Wednesday 13 October 2010

And Mrs Angry said: 'let there be light'

Just to update the two D notice Barnet news stories of last week ...

Pot hole news, then, and lighting too. Oh yes. Please don't complain that you don't get all the top stories here. But of course what is of real importance is not so much the content of the information, interesting though it is, and which has been so hard to get hold of, but rather the reason it was so difficult to obtain.

Ahem, as I believe I may have mentioned, once or twice, but let me mention it again just in case anyone has forgotten, Mrs Angry's facebook persona has been gagged by the Barnet council thought police, and she has been given an apparent statutory two month's suspension. She is sitting, with head bowed, on the bloggers' bench to kick her heels, and to think very hard about her misdemeanours and regrettable tendency to deviant political opinions. The shame, oh, the shame. And what a shame that they cannot seem to enforce the suspension, ha ha. However: I am enjoying being the victim of censorship, so am playing along, and in the meanwhile my friend Justitia has stepped into the breach to ask some awkward questions on my behalf.

If you remember, last week the press were unable to obtain satisfactory information on the state of the pot hole programme, allegedly on the orders of a certain favourite councillor of ours. Justitia therefore visited the Barnet Council Facebook site, 'liked it' (she tells me this made her feel rather dirty and used, like any old Libdem/shameless tart), and left a question.

'Please tell us,' she asked on the 10th October, 'how the pothole filling programme is going, and if it will be finished as promised at the end of this month? If not, how much is outstanding, when will it be finished, and why the delay?'

Eventually a Barnet spokesperson was allowed to reply:

'The Pothole Elimination Programme (PEP) is on course to eradicate potholes from all of the borough's roads by the end of the month as planned.

Phase 1 of the scheme saw 14,253 square metres of pothole repairs made on the major road network at a cost of £660,000.

Under the second phase, an estimated 39,392 square metres of repairs are expected to be completed by the end of October on the borough's remaining roads, costing £1.8 million.

Before the repair programme began on 1st July 2010, approximately 9,000 potholes had been attended to.

Initially these were given temporary repairs due to the sheer volume, however, the method of repair moved to permanent between March and June. It is estimated that this has cost approximately £350,000.

This programme will pick up any temporary repairs and will make them permanent."

Justitia commented on Monday 11.46 am: 'Good news, then: so why was the council's press office not allowed to give this information to journalists last week?'

Barnet, 12.29: "The Council's press office publishes information once it has been confirmed by the relevant department."

Justitia, Tuesday, 08.43: 'Are you saying the story in the local Press claiming a councillor 'vetoed' the release of figures is untrue?

Ah. Since then there has been a resounding silence.

Sadly, to the despair of her long suffering teacher Miss Bender (yes, really) Mrs Angry spent much of her maths lessons at school staring out of the window, or passing notes, and never quite grasped the finer points of addition, subtraction etc. So she is struggling to make sense of these figures. Perhaps their complexity is the reason why there was such a long delay in their being released? Trying not to be distracted by the tune in my silly little blogger's head: (I heard the news today, oh boy: four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, And though the holes were rather small, They had to count them all ... ) it does occur to me that there is an awful lot of money being spent, possibly twice on some of the same holes, unless I am getting hold of the wrong end of the stick? If the Barnet Roads Tzar feels the need to correct this I am happy to turn the stick around, and put it to some other use ...

Moving on then, to the lighting issue, for further clarification. Sorry.

On Tuesday Justitia asked 'Now that we have, hopefully, obtained the full facts about the potholes, can we also have some clarification of the state of the lighting replacement project which is now in its fifth year, but appears to be causing some confusion. Is this project up to date, as the company's own website suggests otherwise, judging by the 2010 schedule?'

On Wednesday at 10.44 Justitia asked:'hello guys: any chance of an answer to this one?'

and then, naughty Justitia: 'Or are you being censored?'

The response: "The council's contractor has confirmed the replacement lighting project is on schedule. Regarding the latests information on the contractor's website we have passed this on to them."

Justitia: 'I hope that is so, but again, why was it reported that the press were denied details of the lighting scheme? I think we are entitled to an explanation, both in this case and in the case of the potholes.'

Barnet: "The answerto this is as below. The council's press office cannot provide a detailed response to enquiries until the figures/information has been signed off by the department as accurate. Here are links to articles in the Hendon Times about these issues:

'here is a link to another story: is it true or not?'

(This refers you back to the original story in the local Times which stated:

"He (Coleman) said he did not know how much the PFI contract had cost the council so far, or the likely cost and banned the council's press office from handing over technical data about the scheme." )

No answer yet. Funny, that.

Yesterday, though, after some animated correspondance with the council about our own street lighting mystery, I spotted something rather interesting across the road. A van was parked in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, and two guys got out, each of them clutching a cannister of spray paint. Oh, dear, I thought - taggers? Should I ring up the local police, before they're all made redundant, and inform them about yet another incident of ASB? It's been a bit quiet lately, they might be grateful for something to do. But no: I realised the van had a logo, with the lighting company's initials on ... so they waved the cans about a bit and it looked like some of it even may have landed on the already painted new lamp post (not the one pointed at my bedroom window, another one with a real lamp in it). Hmm, what's that? In big letters, along the side of the post: something you Mrs Angry, LBB rules?

Joking, of course.

Odd though, isn't it, what looks like token resprays, when some posts still don't even have lamps installed?

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