Author Topic: Carpetgate Revisited  (Read 3035 times)

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steveL

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Carpetgate Revisited
« on: October 01, 2017, 09: PM »
It's been a while since we broke this story so, by way of an epilogue, I'll just add-in what we have learnt since.

* The full cost to the taxpayer of this episode is now known to have been in the region of £80,000.

* The layout of the building, its furnishings and carpets had all been designed by a consultancy firm who specialise in the design of buildings for people with disabilities including those with Autism and those who are Visually Impaired. This involved, for example, specifically selected coloured carpets and creating high-contrast, colour interfaces between floor coverings and furniture.

* The carpets were changed purely and solely on the objection of Christopher Akers-Belcher who insisted on the use of 'corporate' colours. The specialised design features of the building and the furnishings were explained to CAB at the time but his response had been that he 'didn't care' This is in stark contrast to the official excuse given that it was the inappropriateness of the furnishings for disabled people that had led to the change.

* After The Post first ran the story, all people involved in the project were forced to sign a gagging order preventing them from discussing with anyone the events which had led to the change of carpeting. The implied alternative was to say goodbye to their job

* Gagging orders are illegal under Government Whistleblowing legislation..

Rotten to the Core doesn't even come close to covering it.   
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 10: PM by admin »
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fred c

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 03: AM »
The email i sent to CEO at the time.....


 
Dear Ms Alexander

 I have a genuine understanding of how  cuts by central government can & do impact on the services of HBC & it's staff, I understand that constraints on council spending is inevitable.

 If I didn't actually realise those facts by making myself aware of them by reading a selection of quality newspapers, I/We council tax payers are regaled on a regular basis of Central Government cuts by Clr C Akers Belchers statements in the Hartlepool Mail.

With those constraints on the councils ability to fund various services in mind & the recent article in the Mail regarding the removal of carpets from the newly opened CIL in Burbank Street, could you as CEO give me a full & detailed explanation as to the reasoning behind the decision to remove the carpets from the CIL.?

 Who was responsible for the decision, why was the decision made, were you consulted about the decision, what is the full & total cost of the removal & replacement of the carpets to the council ?

 If there were, for instance design faults by the architect's or interior designers I would presume that the removal & renewal would be at a cost to them, not the council.

 What I find most disturbing, even more so than the cost of the decision to remove & replace carpets are the reasons quoted in the Hartlepool Mail for the decision, that the carpet would present difficulties for suffers of Autism & Dementia, I did some basic online research on those facts & according to several websites that specialise in Autism & Dementia, colours to be avoided are bright or multi coloured/patterned carpets, colours that are recommended are neutral /soft colours.

 I understand that the carpets in the CIL were actually Beige, which apparently was an ideal choice, I have to say, 'If' that is correct, I find the reasons/excuses given in the Mails article to be absolutely disgraceful, for anyone to use those descriptions as a reason to get rid of carpets for vanity or personal choice is nothing short of obscene, I would even go so far as to use the word 'sick'

 This issue as reported by the Mail is a serious cause for concern for HBC, I sincerely hope that you can provide answers to the questions I have put to you, whoever was responsible for the decision to remove & replace those carpets has placed the council in an invidious position & should suffer the consequences of their action.

 From a personal point of view, I am well aware of the views of various people within the council regarding my criticisms over many issues, I readily admit to being a vocal critic of aspects of council business, what I will also admit to, is the fact I believe that Hartlepool Council has a majority of staff who are fully commited to improving the town, hard working conscientious people who are as proud of Hartlepool as I am, unfortunately, I do not have same respect for the ruling coalition group of councillors.

 Regards

Ms Alexanders answer

Dear Mr

 I would like to thank you for your correspondence in relation to the Hartlepool Centre for Independent Living.

 I can confirm, as detailed in the Council’s media statement, that the cost of removing and replacing the carpets and floor coverings is £13,500.  This is the net additional cost of replacing carpets and floor coverings of £45,000, less the value of the carpets which will be reused of £31,500.  The net cost of £13,500 arises from the decision taken by senior officers of the Council, including myself, in consultation with the relevant Policy Committee Chairs to replace carpets and floor coverings. 

