A speedy reply to Woodsy’s Freedom of Information request to Bristol City Council regarding their expenditure on Victoria Park’s temporary roofless shed, ‘The Black Cloud‘, arrives on the ever-dependable ‘What Do They Know?‘ site and finds the council crunching urgently in to reverse gear.
A lot of it confirms what we already know. Namely that the council stumped up £15k in total of our money for this ‘artwork’ and it came in £5k tranches from Parks, Sustainable Development and the Urban Design sections of the council respectively.
But we also learn that “the Parks team contributed £5,000 from the Central Government grant as part of the Play Pathfinder programme.”
So are they telling us that they’ve handed money from a fund, that – in their own words (pdf) – was meant for, “children, particularly those aged 8-13 who live in the Bristol area,” to a couple of middle aged, middle class millenarian hippies from Wales and some contemporary art wannabes from UWE?
They seem to be. But let’s not obsess too much over fine detail here, because in a piece of blatant revisionist arse covering the council are now saying ‘The Black Cloud’ is all about supplying kids’ play equipment anyway:
An event will be programmed within the structure about BCC’s parks development programme and the improvement of Victoria Park’s play area in particular.
Presumably then they’re expecting us to overlook the simple fact that they could have rented an accessible rain-proof local church hall with seating, a power supply and tea making facilities for a few hundred quid for this purpose?
We’re not exactly getting value for money out of this are we? Spending £5,000 on a roofless temporary shed for a CONsultation on play equipment that should have cost a few hundred quid?
Maybe the Parks section should take a look at their own corporate risk register some time? Specifically risk number 8. Cunningly called ‘Value for Money’, it identifies this risk:
failure to demonstrate improvement in value for money as a result of the lack of a consistently strong focus on value for money across the Council
Oh well. It’s only £5,000 of someone else’s money isn’t it?
Moving on, we also learn the the Sustainable City team contributed £5,000 to this shed. Again, no worries here because:
Sustainable City are working with Situations to develop the event on the 10th October where issues about climate change / sustainability and other key areas of their work can be examined.
Ah yes, “the event on the 10th October”. Is this the ‘How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years’ workshop scheduled at the shed to explore “the future of humanity” and talk about JG Ballard with artists Heather and Ivan, science fiction writers, future thinkers and environmental campaigners by any chance?
And wasn’t this originally scheduled for the 5 September? Indeed it was – until people started asking difficult questions about our money and how it was being spent – when the date appears hurriedly changed while the waffle about JG Ballard and the future of humanity has been conveniently transformed into local authority jargon about “climate change / sustainability and other key areas of Sustainable City’s work”.
Personally I think I’m gonna miss our artists and friends sat in their roofless shed waffling inanely about Ballard to mystified locals. Although getting trapped in a roofless shed in the middle of your local park by a bunch of climate change obssessed bureaucrats justifying themselves sounds a bit like something out of early period Ballard anyway …
Our final contributors to the shed were the Urban Design team. We’re told:
The project has been supported for its contribution to the public art activity in the city and work with artists in the public realm
On a positive note, at least public art is actually a part of their remit. But if they’ve got cash to spend why aren’t they spending it – as the people we elected told them to – on a statue of Bill Slim?
Or is it that public art officers and their elitist friends in the contemporary art set think they don’t have to bother answering to us plebs?