Fife Council’s mismanagement of the introduction of an IT system to the tune of unspecified millions of pounds is unlikely to be the only large-scale project where council taxpayers’ money has been squandered on the back of grandiose promises by Councillors.
Alex Rowley’s pet scheme to erect scores of wind turbines and save the Council tens of millions of pounds seems to have been so much hot air; the hundreds of thousands of pounds already spent in consultants’ fees, screening applications, public consultations and officer time have been quietly written off.
More disturbing still is the aversion of Fife Council leaders to addressing issues of accountability and responsibility. There is evidence of a culture of fear and intimidation within the Council which prevents employees from taking action to stop misspending – another example which springs to mind is the new Kelty community centre which is over schedule and over budget. Senior Labour Councillor Mark Hood dismissed attempts to apportion blame for the mismanagement of the IT system as “a witchhunt”.
But who is to blame if it isn’t the very Labour Councillors who took over Fife Council in 2012, signed the IT deal in 2013 and have overseen the project’s spiralling costs and vanishing savings since then? When Mark Hood and his colleagues are promising the moon, they expect the electorate to reward them at the ballot box. When they spectacularly fail to deliver, they cry foul and attempt to portray themselves as the victims.
Again, we are asked to believe that the huge cuts in jobs and services Labour Council leader David Ross has imposed are not Fife Labour’s fault. At some point Fife’s electors will start asking themselves why on earth Messrs Rowley, Ross and Hood didn’t put their own house in order instead of asking the people of Fife to shoulder ever more pain?