Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Broken Barnet: new website, same old shite


So: Councillor Robert Rams has been taking time off from his duties at the GLA, where he works as tea boy, pencil sharpener and footrest for Brian Coleman, to tweet some good news for the people of Broken Barnet.

Yes - wonderful news. There is a new council website for us all to enjoy. Take a look.

http://barnet.gov.uk/

I say enjoy. I am lying. It is pretty dire, in fact. We must presume this is a work in progress, but who knows. At a cost of £600,000, it is already late in launching and looks very unimpressive. The ghastly seasick blue corporate colour is the only visual feature, and the choice of webpages is less than inspiring. Most 12 year olds could produce something better than this. In fact, even Mrs Angry could produce something better. Yep, it's that bad.

And the content?

What progress have we made in the direction of a website that reflects Pickles' dream of model local authorities committed to his agenda of localism, open data, transparency, empowerment bla bla bla ...?

Mrs Angry is amused by the prioritisation of topics listed on the home page. First up is 'Top Tasks' - er, that would be tasks for citizens, of course ... Task 1 - pay us lots of money, ie council tax, 2 - oh dear, pay parking ticket, 3 - purchase permit voucher tickets - clearly none of these apply to councillors, who get their council tax back in the form of lovely allowances, and do not need to trouble themselves with the regulations regarding parking permits. Cough. Hugh Rayner. And who else? No, really? Not him as well ? Allegedly. Oh look at this ... how very interesting .... Goodness me. Yes, Mrs Angry is sure that Mr Walkley will be very happy to see the evidence. Oh ... Brian Coleman being investigated? Again?

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/9653256.Senior_Tory_investigated_over_claims_he_dodged_parking_fees_he_introduced/?ref=twtrec

Mr Walkley, of course, appears to have a slight backlog of complaints in regard to a number of Tory councillors. Mrs Angry is in a postion to know that at least two complaints have been made about the language and behaviour of a certain councillor at the last Cabinet meeting. Dear me.

Oh, and there is another matter which appears, rather unfortunately, to have been lost somewhere in Mr Walkley's in tray.

You might recall that on the 1st February, Mrs Angry and Mr Mustard submitted a complaint about what would appear to be breaches of the code of conduct for members in relation to their declarations in the councillors' Register of Interests. Evidence was presented concerning the details of several Tory members. This complaint went unacknowledged until another complaint was made to Mr Walkley. We were assured weeks ago that members had been contacted about their declarations, and that 'amendments' would be made, and the register updated.

Looking at the online register you will see that this has not been done. More to the point, perhaps - if members have indeed ignored the statutory requirements to declare their interests fully and within a specific time limit, they should be facing disciplinary action.

Or, yet again, as we see in the case of a councillor misusing his free parking permit, but no further action being taken - is it always the case in this borough that there is one rule for Tory councillors who break the rules, and another for council workers and, more importantly, for residents?

It is now nearly three months since we submitted the evidence to the Monitoring Officer: on the day of the last Standards' Committee meeting, in fact. Nothing has happened, nothing will happen: this is how transparency looks in our borough: a one way mirror, a shameless act of deception, gobbing in the face of every honest resident who struggles to pay their council tax bills and all the stealth taxes our grasping Tory councillors are imposing on us through parking and every means possible, whilst shutting libraries, museums, childrens centres and flogging off all our council services to their pals in the private sector.

Smash it all up, sell it all off and screw whatever you can out of the residents.

This is Broken Barnet - in case you had forgotten.

Off to the Full Council meeting now, more later.

2 comments:

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

Hello,

I don't understand why we have two Barnet council websites now. The one I visit (http://www.barnet.gov.uk/) isn't bad. Why another one?

I'm guessing this new one is the new way for the resident to interact with the council in future. I don't know about you, but I spend more than enough of my life hunched over a PC as it is; my back is giving out. I think the Barnet council resident engagement portal, or whatever it's meant to be, might be one online experience too many for most residents. It is for me.

I notice some features of the new one reminiscent of that dreadful 'ideas' website (the one with the lightbulb): instead of "what I'd change/scrap/pay more for" we have "apply for/pay for/report it now" - so painfully funky I might just faint with excitement.

See you at the House of Commons tomorrow evening (Weds 18 April) for the showing of "A Tale of Two Barnets", 7pm in the Wilson Room (get there early to clear security and get a good seat in the front row).

V

Mrs Angry said...

Greetings, Citizen Barnet.
Yet again Barnet is happy to throw loadsa money at something crap, inefficient, and unusable, whilst telling us they have to cut so many things of real value, such as our libraries and museums.

No doubt we will have to read tweets from Barnet officers telling us how fecking marvellous the new site is.

As for tomorrow, I shall be there, but I want a seat in the back row, thank you very much.