Friday, 10 May 2019

Lame Turtle “Staying To Finish Job”

The Blessed Authority this week suffered it's most high profile eviction yet, with the dismissal of Blessed Chair Temper Turtle.

Ex-copper Turtle had thought himself bullet-proof, openly supporting Dr Pikeman’s Blessed Land Grab as well as championing his Councillor-Abolition Policy. But, in a rare moment of personal insight, Turtle told Local Authority leaders that their appointees “lacked the necessary skills” to serve as Blessed Members - apparently forgetting one minor detail of his own appointment.

Taking him at his word, Turtle’s council leader sacked him due to his “lack of necessary skills”.

The dismissal completes a dismal week for the Turtle, who was on Thursday handed his arse by the voters of Phlegmburgh after they voted 1050 votes to 151 in favour of the village postman in the Yarco borough election.

“It’s a bit of a relief, to be honest” said Turtle. “I told Lord Gamekeeper a few weeks ago that Dr Pikeman was out of control and he told me it was my job to sort it out. That’s when I realised I was massively out of my depth, and engineered my own removal by supporting ridiculous policies and insulting my colleagues.”

With several other councillors also departing the Blessed Authority, however, and the unthinkable risk of Vice Chairman Dick “Round of Drinks” Bileson occupying the chair even for one meeting, Dr Pikeman has invoked statute and demanded that the hapless turtle carry on to the bitter end rather than fall on his sword.

As panic stations were declared, puppet-mistress Granny Burgess assumed control and wrote to the press, explaining that the Turtle would continue as Chair for another 3 months, despite having lost the confidence of his leader and his voters.

“He’s been a wonderful and obedient Chair” said Granny. “But he has one more job before he goes, which is to appoint my favoured candidates for Blessed Secretary of State appointments next month. So I won’t let him resign just yet.”

Meanwhile, Pikeman is preparing himself for the biggest single intake of new members in Blessed history. “It’s the first time I’ve had to do this many simultaneous assimilations” he said. “But I’m sure they’ll all be willing supplicants by the end of their training.”

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Wheels Fall Off Pikeman’s Folly

Blessed Members are this week putting the finishing touches to a code of conduct complaint against the Chief Executive, citing a number of “activities likely to cause reputational and financial harm to the Authority”, following a string of recent PR disasters.

Last week it was revealed that local authority leaders had written to the Government to complain about the Blessed Authority’s detachment from reality and refusal to play nicely with others. The leaders’ patience finally snapped when Dr Pikeman announced his fiendish plan to absorb half the county into his personal fiefdom and abolish elected members into the bargain.

Members are now reeling from the totally unexpected shock news that the Broads National Pike Visitor Centre at Axlebridge will cost twice as much as Dr Pikeman’s random guesses, due to the architects ignoring the design brief as well as national & local planning policies - and using the wrong side of the scale rule.

“In fairness, we never said that the building had to fit on the site” said Dr Pikeman from his bunker, “and I applaud the winning architects for being bold enough to look beyond traditional spatial constraints, and instead design something which ignores practical considerations and planning policies, in favour of playing to my vanity.”

“I told members last year that the costs had doubled, but since they’d never signed off the budget in the first place, they didn’t need to agree a new one” he went on.

Henna Larson, Blessed member for Birdland, pointed out that members had never actually asked for a visitor centre, or agreed to go ahead with it. But Dr Pikeman dismissed her view as “the kind of populist nonsense we’ve come to expect from these so-called elected councillors, which is why they need to go.”

“Members are kept fully informed of my increasingly narcissistic ego-trips and it’s their job to be ambassadors for them, not to ask awkward questions. Both Larson and Uncle Paul will be having their collars felt by PC Turtle for embarrassing the Blessed Authority through their failure to observe collective responsibility for decisions that haven’t been made yet.”

Dr Pikeman confirmed that the project was going ahead, despite the lack of a coherent business case or funding proposal, the escalating cost, the breach of planning policies, the practical challenges of scaffolding across the river, the loss of moorings, the navigation hazard presented by a wall of plate glass beside tacking yachts, the dangerous road junction, the lack of parking, the reluctance of the adjacent farmer to sell his land for a pittance and the complete absence of any stakeholder support whatsoever.

He did, however, acknowledge the importance of transparency in the planning process, confirming that “the Authority will follow its normal practice in determining its own planning applications, by paying a consultant to make the application on our behalf.”

“By getting someone else to make the application, our planning committee can pretend it’s nothing to do with them. I’ve already paved the way, by making sure they don’t know anything about it.” he said.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Blessed Meltdown as Evictions and Gaggings Continue

The ethnic cleansing of the Blessed Authority has moved up a notch with the dismissal of Wilky O’Brian from the navigation committee and full Authority. Despite having more experience of navigation and engineering than the rest of the Authority combined, an “independent panel” decided that this was outweighed by his apparent inability to vote in the prescribed manner.

