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Thursday, January 15, 2015

UPDATED Cerestes Budget Consultation - The Death Wish 2 franchise

BREAKING NEWS: The Swiss decision OVERNIGHT AND UNANNOUNCED to abandon the cap on the Swiss Franc has effectively totally screwed up the Peterborough City Council Budget, (must find £25million plus this year to balance the books)  as they were banking on an offshore injection of funds  behind Fletton Quays - A riverside mixed development - currently a cleared building site.
  The Swiss Franc is 40 per cent up on the Euro! $1 = 0.8664

The IT Department....

UPDATED   Developing Story Return Often!

Julian Bray writes: Has anyone in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire dipped into the PCC Budget Consultation Part 2? Carefully put on the public website as a PDF so few non IT savvy people will ever read it... It's not a fun read but could well form the basis of a Hollywood B list budget epic. The sort my ex-near neighbour (in the 70's) the late Michael Winner would direct then rush home to his mansion in Holland Park and hack together a rough cut on his ancient Moviola  (Italian built Marco!) film editing machine.

Winner would do it all himself rather than hire in an Editor, and gave himself an end credit under an assumed name, in the process he'd turn the film around under budget, liberate his directors fee thus get paid quicker.

To some extent the Winner 'Death Wish' method is being applied to the slash and burn Cereste Bonfire of the Vanities Budget.  But unlike Mr Winner, the Dear Leader is clinging onto a few deep black hole financial liabilities.  We can confidently predict Vivacity will be forgotten within 2 years, possibly 3,  as council funding fully dries up, the leased perks returned, and the whole overhyped self-serving mess decently buried,  and who really missed the Peterborough Festival ?   Well that too, will now slowly wither on the vine.

The Key Theatre as we have already suggested, can never ever, hope to be a profit centre as it daily gives away the bulk of the hard won ticket revenue 'on four walls deals' with visiting productions and in effect relies on a paltry commission. Ask the management (Vivacity) what the actual  '% split' is. You'll be shocked as to how little they make financially out of each production.

The theatre has also virtually given away the catering and bars operation, when that should be a major regular income stream.  Our ideas were put forward in the first consultation, largely ignored by either Cllr Fitz or was it Cllr Seaton? (You know the two, plausible understudies for Tweedledum and Tweedledee or perhaps it was  Cllr Spanker? You decide...)

Simply the Key urgently needs to follow the example of the Lyric Hammersmith, cut down the number of bought in productions, and urgently produce a few of its own.  Send them out on the theatre circuit, generating revenue and royalties for years, decades to come.  That is the only way the Key can ever be self supporting.  The rest of the Vivacity rag bag collection of services - seeing that funding is now being slashed - will also go into a slow decline, then some excuse will be found, to sell off or long let the asset.

As so much has been cut back, we again suggest a cull of councillors should also be seriously considered or at least check if vital signs can be detected. This small cash strapped Unitary Authority could easily work with just 25 councillors...

BLACK HOLE ONE: Interesting is the decision to keep the propaganda department at Town Hall ( and before they get all upset the Government during World War Two had a Propaganda Ministry, according to its then head the late Lex Hornsby - one of my very early employers -  (when he decades later started up a PR firm, and also helped form the Institute of Public Relations and an early President..)  Public Relations evolved as the PRopagandists were referred to as PRs' - the first two letters ...

CLOSE this department as despite what is claimed in the consultation blurb, the overall output is really very poor (for evidence see the PCC website) and almost totally reactive, not what you need for a non essential cost centre PR department. For evidence check the phone logs for both fixed phones and council mobiles. How many national journalists and broadcasters do they physically talk to each day? Ask them - get names!  Offer a fixed price PR/Communications annual contract set against agreed objectives, to a mid range London based PR consultancy .... Has to be in London, as the bulk of influential opinion formers are there. Someone  suggested a local firm could do it, however to get on ITV news (national) you have to go to Nottingham, BBC News TV uplink is in Cambridge as is the local radio studio,  Emma Baugh (BBC Look East) does a visiting service for Peterborough. In London all the news studios are bunched together. National newspapers are also metropolitan based. It has also been pointed out and not shown on the budget document that PCC pays a substantial fee to the Local Government Association (LGA) who routinely churn out news releases.

BLACK HOLE TWO:  Virtually untouched the Gillian Beasley CORP Department,  for such a small Unitary Authority we seem to have a huge number of solicitors and para-legals on the books. Do what the Unions do, outsource it all with a fixed priced contract with a legal services law firm.

