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RAGING against the

dying of the light seems to be all the rage these days (har har!), but when it boils down to it, I find that I am not so much enraged but persistently irritated by growing older. It does not seem so long

ago that I was wandering across beaches enjoying the feeling of the hot dry sand between my toes and feeling the sun on my once hirsute noggin. Nowadays, it seems as though each grain of sand manages to abrade my poor soles, while the sun not so much rolls about heaven all day but is a fixed arc light, focused on turning my scalp several interesting shades of crimson. Years ago – when I was

young – I often heard the saying that youth is wasted on the young. It was often directed at me by the sort of serial vinegar drinkers and lemon suckers who made it their business to know everyone else’s. I thought that it was a pretty ropey old thing to say then. You might expect that, as the years have passed, my own opinion is now pretty much aligned with those old sourpusses of the past. However, if it wasn’t

for the transitory pleasures of youthful exuberance being dimly remembered as a series of vignettes and

sensations, what would there be to moan about in old age? That’s what makes life worthwhile as one gets older: you can’t take away the right to gripe! Imagine what


would be like as an older person if there was nothing to complain about. It is the well thought out and meticulously constructed whinge that is our way of interacting with others and with our environment. Moaning keeps us in the world and relevant to it. Constant complaining

about how things were better in the past condenses down to our own wish to relive it; not least as it is further away from the future than where we are now. The other day I visited

the doctor’s surgery for a routine check-up. To pass the time, I picked up a magazine and was mystified by an interview with a woman, no more than in her mid-sixties, who was banging on about how wholesome music was in the past than it is now. When she was 15, if she

ever was, the music of the moment would have been The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Who, and – not too far away – Jimi Hendrix. Stop imagining the past;

try remembering the future; enjoy the ever-moving now.

Draenog’s risk and reward

£1.988m, readers. That’s a lot of cat food. You can build a lot of relationships

for that sort of money. Whether you actually create any value - let alone ‘added value’ - for that sort of cash is a matter of mystery. Mysterious how, Draenog hears

you gasp.

‘Risk and Reward’ it was called. It turns out that within a gnat’s

turd of £2m of public money funded by you, me, and others, is what Ceredigion County Council splashed out on engaging the curiously capitalised PricewaterhouseCoopers on telling it how it could do stuff. P o s s i b l y

synergistically with other local authorities, possibly in a more cost- efficient way, possibly anything. And Draenog can make that

sweeping generalisation really easily, readers. This is the answer to what

Ceredigion County Council is prepared to disclose about what it spent on PWC’s assistance in its ‘risk and reward’ exercise. ‘Ceredigion County Council has made payments totalling £1,988,212’. We can rest assured that the money

was carefully monitored because: “Officers from the Authority have negotiated some payments where the fee was not agreed… and there have been elements of the project that were not agreed such as the quick win schedule.” But what did PWC actually do for that enormous amount of Kit- e-kat? T h e

Council is not saying:

“We believe that disclosure

of some of the content of the contract document would prejudice the council if it undertakes a similar procurement in the future as the competition may not be fair or for best value because the prices for this exercise will be known. For example, disclosure of

a winning tenderer’s bid to a competitor could lead to the competitor copying elements of the bid in order to win work without actually

having the internal mechanisms (capacity, staffing skills, etc.) to deliver the product or service at the level and price outlined. This could lead to increased instances of projects running over budget or procurement disputes, which would be contrary to the public interest as they would have to be funded from the public purse. “Equally, there is a risk that

disclosure would prejudice the commercial interests of PwC, particularly in relation to their ability to compete fairly in instances where there are for public sector contracts. By disclosing this information, there is an argument that future tenders won’t be competed for fairly as PwC will be at a disadvantage to their competitors who will know PwC’s prices.” Funny that, bearing in mind PWC

has done a fair amount of work for Welsh local authorities on precisely the sort of project that Ceredigion engaged it for and they have not had problems with disclosure there. Makes you wonder what all the secrecy is about. Because what Draenog can tell you, readers, is that the work done by PWC for Ceredigion was so secret and what it was asked to do was so sensitive that the council has redacted every single item upon which PWC advised it. So, we know how much it cost, but

we don’t know what they did. Or even what they were asked to

do. As can be seen on the images here. However, Draenog knows

something about the Freedom of Information Act that someone has overlooked. While the council claims the

information is commercially sensitive, it exceeds the time limit for it to claim

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