Wednesday 12 January 2011

Mrs Angry signs the Pledge

I, Mrs Angry, hereby solemnly promise to sign the pledge and abstain from all alcoholic refreshment until - what time is it? Can't last out much longer. What? Not that sort of pledge? Phew.

Ok, what sort of pledge is it, then?

According to the local Times, 'Pledgebank' has been set up by Barnet Council to get residents volunteering for community work. Ah. Big Society, and all that. Marvellous. Ask not what the London Borough of Broken Barnet can do for you, but what you can do for the London Borough of Broken Barnet. No, you aren't allowed any allowance for doing it. That's being a councillor. Well, yes, they are supposed to be working for the good of the community too. No, of course they can't be expected to VOLUNTEER and perform their duties from a sense of civic pride like the rest of us. Why the f**k should they? They're not mugs, you know. *(Update: mugs, you know - those things which fly out of cupboards and hit Tory MPs in the eye, according to poor old accident prone Matthew Offord). And yes, it's true they not only refuse to do this for free, in fact but, oops, last year they tried to screw more money out of the community for their part time efforts; but hey, let's not hold a grudge.

Let's see, what does our little man Cllr Ramsbottom have to say about the scheme:

"There are two ways it can be used. If someone wants to start their own youth club they can go online and ask the council to provide sports equipment if five other people pledge to help ..."

Wonderful opportunities there for Mr P de File, and every nutcase in the borough, to gain access to vulnerable youngsters, eh? And how much is all this equipment going to cost us, Robert?

"The other way is by getting people to pledge to help with community activity, such as clearing snow from a road or graffiti from a street. We can then provide the grit or paint to do this."

Hmm. Isn't that sort of drudgery that people with community service orders are supposed to be doing, under the supervision of properly trained council officers?

Or, as the Times reporter points out:

'Critics have accused the Conservatives of trying to get residents to provide services free that councils should be providing.'

Look what our Dear Leader tells us in her proclamation in the Local Government Chronicle:

"Increasingly local government will be a deal: “ We will provide a half a ton of grit if you agree to spread it”. There is a real engagement challenge here - often these groups will not be the usual suspects. They will be “flash communities” of short duration, forming to complete an activity - such as clearing snow or tackling local environmental damage."

Ah, yes: the Dunkirk spirit. Backs against the wall. All in this together. Trouble is, if residents have a common adversary in all this mess, their hostility is directed against the council, and they do not want to work with it. Because, as we know too well now, we are not all in this together; there is one rule for them, and another for us.

The real engagement challenge is between Barnet Council and its electorate, and they continue to fail to make it work because they don't respect our opinions, they are dictating to us how they want us to think, and how we should behave.

Never mind. Let's join in the fun. Mrs Angry has submitted her own pledge. She had to email it because for some reason, the online form appears reluctant to take her suggestions:

"hello friends: do you know, there appears to be a slight problem with submitting any pledges via the online form? Great shame. Here is mine, anyway: I look forward to seeing it if you ever get round to listing them. Have you had many entries yet? Real ones, I mean, not the ones on there before launching the site!

I am of course saluting a picture of the Leader as I write:

"As long as my fellow bloggers do the same, I will continue faithfully to monitor the activities of Barnet Council, and report them as fully and as accurately as possible to the residents of this borough, hopefully in a manner that is both entertaining and informative.

I will not expect any allowance or payment for this civic service.

Amen, thank you, and God bless us all."

Yours faithfully,

Mrs Angry

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