Tuesday, August 04, 2009
(B of the) Bang for our Buck?
If ever you wanted a metaphor for the shambles that is the EU budget, this is it. The Times tells us that the “B of the Bang” sculpture in Manchester is being dismantled and sent for recycling, after only four years of existence.
Last month the Mail reported the original design and construction of B of the Bang cost £1.42 million, £700,000 of which was funded by the EU's European Regional Development Fund - money matched by the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Manchester City Council. Bear in mind that the EU's regional funds are meant to boost regional employment and growth.
The project was plagued by delays, spiralling costs and safety fears. Only two weeks after the work was unveiled in January 2005, parts of the sculpture, which swayed alarmingly in the wind, began to fall off and more spikes had to be removed. Manchester City Council closed the nearby road amid concerns that a passer-by could be injured by a falling spike.
If local councils want to waste taxpayers' money, then they are at least accountable to their electorates. It's a mistake that local councillors would be unwise to repeat if they want to hold on to their jobs.
However, there is no such incentive for anyone to put a stop to the EU wasting our money - in fact, the unaccountable nature of the EU budget, designed for the 1950s rather than the 21st Century, leads to these ridiculous types of projects year after year after year. See here for last year's '100 examples of EU fraud and waste', for instance.
Any fool can see how ridiculous the system is: sending money to Brussels only to have it sent back (minus the admin fee) with strict guidelines on how it can be spent and with the added caveat that failure to spend it (even badly) means less money next time around. To read our take on why the EU shouldn't run regional policy, see here.
How many more examples does the Government need to take EU budget reform seriously?