19 July 2011

Grice's Maxims

Mr Mustard is a believer in lifelong learning - it's how long it will probably take him to learn the Ins and Outs of Barnet Council ( too much management In and not enough Out ? ).

Whilst researching his posting about Mr Grice, Mr Mustard came across Grice's Maxims and wondered if Mr Richard Grice and Mr Paul Grice could be related, but given the nature of the maxims that seems to be unlikely.

You can read them in full here. Gricean maxims

Here is a quick summary.

1 Maxim of Quality - Be truthful
- Do not say what you believe to be false
- Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

2 Maxim of Quantity - Quantity of Information
- Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange)
- Do not make your contribution more informative than is required

3 Maxim of Relation - Relevance
- Be relevant

4 Maxim of Manner - Be clear 
- Avoid obscurity of expression
- Avoid ambiguity
- Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity)
- Be orderly.

It is clear to Mr Mustard that these maxims have never been heard of at Barnet Council. It would be good if these were incorporated into the rules of the Council.

Now let us turn back to our Mr Grice and his performance in front of the Business Management & Overview Scrutiny Committee on 11 July 2011.

A resident asked "where are the goalposts" when it came to a Big Society alternative library provision. Grice's answer: "At this point in time. Don't know. Need to talk to Councillors and discuss". So how can residents hit the target? they don't know what it is and neither do the Officers.
Mr Grice was then asked by Cllr Marshall ( good speech Councillor ) about the lease on Garden Suburb and about the way in which indirect costs were allocated across the libraries.

Mr Grice had to admit that there was still 5 years to run on the lease at £10,000 p.a. and that they had missed the possible break at September 11 as 6 months notice was required. £375,000 of running costs will supposedly be saved. Direct costs were attributed if possible but that others were on a flat cost basis i.e. each library was allocated the same amount. He will re-do this on a fairer basis ( ergo, the existing method of allocation is unfair ) ( and the resulting figure will almost certainly be less ). 

Cllr Turner then asked Mr Grice about the plans for the building on which the future rent would amount to £50,000. Mr Grice said he "will negotiate with the landlord" ( a bit late Mr Grice, you should have been doing that already & you are in a position of weakness. The landlord is not likely to simply give up a tenant in this financial climate ). Mr Grice then said "Will look at how the building might be used. No plan." Marvellous, no Plan A, no Plan B, nothing, 

Why do the Council pay this man £104,673 p.a. ? Mr Mustard likes value for money. He cannot see any here.

Cllr Rayner then stepped in. He said to Mr Grice that "The costing methodology must be correct. Please email the numbers". Mr Grice refuted that the figures were not robust. What tommyrot - earlier he said that some costs had been allocated on a flat cost basis which with the libraries being vastly different in size and staffing is not a fair way to allocate. Would anyone who has the revised numbers please email then to mrmustard@zoho.com

There was some waffle from Mr Grice about the move to the Arts Depot ( for which no terms have yet been agreed, no idea what the rent might be for example ) and that there would be a "merger over a period of time" Mr Mustard nearly wrote "mists of time" in his notes.

Cllr Rawlings then delivered a well aimed kicking to the waffle. "It is no use for users of Friern Barnet library to move Rhymetime to the ArtsDepot. You are missing the point. Stop pretending there is a utopian future." It had been a long meeting so this was a welcome piece of entertainment and accurate to boot.

Maxims complied with out of 4 by Mr Grice ? I think you know.
Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Barnet Council has had serious failings in its property management department for some time. Many years ago DCMD alerted the council to the fact that a rent review was outstanding on the David Lloyd Centre in Finchley. It took DCMD less than 5 minutes to calculate the new rent due because the increase was based on the Retail Price Index - no negotiation was required. The council’s delay in settling the matter cost taxpayers over £9,000 because the lease did not include a provision for the payment of back rent upon review (only Barnet Council could negotiate a lease on such terms).

    DCMD offered to give the Council, gratis, a copy of the software developed for his business, which would have alerted the council in good time when a rent review was due. The offer was not taken up.


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