Friday, July 27, 2007

Who does Roberts think he's kidding?

We'd just like to advise our reader to fear not about the sobriety of the Council leader when they read his comments in this utter fantasy. He's not drunk, and nor is off his trolley on Colombian marching powder, he's just doing what Greenwich Council does best and spinning a report which is not actually as rosy as it might seem.

The Council is not so much lying to you, but is instead being economical with the truth. Yes, it is true, these are Greenwich's best marks ever. What they don't acknowledge is that they're still in the bottom 25% of the country. Yes they've improved, but they've done so from a low base. And yet, the Council leader says utter crap like this
"We were awarded the top two marks for all the areas they looked at and received the top possible mark for our ambition. This shows we are providing high-quality services for everyone living and working here."
Chris, just stop it OK. We know you're reading this even if you do claim you don't use a computer anymore. This report does not show you are "providing high quality service for everyone living and working here", stop talking bollocks.

What it shows is that you're slightly less shit than you were, but you still remain shit compared to the other 75% of the country. Stop living in a fantasy world and stop treating us with utter fucking contempt. We're not fucking idiot mules you know, we have brains and we can see through your disingenuous wank.

Editors Note: Mr Roberts, clearly such intemperate language is inappropriate and as you would never sink to the level of aggressive swearing and/or intimidation we shouldn't either. As such the offending author has been severely reprimanded with a flogging in our cellar. We've also sent him to work for a week in one of our sweatshops in Burma. He has though been rewarded with a watch for expressing the correct sentiment at your weasel words.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Council gets egg on its face in Thamesmead

Oh how we laughed this morning when we heard about the Thames Gateway Bridge. Readers may or may not know that last night was Full Council. As is traditional at these events motions get tabled, and this time the Tories - bizarrely given they don't usually venture to such northern heights of the Borough - tabled a motion about Thamesmead celebrating its fortieth anniversary.

As is usual practice anything that opposition parties table gets amended by the ruling group. In this case the motion was amended saying how the Council eagerly anticipated the positive decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Thames Gateway Bridge.

We're guessing no one told them before they added their amendment that the Secretary of State had published her decision yesterday, and it was far from positive. The inquiry has been reopened as the traffic models are inaccurate and the evidence suggests that all the regeneration that the Council claims the bridge will bring will happen without it anyway.

Like we say, we laughed our socks off when we realised that the Secretary of State had already made her negative decision whilst the Council was publicly saying how much it was looking forward to a positive one. Isn't it good to know that the Council actually knows what is going on? What a bunch of prats!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blackwall Tolls comes ever closer?

The Mayor Ken Livingstone may have said that there would be no toll on the Blackwall Tunnel, and Greenwich Council may have denied that there are any firm plans for congestion charging in Greenwich, but if rumours are true, there may in fact be ample evidence to suggest otherwise.

According to rumours we've heard, the Blackwall Tunnel refurbishments have included a vast amount of electronic and electrical installations which are the pre-cursors necessary for managing a congestion zone through the tunnel.

They could just be preparing on the off chance that everyone agrees to it. Or maybe, as with many decisions in Greenwich - and we have to admit London as a whole - the decision has been taken already?

Monday, July 23, 2007

So why did we buy the suite then?

Some of our councillors in Greenwich are very good at sending email out to their electorate to "keep in touch", or as we like to say "make it look like you're doing something for the freebie salary". One such representative is the councillor for Peninsula Ward, Mary Mills.

Councillor Mills sends out her mailing and always says that her fellow ward councillors, Dick Quibell and the Glorious Leader want to be "associated" with her words. Her latest newsletter says
A number of people have asked me if I can get them tickets for events at the Dome. The answer is absolutely no the ONLY access I have to tickets is to get them by paying full price plus commission from commercial ticket agencies.
Oh really? So what was the Corporate Suite bought for then? Expensive upper-class storage space? Seriously, it beggars belief that Cllr Mills, and her colleagues, including Chris Roberts, could claim that tickets are not available any other way than through a ticket agency when they have publicly said that the suite was bought to give free tickets to "community groups" and rewards for long service.

