Friday, 11 June 2010

Why did Labour splash the cash on designer sofas and executive bins?

OK, the obvious answer is they thought the money would just keep on flowing. They believed the Gordon Brown’s hype about abolishing boom and bust.

But the enthusiasm of Labour ministers for announcing wads of spondoolicks ran right through the public sector, where the pennies just kept on flowing.

Earlier this week, I reported on how civil servants ignored the onset of recession and blew thousands of pounds on up-market “executive” waste bins because they looked nicer for visitors.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spent an extra £32,000 on the "aesthetically pleasing" bins, instead of opting for a budget option which was “slightly larger”.

Officials even examined the bins at large private firms including Deutsche Bank and Virgin Media.


They then settled on the range of “executive bins” for separating paper, recyclables and waste for landfill - costing £148 each instead of just £57 for the standard wheelie bin – because they looked nicer for visitors.

An internal report said: "The Executive bins are specifically built for an office environment and are aesthetically pleasing, but cost £32,273 more than the slightly larger and more cumbersome adapted wheelie bin version, which offers a budget option for delivery of this project.

"Choosing the Executive bin option would maintain the professional office environment that Defra look to maintain throughout their estate, especially in their HQ buildings to which many important visitors come."

Now it has emerged* that the Department for Communities and Local Government, the home of pointless announcements and wacky spending under Labour, spent more than £134,000 on luxury sofas intended to create a “peaceful oasis” in the workplace.

In total 28 of the shocking-red “Alcove Highback” sofas – costing £4,120 each - by Parisian designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, were ordered for the department’s central London headquarters at a total cost of £134,503.

They were part of a an efficiency initiative called “SpaceFlex” to make the department “more practical” and save money.

According to the marketing bumpf: “Sitting within the Alcove Highback, you cannot be seen or heard from the outside, and find yourself in a secluded space.”

And at DCLG, nobody can here you pouring money down the drain.

[* The sofa story is running on PA but I think it came from today’s Sun]

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