24 January 2012

Take a seat - crested or otherwise - do you care ?

A standard bench by streetmaster - it looks good.
Here is another last minute DPR issued out of Environment Planning & Regeneration ( that word "planning" looks very out of place as there doesn't seem to be any planning in EPR ). Note that in a DPR dated 14 February 2011 it was agreed to accept funding of £400,000 for the Dollis Valley Greenwalk / Green Walk ( the council don't seem sure which it is - see here )

Barnet Council Delegated Power Report no. 1528 - Taylor Made Ltd

So firstly a minor quibble which could have a serious impact ( remember MetPro this that and the other - this sloppiness with names allows that sort of supplier switch to take place ); the name of the supplier is not correct anywhere in the document. We have a choice of

Taylor Made Ltd
Taylor Made Castings Ltd &
Taylor Made castings Ltd.

The correct name is Taylormade Castings Ltd, per the company itself

To claim that they are the single possible supplier of cast iron benches is arrant nonsense. The fact that the benches need the Barnet Crest incorporating in them and that the necessary moulds were made by this supplier is no excuse to give them this preferential treatment. Who paid for the moulds to be made? Barnet Council did. If not obviously by a moulding charge then by the increased price of the first order. What should Barnet Council have done in 2004? They should have stipulated that the mouldings were the property of Barnet Council. It would seem that procurement has been poor for some years.

Note that para. 3.1 does not state how much the casting moulds would cost nor the length of time they would take to produce. It isn't as if the upgrade to the Dollis Valley Greenwalk is a surprise as it started nearly a year ago. There has been plenty of time for an organised council to shop around whereas Barnet Council seems to prefer writing slanted reports to justify their inaction.

Does anyone really care if there is or isn't a Barnet crest on a bench? 
Will it bother you if your legs are tired and you just want to sit down? 
Will you go along the walk and criticise it because there is more than one style of bench? 
No, no and no.
If the council purchased standard benches they could get more benches for our money.

Please do write to Mr Mustard and tell him if having identical benches on a walk makes you feel safer as para 4.2 claims. If it makes no difference then write to Pam Wharfe and tell her so.

Para 5.1 makes Mr Mustard wonder why benches made entirely of wood were purchased from RM Countryside at £640 each when longer-lasting ones with cast iron ends are available for less money - better benches for less money anybody ?

click to enlarge

when cast iron ones which are much more durable are available at £550 each ( including crest! ) or at £438 from Streetmaster. The delivery cost of £800 is ridiculous for a day trip. Each bench weighs about 100kg so 21 benches weigh about 2 tonnes which is far less than an HGV lorry load. 

Para 5.3 does not say who the other potential supplier was and so this cannot be armchair audited.

Para 6.1 shows that once again Pam Wharfe is playing fast and loose with the rule book. In no way is there "only one supplier in the market".

Mr Mustard put his walking boots on and went for a walk alongside the brook in the Windsor Open Space. Here are some photos. The first one shows exactly where the money for a new path ran out. Why would you not tarmac the most used section first, the link to the road?

Old cold steel benches. Ready for scrapping.

not very inviting or comfortable

any chance that whoever puts signs up could take them down again?

a lovely new memorial bench

this sign must have been put there especially for Boris

Traditional fingerposts - very nice

Let's hope this one is going. Not comfy without a backrest

Then Mr Mustard's walking boots took him on a lap of Friary Park

Will the 2011 sign come down when the 2012 one goes up?

The famous Barnet Crest that the DPR goes on about. Only in monochrome, not even in colour.

You can read about Barnet's Coats of Arms here.

A good solid park bench

Time to get the varnish out

The lion's head from Hendon. Would you have noticed if the handle was plain?

A slightly weatherbeaten lion.

In the same park a bench by Taylor Bros of Sandiacre - now part of Balfour Beatty

A different crest. Does that matter? No.

A lion's head, Taylor Bros style
So there it is. In one park there are 3 types of bench and that did not diminish from Mr Mustard's enjoyment of the walk and makes him question why the crest and/or a lion's head have to be on the benches at all. Better to provide extra good quality standard benches, especially with an ageing population, than more expensive fancy ones.

Finally, having noticed that there are lots of memorial benches in Friary Park ( a superb view is afforded ) which is very nice, and the inscriptions were  touching, Mr Mustard looked up the proposed charges for providing these and the council of course have a monopoly in the parks. The Cabinet Member concerned is, yes, as usual, Brian Coleman, and at the December 2011 meeting of the Cabinet Resources Committee he presented a paper with proposed charges for 2012-13. To provide a memorial bench at the Cemetery including the plaque ( max 60 characters ) he wants to increase the charge by 25% from £805 to £1,010 and yet a bench only costs £550. The bench is the same price if it is to go into a park.

Profiteering from the dead is immoral.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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