Sunday 22 November 2015

Brave Members Reject Assault on Free Speech

“I’m bored!”, exclaimed a more equal member of the Blessed Authority, “These questions from the public are the same every single meeting, somebody do something before I fall asleep at my desk!”

“We could try and answer the questions properly and act on them accordingly”, offered a lesser amongst equals. “I'm fed up with this business of hearing the question and being told the answer before I've had a chance to say anything.”

“That’s just potty”, said a voice, “we simply need to change how we want the public to participate, that’s all!”

“I have the solution”, purred Dr. Pikeman, “leave it to me, I shall confer with the Great Brethren of Blessed Parks, they will surely give me guidance, so we can become more like them in every way.”

So, proposals to limit public participation at the Blessed Authority's meetings were firmly presented to Members this week - who, somewhat remarkably, sat on them just as firmly.

Never one to miss an opportunity to restrict free speech, Dr Pikeman saw the request as a mandate to prevent anyone from petitioning the Authority, restricting what sort of question could be asked - and even bypassing Members entirely when the questioner couldn't be at the meeting.

“Meetings are a place where Members conduct business of the Authority and really don’t need to be distracted by the public interfering with the carefully engineered decisions I need them to make. If Members notice there are alternatives to Option 1 (Save the Authority by charging more and delivering less), or Option 2 (Doom the Authority and all it holds dear to a fate worse than death by not choosing Option 1) then there’ll be a riot.”

Former senior member Dave Pond commented that the Authority is "not a democratic and accountable organisation in the first place" and that the proposal was "unnecessarily provocative".

In an unprecedented last minute rebellion, however, Members decided that enough was enough after all and the proposals were taking a ridiculous step too far, even by the Blessed Authority’s standards.

"It's the complete opposite of what we asked for" complained one new Member.

“Get used to it” whispered the fen raft spider which had fallen off the Divine Ecologist’s skirt earlier in the meeting.

“Of course, we accept the will of the Members” said an official spokesperson, with her fingers firmly crossed behind her back. “We didn't want to limit engagement, just improve efficiency.”

Saturday 14 November 2015

Something Fishy at Thorpe Island

There I was, minding my own business the other day, having a little swim up towards Norwich and I thought I'd look in at Thorpe Island to visit some of my old chums.

Well, I hadn't been there more than a few minutes before someone stuck a piece of paper to my dorsal fin, which said I couldn't swim there anymore; apparently I was in breach of some kind of enforcement notice and fish like me "adversely affect the character and appearance of the conservation area and local amenity". Chatting to some of the other fish, it seems like there's some bloke with a big house nearby who doesn't think that fish have any right to live in marinas, especially not the ones he doesn't like the look of. So he's made a lot of noise about it to some important people and now all the fish have been told to leave or face the direst consequences.

Apparently, the little fishes had been left alone until the man who owned the basin thought it would be a good idea to repair it and make it look all nice again, to encourage the best sort of fish to swim there. But that frightened the natives, who complained that they didn't want to see more fish in the marina, so the Blessed Authority sent their man to stop the improvements and tell the fishes that they couldn't swim there any more. Well this didn't seem very fair to the poor man who'd bought the marina for his retirement, so he tried to carry on anyway - but the more he tried to improve things, the more people tried to stop him and frightened all his fishes away. And so now only the oldest and most unpopular fish go to swim in the marina, and they can't afford to pay much, so the man hasn't got the money to improve it. And all the money he did have went on fighting the bullies trying to stop him. And really this just doesn't smell at all right to me.

Believe it or not, the Blessed Authority says that the basin has been abandoned and can't be used by fish for swimming any more. Despite fish having swum in it every day from the day it was dug (I remember swimming in it 40 years ago). And despite it being made for the express purpose of having fish swim in it. And - get this - despite the Blessed ones signing something in 1985 which said that the basin can only be used for the swimming of fish. They signed this when they allowed those big houses to be built; that's right, including the one whose owner doesn't like looking at all the fishes who were there before he was. So here is a basin which is restricted to the swimming of fish, but the Blessed Authority say that it can't be used for that, even though they said that this was the only thing it could be used for. It's enough to confuse a fish.

To make things even more complicated, Tripe Town Council want the Blessed Authority to compulsorily purchase the island from the landowner and make it a fish free zone. ”It has been scientifically proven that too many small fish in the area spoil our election results so urgent action is required.” said a spokesperson.

I wonder what the Blessed Authority - and TTC - want to happen here? Once they've finished frightening the fishes away and chopping the poor man up into little pieces and jumping up and down on his remains, what will become of the basin? What can it be used for, if not for fish swimming? Who will repair the quay heading once it starts falling into the river? How much will it all cost? And who will be paying the bill?

Something fishy's going on here, or my name's not Eduardo "Fins" McPike.

When is a basin not a basin…?