Archive for the ‘Local Authority’ Tag

I Spy Something Beginning With…

councilsnoopingA few days ago local authorities were told they can no longer use legislation aimed at protecting the country from terrorists and major criminals to persecute individuals for offences such as over filling their wheelie bin. Its a long over due move that should rid the country of the over zealous bureaucrats who have been acting as a private police force and issuing penalties way out of proportion to the minor errors the public has made.

Poole Borough Council put Jenny Paton under surveillance for over three weeks because they thought she was lying on a school application. I’m sure they could have found out she was not being dishonest with much less effort, cost and intrusion into her private life. Its these sorts of activities and inefficiencies that make our councils so expensive and give them the idea they are our masters and not our servants.

There is no denying that most of the services they provide are essential but our councils have been getting into all sorts of activities and some that come close to being social engineering. Their intrusions into everyday life have become excessive and unnecessary, the stories of their stupidity fill the daily papers with depressing regularity. Its time they were told to rein back and stick to the essentials thereby reducing their costs, something everyone would appreciate.

Plain English Illiteracy

I am a little concerned at the arbitrary way in which council leaders have decided to choose which words and phrases are considered to be jargon or gobbledegook. English is a complex language that has a rich history, taking words from other languages, developing new words and changing the definition of words as the language evolves. The average person may use 20,000 to 25,000 words whereas graduates may use 60,000 to 75,000 words (The research on vocabulary is a bit thin). That is a small proportion of the one million words that are thought to exist in the English language.

Why is it necessary to ban words that may not be used frequently but which have a precise meaning and clearly define what is meant by their use. Its suggested that ‘coterminous, stakeholder engagement’ should be replace by ‘talk to people’. Sorry, but the first phrase may be tortuous and inappropriate, but the second is an incorrect and imprecise replacement. It shows the person who made the suggestion does not understand the meaning of the word coterminous and is hiding his inadequacies by criticising its use.

Perhaps if those responsible for the publications and reports that use all this jargon had a better understanding of the English language we would not need to have these campaigns for plain English. Please do not dilute our rich language simply because our educational system is failing to equip most people the knowledge of our wonderful language.

For the benefit of those who do not know Coterminous means ‘Having a boundary in common’, its often used to describe the need to ensure that local authority boundaries match those of health services. Where they don’t all sorts of problems arise over budgets, service provision and service planning. Something which has been an ongoing problem in many places.

No Where To Go

The centre of our local town is being modernised, the bulldozers have demolished the raised beds and ripped up the paving slabs. In the corner of the market square were some public toilets which were closed many years ago as they were not accessible for disabled people. This meant the able bodied and disabled have to walk more than 500 yards to the nearest loos not quite the thing you want to do when you need to go. I’m all for non-discrimination but helping the minority should not involve disadvantaging the majority. From all I can gather the refurbishment of the square will not see the reintroduction of the loos.

The Victorians were into toilets in a big way; they understood the needs of the public and provided hundreds of facilities in towns and cities across the country. However, since the 1960s local authorities have closed public conveniences at an increasing rate. The problem has become so great that the Communities and Local Government Committee issued a detailed report in October 2008 recommending a whole range of actions for the Government and Local Authorities to ensure the situation improved. Unfortunately many of the more important recommendations have been rejected. It seems the need to pee has not been recognised by the Government.

Fortunately one recommendation that has received Government support is that ‘No local authority should use the Disability Discrimination Act as an excuse to close down public toilets for general use’. Let’s hope our Local Authority heeds the Governments recommendation and reopens the facilities, I’m not sure I can hold on much longer.