“Wilky supported an alternative candidate to me for the Chair” said Temper Turtle, “and didn’t vote for Jimmy Day to be evicted either. So that was that.”

Unsure how to deal with the recalcitrant O’Brian for his final meetings, the Chairs Group decided to stop him from speaking on any subject where he was known to have an opinion. “That will fix him” said Dr Pikeman. “He’s got an opinion on everything!”

And so, in a spectacular misrepresentation of the law of predetermination, Wilky was gagged during an already controversial debate on the display of vessel registration numbers, unable to intervene as the debate descended into disarray and confusion.

For years, some boats have been excused from putting numbers on their transom, as long as they have them on the bow or bowsprit alongside the tolls plaque. But with the plaqueless tolls system judged a success, blessed officers say that it’s now too difficult for rangers to identify yachts that don’t have numbers on the back.

“In the old days, rangers would just walk up to the front and look at the plaque” they explained. “But without the plaque, they have to, err, walk up to the front and look at the numbers instead.”

The Blessed Spokesperson went on to claim that rangers couldn’t identify a speeding sailing boat from behind. “The speed of our ranger boats is no match for a heritage yacht. It would disappear into the distance and we’d have no way of identifying it other than the name on the transom, the gigantic number on the sail, and the fact that the rangers know all the boats anyway” she said.

In their report, officers gave members the choice of recommending enforcement, or a warning letter followed by enforcement. A suggestion that the Authority should revert to the previous arrangement, instead of enraging stakeholders further for no reason, was dismissed on the basis that officers didn’t want to. “In any event” said the officer, “members agreed to ditch this arrangement in November 2017. Though funnily enough that’s not in the minutes.”

“Of course, minutes are not a verbatim record, though you can ask for the recording if you want” the officer went on. “But we take 21 working days to provide recordings - and as the monitoring officer only works one day a week - that’s 21 weeks, ha ha.”

New members of the navigation committee - invited to observe before their assimilation meeting - were left wondering what on earth they’d got themselves embroiled in.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Back to school for planners after fisticuffs

A fight broke out at yesterday's meeting of the Blessed Planning Committee, when two members accused another one of having a conflict of interest.

Uncle Paul Special Fried, chairman of the Blessed Society, was about to declare that he’d chosen not to speak on an application they’d objected to - even though he has every right to speak and indeed vote if he wants to - as long as he keeps an open mind.

Before he’d managed two words, though, Scottish new boy Keithy The Bruce threatened to give him a Glaswegian kiss if he didn’t “shut his mooth” and Granny Burgess leapt into the fray, confirming that Uncle Paul’s membership of the Blessed Society meant that he wasn’t allowed to have an opinion on anything. “That’s why I resigned from it, after they said those rude things about me” she said.

In the absence of “Man Thursday” Hairy Davies, or anyone else who actually knew the rules, it fell to Henna Larson to remind the antagonists firstly that pre-disposition doesn’t equal pre-determination, and second that the interests of other members are none of their damn business. If they’d actually paid attention at their planning committee training classes, she pointed out, they would know this. Chairperson Mel Rio de Janeiro, meanwhile, smiled sweetly as she looked on in total bemusement, not really understanding any of it.

“The Granny made me say it” said Brucey after the meeting. “She told me Uncle Paul had a conflict of interest and I just believed her. She’s made me look a right plonker in front of the others now.”

Back-bencher and control freak Burgess still appears to hold on to the reins of Blessed power and regularly attends all the secret briefing meetings, despite being sacked as Blessed Chair last year. “I keep having to wipe the rouge from Temper Turtle’s ear after she’s been whispering into it” confirmed his trusty sidedick, Dick Bileson.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Bonfire of the Councillors

In the latest cynical ploy to create further divisions amongst Members, Dr Pikeman has announced his plans to remove all local authority and navigation committee members from the Blessed Authority.

Members last month approved proposals to triple the Blessed Executive Area by annexing 93 parishes from the District Councils, but also made the fatal error of giving Dr Pikeman delegated authority to “refine” the draft response to the Mitten Review of Notional Perks.

The last minute “refinement” - made in consultation with the Blessed Chairs - added a surprise proposal to remove all members with any form of democratic mandate from the Board, leaving only Secretary of State appointees - who are recommended by the Executive.

“My Blessed Chair and Vice Chair have been visiting Council leaders to ask them to remove some of the less… erm… co-operative members” explained the Chief Executive, “but we still get too many people who read all the papers and ask the wrong kinds of questions. My new proposal will heal our divisions by giving me absolute control, and abolishing the type of members who don’t agree with me.”

