Wednesday 22 November 2017

That sinking feeling.

Following a successful legal battle to charge static vessels a full river toll despite the vessel having no navigation ability, The Blessed Authority is making plans to bolster its income having identified a static ‘vessel’  that has been hidden from view for nearly three decades.

Sited in the River Brew at Arkle, the ‘vessel’ was discovered during a routine hydrographic inspection recently and has been identified as an 1989 Datsun Sunny.

Our intrepid Shrimpy reporter was dispatched to Blessed HQ  and spoke to the Curator Fiscal, Nick Yermone, at Yeugh House.

“Coupled with our recent success in the courts to charge a full navigational rover toll a large static barge that is permanently tied up in a marina, we are fast-tracking a programme of similar ‘Barge Charges’ and seeking all past tolls too. This will generate a significant amount of money which will help massively with the forthcoming Christmas Party.”

Opaque asked; “But this is not a vessel, it’s a car. How can you possibly charge a toll for that?”

Nick explained, “We have a long history of interpretation of the law and of language. We have a large, dedicated team of people working in these two key areas, in fact, there are more people in our Obfuscation Department than in Planning! We are absolutely confident that we can reclassify a dumped car as a vessel. And, as the DVLA records can be traced back many years, we will easily be able to locate the owner or, perhaps, their descendants.’

“If we are successful in this, we will roll the programme out further and are planning a full sonar survey of all the waterways looking for similarly dumped vehicles, bicycles and childrens scooters. Where we see the real income though is in the various Wherries that were deliberately scuppered on Ranworth Broad and the plethora of mobile phones that await retrieval from virtually every mooring.”

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Flying the flag

The Blessed Authority has chosen the end of the boating season to launch a new burgee promoting its fake National Prank status.

Having jumped on the bandwagon of burgees for promoting Facebook groups and forums, our intrepid evasive shrimpy reporter, Opaque, met up with Dr Pikeman and asked him to describe the thinking behind the flags.

“Well, we’ve been watching progress of the little people who seem keen to buy flags relating to these online forums and so on and thought that if they had a real, bone-fide Blessed Authority flag, they would feel a bit more included in what we are trying to do here. Also, we’ve taken a bit of a high-profile pasting in the media in recent weeks and we felt that we needed something “good" to promote.

“That pesky Jimmy Day has made us a laughing stock with all his tent shenanigans. How dare he try to demonstrate that a tent doesn’t have foundations and that it isn’t fixed to the ground? He’s made us look rather silly, and that's before considering the ongoing problem of our own tent (which can be seen from space) not having planning and is clearly unable to be moved with the same ease as shown in his video. The whole thing is clearly orchestrated to make a mockery of the Blessed Planning Department. As everyone knows, we have an exemplary planning record; Granny even went to the trouble of writing to the newspaper to remind everyone how good we are. Did you know that we lost yet another planning appeal at Queenline Cottages in Boring last week?

“In fact, the joke will be on Wee Little Jimmy again as we noticed an unauthorised temporary construction vehicle access when we watched his tents being moved and are now busily wasting time and money pursuing him again. We are hoping that sales of our burgees will cover the cost of this.

“And talking of the flags, don’t they look nice? We’ll have the last laugh as our initial order of 10 burgees sold very well around the office so we decided to take a flutter and have ordered a further 2.5 million and the only place large enough to store them all is in our ginormous tent. So, now that it has a real purpose as a flag store for the next decade or so, its future is secure, like its fixing to the ground.”

Friday 22 September 2017

A busy day at the Planning Department

Blessed planners this week swooped on the recalcitrant barge Odd job, to investigate their own allegation that it isn’t a boat.

Master of the vessel Alan Fish has been engaged in a battle of wills with the Blessed Tolls Department for several years, refusing to pay a river toll on the basis that he can’t use the river. But planners have now waded into the row, claiming that if he doesn’t pay a toll then the barge might not be a boat.

“Mr Fish is being a complete arsehole” said Blessed Planning Chair Sir Dick Peterson. “He’s refusing to answer the questions which we made up for no reason, and now we’re caught in a pickle entirely of our own making.”

The questions which Mr Fish refuses to answer are:
  • Does the vessel float on the water?
  • What colour is it?
  • How is it tied to the jetty?
  • Does the owner wear a Captain’s hat?
  • Does a Jolly Roger fly from the mast?
“Until Mr Fish answers these questions” said a Blessed Spokesperson, “we can’t tell whether his vessel is actually a boat.”

