Saturday, 3 December 2016

Are councils naturally dysfunctional and dim, or do they undertake special training?

What things have Councils across the UK got in common?

Actually, this is more about those things that annoy the public who pay for them from their hard-earned cash and whom they are meant, as a result, to serve to their alleged best
Here are a couple of aggregated points:
  1. Most councils have senior executives on six-figure salaries, many larger than that of the Prime Minister, with inflation-busting increases every year while those at the coal-face in a best-case scenario receive no increase, while in a worse-case scenario, are shunted off to the Job Centre
  2. Most councils do things simply because they can, and get away with them because they have the law on their side, regardless of how reprehensible or morally offensive those things are. It is almost impossible to have their decisions reversed. That the members of the public who fund them have to turn to their MP, the media or to consumer programmes on television or in newspapers for action is utterly reprehensible
  3. It is so difficult to have a council decision regarding something such as a parking or bus lane infringement overturned
Here are some examples of banging your head against the wall when it comes to councils and their jobsworthy application of their rules for no other reason than they can do and get away with it. Essentially, they get away with it because they have the law on their side and often immorally stick to it, especially if it is a cash-cow income situation.

1. Leeds - Edmund King of the AA has stated on more than one occasion that bus lanes in Leeds are all virtually for no other purpose than revenue. They have differing times across the city, many starting at an artificially early rush hour (3pm in the afternoon) with instructions often obfuscated by a myriad of other road signs and street furniture, especially on the Kirkstall and Abbey Roads out of the city towards Guiseley (referred to locally as 'Revenue Alley'). And they all operate on bank holidays that fall on weekdays

Leeds Council using the motorist as a cash cow - Quarry Hill and a car park used by shoppers and users of the Leeds Play House  - as can be seen, with Sunday and evening parking, ensuring they despicably squeeze the last penny out of shoppers AND theatre goers alike

2. A jobsworth warden in Canterbury issued self-employed washing machine repair man Trevor Emery with a £200 fine for failing to display a 'No Smoking' sign in his own van, four times more than he would have been fined for actually lighting up in his own van. Both are non-smokers and the only passengers in the van as Mr Emery does not offer lifts to people or have other driver-employees.

3. Salford have spent almost £1million on cycle lanes into the city on Great Clowes and Bridgewater Streets. Not only are these lanes severely underused by cyclists (many if the very few cyclists using the route actually cycle on the path and not in the lane!), but they cause traffic gridlock and are a danger to the emergency services in heavy traffic.

Salford Council doing what they do best, attacking the cash-cow motorist. Three tickets on three successive days circa 16th Dec 16 ; the motorist could be off in hospital with a heart-attack.

4. Salford (again) Council have turned the famous Crescent into a 20mph, road-humped, single-lane nightmare, bottleneck zone. The Crescent is the terminal stage of the somewhat and always rather busy 47km-long East Lancs Road. Also known as the A580, it was the United Kingdom's first purpose-built intercity highway. The road, which remains a primary A road, was officially opened by King George V on 18 July 1934. It links Walton in Liverpool to Salford (near Manchester).

The wonderful £800,000 cycle lanes of Bridgewater Road in Salford bereft of cyclists at 8.30 in the average traffic-filled weekday morning as traffic backs up thanks to them

5. Many councils are now instituting immoral and completely unnecessary 24-hour pay and display parking that benefits no one except the parasitic private parking companies - there is a lulu of a cowboy company that is based in Sheffield (other cowboy operators are available) whose owners are now multi-millionaires on the back of their often very unethical practices. And if you dispute a ticket from one of these companies by parking at 11pm on a badly-lit bomb-site, be warned. The appalling signage, or even a natural logic that might have made you naturally conclude that a car park would not be charging at 11pm at night, is not ground enough. And the alleged independent mechanism you have to use to dispute any claim, POPLA, (Parking on Private Land Appeals) is as independent as an appeals body can be when funded by the cowboys (and at one time chaired by the biggest Sheffield-based millionaire cowboy of the lot) who ticket you. Or is it just co-incidence that these parking cowboys feature regularly on both the "Watchdog", "Rip-off Britain" and "Martin Lewis" TV consumer programmes?

6. Bury Council were proudly crowing in December 2016 about how the impending new Aldi supermarket build was as a "direct result of the Council's commitment to and investment in Radcliffe town centre". Really? The £1million-refurbished market hall has about 10 retailers, and Radcliffe could, by someone of a very generous, if not those of a rather blinkered nature, be termed as nothing more than a retail ghost town. 

7. It took months and months of lobbying by UK satirical fortnightly "Private Eye" to make the authorities realise that one of former MP George Galloway's 'best friends', Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets in London, was as crooked as a winding mountain pass. He received a 5-year ban from local politics for an impressive array of  corruption, bribery, malpractice, mortgage fraud and  tax evasion.

8. Councils have gained, by stealth, legal powers to place charges and seize homes of the elderly who may be running up bills in connection with their healthcare. On the death of the elderly owner, their home can be seized by the council who, given the track-records of most councils on things requiring common sense and decency, will be guaranteed will make a total mess of the whole process.

I suggest you purchase a copy of "Private Eye", the satirical fortnightly, and read through the feature page titled "Rotten Boroughs". It is as fascinating a read as it is a depressing read to see the extent to which these people couldn't even decide whether the toilet seat should be left up or put down after use. Although I'm sure they'd happily convene a committee and pay themselves - and some barn-pot £1,400 a day consultants - vast expenses to find out.

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