Race against time to make Olympics year
Behind the scenes at County Hall with our political editor How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Politicians don’t change light bulbs, they prefer to keep us in the dark
YOU could never call the team driving the county council’s Olympic strategy forward pessimists. Top of their list of facilities that might be used as pre-Games training camps is Ashford’s Stour Centre. Given the delays that have blighted this rebuilding scheme, let’s hope it actually opens before 2012...
NOTHING has been left to chance when it comes to rebuilding Ashford’s ring road to the highest standards. In the quest to ensure that only the best materials were used, a group of officials from Ashford council and KCC travelled to Belgium in March 2005 to look at “floorscape paving examples,” we learn from a Freedom of Information request. Obviously the range at B&Q was deemed too poor.
EVER wondered how many light bulbs there are in the county council’s vast office estate? If you have, don’t expect to find out. Opposition Labour councillor Les Christie tabled a question demanding to know how many light bulbs KCC was responsible for and how many were energy-efficient. However, Conservative finance spokesman Nick Chard told him that with 1,200 buildings spread across the county “it would be impractical to count the number in thousands of rooms and corridors.” All of which reminds Off The Record of a favourite joke. How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Politicians don’t change light bulbs, they prefer to keep us in the dark. (We suppose KCC could have called in the consultants to do this exercise but as everyone knows, consultants never get past the feasibility study.)
WE FEEL pretty confident that David Willetts, the Conservative party’s education spokesman, won’t exactly be rushing to take up an invitation by KCC leader Paul Carter to visit the county to see, in his words, how well the grammar schools system works. Off The Record can testify that the mere mention of Mr Willetts’ name to Kent Tories will induce a pained expression and an uncomfortable grimace after he announced the party no longer supported new grammars. But what about the campaign group STEP (Stop The Eleven Plus)? We ask chief STEP agitator Martin Frey if he is contemplating joining the party. “It’s tempting but I don’t think so.” However, we hear STEP is preparing to send its new and unlikely ally an application form to join them.
WHO said our councillors were fuddy-duddies? Council leader Paul Carter popped up on Radio 1 no less to talk about the grammar school row. Sadly, he wasn’t pressed on what on what he thought of McFly’s new chart-topping single.
EXCITING news from Kent County Council’s education department. A press release declares that Kent is “on top of the world with global award” after beating off assorted corporate titans including BP and Hewlett Packard – along with the might of the American government, no less – to clinch a sought-after award for its school building programme. The award has been presented by the world’s largest design firm Glenser, which has judged KCC’s programme for rebuilding schools to be worthy of its annual “worldwide strategy and design award.” And just who is Glenser? That would be the company KCC has contracted to help design its programme for rebuilding schools, of course.