25 April 2012

Too easily satisfied

From the first press interview:

“I am pretty much restless about everything and want to make things better. It’s my trademark and why people find me really quite annoying at times.

Nick Walkley, Barnet Council chief executive

oh dear, naughty Mr Mustard has changed the order of the words!

“I am pretty annoying about everything and people want to make me better and it’s why restless things at times find my trademark really quite much"

Next, the weekly message

From: First Team
Sent: 20 April 2012 16:20
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

I spent Monday afternoon at Grahame Park discussing issues on the Estate with young people and local voluntary youth group leaders. (Mr Mustard hates that words "issues" in this context. Is it Grahame Park, the Issues Estate? or Grahame Park the Problem Estate?) It was a challenging and inspirational afternoon and I came away with some very strong messages. Mr Mustard doubts that Nick will be inspired to give up his comfortable home in Islington (Perhaps in future Chief Executives should be contractually obliged to live on the roughest estate in their borough?) or have to try using a payday loan company.
Firstly, that whilst Barnet did not suffer public disorder of the scale seen in other parts of London we cannot be complacent and must work to tackle any signs of gang culture and community friction. The Cabinet; they are a kind of gang, let's go back to the committee system. It is not permissible to use the word culture in Barnet Nick except with the preceding words "lack of"

Secondly, that we have to find ways of accelerating the physical regeneration at Grahame Park. Mr Mustard was at a meeting at which over £1m due from the private developer was blithely subjected to extended credit when the developer is part of a cash rich group - at least it is better than investing it in Iceland - hopefully. Residents I spoke to are desperate for progress and we need to respond. Friern Barnet library sit-in protesters were desperate for the toilet so you will need to be more helpful in Grahame Park than the disgraceful behaviour shown at the library.

Thirdly, however, what really struck me were the large number of positive stories I heard (any of them about Barnet Council?). There is real talent, capacity and community spirit to tap in to ( this error is everywhere in council emails. It is "into" not "in to"; not very restless about use of grammar are you Nick.) and there is much we and our partners can do to support this. We can all begin by seeing Grahame Park as a place for opportunity and not just problems. No need to go to Grahame Park to see community spirit Nick, you can find it by the sack load at Friern Barnet each Saturday at 11am. There are now more books in the pop-up library than in the real one.

The Grahame Park visit was a helpful backdrop to my meeting with Corporate Management Group (so exactly how do senior managers on over £100,000 a year really understand what hardship is like and to live on the breadline?) to outline proposals for reorganising the senior officer structure of the council. So First Team gave details on these proposals and they go to General Functions Committee on Monday. You can find the report here.  Mr Mustard himself hopes to report on the senior officer structure but has to create some time so that may not be until after the meeting.

Finally well done to all those involved in the relaunch of our website. This is a hugely expensive undertaking and there is still much to do to enhance functionality but we are off to a very positive start. Codswallop. £671,544 has been spent on the website that Mr Mustard knows of, there will be more, and for that money Mr Mustard expects the changeover to occur at a weekend so that all the necessary worldwide updating of page locations takes place without so much inconvenience to users, and that you get a website that you can find your way around and that does not contain out of date information, look in the A-Z list at the bottom of the page and click on W for Wormeries and there isn't any information about wormeries, and useful information that did use to be there like Delegated Powers Reports - now re-named Officer Decisions -are not there except for the most recent half dozen. Never mind half dozen, the "wobbly website" is half-baked. Mr Walkley needs to get out of his parallel universe where everything is great.

Nothing will be great until Walkley walks and Cornelius capitulates. 

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Yours frugally

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