Every now and again news breaks of yet another ‘council gaffe’.
This mornings delight features a crew sub-contracted to Hampshire Council to paint white lines on the road. The decaying carcass of a dead badger meant they had to avoid painting about a metre of road.
These things happen. The street cleaning crew did not get there before the line painters. No great outrage, just a mildy amusing article and accompanying picture.
No outrage until you get to the piece where the council spokesman said that the carcass would be cleared away and the crew would return to complete the white lines at ‘no extra cost to the taxpayer‘ because the contractor was working to a fixed price. Now we can split hairs over the meaning of ‘extra cost to the taxpayer’ but of course this sort of thing incurs extra cost and in most cases these will be built into the tendering price for the job.
I am not sure what it costs to get one of those crews out to paint just a metre of white line where a badger once lay dead – but my guess is it is not cheap. The cost needs to be understood and feedback into the system so that it understands the costs associated with getting simple things wrong. If fixed cost contracts mean that councils believe they can be less efficient because the consequences will not revert to the taxpayer we are in a very mixed up world.