21 June 2013

The Friday Joke - Activist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

True activists
Mr Mustard does not think of himself as an "Activist". He doesn't even bear comparison with 1% of the achievements of the true Activists on the link above. What Mr Mustard is sure of is that he is opposed to the reckless gamble that is the One Barnet programme, but that doesn't make him an "Activist", it makes him someone who has carefully studied all of the paperwork he can lay his hands on and make as considered a decision as he can in the circumstances. He certainly doesn't expect to be branded when he makes a relatively minor planning enquiry.

At the bottom of the garden this monstrous carbuncle was built without planning permission, which it turned out was required.

Mr Mustard leapt into action.

24 May - email to the planning officer, copied to Councillors Rams, Longstaff & Joanna Tambourides as she is the Cabinet Member with responsibility for planning.

This isn't your fault (so I am not complaining about you but about the system) but it was some months ago that I pointed out to the council that sending out planning alerts before the documents are on the system is not the most helpful way of going on. When one receives an email one wants to deal with it there and then, not to have to set up a reminder. To properly consider a planning application looking at the drawings is essential. The council's alerts say that documents will be on the system in up to 5 working days which is a week basically. By that time the matter can be forgotten about.

Either you need to slow down the planning alerts by 5 working days or you need to get documents scanned & onto the system more quickly. Please pass this email up the management chain to whoever can make a decision that will enable residents to immediately put themselves in the picture upon receipt of an alert and can then take a greater part in the planning process.

Can you also please email me the documents for the above case.

A response was received the same day.

Thanks for copying me in to your email. I am checking in to the point you make and will contact you again shortly.

Cllr. Joanna Tambourides
East Barnet Ward
Cabinet Member for Planning
London Borough of Barnet

Mr Mustard only had to wait until 28 May for the further contact and here it is, with emphasis added by Mr Mustard:

With regard to your original query, we have now been able to establish that our Planning Alert software does not allow us to wait until all the documents have been uploaded before sending out the alert. As soon as the application is logged on the system, it automatically triggers the alert. Perhaps this might change in the future, but at present we have to work with the system as it is. Even with its faults, it is a very valuable system to residents and activists like yourself across the Borough.

You could always “flag” the alert email, or put it to “Unread” as a way of reminding you to return to it again after a few days when all the documents will have been uploaded – this is what I do all the time.

We always adhere to the national policy about consultation. In many cases our officers will often be more generous in our consultation where there is marked public interest, and on large applications this can and does work out at several thousands of letters (with consequential administrative costs). In this particular case it was confined to those most directly affected, as you have mentioned.

Thank you for your comments.

Cllr. Joanna Tambourides
East Barnet Ward
Cabinet Member for Planning
London Borough of Barnet

Mr Mustard has never spoken directly to Mrs Tambourides and his only contacts with her has been that she is one of the 63 councillors who get the same round robin letters that Mr Mustard sends on his own behalf now and then, or sometimes on behalf of the famous five Barnet Bloggers, so it isn't like there is any history which would colour her judgment.

Mr Mustard is known for his dogged determination and so he emailed back on 29 May

Dear Mrs Tambourides

Thank you for your suggestion as to how I might better organise myself. I don't believe in writing lists of things to do unless I really have to. I am a "doer" rather than a "to doer". This might be an area where some fat could be stripped out of the town hall, getting staff to do things rather than write lists, or set reminders, about them.

I don't see why you need to label me as an "activist", rather than merely a resident, when I can see the monstrous carbuncle of the ugly rectangular box dormer from my dining room and thus I wrote as a local person who is concerned for the built environment and the lovely Victorian houses of my street & environs.

I am presuming of course that you are labelling me as an activist as a pejorative term because I oppose the extraordinarily risky punt in the dark that is otherwise known as the One Barnet programme which is irrelevant to my perusal of a local planning issue. That is not to be an "activist" but a rational long-term thinking resident who is concerned that he will have to pay for any mistakes made by the Cabinet whose members couldn't even be bothered to read the massive decade long contracts that it is railroading us into.

Now that caused some consternation as that afternoon he received a response:

I am not labelling you at all. You have read all sorts of things in to my use of a word. Nothing pejorative was meant at all, I assure you.

Cllr. Joanna Tambourides
East Barnet Ward
Cabinet Member for Planning
London Borough of Barnet

29 May and Mr Mustard emailed again

Dear Mrs Tambourides

Do you regularly write to residents and call them activists then in response to local planning matters?

Since then it has been rather quiet and nothing further has been received. Evidently the answer is that Cllr Tamboruides does not normally label residents and Mr Mustard suspects that she will be doubly careful not do so in the future.

Mr Mustard has asked about the costs of the email alert system, you can sign up for it here, and cost and terms of scanning the documents but as the council are suddenly finding his innocent enquiries to be vexatious again it might be some months before he gets a reply.

If you have been written to in an unfortunate manner by your councillor, do please share.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.