 The centre was designed to meet the needs of a wide range of users, including people with dementia and autism.

 As indicated in our media statement some of the carpets and floor coverings in the new building were unsuitable – including for the dementia and autism friendly environment that we were looking to create.  This was not the only reason for replacing carpets and floor coverings and some of the carpets were replaced because they were unsuitable in terms of the overall professional look we want to achieve for this building. 

 It is regrettable that some carpets and floor coverings had to be replaced and this decision was not taken lightly.  I can also assure you that new procedures have been put in place to prevent a situation like this happening again. I think it’s also important to point out that despite the additional spending on carpets and floor coverings of £13,500, this £4 million project to benefit the people of Hartlepool has been delivered under budget.

 Regards

 Gill Alexander | Chief Executive

Hartlepool Borough Council

steveL

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 06: AM »
Quote
I can also assure you that new procedures have been put in place to prevent a situation like this happening again.
That phrase takes on a whole new meaning now aka "We've put gagging orders on everyone to stop stuff like this leaking out again"

As I said at the time of Dave Stubbs tenure, the wrongdoing was always less important than the chances that knowledge of it might leak out.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2017, 06: AM by steveL »
Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

craig finton

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 07: AM »
No hope for these people. Deceipt is built into the culture

Inspector Knacker

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2017, 06: AM »


Ms Alexanders answer

Dear Mr

 I would like to thank you for your correspondence in relation to the Hartlepool Centre for Independent Living.

 I can confirm, as detailed in the Council’s media statement, that the cost of removing and replacing the carpets and floor coverings is £13,500.  This is the net additional cost of replacing carpets and floor coverings of £45,000, less the value of the carpets which will be reused of £31,500.  The net cost of £13,500 arises from the decision taken by senior officers of the Council, including myself, in consultation with the relevant Policy Committee Chairs to replace carpets and floor coverings. 
[/Who raised the question of carpets, councillors or officers? I would from previous experience imagine those actually doing the work would have settled on a suitable spec earlier into the project.]
 The centre was designed to meet the needs of a wide range of users, including people with dementia and autism.
Obviously not designed to accomodate those prone to egotistic hissy fits
 As indicated in our media statement some of the carpets and floor coverings in the new building were unsuitable – including for the dementia and autism friendly environment that we were looking to create.  What environment were you trying to create exactly?This was not the only reason for replacing carpets and floor coverings and some of the carpets were replaced because they were unsuitable in terms of the overall professional look we want to achieve for this building. 
That being the case, surely the bill would have been picked up by the contractor, or was the so called 'professional look' a whim?

 It is regrettable that some carpets and floor coverings had to be replaced and this decision was not taken lightly.  It would appear it was, considering the cost involvedI can also assure you that new procedures have been put in place to prevent a situation like this happening again. Doing it when councillors are on holiday perhaps?I think it’s also important to point out that despite the additional spending on carpets and floor coverings of £13,500, this £4 million project to benefit the people of Hartlepool has been delivered under budget.I too think it's important to equally point out that being under budget is irrelevant in the context that this does note negate the expenditure of  £13,500. It's £13,500 that could have been spent somewhere else.

 Regards

 Gill Alexander | Chief Executive

Hartlepool Borough Council

DRiddle

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2018, 12: PM »
Interestingly, i'm dredging up another old thread today. This one. More to follow.

fred c

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2018, 04: PM »
When you look back at situations such as this it beggars belief, you have to ask 2 simple questions to understand the appalling waste of public money.

1) Who decided to replace the carpets and why ?

2) Who was responsible for covering up the details of that decision and why ?

I think we all know the 2 people responsible......th e sooner they are both show the door to the civic the better.

Inspector Knacker

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 06: AM »
I never thought of them as style consultants, in fact I try not o think of them at all.
However, when that decision to change was made, I assume experts in the field would have decided on the colour's.
Do the hissy fitters have greater knowledge on the subject and quality of the work or do  they just strut around deigning to impose their gaudy 'tastes' on everything.

DRiddle

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 06: AM »
Sources from within HBC have confirmed that carpets recently replaced in the Rifty was new carpet and NOT the ‘salvaged’ carpet HBC claim is usable and in storage after the hissy fit in the CIL.

