Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Public

The general public are welcome at meetings of the councils. We are a democracy after all, and we know from Central Governnment that it idoesn't matter who you ignore... so we welcome the public.

Let me tell you about a member of the public who attended the last council meeting. A robust woman of middle years made herself comfortable in the chamber. (Sounds grand doesn't it? It's room round the back, actually, but councils meet in Council Chambers... so it's a chamber). The room was freezing. She sat down with purpose (though gravity would have been having considerable influence) and wrapped her coat tightly about her ample frame.

At the appointed time within the proceedings, the Chair (remember in this new PC world, we do not have a Chairman or Chairwoman, just a Chair**) asked if there were any items that the public wished to add to the evening's agenda. She rose. Her chair groaned with relief. Her voice, at first steady, started on a litany of agenda items.

  • When is Summit Road to be re-surfaced?
    It's nothing to do with the Parish Council - we will raise it with the District/County
  • Theres some potholes in the footpath where it runs along Las Ramblas
    It's grass, of course it is uneven. Get a life, get a torch, choose a different route.
  • Does anyone keep the drain clear along the Spine
    Have you seen evidence that it is blocked? No.
    Is it draining away? Yes. Then it's being kept clear !!!
  • There are potholes where the footpath crosses an old cart track.
    It's an old cart track, of course it has potholes. Get a life. Get a spade and fill them in!

And as the litany progressed, she became more agitated, and started to speak faster, and faster. The slight scent of hysteria permeated the room as she got onto the subject of stinging-nettles and beach huts... but eventually she collapsed back into her seat.

The councillors shared a moment of relief. Nobody actually had to slap her. You could see that would have caused a problem as there would have been an unseemly battle to be given the honour.

**Please try add your own points of ridicule. The insidious scum of Political Correctness deserves all the opprobrium you heap upon it. And more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

About the Parish - A quick sketch

Let me give you a thumbnail tour of our Parish. (I will, no doubt, provide greater detail at a later date).

The parish nestles by the sea, bordered by a river to one side, farmland on another side, the sea(and Las Ramblas), and an early 20th century housing estate. The parish council is responsible for the upkeep of the major infrastructure of the Parish not already managed by the District, County or Central Government. This leaves us with the heavy responsibility of a flagpole, footpath, and war memorial.

We are a Parish of less than 1000 souls. Most of these souls live in Alchemy Drive, Bayshore Avenue and The Enclave, though there are a few in scattered mansions bordering the farmland, and in Summit Avenue.
We are entirely residential. There are no shops, or pubs, or commercial premises within the Parish. We do, however, make extensive use of services from neighbouring parishes, particularly builders, plumbers, and funeral directors. The latter being the growth industry for the area.
Those who know the area will acknowledge that the Highway Code is considered heretical by the elders of the community, though they have been known to accidentally comply with its protocols. I will return to the subject of driving within the parish, at a later date.

The Parish Council and its sub-committees meet the statutory number of times each year in a hall in the neighbouring parish. (Our parish does not stoop to having a hall, nor a pub, nor a restaurant, nor a church, mosque, synagogue or temple). Over the following months I will tell you more of what goes on during these meetings.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

First Steps

Today saw my first official steps.

You cannot take public office without completing the Register of Members' Interests. This legal artifact makes sure that you have declared your interests so that you can be seen to be fair and un-biased in your dealings with and for the Parish.

Interestingly it deals only with financial interests, and memberships of organisations; not hobbies, football affiliations, favourite wine, or indeed any of the things that matter. It ocurrs to me that being and independent radical would not have to be declared, nor would being an anarchist, or even a terrorist (assuming you were an independent)... as in each case they imply no affiliations to groups. As it happens Councillor is none of these. The rebel in me is under control. For now.

I completed the register, correctly and obediently, and delivered it to the Clerk of the Council.

How did it Start?

Ahh, you may well ask.

I guess it all started several years ago when your correspondant started to think about doing something for the community, and at the time considered volunteering as a magistrate. This had several attractions:

  • I could hang people (e.g. violent offenders, Millwall supporters, BMW drivers... and similarly anti-social groups)
  • I could imprison people (e.g. motorists who push in to a traffic queue, old people who block the aisles in Sainsbury, and people with polyphonic ringtones)
  • I could send people to penal colonies (e.g. people from Essex, Chavs and so forth)
  • I didn't have to wear a silly wig

However, it also had several disadvantages:
  • A great deal of time would be needed to become qualified (and as I have a full-time job, this could prove difficult)
  • There is a clerk of the court who is there to stop you doing the right thing, i.e. hanging, flogging, shipping to penal colonies, imprisoning etc.
    Hey! what can I say, I would be firm but fair!!!

Having dismissed this idea, I wondered what else I could do. The Prime Minister's job was taken, and evidently I was under-qualified for that, being a) honest, b) logical, c) honest, and d) honest. Then a dear freind became a Parish Councillor and that gave me the trigger.

Time passed.

The Invisible White Rabbit dropped a letter through my door (and those of my neighbours.... I wasn't singled out!) explaining that a post had become available on our Parish Council, and asking for candidates. Galvanised by this, I ignored it for a week or two, then put myself forward. It became clear that several others had also volunteered so an interview process was convened. At the subsequent Council meeting I was co-opted... and so the story begins.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Council - in the beginning

So, your correspondant has been co-opted onto the Parish Council. Now there's interesting for you.
In this blog your unamed correspondant will keep you abreast of the machinations of local government in a seaside parish.