Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Busy doing nothing?

Crime, anti-social behaviour, and partnerships, in focus again!

Inspector Simon Charlton has featured in this blog a number of times this year, mainly as a result of his efforts to promote partnerships between Northumbria Police, South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes, and local residents, it seems he is still valiantly trying, and facing some ofpicture of film poster the bric- bats on his own!

Today's Shields Gazette headlines the account of a meeting last week called by residents in Laygate, South Shields to discuss anti-social behaviour and crime in their area, apparently they had invited all three of their ward councillors, plus one other, to address the meeting, but using the auspices of the 2007 Misrepresentation of the Peoples Act they were able to excuse themselves. Thus poor Inspector Charlton was left holding the baby.

By sheer coincidence the councillors all had prior engagements, bar one.

I know that being a local councillor can sometimes be a bind, your time is never your own, and social life is a non-starter. Your evenings are consumed with meetings, your telephone never stops ringing, people knock on your door, a two minute chat with a constituent can turn into a two hour life story. At least Cllr. Ed Malcolm claimed a prior Mayoral engagement, Cllr. Joan Meeks claimed to be meeting a homeless constituent (or would that be former constituent), Cllr. Audrey McMillan claimed a prior engagement at a school governor's meeting, and Cllr. Clare claimed he had never been invited to the meeting, (at least he sounded plausible). Of course it would be very churlish and improper of me to dismiss these explanations, as I've said, councillors lead very busy lives, but the fact is that four councillors were invited and none managed to attend, and it suggests that they don't even speak to each other! Surely a few telephone calls between the councillors might have ensured that some of these prior engagements could have been rearranged. Better still, Cllr. Clare, who had no council business that evening, could have been persuaded to attend the meeting with his constituents and offer apologies for the others.

I don't know why, but my mind took me back to an old 1949 Bing Crosby film "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". It had a wonderful little song in it which some older readers might recall, it was called "Busy Doing Nothing" and went something like this;

"We're busy doing nothing,
working the whole day through,
trying to find lots of things not to do.
We're busy going nowhere, isn't it just a crime?
We'd like to be unhappy but...We never do have the time."


Shields Gazette

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