LBWF’s Cann Hall murals, Cllr. Sally Littlejohn, and £14,500 of public money that has disappeared down the drain, lost forever

As previously reported here, in the past few years, and encouraged by a £40,000 Town Hall grant, Cann Hall councillors have been intent on installing an artistic mural in the ward, but on two separate occasions, their plans have fallen through and been abandoned.

That’s the bones of the story, but it can now be revealed that these failures have come at a cost. 

For in both cases significant sums of money were paid out in design fees prior to the decision to abort, while in one case there also were unexplained ‘closure costs’

And when these various sums are totted up, they come to no less than £14,500, or one third of the original budget.

That’s £14,500 which has disappeared down the drain, lost for ever.

Who, if anybody, bears responsibility?

It is a fact that one of the three Cann Hall councillors, local rentier and ex-Mayor Sally Littlejohn, was early on appointed lead, and subsequently has been at the heart of decision-making.

Cllr. Littlejohn has a coterie of camp followers, and no doubt they will argue that because she meant well, didn’t directly control the purse strings, and so on, she should escape censure.

Yet the facts do her no favours.

On the first occasion when a mural was mooted, it was Cllr. Littlejohn who organised a consultation about suitable sites, an exercise that in a ward of c.15,000 residents yielded a mere 22 responses, with just four supporting the winning choice.

For most people, such a risible outcome would have occasioned pause for reflection, and a return to the drawing board, yet Cllr. Littlejohn simply ploughed on, and the first tranche of expenditure on the mural followed.

In the end, it was only after a large public meeting demonstrated the scale of resident opposition that LBWF pulled the plug.

On the second occasion, Cllr. Littlejohn also presided, and there was a further debacle. 

A site was chosen, and a Bulgarian spray paint artist (yes, you read that correctly) contacted to come over and carry out the work.

However, not for the first time in LBWF procurement negotiations, due diligence had been overlooked; and when this blog investigated the site’s freeholder, it quickly established that he was a ‘bed in a shed’ landlord, who had previously faced LBWF several times at tribunals.

Cue embarrassment, and another hasty retreat.      

Examined in the round, then, Cllr. Littlejohn’s judgement can only be described as seriously flawed, marked both by a hubristic misreading of the popular mood, and a lamentable unfamiliarity with routine process.

If only councillors could be surcharged for their imprudence.

Now there’s a thought.

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