Sunday 5 August 2012

Ronald Mc Donald, Richard Cornelius, a lot of running around, and some scepticism

Yes, anyway ... Mrs Angry has had one or two readers contact her and confess, in furtive whispers, that they too, are not awfully keen on sport, and all this Olympic stuff, and question the necessity or even moral justification for the expense, you know, (and only one of these was Brian Coleman) but oh dear, it is true to say that Mrs Angry has also let herself down, and watched one or highlights of the sporting madness.

Yes, ok, she watched Mo Farrah win his gold, and yes, was quite, you know, moved by the occasion. And, another night, she watched some of the basketball, because Miss Angry's schoolfriend's cousin (do try and keep up) Luol Deng, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, and is a big star in the US, (Obama's favourite basket ball player) was playing with team GB. Mrs Angry knows Luol's aunty, who is an admirable, beautiful, and courageous woman, whose family now lives in the borough, but came to this country from Sudan as political refugees.

Like Mo Farrah, Luol Deng is a fine role model, in fact: uses his success and wealth to support many charitable and humanitarian projects in Sudan and elsewhere, see here and chooses to play for GB in the Olympics, because he feels a sense of gratitude to the country which gave his family a home - he chose to take British citzenship for that reason in 2006, despite his huge success in the States. Something for our friends at the Daily Mail to consider, perhaps, as they think about the next article about what they identify as 'plastic Brits' and 'crap multi culturalism'?

Doing something for your country: public service, see. A sense of moral duty.

Qualities unheard of, here in Broken Barnet, of course.

So, anyway, watching, with one cynical eye, one or two of these Olympic events, with people running about, and trying hard, and being quite good at stuff, and winning things, and all the excitement that ensues from that, and then, on the other hand, all this corporate sponsorship with fast food that would make you too fat and lazy to do any sport if you ate it regularly, and soft drinks that do the same, and Rupert Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson holding hands, ok, shaking hands, - and oh, I don't know, have I got this wrong? What?

And anyway, Mrs Angry suddenly thought: this is what we need, here in Broken Barnet, isn't it? If only we had some sort of massive multi million pound project, overseen by multinational corporate companies, but presided over by a friendly clown, so as not to frighten the children and tax payers?

Barnet leader Richard Cornelius talks about One Barnet

And then, oh look, the local papers arrived, each displaying a very funny performance by local entertainer and Tory council leader Richard Cornelius. an article in each paper to mark the happy occasion of his year in post. Such fun.

Reading Richard's Barnet Press column this week has had Mrs Angry beside herself with mirth. Get a load of this. Richard has been moved by the Olympic experience too.

"I admit that I was an Olympic sceptic, but I have been swayed by the torch, the opening ceremony and indeed the sporting achievements.

I was a sceptic, too, about the council’s programme of administrative improvements, but am now convinced that One Barnet is the only way to go.

We have heard a lot from the Luddites and whingers, but how can it be wrong to get more focused services at lower cost to the taxpayer?"

Hmm. As a paid up member of the Luddite and whinger classes of Broken Barnet, Richard, I would say that actually more focused services at a lower cost to the taxpayer would be wonderful, but, dear man, ONE BARNET IS NOT GOING TO DELIVER THIS. Sorry. We know it, you know it, but you are too scared to admit it. What is really going to happen is a cut in service, a decline in standard in service, and inevitably increased charges for residents as a result of the conflict between providing a service at a tolerable level of cost, and the need for the private companies supplying the service to make a profit.

Oh dear. Wait for the next bit.

"Sharing lawyers with socialist Harrow will save us money and get better legal services for both boroughs. Nothing ideological here".

Socialist Harrow? Lol. Yes, Richard Cornelius may not see himself as a Luddite (or whinger) but his political consciousness is stuck in some dark Tory cellar circa 1974, where reds are under the bed, or in Harrow, but strange alliances must be made, even in a time of Cold War, with strange bedfellows. Even if they are socialists.

Funny: socialists? I thought Harrow was a Labour run council, no?

And the even funnier thing about this, citizens, is that rumour has it that the legal officers of Broken Barnet are not at all happy at this turn of events, and feel they are being sold into slavery in Harrow, and are protesting very loudly about the whole business. Oh, how they wept, when they remembered Barnet. What's that? Constructive dismissal? No, surely not. Stop whinging. Join a union, is Mrs Angry's advice, and dig your heels in. A big mistake, Tory councillors of Broken Barnet, to upset your legal department, I would say ...

"Getting different management for other services will help save a fortune for the borough and enable us to spend that money on the things that matter."

Yes. Like councillors' allowances, and consultant fees. NO, NO, Richard, it won't.

"Our reformed housing service is working well to deliver help to those who need it, while they need it, rather than support those who chose life on the dole instead of getting a job."

