was appointed as the Commission’s deputy chair, to report back to him on its progress. Yet even he cannot find a single proposal in the report for special mention, for him to endorse and say that his council will adopt as policy.
No wonder the report’s publication was greeted with the sound of one hand clapping.
“In a climate of severe funding cuts from central government, local government continues to have to meet increasing levels of demand with ever-reducing resources. In the face of shrinking budgets, services are having to be continually evaluated and realigned. The Commission will help us to better understand where most difference can be made for our residents,” Newman is supposed to have said, in some way suggesting that he and his council does not already know what the borough’s residents need.
It hardly represents £200,000 of public money well spent. And with his less-than-glowing comments, even the council leader who commissioned the Commission appears to agree.
It has left Newman in full-on Micawber mode, waiting for “something to turn up”. He may have to wait a little longer.
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