Here are three great quotes from leading lights on Somerton's Town Council during the meeting of 23rd June 2009
Quote 1 from Cllr Paddy Keenan
"...... this summed up what you (Cllr Neale) have been complaining about. You cannot get the quotes. Its been like this for 10 years. We always end up doing it ourselves. Getting people to produce quotes is a waste of time."
Paddy has never been in favour of getting quotes, nor of competitive tendering. Paddy also seems to think that this is an experience peculiar to Somerton. By Paddy's way of it, you can't get trades to quote in Somerton. Maybe that is the experience of Somerton Town Council but it isn't the experience of the rest of the population so its fair to ask why Somerton Town Council has such difficulty in getting quotes. Maybe its because most trades in Somerton have the view that work for the Council is somehow pre-ordained, making it something of a closed shop. Maybe that's why Somerton Town Council experiences such difficulties.
Quote 2 from Cllr Martyn Smith
"We paid about £700,000 for this and its probably cost in round terms about £150,000 to convert it ........... lets say £200,000 so we've made £750,000 profit on the piece of land we've bought a building for £700 and converted it for another £200 so this building has cost us about £250,000 by my calculations and I think that we've got a bloody splendid building for 250 grand it must be worth on the open market at least 4 times that probably 5 so I think we shouldn't be slagged for spending the ratepayers money we should be slagged for getting the community hall at a very low cost because we could not have done this even if we had the land which we didn't."
Imagine you buy a house for £100k and spend £25k on doing it up. You sell it for £250k. How much profit do you make on the deal? Most people would think that you had made £125k but in Cllr Martyn Smith's mathematical model, you actually made £250k profit. That's the sort of accounting that almost destroyed capitalism 18 months ago.
Quote 3 from Cllr Tony Canvin
"The beauty of what we've done here I agree it probably isn't the right place but the beauty is if we'd spent the same amount of money in the middle of that sports field and it didn't work what would you do with the building if it doesn't work here you've got a £1.2M building for sale with that money back in the council's pocket we haven't took one risk with one penny I could have sold it tomorrow morning no problem."
There is a commonly held view that the Etsome Terrace/Tin Dunny asset swap was nothing more than a property deal. It had nothing to do with the community and, in fact, the community was actively excluded from having any say in the matter. So now, our revered leader, Cllr Canvin, lifts the veil just a tad and admits that it probably isn't in the right place. Well, I suspect that the Somerton Community Hall Steering Group could have told him that, had he been interested enough to ask.
The problem with the Tin Dunny is that its only connection with the Community of Somerton is that Somerton's Community is paying for it. So, if it fails it will fail because the Town Council ignored the community and did a deal. Lucky for the Town Council that it wasn't their money. Unlucky for the Community of Somerton that they will have to pay for the mistake.
Till next time, remember Rolf Harris and tie your Kangaroo down, sport.