“At this stage we must assume that it is actually a building requiring the benefit of planning permission, on the basis that we haven’t seen it move” continued the spokesperson. “Anything which stays in one place for longer than an arbitrary period which we choose on a case-by-case basis, is classed as permanent - unless it’s a Blessed Tent, LOL.”

The Blessed Authority is actively monitoring premises around the Blessed Executive Area for evidence of inconsequential development, to help boost its workload which last year numbered just 230 planning applications.

“We welcome enquiries from home and business owners about their development plans” said the Blessed Spokesperson. “Whether it’s putting a tent on a campsite or repurposing your phone box, no job is too small to consider”.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Blessed Person specification announced

Increasingly concerned at signs of resistance to the Blessed Assimilation Process, the Blessed Executive have obtained authority to develop a Blessed Person Specification, to help Local Authority leaders to choose the correct type of person to become part of the shared consciousness. 

“Recently, Local Authorities have been appointing the wrong type of councillor” said Dr Pikeman.  “They've been asking difficult questions which I don't want to answer, and talking amongst themselves. So we’ve formed a Governance Review Group of ‘willing volunteers’ from the membership, and by ‘volunteers’ I obviously mean the people that we asked. This group is assisting me to develop the Blessed Profiling Guidelines for Local Authority members, by agreeing with what I suggest.”

An early draft of the specification has been leaked to this blog, and we understand that the special qualities required for Members will include:
  • A lack of knowledge or experience of the Broads
  • An enthusiastic willingness to understand that accountability and scrutiny are not required in Blessed Organisations
  • An ability to defend the indefensible at all times, and to agree with all Blessed Utterances no matter how irrational or costly 
  • A willingness to attend regular assimilation sessions 
  • An ability to accept all official answers, even when the answers are wrong
Sir Dick Peterson, Protector of the Blessed Reputation, said “The Blessed Authority is too important to be run by Councillors who seem to think that being elected by taxpayers gives them some kind of mandate to say what they think. We need to put a stop to that kind of tribal thinking and strike back against the Norfolk Tory Conspiracy.”

There was strong support for the proposals from the Chair’s Pet Poodle, Dick Bilson, who yapped that the new guidelines would help councils like Birdland to appoint easily assimilated members of the liberal elite who wouldn’t ask awkward questions. “It’s not difficult,” he said. “Scripted questions are provided for Members - so why waste time making yourself unpopular by inventing your own?”

Thursday 24 August 2017

The correct use of navigation lights…

Blessed Rangers put in a rare late night appearance at Oulton Broad last night to keep a watchful eye on those enjoying the annual sailing regatta.

For safety’s sake, the ranger was checking for the correct use of navigation lights by tenders driven at night and giving warnings to anyone not showing the right lights. But, oh deary me, it turned out that the ranger was masquerading as a sailing boat rather than a powered vessel!

According to the Blessed Navigation Byelaws, a powered vessel must display side lights, a stern light and a masthead light. But the Blessed Vessel wasn't wearing a masthead light - making it look like a sailing boat in the dark!

One of our researchers put in a call to the Blessed Authority to check the rules, but nobody knew the answer. While on hold, staff were heard arguing about whether the red port had to be passed left or right, with Dr Pikeman muttering in the background about why people needed powered boats at all and couldn’t they just use canoes.

Eventually an official reply came through from Yeurgh House, which simply read “Masters of vessels must do as we say, not as we do.”

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Blessed Members Excluded from Official Visit

A high profile top secret operation was mounted last week in the southern outpost of Buckles, where Rural Affairs chief Lord Gamekeeper was invited to look at a sign and to enjoy unbiased commentary of the Blessed Operations.

“We were delighted to welcome Lord Gamekeeper into my circle of love," said Granny Spokesperson "but for security reasons we could only invite the newest Blessed appointees to join us. The risks in inviting any of our more experienced Blessed Members were simply unacceptable - they might have drifted from the Blessed Script, or failed to mention ‘national park’ or ‘special qualities’ with the prescribed frequency.”

Elected Blessed Members were particularly conspicuous by their absence, following the launch of the Member Marginalisation Programme which has responded to reports of Members talking to one another without Blessed Authorisation. Local Authority members are at particular risk, with many having already been disciplined for saying the wrong thing at meetings, disagreeing with officers or refusing to sign inaccurate minutes.

“These wretched councillors just don't seem to understand that the Broads are far too important to be left to the Local Authorities” said Sir Dick Peterson “ - that's the whole point of having unelected national park authorities”.

