I received another interesting item of correspondence today.
I recently posted on my blog that the City Council has an art collection worth 135,000,000.00 pounds.
This came to light after I asked a question of Lib Dem Councillor and Southampton City Council leisure boss, Steve Sollitt, at the last Full Council meeting. The subject of Southampton's art collection has been thrust into the limelight following Cllr Sollitt's controversial decision to buy a 250,000.00 pound painting, Red Movement, criticised by some as looking like a 1970s quilt cover.
I asked a supplementary question of Cllr Sollitt at the Council meeting. I asked how much the art collection was insured for. He said that he didn't know the answer but he would let me know as soon as he had found out.
Well I received the answer today. The answer is that it is not insured!
Here is what the letter said:
The whole Art collection was insured at the Authority's expense up until 1994, when budgetary pressures forced a review of financial priorities.
It was concluded after weighing risks against existing security and risk management measures that the "all risks" insurance premium was not a major priority compared to other key services provided by the Art Gallery. The Permanent Collection ceased to be insured against any risk, and therefore there is no current insurance evaluation.
The letter went on to say:
Consideration during budget preparations in recent years has been given to whether this issue should be raised as an upwards pressure, but ultimately other priorities have been allocated resources given the assessment of risk.
So there we have it, a 135m pound art collection which is uninsured!
A 135m pound perishable asset belonging to the City which if destroyed, say in a fire, would leave us with nothing to show for it.
Frankly, if we can't afford to insure such a valuable asset, should we really be looking after it on behalf of the city.
Another thing which bewilders me is that we supposedly can't afford to insure our art but the Lib Dems have just agreed to spend an extra 250,000.00 pounds on additional design costs for a new art centre in Guild Hall Square (on the old Tyrell and Green site). Just to be clear, the 250,000.00 pounds isn't what the Council is paying for the project. This is simply the latest over spend!!!
Also I am very sceptical about the City's "risk management measures". My next question will be about what exactly these are. However I do know that security staff have concerns about how secure the Civic Centre is. I understand that in the past, homeless people have broken into the building in order to sleep in there for the night. It doesn't sound that secure to me.
I wonder if we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of Lib Dem incompetence. What will we discover next!?