Basically, we're being told on the one hand that the £95,000 spent on the suite for the year is money well spent and will provide access to events for people for free, and then in the next breath they're saying it won't?

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's official - working in an office is more stressful than teaching

The proof of something we have long suspected has finally arrived; teachers are just whinging when they claim that all that time spent finishing at 3.30pm and on holiday over the summer is really stressful just because they have to spend the odd day with some armed teenagers or under-tens flicking things at one another.

At a meeting this week Greenwich Council considered figures which classified staff reasons for absence including 'stress, depression, mental health, fatigue syndromes'.This report further sub-divided the sufferers between the education staff who worked centrally, in an office, organising(?) education and those that work in schools (teachers).

The results were somewhat surprising as 21.4% of office staff took time off with stress but only 12% of teachers. See teachers' might claim their job is tough, but dealing with Councillors or the Council's IT system is clearly worse!! Alternatively the office staff are a bunch of malingering skivers wonder which it is?

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Funding of voluntary sector is a mess

At the meeting of Cabinet this week, the chaos which had surrounded the changes to the funding for the voluntary sector in Greenwich was laid bare as person after person made speeches against the Council's change to the funding of the voluntary sector.

Outside the Cabinet two organisations (at least those were the ones we spotted) held protests and inside there were a long list of speakers. The organisations basic message was that the whole thing was a farce. A funding review had started in October 2002, there had been a delay in 2003 and now in July 2007 they are just introducing a set of temporary arrangements. Wonder how long they will last?

It's quite clear the Council don't have a clue what they are doing and the voluntary organisations are suffering as a result.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Prime Minister spikes Crossrail

Whilst we don't really do the Parliamentary stuff when it comes to Crossrail it's difficult not too. Crossrail, as everyone probably knows, is a project that's been talked about for over a decade and every now and then the Council reminds us how much closer it is getting.

The Evening Standard has been running a campaign to get Gordon Brown - when he was Chancellor - to sign off the cash for it. It never happened. Now he's Prime Minister it is Alistair Darling's problem, assuming all the talk of 'control-freakery' by Brown is wrong.

Yesterday, Gordon Brown announced what his legislative programme would be in the next Parliament, and it included the Crossrail Bill. This might sound promising but it is not a bill about funding, but merely the bill that will confer legal status on the project.

What does this mean for the decision about funding? It means it's been kicked into the long grass and spiked. Until the Crossrail Bill passes there is no need to worry about making the necessary funding decisions required to plug the well-documented shortfalls across the project.

If the Olympic budget continues to spiral out of control then the pressure to spike it further will become greater too. And we can't forget about the fact the Bill - and the Select Committee over-seeing it - is bogged down in legal hyperbole. Basically don't expect a decision any time soon.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Word reaches us that we've been banned in the Council offices. Apparently an edict has been sent round saying that no staff are allowed to look at this site from Council offices. Meanwhile the IT department have been tasked with the job of filtering the site out to ensure there are no breaches of the new policy.

We presume that the Council's press office will be exempted from this otherwise they won't be able to see the posts that the press phone them about. It's not all doom and gloom though, whilst office workers wait for the IT solution they can always use workFRIENDLY to read us.

Update: Apparently workFRIENDLY is filtered out by the Council. No problem though, looking at the logs no one is paying attention to the ban anyway.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Is there a translator in the house?

We've just spotted something that's been posted on the local Tory ward website for Eltham North that did make us laugh. Actually that's a lie, we didn't laugh at all, in a rare of moment of gratuitous swearing we did in fact exclaim "what the fuck?!" We try to avoid using that word normally but there are limits for all human beings and this was such a moment.

Apparently, the pasted text below is a direct transcript from tape of a Labour councillor's speech in the Council chamber after the Opposition had proposed a motion about reinstating the tidal-flow at the Blackwall Tunnel. If anyone would like to provide a translation for us we'd greatly appreciate it.