Remember, HBC stated very clearly that the carpets ripped up from the CIL shortly after being laid would be re-used in council buildings. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/anger-as-13-500-blunder-sees-new-carpets-ripped-out-of-4million-centre-1-8418399/amp

This of course begs the question . . . Why not? Has the carpet already been re-purposed? If so where at? Does the ‘stored Carpet’ actually even exist?

I was told by a source that the bulk of what was ripped up was totally unusable due to the glue used to lay it. Remember, employees on the job were reportedly subjected to gagging orders.

The whole explanation surrounding what happened at the CIL sounded like b0ll0cks at the time. It’s even more suspicious now.


UnknownUser

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2018, 08: AM »
I would be of a predisposition to believe they are carpet tiles rather than actual carpet. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

Carpet tiles are hard backed and are deceivingly heavy when you have a handful of them, they have to be; they also have to be glued down with some pretty strong industrial strength adhesive, you can't just lay them with Pritt Stick (other brands are available).

I have seen carpet tiles ripped up granted only a couple at a time chewing gum etc & general wear & tear this is in a prestige corporate environment so please understand that there may be a huge difference in quality used, however upon removal the hard backs split/tear leaving the back of the tile what you may call patchy i.e uneven and fragmented; the same can also be said of the floor and any residue has to be scraped up to ensure a smooth even surface before any new tiles/s can be glued down in place.

This of course begs the question . . . Why not? Has the carpet already been re-purposed? If so where at? Does the ‘stored Carpet’ actually even exist?
   

I would be 99% certain any alleged "stored carpet" does not exist if tiles were used.


fred c

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2018, 09: AM »
An accurate description of removing carpet tiles by UnknowUser......and a an even more accurate explanation of the of the result of ripping the tiles up.

Like lots of questions that could be put to HBC the difficulty is getting an answer to any of them, there's a definite air of a 'mushroom policy' within the whole council........at the time of carpetgate there were 22 labtor mob councillors and it's 100% certain that most of those know the circumstances ie. the Who, the Why and the How do we keep it quiet.


DRiddle

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2018, 03: PM »
I was just re-reading over the correspondence sent to Fred by which states very clearly the CLAIM by the council that £31,500 worth of carpet was placed into storage. This of course came AFTER CAB was alleged to have over ruled professional experts because HE didn’t like the colour.

What then followed was a series of reasons as to why the carpets were ripped up/removed which were suspicious reasons at the time.

I remember thinking at the time “ok let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for the next council owned building of significant size to require carpeting and see if they re-use them”

I’ll bet a good few quid that’s what’s happened is somebody connected with the Rifty will have contacted the council after the flooding.

So the question remains. Did the council utilise some or all of the £31,500 worth of carpet it claims to have stored from the farce at the CIL? Or, more likely, were NEW carpets ordered for the Rifty costing the tax payer god knows how much?

I know which my money is on.


fred c

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2018, 04: PM »
An email to the chief exec requesting a tour of the Read Street Depot could well bear fruit, I hear it's a bit of an Aladdin's Cave.

DRiddle

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2018, 08: AM »
I always wondered if carpet gate would come back to bite them again. There’s more to come on this.

As Human Resources staff and unions have to tip toe through the latest round of redundancies, seemingly the profligate spending looks like its continuing as normal.

Labour sources themselves (not HBC staff) are working hard to try to clarify whether, as £31,500 worth of carpets sat gathering dust in storage, the Akers-Bekchers casually browsed through their options choosing brand new ones for the Rifty.

And some people wander how we end up with an unanticipated additional deficit.

Crazy times.

Inspector Knacker

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Re: Carpetgate Revisited
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2018, 08: AM »
the Akers-Bekchers casually browsed through their options choosing brand new ones for the Rifty.

And some people wander how we end up with an unanticipated additional deficit.

Crazy times.
How can they choose? They should have no say in the matter as in my opinion the choice should be the sole decision of the council officers, it's council property.
Are they carpet consultants for all council properties, is there a carpet consultation allowance and expenses?