18 June 2012

A Lamb to the slaughtered

Executive summary

Barnet Council have a plan, supposedly at the behest of the police, to make the whole of Barnet a no drinking in public zone

The detail

Here is the officer's report (an officer is an employee, in this case the report is by Paul Lamb, Community Protection Group Manager)

DPR1670 - Consultation for Creation of a Borough Wide Designated Public Place Order and here is the official notice DPR1670 Public Notice re DPPO  
and here is the link to the Barnet Council website

Mr Mustard's alter ego will be writing to say no thank you to the proposed borough wide ban. The questions that are being asked in the survey, and there is no need to use surveymonkey and give your data to some company in America - you can simply email to this stupidly long, out of date, e&o? email address
are as follows:

The Council would like to understand the views of the community before deciding whether to proceed with the proposals. Please therefore help us by answering the following questions and by explaining why you either agree or disagree.

1. What is your opinion of the proposal to introduce a borough wide Designated Public Place Order?
  • I am in favour of the proposal
  • I am against the proposal
  • I don't know
2. Please provide an explanation for your choice:

Please respond to the following questions so that we can analyse the results of the survey on area basis.

3.  Are you...? (you can choose more than one option) 
  • a London Borough of Barnet resident
  • a Business Owner
  • an owner of a Licensed Premise
  • a representative of a Community/Voluntary/Faith Group
  • a non-borough resident who works in Barnet
  • Other (please specify)
2. What are the first three digits of your postcode?

Mr Mustard's alter ego will be responding as follows:

1. The borough wide Order is not necessary so he is against
2. You can't trust officials to enforce sensibly
3. It is not enforceable anyway
4. It doesn't fix the problem

Let us look at the DPR itself using the same section numbers.

2.2 One must assume that the priorities are to tackle the 3 listed priorities - the report reads like they are being promoted.

This paragraph also says that "appropriate support pathways" have to be in place. What are they? - there is no detail about them.

3.1 The report as good as says that the police won't be able to enforce this drinking in public ban.

3.2 The council's response to the problem of public drinking must be proportionate. It isn't.

4.1 this sets out the real problem. These poor people will not be helped in any way by a borough wide ban on street drinking. There is absolutely no detail about the extra support which will supposedly be offered and the report is defeatist in this regard.

5.1 One would think that £12,500 would go a long way to helping a small number of people get back on their feet. Even if it only changed the life of one problem drinker it would be money well spent.

6.2 The proposed response is not proportionate. One can be pretty sure that before long a family enjoying a picnic in the park with a glass of wine will be targeted.

8.1.1 There is not a borough wide nuisance of the type required for this measure to be introduced. It is a very bad idea.

8.1.6 Enfield and Haringey manage without borough wide Orders so perhaps Barnet should learn from them. The administrative problems that Police response teams have should not be used to support this Order, they should sort themselves out.

8.1.7 More selective statistics doubtless.

8.2.1 What about the figures for 2011/12?

8.2.2 Data presented that cannot be relied upon.

8.2.4 There are supposedly a population of only 84 street drinkers in the whole of Barnet and thus legislation affecting 300,000 is proposed. Disproportionate or what? Mr Mustard lives 100m from the Spires. There is not a group of "up to 5" urinating and intimidating people there. The report is just gossip and conjecture.

8.2.5 Enforcement across the whole borough will be impossible. The size of the SNTs has been reduced recently.

8.3.1 So what? It is perception not reality.

8.3.2 Were there any actual events to support these views?

8.3.3 There are less drunks in Barnet than the London average.

8.4.1 This table shows that DPPO make no difference. Two areas got worse and two got better in a year.

8.4.4 The statistics in this paragraph are incomplete and not easily compared. One would really like to see the figures for a 5 year period starting before the introduction of the DPPO to properly measure its effect, if any.

8.4.5 This is not important. What is important is whether they work or not.

8.4.6 The council is unlikely to find that an Order it introduced was wrong.

8.5.3 If this Order goes ahead that is going to be an awful lot of signs polluting the borough.

8.5.5 Don't stand outside the pub enjoying a beer is the simple translation of this section.

8.6.1 No problem drinker will stop drinking because this Order is made.

8.6.2 Why are we extending the ambit when the existing Orders are inconclusive?

8.6.3 Much more effort needs to be put into fixing the underlying problem.

8.6.4 The million dollar question. Is there the resource for enforcement in a borough as big as Barnet?

10.1 Mr Mustard is finding it hard to take this report seriously given that it is agreed by the Cabinet Member for Safety and Resident Engagement. Who is that? It is the actor, David Longstaff (what made the residents of High Barnet think that a small time actor would be a suitable person for the serious business of being a councillor?). Take a look at his showreel here which will be 5m 37s of your life utterly wasted. 

Why does an actor who is happy to make money by playing a drunken elf think he has the right to stop anyone else having a harmless tipple on the streets of Barnet?

Why Mr Mustard is against the proposals

1. Not necessary.

The police already have powers to deal with drunkenness, see here so this disproportionately large borough wide zone is not needed.

2. You can't trust officials to enforce sensibly

There are lots of public servants who do a good job but the number who get carried away with their own importance and lose all common sense is huge. Here are a few examples, click each one to see the whole story.

If you want to see some jobsworths in action this film by Rod Liddle about CCTV certainly contains them. Barnet say that a family enjoying a picnic with a glass of wine are not intended to be disrupted but a family with a windbreak already has been.

3. Lack of resources to enforce

There won't be enough resource to enforce it as they have found in neighbouring Brent, as this report shows.

4. It doesn't help the problem drinker.

For 5 years Mr Mustard helped out at the Crisis at Christmas shelters. He saw the problems of the homeless and some of them drank too much. How will passing this law which will be an ever present threat to 300,000 residents help the 84 people who are listed as problem drinkers. It won't help them in any way. This proposal should be filed in the stupid ideas drawer and the £12,500 thus not spent used to directly and positively help as many of the street drinking population as possible.

Do you remember Mr Cornelius your article in the local paper which talked about interference in our lives by Europe? You are not keen on Europe interfering in how the council is run especially in the area of procurement (where it happens to be very poor) so if you support the council interfering in the general public's behaviour, and there will be some stupid interference, you will have to look yourself in the mirror and ask "Am I the pettifogging bureaucrat who allowed a borough wide alcohol consumption ban to come into force".

Action needed

Please write to the council, or email them, saying we do not want a borough wide ban but we do want help for troubled drinkers (Barnet Council are always banging on about targeted support for troubled families but this isn't an example of it).

Update 8.30pm

Cllr Robert Rams has kindly retweeted this superb story of council (& police aided) idiocy to highlight why giving Town Hall pravdas (copyright, Eric Pickles MP) any power at all over us is such a bad idea.

Update 19 June 2012

Boston man threatened with arrest for a poster in his window which says "Religions are fairy stories for adults".

Yours soberly

Mr Mustard

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