6 December 2011

Follow my leader ( into obscurity? )

Follow My Leader

This game is widely played among the Indian tribes, particularly by the boys, and also by the girls. The Leader improvises the steps and the movements, which all who follow must repeat and keep time to the song. The song here given is traditional in the Omaha tribe. It has been handed down from one generation of young folk to another—for how many, "nobody knows."
The Game

A Leader is chosen, and all who join in the game must go where he goes, dance as he dances, move the arms, hands and feet as he does. The skipping and dancing must be in exact time with the song that all must sing. The game gives opportunity for fancy steps, winding, intricate figures, "cutting capers" and merry pranks.

Follow my Leader where'er he goes;
What he'll do next, nobody knows.

Mr Mustard doesn't only point out shortcomings at the Council; he likes also to be helpful and to write to officers and councillors suggesting money-saving and/or face-saving ideas and in the case of the Leader, Cllr Richard Cornelius, the opportunity for him to show some leadership on what has turned out to be a very controversial measure; "cashless parking". That is an idea which is fine in principle but flawed in practice especially when sledgehammered into being rather than slowly & subtly drifted into place as times change. It is an example of how the populace are expected to bend to the will of the council whereas the council proclaim that they are Putting the Community First. You are allowed a hollow laugh at that phrase.

Given that the tendering procedure for the removal of the parking meters has not been properly carried out it should be run again and RM Countryside Ltd would be well advised not to kick up a fuss bearing in mind that they get the vast majority of their work from the council ( in contravention of the Constitution ).

So Mr Mustard will now share with you his short exchange of emails with the Leader Cllr Cornelius ( verbatim except that as usual Mr Mustard has been substituted for my real name )

The email subject was "How to be a Hero"

Friday, 2 December 2011

Dear Councillor Cornelius

Are you fed up with hearing about parking payment problems? Almost everyone is.

You are the Leader. You can fix this mess. Look at New York

Look at that lovely parking meter that takes cash and cards. Parkeon are one of the suppliers to Barnet Council.

Has anyone asked Parkeon if the current machines, which appear to be modular in design, can be adapted. I'll bet they can. Sure it will cost a few quid but £80,000 is being spent on removing and scrapping some perfectly good working machinery.

You will still need to employ some cash collection officers but, as more and more people use cards because it is convenient when the slot is there next to them ( like in Westminster as well as New York )the need to empty the meters so often will diminish.

Have you looked at Big Society ways of dealing with the machines? How about having a team of shop-keepers in each location to empty them each day? A small commission to the traders for providing that service or placed in a special fund to improve their town centre?

There must be a better way than the current one which has been poorly thought out and is being badly implemented.

So, what is it to be? Hero or Zero?

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dear Mr Mustard,
Thank you for your email.  I do not think that there is any future in the machines and now that we are developing the scratchcard option I feel that a lot of the objections to the pay by phone system will disappear.

Richard Cornelius

The next email had a small change in title. It was "How not to be a hero"

Monday 5 December 2011

Dear Cllr Cornelius

Thank you for your short reply which is very disappointing.

I have seen the 4 page wraparound on the Barnet Times. I see that there will now be 2 voucher values available, £1 for 30 minutes and £2 for 1 hour which can be used in multiples to purchase more parking time. That may well be fine in the 1 hour zones ( if you have planned in advance and don't mind paying £8 for possibly your one and only visit to the borough of Barnet ) but here in High Barnet where the hours are from 8am to 6.30pm a visitor without a mobile telephone will need to purchase 10 one hour vouchers and a 30 minute voucher if they need to stay all day which at face value is £21. That will in effect mean that they will need to buy 12 ( 3 packs of four ) vouchers at £2 = £24 whereas in the Stapylton Rd car park the maximum daily charge is £5. ( Only 20m away in Strafford Rd the daily charge is, strangely, £7 )

If you went to the pub ( I don't know if you drink but please bear with me ) and ordered a round and the barman said "you have to pay by credit card for that round sir, this is a cashless bar, the charge is £7" and you said "oh sorry, I am afraid I haven't got my credit card on me" and the barman then said "that's all right sir, we take drinks vouchers which you buy on-line from the council in books of 4 at £2 each; however the cash price for your round is £21 so that will be £24 of vouchers you need to buy", I think you would leave and find a bar in another town. Please feel free to tell me that I am completely wrong.

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

Mr Mustard isn't expecting to hear anything else as Cllr Cornelius has made his mind up, or had it made up for him? He says he listens but then he doesn't act. Not much point in listening then, is there?

Shopkeepers; you can act. If this man comes into your shop please double, treble or quadruple your prices.

Happy days; thinking of his free park anywhere in Barnet permit
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. 

Have fun.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. ha ha: you are a caution, Mr Mustard. I think we should adopt this principle with all the Tory councillors - let's distribute wanted posters iwth their mugshots on to all the local shops and urge them to hike their charges up to any of the guilty parties ...


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