14 January 2009

Full astern matey, there's crockery ahead!!!!!

Well, the first STC meeting of the 2009 was more of the dreary same although I have to congratulate the Council for keeping the boredom down to just a little over an hour. The highlights of the meeting were, in no particular order, the allotments, the crockery issue and the leasing of the Parish Rooms.

It did astound me to learn that the allotment site that STC proposes to buy covers some 7 acres. As was pointed out last night, 7 acres (33,880 sq/yds) is a lot of land and could accommodate 114 standard sized allotments (of 300sq/yds each). At present there is a Somerton waiting list of 30 so there will be plenty of room for expansion. However, Miranda Shearer reports in FosseWay online that landscaping and picnic spots may also be under consideration. I immediately see more work for those contractors who are lucky enough to be in Tony Canvin's good book. That should take care of another chunk of the Precept.

The subject of the future of the Parish Rooms filled in a couple of blanks and, as the discussion progressed, it became clear that STC was negotiating with "the Church" (St Michael's) to lease the Parish Rooms to the church on a 99 year lease at a lease premium of £155,000. Now, I don't know if there is any ongoing rental income but I'm assuming that this lease will be a full repairing lease. This means that STC will have no obligations towards the Parish Rooms until the expiry of the lease in or about 2109 (by which time, to quote George W Bush - "We'll all be dead."). And the £155k will come in handy when it comes to finishing the Tin Dunny (aka Unit 8, Cary Court, Bancombe Trading Estate). Previous comments about Tony Canvin's good book are relevant here also.

The discussion of the Parish Rooms brought up, once again, the 'Crockery Saga' and Paddy Keenan told everyone just how important this issue was because it could derail "the deal". Talk about a soap opera! It is a measure of just how surreal the atmosphere is around the STC that the Chair can suggest that an internal punch-up over the crockery could derail the leasing of the Parish Rooms. It confirms my own view that some of our local councillors need professional help.

But Paddy had a surprise in store for everyone. He took great pleasure in announcing that (to resolve the crockery crisis) a secret benefactor had offered to stump up a grand to contribute to the new crockery at the Tin Dunny. Now it did occur to me that the appearance of this secret benefactor was hugely convenient as it allowed him to torpedo the Cllr (Mrs Webber?) who has been driving the 'crockery debate'. She seemed quite pissed-off because the "secret benefactor" came as a complete surprise to her and I wondered if Paddy made it up on the spot.

So, the 'crockery saga' came to an end with another of Tony's boys proposing that STC accept the Parish Rooms deal and use the "secret benefactor's" contribution for new crocks at the Tin Dunny. In a way, I was quite sad to see the crockery saga come to an end. Its been a good friend but I am quite sure that STC will come up with yet more weird and wacky ideas to keep us all entertained.

Last evenings meeting was drawn to a close and the Council went into an 'in camera' session where they discussed all the things that us poor unfortunate tax and ratepayers are just too simple to understand. No doubt the Council discussed ideas for local employment creation, funded by the Precept and receipts from their various property deals. I just wish that the community had a chance to guide some of this expenditure rather than having it directed through the limited vision of STC and its councillors.

Oh, and by the way, if any solicitors happen to be reading this, my comments about Tony Canvin's good book are informed by statements made in public by Paddy Keenan and by STC's decision not to tender any expenditure below £5,000 Transparency and public scrutiny would be good developments in these regards.

Till next time.


PS A free digital print goes to the first person to figure out the location of the 'Mystery Arch'.