Tuesday, January 23, 2007

South Tyneside Spins again!

Dressing up the news.

In it's latest press release today the Borough Council of South Tyneside makes it look as though 4m. pounds are heading our way. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, the Government Office North East using a complex system of 151 key performance indicators to examine the performance towards the Local Area Agreement and the Local Strategic Partnership has determined that the Council can have a guaranteed additional one million pounds of grant aid.(You can be sure this money is already earmarked and will not be able to be taken into consideration as far as next year's budget is concerned.)

The rest is dependent upon achieving all targets at the project outcome, and as we have seen on the revenue budget, good progress in the first half is not necessarily repeated in the second half. Yet the headline to the press release suggests that a 4m. pounds cheque has already been written.

Cllr. Paul Waggott, Labour's Leader on the Council said:

" This a very encouraging report on our overall performance and gives us great incentive to continue with our strong partnership working with all sectors of the community. It shows beyond doubt that we are getting it right and we can be very pleased with our progress to date, without being too complacent about what still has to be achieved."

You see, the language he has been given expresses th true situation, the headline does not. Further on in the press release, however, Councillor Waggott highlights falling crime, reduction in levels of anti-social behaviour, improved GCSE results, increased recycling rates, falling levels of unemployment, more people quitting smoking and reduction in levels of obesity, as confirmation of the success of the Council's partnership priorities.

Improved GCSE results? Surely not - for the last four years we have consistently lagged behind the national average, and shown no signs of catching up, we only see improvements when key subjects like English and Maths, and Modern Languages are removed from the statistics.
Falling crime and reductions in anti-social behaviour? I suppose that explains why South Tyneside is on the government "hit-list" of the top 40 anti-social behaviour areas issued only yesterday!


South Tyneside Council

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