Three stories in the news, a reflection prompted this morning by reading an article in The Guardian by Ian Birrell, former Deputy Editor of The Independent.
There are calls for taking the railways back into public ownership. On Facebook recently, a petition was being circulated.Ian Birrell, noting that "one former rail boss" says that privatisation was "half-hearted and half-baked" opposes the idea.
In South Yorkshire, the public sector Digital Region Project finally hits the buffers at a projected cost (ie loss) of £83.3m. The public sector scheme aimed to bring high speed broadband to South Yorkshire. Mostly funded by Europe, South Yorkshire's local themselves authorities put up £21m - and face the prospect of 'claw-back' of all or part of the European grant.
In Sheffield, the head of the council’s adult learning disabilities service, is currently suspended from her work with the council while an investigation is under way into a £6.5m projected overspend for the current year in her department, which has a budget of £35m. (There is no suggestion of anything illegal).
I don't know about you, but several things strike me: the very large sums of public money sloshing about in these stories; the general lack of clarity and accountability; the sense of wastage, of opportunity as much as money; the doubts about management; the political edges; and the very real difficulty for the "ordinary reader" of getting a good grip on exactly what is going on in each case.
What are we to make of it all? What do you make of it? Read the three stories - each won't take you a moment.
On the Digital Region story, according to the BBC, a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "A combination of market changes and the commercial model meant that it was no longer financially viable to support the project purely with public sector funding.
"Attempts were made to find a private partner, but everyone involved has decided that a managed closure of the network now represents the best deal for taxpayers."
The best deal for taxpayers. So that's alright then? No-one suspended while investigations take place?
Meanwhile, as someone who lives and works in one of the richest societies the world has ever known, I wonder that I feel anxious for the services we provide and the quality of life of adults with learning disabilities everywhere.Time for an early morning cup of tea.