BLACK HOLE THREE: Cllr Gavin Elsey, even though he's cut back on the hair products, the Cllr still isn't good with figures, has made a right Horlicks of the black/brown/green and food caddy bins. In the end most people have said stuff everything, it now all goes in the black bin. The special bags for the food caddies are horrendously expensive, and we are already buying them.  The upshot, more is going back into landfill as the black bin contents are they say 'contaminated'.

BLACK HOLE FOUR: Opportunity Peterborough  ????????????? Perhaps they can tell us in simple language ( or a spreadsheet ) what they have contributed as a profit centre to this City over the last five years. Good at spending.

BIG BLACK HOLE FIVE: Blue Sky Peterborough Ltd - wholly owned by the council but you try and get some figures we estimate £600,000 blown so far into the blue sky.... SHUT IT DOWN - TOTALLY. DO IT NOW!

BIG BLACK HOLE SIX: The council IT department, we suggested a major clear out. Its not fit for purpose, costs a fortune, staff openly grumble about it and the poor backup service delivered by IT. little is said in the public consultation document but clearly this needs expanding on as they say they are to dump their prime software system... THIS IS AN EYEWATERING MEGA CASH SWALLOWING PROPOSITION, see below.

This department can easily spend millions and once the 'chuck everything out and start again'  ball is rolling no one can ever stop it. Remember, you first read it here!

It's generally well known that IT professionals can easily pull the wool over the eyes of  non geeky mortals, but the red flag went up when the consultation document said they were dumping the Oracle software system... in the current tight financial situation (£25 MILLION PLUS SHORTFALL THIS YEAR!)  SHEER MADNESS, leave it alone and go down this path:

Many EBS customers have stood fast on pre-R12.1 EBS versions while they wait for Oracle’s Fusion Applications strategy to evolve. Now that strategy has clarified around the concept of co-existence rather than wholesale replacement, and the support timelines for pre-R12 EBS versions have also evolved, planning for the long term future of their EBS investments will be back on the table.

With the long term R12 support timelines, clearer commitment from Oracle to continue to invest in and develop EBS, and greater opportunity to build a business led justification for an upgrade, our view is that now is the time for EBS customers to reconsider their applications strategies, and more specifically to evaluate upgrading to R12.2.


Now that Switzerland has suddenly discarded the cap on the Swiss Franc, (No one saw that one coming!)  you can forget any talk about the Riverside Development. Overnight (Friday Jan 16th) the Swiss franc rocketed UP 40% on the Euro and is now valued at 0.8664 against the US $. Simply this is a game changer in world finance. So any overseas/offshore investor being relied upon by the council to fund a major development, now has to be discounted, until the source funding can be re-evaluated and secured under the new rules. In simple terms any letter of intent /financial projection pre-dating January 16th involving offshore finance and possibly contingent on Swiss bankers can now be safely filed in the waste bin. By the way we hear that AQUA HOUSE owned by the council has been stripped of metalwork, copper etc.. Possibly why a large number of white caravans are all parked up in the Aqua House car park!"

 Come back later....and we'll finish this... its taking so long as the consultation documents 40 plus pages require that you have to strip out the acres of justification, (purple prose if you like) and drill down to the meat.

Essentially this City is in for an extremely rough ride over the next 10 years and could well call in the Commissioners in 3 to 5 years time. The council is robotically sleepwalking into this. One way could be to open negotiations with Cambridgeshire County Council, and pool resources. In other words, end the Unitary Authority and become a full part of the County of Cambridgeshire, it would cut out massive duplication and give the combined administrations economies of scale. But would Cambridgeshire CC wish to take on the Cereste induced debt mountain?

Someone might also like to check up on the story we hear directly from an elected member, that the serially useless Cllr Turnip "rarely reads council papers before a meeting, and is so unprepared. That's why it takes much longer, if he is in the chair" Sadly Cllr Turnip is standing again in May! Arrrrggghhh! 

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We have the full High Court judgment, saved as a page on here. l

ampoon (lampoon) Pronunciation: /lamˈpuːn/ verb [with object] publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule, irony, or sarcasm: the actor was lampooned by the press noun a speech or text lampooning someone or something: the magazine fired at God, Royalty, and politicians, using cartoons and lampoons.

Derivatives: lampooner noun lampoonery noun lampoonist noun Origin: mid 17th century: from French lampon, said to be from lampons 'let us drink' (used as a refrain), from lamper 'gulp down', nasalized form of laper 'to lap (liquid).

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