Thursday, 3 March 2016

February 30th and Costs of States Vehicle Signage

Well folks, my cold and cough is well underway. When I said I was going to the doctor, one wag at work said “Why not book at Maillards or Pitchers?” (For non-Jersey readers, they are undertakers!). Head is like cotton wool, so this blog which I penned earlier is not me at my best.

Political definitions, No 1: A Green Zone: An area of land where votes and hospitals are dumped.

February 30th

Remember the old mechanical ticket machines used by the JMT – Jersey Motor Transport Company? They had dials on them to be set for the day, month and year, but depended on the bus driver to know how many days there were in a month.

Back in the 1980s, I went on a bus journey the day after a leap day (29th February), and probably because he had to keep the month with an extra day, the bus driver had just moved the day forward by one. Imagine my amazement at seeing the date of February 30th!

I wish I kept the ticket – they were thick cardboard in those days, not flimsy paper – but alas it went into the bin at some

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, though, if there was a February 30th that we could, by magic of course, sometimes find ourselves in before normal time resumed on 1st March?

Only a few people would be around, because most had gone straight from 29th February to 1st March, but you wake up, and discover the Island silent, for the most part. No shops open, no people around, but perhaps at the dolmen, the fairy folk celebrating this special day!

Incidentally, in 1712, Sweden really did have February 30th. Sweden (which included Finland at the time) planned to convert from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Therefore 1700, which should have been a leap year in the Julian calendar, was not a leap year in Sweden. However, 1704 and 1708 became leap years by error. This left Sweden out of synchronization with both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars, so the country reverted back to the Julian calendar.

February 30, 1712, came into existence in Sweden when the Julian calendar was restored and 2 leap days were added that year! Sweden’s final conversion to the Gregorian calendar occurred in 1753, when an 11-day correction was applied so that February 17 was succeeded by March 1 that year.

People whose birthday is February 29th only have a birthday on their birth day once every 4 years. But imagine what it would be like if you were born on February 30th!

Costing a Change of Name

On 10 Dec 2015, I asked what costs would be associated with transfer of functions (FOI) and hence change of names of States Departments.

Economic Development becomes Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture
Education, Sport and Culture becomes Education;
Planning and Environment becomes Environment
Transport and Technical Services becomes Infrastructure

Reply: "Vehicle signage is likely to be updated as vehicles are serviced over the next year. The estimated cost of vehicle stickers would be in the region of £1,000. The cost of this will be absorbed into normal revenue budgets and would not be considered exceptional expenditure."

On 14 Jan 2016, I asked: Please could you give me approximate numbers of vehicles with departmental signage broken down by department for each of:

Economic Development
Education, Sport and Culture
Planning and Environment
Transport and Technical Services

And the result was:

Economic Development: 0
Education, Sport and Culture: 3
Planning and Environment: 9
Transport and Technical Services: 275

Now that is £287, and if we assume cost of stickers, material, cutting them, applying them, to be a mere £20, that comes to 287 x £20 = £5,740. Even if we took the figures to be only £10, that would give £287 x £10 = £2,870

I’m not just plucking the figure out of a hat either. Tim Baudains from Ogier Legal told me on Facebook that “Cost per vehicle is about £20 when buying in bulk and applying yourself (the mechanics)”

That seems a long way from the region of £1,000 and makes me wonder which magic hat they got that figure from! I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that sometimes there is a lot of guesswork in Freedom of Information responses! Sometimes it seems to be a case of “fob them off with any old rubbish”.

The figures are perhaps small compared to the £140 million black hole, but I always think there is much to be said for the maxim: look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.

My correspondent Adam Gardiner tells me:

“It is adhesive backed vinyl cut lettering and TTS have a machine that will do that. It’s how they produce various temporary road signage. But there is a skill to both cutting and applying and doubt strongly that would be a mechanics job; it’s specialised. TTS will have people employed to undertake that work and I suspect they would be paid more than mechanics”

“It is nonetheless a skill to apply and peel away both layers without rumpling or disturbing the letters…and as you say some preparation is needed to the vehicle surface to remove dust and grit particles and avoid getting anything trapped under the lettering. All takes time and therefore all costs.”

“If TTS signage operations were completely outsourced the cost/vehicle would rise as that haven’t got a clue about how much they should budget for livery in a commercial environment. Tenders would in any event be inflated.”

So how much will the change of vehicle signage actually cost? And who plucked the figure of £1,000 out, and how did they calculate it? I am reminded of "Yes Minister"!

Sir Humphrey: If local authorities don't send us statistics, Government figures will be a nonsense.
Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey: They'll be incomplete.
Hacker: Government figures are a nonsense, anyway.
Bernard: I think Sir Humphrey wants to ensure they're a complete nonsense.

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