19 March 2009

Welcome to the pleasure dome

Date: 10th March 2009
Place: The Tin Dunny, Somerton Business Park
Event: Another meeting of Somerton Town Council

So, the Tin Dunny is open for business and it got off to the usual poorly attended start that typefies much of what Somerton Town Council does. Thirteen local residents, 0.27% of Somerton's population, attended the meeting along with two members of the local police and one county councillor whilst the Town Council was there in strength with no absentees. Obviously they wanted to enjoy the comfy chairs and the hugely energy wasteful air conditioning.

07:30 and the meeting got off to a flying start with the beautifully coiffed Paddy the K welcoming everyone to the building, a building that he explained was known in some quarters as the 'Tin Dunny' (you read it here first). Paddy went on to refer to a recent meeting with the Primary Care Trust and explained that the surgery in Somerton doesn't play any part in the PCT's long-term strategy. For some elderly members of the community this announcement might cause some anxiety but for me it signals another property deal in the offing.

07:32 and the meeting was addressed by Stewart Brand who is the new Beat Manager for Somerton. Paddy invited Q's from the public and my own personal hero, Cllr Ian Neale, jumped straight in with a mini-rant about being charged £51.50p (by SSDC) for a road closure order associated with the French Market. His point, when he finally made it, was that, having paid £51.50p (taxpayer's money, Ian, not yours), the Police should be policing the road closure, neatly ignoring the fact that the money was paid to SSDC for administration. Its also worth pointing out that, even if the police were involved, and were the police charging at the same rate as Somerton Town Council is now charging for administrative research (£25.00 per hour), the police would attend for 2 hours 3 minutes and 36 seconds (assuming one officer).

07:41 and the highlight of this exchange came when a member of the public raised the issue of 'police response'. Cllr Neale (please someone, shut this guy up) went for the jugular with a question about 'policing targets' and Stewart Brand referred to "community policing" and "policing by consent". In a rather sarcastic stage whisper Cllr Neale made a comment about "Your consent or ours?". Very SWP! He followed this up with the old Torygraph comment about "We supply the money for the Police." Just like we (the taxpayer) supply the money for the Tin Dunny, Ian, and you certainly don't give a damn about making that activity transparent or accountable. Quoting some old tome, deal with the beam in your own eye.

For the next 20 minutes we were entertained with nothing of significance other than a very detailed discussion about the height of dog poo bins and who was or wasn't using them.

08:03 and Cllr Deering noted that a furniture shop near the triangle was doing food and how he objected to the Town Council not being consulted. Well, excuse me Cllr Deering, what about the town not being consulted about the purchase of the Tin Dunny? Then Cllr Beale joined in the fun (a rarity these days) by informing the meeting that she had taken the matter to Environmental Health and the Environmental Health Officer has no objection. Cue Cllr Neale who suggested that, "He's getting free lunches.". No wonder Council Officers get pissed off with tin pot Town Councillors. It also made me wonder if Somerton Town Council should start a 'Grass-up your neighbour committee'.

08:05 and Cllr Rees made some sort of announcement about a meeting with the Management Committee at the Sports Club. From what I hear, the terms 'management' and 'Sports Club' are mutually exclusive but, none the less, Cllr Rees said that the public were invited to attend. Obviously this is in preparation for Somerton Town Council handing over another bundle of cash to the Sports Club so that they can build their Mini Dunny (quotes already received by Somerton Town Council). And that raises an interesting point. From what I hear, the management and finances of the Sports Club are shambolic to say the least. Yet we are often told that the Sports Club is hugely successful. So, if they are so successful, why can't they raise the money for their own Dunny? Why do they have to come to Somerton Town Council to get the dosh? And why isn't Somerton Town Council using the funds (the receipts from leasing the Parish Rooms) to pay off borrowings and thereby reducing the burden on Somerton's ratepayers? Quoting from Toyah Wilcox's tune, "its a mystewee".

08:15 and the Leader of the Gang, Cllr Canvin, observed that the organisation of District and County was working very well and was 'joined up'. Obviously Cllr Canvin's war against bureaucracy is paying dividends. Next stop Afghanistan?

08:20 and the meeting died on its feet. Everyone was invited for the grand tour of the Tin Dunny, now sporting a fabulous dance floor. Before I left I did a bit of knocking on walls and I couldn't find much in the way of insulation. I'll be interested to see what the heating bills are like. Obviously the previous owner didn't think about running costs when they built the Dunny, although they did consider 'disabled access' for the first floor. Lucky us.

Till next time.