That's right. Our social housing is full of lazy scroungers, wanting something for nothing, not disadvantaged or vulnerable residents without means. Refugees, plastic Brits. Sorry: when I said lazy scroungers, of course I meant Labour voters. And not the tax avoiding residents of Bishops Avenue, or Totteridge. Or Tory councillors who stand for office for the allowances only, and fail to understand the concept of public service. Or 'interim consultants' at NLBP who see no moral duty to pay PAYE & NI, and contribute to the public purse.

"Our country cannot afford a benefit culture and we need to intervene early in life to make sure that Barnet’s children have the best lifestyle chances rather than a lifetime of state interference and benefits."

Indeed. Tories must intervene, not interfere. Ah. What's the difference, btw? Can we intervene in the case of town hall tax dodgers, Eric?

"It is interesting that those who complain about One Barnet and set up websites have no suggestions as to what they would cut, instead of modernising the way the council works."

Yeah, but Richard, you won't meet the unions, will you, and listen to their proposals for retaining services in house, and making savings that way? You worry that it would upset Mr Walkley, if you did, because of course it is not the elected representatives of this borough who run the council, it is the senior management team. You and your Tory councillors chums can't really be bothered, can you?

Well: sit back and enjoy the ride, Tory councillors of Broken Barnet: but it will be coming to an abrupt end in 2014. But look, what do we have here? Over to the local Times paper now.

"Cllr Cornelius says One Barnet is pivotal in helping the council successfully cut-back. It aims to save the council millions of pounds over the next decade by allowing privite companies to run many key services. But, the controversial scheme has many critics - some fear the council will lose control of services, redundancies will be made, and others worry One Barnet could end up losing cash instead of saving it.

Admitting he was once a sceptic, Cllr Cornelius said: “I’ve been converted. It seems to be going to deliver big savings ..."

It seems to be going to deliver big savings ... seems to be ... based on what, exactly? The promises of those who have a vested interest in seeing the programme implemented. The equivalent of - let'sjust check the junk folder, yes, good news: an email from Mr Alex J. Udo wanting Mrs Angry to please contact Barrister Peter Suggs about her compensation fund. But rather more risky.

Wouldn't you like to know, though, what happened to convert the sceptic Cllr Cornelius to the joys of One Barnet? Was it an evangelical experience, with the laying on of hands, and miracles performed by senior executives from BT, Capita, or Serco? Did an angel appear at his side, at a council meeting, and whisper in his ear? Or did the senior management team of Barnet Council confuse him with clever talk, and difficult concepts? Poor Richard. Maybe stick to making engagement rings for naive young women who think life is going to be happy ever after, and smiling nicely while you push them out of the shop door, before they wake up and realise what they are doing.

Richard Cornelius is so convinced that what he is doing is right, he is now trying to rewrite history and shift the blame for the parking fiasco created by Brian Coleman on the very people who forced the Tory council to admit it was a disaster, and review the whole policy. Referring to the latest cock eyed attempt to repair the damage, without losing too much face:

"Cllr Cornelius added: “We hope that the shopkeepers will pick up the baton and do this now.

“Their PR campaign has been really very successful but unfortunately they have actually persuaded people that it’s difficult and expensive to park so they’re shooting themselves in the foot with this and we hope they will see the benefit of these vouchers ..."

Yep. The traders and shopkeepers are to blame, not the Tory council, for the fact our high streets have been deserted by customers.

But perhaps the funniest statement of all is this:

"Asked whether the council runs the risk of losing control over its services, he said: “I don’t see that we will lose control at all.

“The key is that the contract needs to be written robustly. And, as the council we will have to monitor the contract both professionally and democratically."

Yes: a robust contract. Monitored professionally, and democratically.

This is from the council which doesn't know, or care about, the difference between a legally compliant contract and a fucking shopping list, has paid out millions of pounds, is still, in many cases, still paying out barrow loads of your money, my money, to private companies without the safeguard of legal contracts, and rather too clearly has had no grasp whatsoever of what is meant by a professionally run procurement service, and oh please, democracy? In Barnet?

Which brings us neatly back to the matter of audit, and auditors, and what they do, and what they do not do.

More tomorrow. Go on, back to the tv. There is someone running around a track, or jumping over something, probably.



Mr Mustard said...

As you know Mrs Angry I have been corresponding with Cllr Cornelius and I said to him that if I wasn't in his view a whinger, a luddite or a complainer then I wouldn't hatchet his newspaper articles into little pieces and he said I wasn't (must try harder in future Mr M!) so I haven't but then there wasn't any need was there as I knew another blogger would do it if I didn't?

A gold medal to Mrs Angry.

Mrs Angry said...

As someone who never wins anything, and spent her entire schooldays not being picked for teams, and hiding in the gym cupboard, I must thank you, Mr Mustard.