Perspective: Nice easy work if you can get it
AT long last, spring has sprung. It’s that warm, pleasant season when everyone can feel glad to be alive and a young man’s fancy turns to…
Well, it used to be that they could concentrate exclusively on love (sadly, often unrequited) but these days many of them have other things on their minds, like finding employment.
It is, of course, a major worry in these dark economic times of ours, but I may have come across something which could be just the ticket.
It entails working indirectly for the government (so no real job security, unlike in days gone by) but the opportunity to do not very much for the money seems to be ever present.
The chance to travel extensively is the big attraction. One example of best practice in the art of wasting public money was contractors from Liverpool being sent 205 miles to Cardiff where they changed a single carpet tile in a probation office.
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Then there were the Manchester contractors who were given the job of washing the windows of a bail hostel in Powys, Wales. It involved a 240-mile round trip and the job took an hour. Local probation service managers were forbidden from using anyone else to do it.
A worker was sent from London to fix a fire alarm in Cardiff and, don't you just know it, had to go back again because he had brought the wrong part.
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It gets better. An engineer went on a 500-mile round trip from Nottingham to Devon to fix a boiler. Then another engineer drove the 350 miles there and back from Hereford to do the same job.
A probation office in South Wales was serviced by carpenters from Birmingham, window fitters from Newcastle upon Tyne and engineers from Somerset.
Probation service union Napo has investigated and estimates that �15m has been wasted on the centralised contracting service over the past six years.
A top official concluded: "The privatisation of maintenance contracts has been a disaster."
But the Ministry of Justice, which has responsibility for the probation service, is undaunted about the criticism. A spokesman maintains that, far from losing money, the contract had saved �18m.
So it's carry on travelling by the sound of it.
It is going to be interesting to see what the weather will be like over the summer.
After they got their fingers burnt for predicting a "barbecue" summer in 2009 and it turned out to be a washout, the experts at the Met Office abandoned their long-term forecast service.
Stepping into the breach is Positive Weather Solutions, a private enterprise company of weathermen who reckon their seasonal predictions have been more accurate than those of the Met Office.
They assure us that this summer it will be sunny - in between rain showers. Hedging their bets, do you think?
These people go as far as predicting downpours in June, a mixed bag of weather in July and a scorching hot August.
Even so, I'll be keeping my brolly handy in the holiday month.