El Gordo Creosote
by ANDREW WASTLING
What is being a Street Beggar compared to standing for Town Council?
by ANDREW WASTLING
What is being a Street Beggar compared to standing for Town Council?
(In a letter in the Rochdale Observer yesterday, Richard Farnell the Leader of Rochdale Council, wrote complaining about the goal of the human rights charity Liberty for challenging his council for, as he puts it: 'clamping down on swearing and other anti-social behaviour in Rochdale town centre'. Councillor Farnell forcefully pleads his case:
'We are tackling a small minority of ne'er do wells who drunkenly shout and swear and harangue shoppers in our town centre. I make no apologies for trying to make Rochdale a more welcoming place for people to enjoy... because it's difficult enough to make a living nowadays without a few yobs turning shopper away.'
Below Andrew Wastling asks whether a little 'propaganda by example' might be in order from Richrd Farnell and his colleagues: as Bertolt Friedrich Brecht once said 'What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?' Editor)UNDERSTANDABLY, 'aggressive begging' has been in the local news lately. It appears to be a growing problem in Rochdale. Especially many of us have noticed in & around the locality of Rochdale Town Hall, which appears to have become a magnet for the worst type of anti-social behaviour. This is particularly prevalent between the hours of 6PM & 9.30PM or whenever an expenses cheque form is proffered or a single tuna mayonnaise sandwich sliced. Something must be done to clampdown.
The worst case of aggressive begging I have personally witnessed recently was inside Rochdale Town Hall where an loud & intimidating group (possibly drug & alcohol fuelled), accompanied by a bullying air of entitlement & arrogant self justification that was tangible, beneath the wiff of expensive cologne & Eau de Toilette awarded themselves unprecedented 34% to 51 % pay rise.
So just who exactly are these rare & elusive individuals who's sense of self entitlement is such that they think that they are divinely deserving of a 34% pay rise whilst those less deserving public sector workers such as mere nurses, fire men, ambulance drivers and the like are restricted to a miserly 1% pay freeze because their work is of far less importance to Society?
After all must all be truly blessed to have such a superb cohort of councillors in our midst representing us. At a whopping 34%/51% pay rise must be worth every penny piece they have awarded themselves & our local government be a centre of excellence for efficiency & local democratic accountability!
Its not often these highly paid 'alpha- councillors' are sighted in the heart of the local metropolis , one might think they are scared of being recognised by the occasional educated prole ,even rarer for them acknowledge the existence of, let alone to speak to us epsilon minors of the lumpen proletariat, yet they can, bless them , be spotted in diverse graceful abundance, far from their local watering holes , in their natural habitat the Town Hall Buffet Room or even more rarely glumly plodding the streets whenever the Ballot Box looms every few years and they need to remind their constituents that they actually exist ?
One ' alpha-councillor' would have us believe on the council's Twitter feed
(@RochdaleCouncil) that she: 'works 30-40 hours per week, is on 19 committees and receives the equivalent of no more than £4/hour'!
Appalling is it not, that such self sacrifice should go entirely unrewarded. A scandal such as this should , one would have thought, have been brought to the attention of the local media for discussion long before the Budget Setting Meeting nights meeting to 'rubber stamp' councillors expense - we can only assume they were simply far too busy attending meetings & reluctantly claiming the expenses from these 19 committees to raise it previously & not simply trying to elicit sympathy when their avarice was held under the magnifying glass?
Such selfless dedication to the voting masses is highly commendable. How many other councillors share this councillors evident zeal and attend nineteen committees, I wonder?
Nineteen whole committees councillor! Really, where are your comrades in the struggle; they must be queuing up to sit on a Committee instead of you to relieve you of the cross you carry with such evident style ?
What does this say about the total inability of other councillors to share this massively unfair workload of one of their over worked colleagues ?
Or what does it say about the quality or the governance of councillors who would surely be in breach of the Working Time Directive were they gainfully 'employed' elsewhere?
