Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Good luck with that, councillor!

IT had all the makings of a classic television comedy and more than a few smiles were raised when Councillor John Birtwistle struck a death blow at the heart of council jargon.

Officers went white and a fresh consignment of lily of the valley smelling salts was ordered for staff at director level and above when he suggested that the council should not only commit itself to using plain English but agree a review of how it was doing in a year’s time.

What was the man thinking of, buzzed the grapevine? Didn’t he realise that there could be all sorts of trouble if residents actually understood what the council was doing?

So there were a few nervous faces when management committee met and approved such an approach because it was totally new ground.

Now it may not sound like much and there will be those who feel it’s got two chances of success – fat chance and no chance – but it is now a matter of record and if devious attempts are made to kick it off into the long grass then I’m sure Councillor Birtwistle can be relied upon to get his scythe out and uncover it again.

I’ve seen council agenda paragraphs so badly written that not only I couldn’t understand them but neither could senior council officers when I asked them what it meant. Try this for instance.

“Displacement: no displacement has been assumed (i.e. no impacts identified represent reduced levels of activity elsewhere) for the WPNSA. In the case of the WPNSA (the 2013 options assessed) this represents the maturity of the operations. 

In the case of commercial development, a “low” level of displacement is assumed (25%) to take account of displacement at the local level as firms vacate sites to relocate to the site being assessed.”

Just crying out for a Crystal Mark for clarity isn’t it? But, believe me it is simplicity itself when compared to some council offerings. The grim delight comes with the fact that this was actually a paragraph from a later item on the same management committee agenda! 

We should all wish Councillor Birtwistle much luck.

Perhaps we could suggest a few legacies of our own?

COUNCILLORS have recently thrashed out a priority list of Olympic legacy proposals for Weymouth and Portland to cash in on.

I can now exclusively reveal that the fairy on top of this particular tree will be a new Museum of Roadworks and Queues which will be opening this summer.

Star exhibits include a shovel leaned on by Lord Coe, a complete unused set of shop cash bank paying in books covering the entire Olympic period and a rare brand new 2005 Vauxhall Corsa. 

Archaeologists say they recently found the car perfectly preserved in a side street where it had been parked and abandoned after being caught in the first Olympic traffic queues six years ago.

The museum’s new home will be in hastily converted accommodation at the former North Quay council offices which the authority no longer needs now all staff are preparing for transfer to the Charles Street Golf and Country Club in Dorchester.

Other world-beating proposals include an extension of the national and health lotteries to have a local one in Weymouth with the top prize being a new flower border wall of your choice made from recycled Pavilion bricks once the building has been demolished to make way for a new complex.

This will feature an impressive range of much needed charity shops, estate agents and cafes at first floor level.

The scheme at this and several other levels will be paid for by a tasteful selection of 420 luxury apartments created by 60 separate schemes restricted in each case to just seven state of the art outlets to avoid triggering any development requirement to provide affordable homes.

So when – and if – the powers that be carry out their stated intent to consult the public on which potential legacy ideas the council should concentrate on, you might want to suggest a few of your own!

Think again before we lose all our visitors

YOU have to raise a wry smile at national coverage that Weymouth’s car parking charges are now officially among the most expensive in the country.

We’ve known that for years as those nice machines took our hard earned cash for the privilege of parking to tour Weymouth’s growing number of empty shops.

National figures show it is costing us a fortune, but the irony is they only confirm what every resident has lived with for a long time.

Worse still, the wailing and wringing of hands over those charges fails to highlight the fact that this isn’t something just recently inflicted on us.

We have actually had a freeze on car parking charges recently and the aforementioned dreadful fee levels were demanded of us some time ago, so it is an ongoing evil.

Dare I say it that there have been a few “green shoots” of common sense shown recently by the authorities with the introduction of free Sunday parking etc.

But it is going to take a fundamental rethink in these times of recession if we are not to lose our visitors to other resorts with more welcoming – and cheaper – facilities for parking and tourism paraphernalia.


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