"Thank you Mr Mayor. I think I would like to say when Peter Brooks proposed this amendment he rather gave it a quite detailed factual statement by giving all the dates and the figures. I think that shows how honest this Council has been right from the beginning but under the circumstances I think we cannot accept it. That is the reason we are putting up this amendment. Another reason that I see, I have been thinking over, is every day in the newspaper, on the television, environmental impact and all those sort of things. I don’t think it is a rather fair thing to the members what are we going to do about this, environment obviously is an issue on this side. But, what I see people do something, say something else, but that is not on – we need to promote London Transport, we need to work out the other ways of communication on why we need to discourage the ………it is important we [hear] the change before we see anything else to follow."
We believe that the "..." are genuine pauses in the speech rather than ommitted content.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Council slammed in food safety report

As readers know, we often make the point that the biggest problem in Greenwich stems from the manner in which the Council does its utmost to suppress bad news. Unlike the national arena it doesn't have to worry about serious scrutiny from the press. This is not because the local press are necessarily poor, but simply because the local press have different priorities like funding themselves through advertising.

As a result the news from the Council is filtered through a publicity operation department which costs us, the residents of Greenwich, over a half a million pounds a year to run. Every single item of news in Greenwich Time is in fact a press release produced out of this costly department. We call it spin and so we wouldn't expect the Council to tell us the bad news, however we would expect them to spin the bad news to make it look good.

This is not always the case though. In fact, when really bad news is out there they simply take the ostrich approach and ignore it. What you don't know, won't hurt you (or their votes) right? Wrong. Something that the Council have not told the residents about is a report by the Foods Standards Agency which was finally published a few weeks ago about the food safety regime the Council operates on licensed premises. The report (pdf) states, and we quote directly in order to create a Daily Mail-esque outrage in you.
Comparisons between the statistical monitoring returns submitted to the Agency by the Authority and reports run from the database system as part of the audit, highlighted incomplete data and inaccuracies. These included a failure to identify food standards premises within an inspection programme; a significant number of unrated premises; duplicate entries; inconsistencies with premises profiles and the recording of informal samples for analysis as official samples.
False and inaccurate submissions of data? Food premises running unchecked?
The Authority did not have an up to date and accurate list of Approved Premises. There was limited information on paper files, which were incomplete and poorly organized. Consequently auditors could not confirm whether appropriate procedures had been followed and if a comprehensive premises assessment had been carried out in every case.
Bad document management? Surely not?
On the basis of the information provided to the auditors, audit checks indicated that complete and chronological records, relating to formal enforcement activity, surveillance sampling and inspections, had not been maintained in all cases.
Poor record keeping? A failure to keep up premise inspection and sampling of food stuffs? Do read the full report it's fascinating.

Incidentally, we hope you enjoy that kebab you were planning on having tonight. We're sure it'll be fine. Look at it this way, botox is essentially botchulism, so it might get rid of some wrinkles! OK, it might kill you, but that's a price worth paying for a clear wrinkle-free complexion surely?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A tale about contacting the Council

Never let it be said that the Council don't respond to emails eventually. It appears that one poor resident in Thamesmead had become so fed up with the fact that their street had not been cleaned for over three weeks, and the grass had not been cut for three months meaning it was two foot high, that they finally contacted the Council by email to report it.

The Council, as many will know, promise to respond to these sort of complaints within 24 hours. Two days later and the resident had still had no reply even though they had CC'd elected representatives from the London Assembly and Parliament as well, presumably with the hope of scaring the Council into action.

The resident decided to email the Council again, this time CC'ing us in their message. Lo' and God said let there be life in the Town Hall! Literally within a matter of two hours the Council responded. Sadly the response was that they would respond to the residents complaint in 15 days.

Nothing was said about the street cleaning or the grass.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hanging basket thiefs or just sharing?

We've just been told that the hanging baskets that were lining the streets of Plumstead High Street are no longer there. At the same time hanging baskets have appeared in Eltham High Street. Is there a thief about in Plumstead? Or are they sharing? What a mystery!