Pikeman Promise

Dr Pikeman’s Blessed Chairs are Temper Turtle, Mel Rio de Janeiro, Nookie Toilet and Louis-a-Bore. Ironically, 3 of the 4 will be culled as a result of the plan, but this was easily fixed with a promise to give Secretary of State Appointments to Turtle and Toilet. Rio de Janeiro needed no such promise, as she just trusts Pikeman to do the right thing. “He’s such a lovely man” she said “and we are blessed to have him as our Chief Executive.”

The Blessed Chairs, with Dick Bileson buying the drinks, form an unofficial “Executive” - to take care of all the tricky and controversial decisions which make Members’ brains hurt. An Executive isn’t actually permitted by law, which says that decisions have to be made by all Members. But, in response to the Peer Review recommendation for more “inclusive” governance, most members have been excluded from decision making and the number of full Authority meetings reduced by a third.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Blessed Solicitor Bails Out

Hairy Davies, the Blessed Solicitor and Monitoring Officer has decided to call it a day, after a record breaking 28 months in the post.

The resignation came a month ago, but Blessed Chair Temper Turtle decided not to inform Blessed Members for security reasons, and because none of them would be interested anyway. “He’s only the solicitor” he said. “It’s not like he’s had much to do these last few years”.

Routinely forced to risk his professional reputation by ignoring the law and abusing the Authority’s own processes, Davies finally threw in the towel when asked to make new rules to clamp down on complaints. “I’ve had to re-define so many words that there’s now a Blessed Dictionary on every desk” he said. “‘Defamatory’ now means ‘anything that makes us cry’ and ‘unreasonable’ operates on a sliding scale depending on who’s doing the accusing.”

“The new policy is caused by changing public attitudes rather than our actions” said sacked Chair and so-called “Professor” Granny Burgess. “So we must do more to explain to stakeholders why they are always wrong.”

Her apprentice Temper Turtle agreed. “Unfortunately, the number of complaints has exploded, so we must find new and imaginative ways of dismissing them without investigation, rather than trying to understand why so many people are complaining about us” he said.

Blessed Benevolence

“As a responsible employer, we have a duty to protect our staff from criticism, no matter how justified it might be” commented Dr Pikeman. “Under the new rules, we can dismiss complaints out of hand rather than waste time covering up incompetence.”

“Intimidation of Blessed Officers has always been unacceptable,” he said “and now, under my new rules, we are redefining ‘intimidation’ to mean ‘disagreeing with an officer or pointing out that they are wrong.’ Better to dismiss the complaint than the officer - we have more than enough people leaving as it is.”

Shoot the messenger

“We must remain free to bully people and make up arbitrary policy on the hoof without the risk of being held accountable” Pikeman explained to a group of Blessed Sheep last week. “So we should always focus on the person doing the complaining, and where they got their evidence. Any complaint which refers to unofficial recordings or photographs taken in public places will automatically be dismissed.”

Other grounds for ignoring a complaint include mentioning it to your MP, DEFRA or the National Audit Office, speaking to the press, publishing your concerns on social media or telling your Mum.

It’s been confirmed that anyone using all three stages of the Authority’s complaints process will automatically be deemed a persistent complainant. “I get seriously bored with the repetitive inanity in these intemperate and highly objectionable complaints” grumbled Dick “Vice” Bilson. “All criticism is intolerable and the Authority will decline to engage with anyone who indulges in it.”

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Pikeman Strikes Back

In an audacious move designed to strike terror into the hearts of residents, businesses and councils, Dr Pikeman has announced his plan for the annexation of 93 Blessed Parishes, in an attempted land grab dubbed “Operation Crimea”.

Smarting from criticism that the Blessed Executive Area isn’t large enough to justify it’s own planning department, Pikeman plans to wrest vast swathes of land from the districts and bring them under the control of his dysfunctional Authority - for the purpose of “improving engagement” with landowners and residents.

“Co-operating with neighbouring Authorities has always been a challenge for us,” said Dr Pikeman, “and by taking over their territory, we won’t have to.”

“Our research suggests that we can expect strong support from Parish Councils for this enlargement of my personal fiefdom” he went on, “as well as from Natural England who we think will be grateful to cede control of nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest to me, in pursuit of my Blessed Purpose.”

Hand In Glover

The fiendish plan is part of the Blessed Response to the Mitten Review of Notional Perks, which Dr Pikeman hopes will give him the status he craves.  “The only thing stopping me from being Chief Executive of a proper Notional Perk is this wretched navigation nonsense” explained Pikeman. “But I’ve worked out that, if I re-brand navigation as ‘recreation’, then we can get rid of the Blessed Third Purpose along with that infernal navigation committee and, hey presto, it’s hello Blessed Notional Perk.”

“As a bonus, I get my hands on all that lovely toll income” he said, drooling into his beard. “I need it to fund my huge AxleBridge Erection now that the budget has doubled.”