Norfolk Tory Conspiracy

Granny Spokesperson concurred with Sir Dick. “The Blessed Authority is too important for party politics,” she said “so we must get rid of any councillors who might disagree with my liberal elite.”

“Tribal” councillors have been on the endangered list since they called for a Peer Review to investigate the dysfunctional Authority. The idea met fierce resistance from Granny and the Doctor, though they finally agreed to it as long as everybody promised not to ask about stakeholder trust and engagement. “We had one of these peer review thingies a few years ago” said Dr Pikeman “and we ignored all the things we didn't agree with - so it’s pointless having another one now.”

Although - for security reasons - Lord Gamekeeper wasn't permitted to meet most of the Blessed Members during his visit, he was still able to join Blessed Apprentices and Staff, the Mayor of Buckles, town councillors, farmers, archaeologists, boat builders, conservation rangers and students. “I was sorry not to meet more Blessed Members and had no idea that they were so well protected” he said. “I wonder why that could be.”

The new railway sign is particularly important for tourism, according to Blessed Chief Executive Dr Pikeman. “The un-enlightened may claim that the good weather, the low value of the pound and the general popularity of domestic holidays have driven the increase in Blessed Tourism this year” he said “but I say Brexit Shmexit. The real reason is that we've spent £100,000 on renaming ourselves for marketing purposes, and nothing says ‘Visit the Broads’ better than a re-branded railway sign.”

“Broads National Park” agreed Blessed Tourism Leader, Reg Minefield. “Broads National Park Broads National Park Broads National Park”.

Saturday 4 February 2017

50 Shades of Mud

Blessed members have this week mostly been thrilled by the groundbreaking news that Yeorgh House Meetings will, in future, be recorded.

“I’m SO excited”, clapped Granny, “I was never EVER picked for the school play and now I get to have a whole show to myself with ME in the starring role!”

A source within Yeorgh House has confirmed that the move followed yet another row over the accuracy of Blessed Minutes. Traditionally, minutes have been a synopsis of officer presentation, peppered with the odd “acceptable” Blessed Member contribution, included only if it concurred with Dr. Pikeman’s recollection.

However, Dr. Pikeman has in recent months become increasingly unstuck as there appears to be a hidden recording device installed in the meeting room and it miraculously manifests itself every time the truth needs a bit of explanation and a back story.

At their meeting last November, Blessed Members considered the recommendations of the Tolls Ransack Group for a new tolls structure. The Blessed Chamber was packed to the rafters with assorted riff-raff including Wally Peters, Grumpy Measley and Mick North.

According to our source, some of the more enlightened Blessed Members had spotted a flaw in Granny's new Blessed System which would mean passenger boat owners like Grumpy paying nearly 30% more in tolls. Despite a few plaintive cries of "big boats must pay more” and “don't worry John I'm right behind you as always” from small boat owner Dick Bilson, Dr Pikeman could feel the argument slipping away and he made a valiant attempt to smother the debate. A confused Granny Spokesperson mistook his “double entendre” vacillations as a genuine attempt to let Members take the lead on a matter of policy and moved a recommendation that everyone thought would reduce the punishing increase for passenger boats and allow the Tolls Ransack Group to work out how to do it.

Disaster for the Blessed Executive was averted by passing the meeting notes through the Pikeman Minute Massager™, which showed that members hadn’t voted to reduce the increase at all and had in fact merely given Dr P delegated authority to do whatever he felt like. “Of course, the public were terribly mistaken in thinking that an alteration could be at all possible” he said. “I've made sure that all my paid employees agree with me, and if Granny knows what’s good for her career, she’ll agree with me as well.”

“But just to make sure”, he went on, “we’ll install recording equipment of our own, to produce recordings of our own, and then all the officers can agree that any other recording made that differs in the slightest from our version, can be dubbed false and fixed. I have it all under control.”

Meanwhile, 4K video recording equipment has already been installed in the Mockyard's infamous Torture Tent, where Blessed Miscreants are taken for extraordinary rendition. Local channel Custard TV has snapped up the exclusive broadcast rights for the new show “50 Shades of Mud” which will be Directed by rising star Rog Roberts and feature the likes of Wilky O'Brian and Jimmy Day as they battle to resist Granny's dominatrix alter-ego and her bumbling but obedient poodle.

The Blesssed Torture Tent continues to be unauthorised and does not have the benefit of planning permission. “It's a temporary structure” claimed a Blessed Spokesperson, who was unable to say when it would be removed.