Monday 4 October 2010

Twas Christmas Day in the Workhouse ...

Laugh Out Loud, as the young people say ...

Well: Mrs Angry has been laughing out loud quite a lot recently.

In the last few days, the infamous Ideas Barnet website has been heavily criticised by Mrs Angry, and many others, for its unsubtle use of censorship.

Suggestions, comments and tags have been submitted, then disappeared, and sometimes reappeared, with bewildering speed, with the excuse that anything removed is on the basis of being 'party political'. In practice, this appears to mean anything which embarrasses the council, such as asking for the chairs' allowance rise to be returned.

Only yesterday, Mrs Angry was contacted by a resident who had made a perfectly reasonable cost cutting suggestion which had been ignored. More of that later.

Mrs Angry has been assured by the assistant Director of Communications that party political comments in favour of Conservative policy would not be tolerated on council forums. Mrs Angry found this a little hard to believe.

Last evening she sat down to look at the Ideas Barnet site and was shamefully amused to find the following suggestion:

"Sewage Recycling:

Why not turn the ponds at NLBP (North London Business Park) Hendon Town Hall, and other council buildings, into natural, eco friendly, sewage recycling facilities? Plenty of waste material available, one would have thought, and significant savings to be made on water use, plumbing maintenance etc ... "

Now Mrs Angry happens to know that this submission was made by a Mrs Margaret Bottomley.

Bottomley ... sewage? Waste material coming from NLBP? Hello?

Not only was this clearly satirical submission allowed through the moderation system, someone had already rated it - with one star!

Ah, but then another helpful suggestion from Mrs Bottomley, rather astonishingly to the right of David Cameron's compassionate Conservative values, and despite all assurances, keen to support the Barnet Tories' master plan, Future Shape:

"Rebuild Barnet Workhouse:

A few years ago, despite public protest, the old Barnet Workhouse was demolished in order to make way for a car park. The car park was never installed: why not rebuild the workhouse and allow Barnet Homes to run it as part of Future Shape housing policy? This would make significant savings in the housing benefit budget, and if successful, more workhouses could be provided, possibly by stakeholder partners, around the borough!"

Oh please.

Let me out myself. Yes, I created Mrs Bottomley, and these were my suggestions. And er, yes, I was joking.

I wonder if someone can explain why these idiotic and clearly, in the latter case, insanely political but supportive, submissions were allowed, when perfectly reasonable ones, and ideas critical of the council, are being ignored, or withdrawn?

It could be, I suppose, that Lynne Hillan's alternative to providing wardens in sheltered accommodation has taken a rather extreme course, and Robert Ramsbottom has had his crayons out, drawing a picture of the new One Barnet Model Workhouse, in which case I apologise.

The gentleman who contacted me yesterdayday said that he had made a suggestion that 'all PR employees should be made redundant - they are a cost and don't add to the service, they just try to make it look pretty ...' He was upset that his suggestion had not appeared and was going to resubmit it.

Mrs Angry is of course entirely confident that the Communications/PR team have no interest in censoring non party political suggestions of this nature and will post the suggestion asap!

I wonder if they will also post Mrs Bottomley's latest suggestion about compulsory electricity generating treadmill sessions for all staff?

Btw, if they do decide to do a 'root and branch' 'rebuild and refreshment' of the Communications Team, Mrs Angry will shortly have a vacancy for a censor/comment moderator for the Broken Barnet blog. No pay will be available, but you might like to think of yourself as a professional volunteer serving the community, as suggested last week?

1 comment:

baarnett said...

It seems so inconsistent: it allows a poitical comment about sheltered housing wardens, for instance.

Unless the staff are to dopey to tell what is a political statement and what is not.