About 'work life balance' or about the possible unwieldy Expenses cheques courtesy of the local tax payer for such a large number of committee attendances?
The sack cloth and ashes was evident in abundance. Barley warming our councillors from the evening chill outside the Town Hall as they scuttled in, some via the back door again, to rubber stamp their own pay rise last night, 'under duress' because , so we are told, they collectively lacked the mental capacity to make a choice one way or the other of their own volition?
Whilst another, in the role of Judas Iscariot , washed their hands of fellow public service workers facing a 1 % pay freeze saying : 'Is that my fault?' as they rushed inside to avail themselves of the £9.95 per councillor tax payer subsidised free nosh up on the rates.
It was an unedifying and shoddy spectacle of our local political elite, the intellectual glitterati & those who have risen from obscurity to non-entity without so much a single scribble to mark their presence on the official record of Town Hall proceedings throughout their dedicated public role as councillor. Some of them are so keen to hide their good works & so modest of accepting praise that it is indeed difficult to find a single recorded example of them having actually done anything at all whilst a councillor - but we the voters are not that stupid, we know in order to merit a 34%/51% pay rise or councillors must keep their noses to the grind stone 24/7, but that they are simply particularly adept at hiding their light under a bushel. Some indeed are so personally dedicated to their roles of helping their constituents that they hardly escape from the grind of their weekly Council Ward Surgeries, so much so it's doubtful they'd be recognised in public on the streets & avenues they represent without a preliminary pre-election street leafleting were they ever to visit from their actual homes at the other side of the Borough to meet some real people for a change.
This dear reader is the ugly mask slipping of our self proclaimed political 'elite' when under pressure & challenged to justify the indefensible. Many appear to have little or no respect for anyone but themselves and their evident contempt for the voters will without a doubt cost many of them their seats to independents in the next local elections. They are aware that its possible twenty councillors will be axed and that also many of them are waiting to stand down and retire in any case. For many drinking in the last chance salon this vote was the last chance to quaff down all they can even if it nearly chokes them in the process.
This preferential 'food queue jumping' by some councillors breeds considerable ill will & festering resentment amongst the majority of the tax paying public who have themselves to resort to the mercy of the local food banks or Church run soup kitchens when they are similarly destitute - councillors don't even require a voucher like the majority of us.
I have reported this shocking incident to the relevant authorities in the hope this unacceptable 'anti-social behaviour' will be investigated?
I am hoping the town centre wrecking spree these councillors' seem intent on wreaking on local public services can be averted by them being subjected to a collective ASBO or a 'blanket-ban or curfew' preventing all councillors entering the Rochdale Metropolitan Borough area on a 24/7, such a Dispersal Order should be utilised against the majority of councillors three hundred & sixty five days a year to prevent further damage to our community.
Could we perhaps get the worst of this anti-social element electronically tagged - or at least rehabilitated back into respectable society in some well run, humane, local institution were their evident special needs could be catered for?
It's about time the anti social behaviour of this bunch of 'ne’er do well' under achievers was clamped down on for the public good. Since the delinquent behaviour of a selfish element is damming the minority of decent, hard working, dedicated councillors by public association.
I just wonder when we can all expect mass arrests and fines to be made with respect to our councillors since gangs of them have been spotted 'loitering around the public purse', with their 'socially destructive' conduct breaching socially acceptable norms of behaviour in the town centre for a number of years now and appear unable to curtail their behaviour without interventions being made to moderate these embedded selfish behavioural traits?
We need to be cruel to be kind to our struggling councillors & act with some urgency lest we get second, or third generation councillor dependency culture developing. We are already seeing repeat patterns of inter-generational dependency developing amongst spouses and families. With anecdotal evidence amongst locals that some particularly dependent councillors are totally deskilled and entirely unable to independently support themselves at all in the real world.
Could we not for their own health & well being simply ban them from the Town Hall & No.1 Riverside in perpetuity with judicious use of a Public Space Protection Orders to prevent them causing more misery to themselves or our town any more damage?