I’m having a little trouble adjusting my horizontal hold today. Everything seems to be a little out of line, just a tad asynchronous or maybe even a bit disjointed. At times like this you need the stability of the normal, the usual, the regular, just to reassure yourself that all is normal. Normality came to me late in the day – but away it whirred, reminding me that whatever I do, whatever I may think, whatever I experience, some things just happen with monotonous regularity.
So it is with Walsall Council. The YamYam brought me back to earth with a bump, and it’s excellent report on tonight’s council meeting; further to the missing receipts being someone else’s fault, so is the closure of Sneyd School, apparently. Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird says it’s those bastards in government, not him. We’re so glad that’s sorted out, then. As many do when dissembling desperately, Blofeld and his henchmen couldn’t leave it there and had to generate other excuses, too, including the somewhat implausible ‘it’s a crap school, anyway’, which must have come as a bit of a shock to those campaigning for it to remain, and for OFSTED, who seemed to think it was about average, in an improving, Walsall kind of way. It did better than Social Services, whose single star rating we’ve been instructed to treasure as a sign of mediocrity, so average is good, right? Our dear leader, in an apparently uncharacteristic fit of magnanimity did apparently allow contributions from the floor, before ignoring them and pointing out that he didn’t expect them to talk, he just expected them to die.
When Mr. Bird was crowned leader again, many of his subjects felt much as the Persian cat on his lap must have done when it saw the approach of the vet – we knew unkind cuts were coming, we had a nagging feeling where, and it was going to leave us sore and emasculated for quite some time to come. All hail the King and pass the TCP.
Next up for the chop would appear to be Bryntysilio – the outdoor centre in Wales where generations of Walsall kids learned that air wasn’t supposed to taste of burnt petrol and be full of black bits. We’re certainly being primed for a bit of extra-curricular cost cutting there, in time-honoured fashion the very idea that anything good may have come from the place will steadily be derided in successive leaks to the meeja, who’ll solemnly report at the denouement that it’s for the best, and Wales is rubbish anyway. Praise be to Councillor Ian Shires, who’s fighting this issue and that of Sneyd with the dedication of a true warrior. Sadly, I fear he may be outgunned.
Ploughing on through the local news feed, I get to this peculiar report, which I’m having a job understanding. It seems like the new sheltered and extra-care accommodation we’re having built for the elderly – while the council close, flog off and generally shutter the existing facilities – won’t come without extra charges to their residents. I really can’t see how this is going to work, apart from the possibility of premature deaths from shock reducing waiting times a bit, when some of our tw’earlies realise they’re going to get skinned alive for deigning to need a bit of TLC in their dotage. I don’t remember there being a clause in the ideal of building a path from cradle to grave about it being a toll facility, but you can always rely on WMBC to monetise without conscience.
All this against a backdrop of backslapping about Twatter, and how wonderfully our council has embraced it. As Lloyd Grossman would say, let’s look at the facts, shall we?
I, like many people, really, really support those in the council who are embracing new media and web 2.0 in it’s varying forms. Dan in the press office does a wonderful job and has spent long hours engaging with a sometimes truculent populace on Twatter, me included. That Walsall’s Twatter presence is so followed is a credit to him and his work – however, I’m a bit surprised to see some other folks being effusive over the service when their engagement with it seems to be getting a bit patchy. Take a look at councillor Flower’s blog or Twitter page – not much happening since June. Likewise, there’s not been anything too radical on Councillor Longhi’s blog or Twatter feeds, apart from a bit of quango baiting a fortnight ago. It seems almost as if they’ve been told to tone it down a bit. Whilst I’m happy to help with requests for restaurant advice or join in the Micheal Jackson speculation, it’s not really the picture that’s being painted of or public representatives twittering away, merrily communicating with their constituents about policy. I look forward to a return to the rawness of the first days, before the controversy spoiled it all… I mean, look at Councillor Clive Ault’s blog. Not updated since 2007… Lord knows, it’s not easy keeping a blog, I know that with time pressures and the business of life it can be hard to find time. However, if you’re going to promote all this web stuff, it helps if you keep up the engagement. It’s working, just keep doing it. We support you – although we don’t always agree!
Meanwhile, again from the Yamyam, who seems quicker off the draw with a scanner than me lately, popped up this article from the Express & Star. The incredulous tone seems almost surprised that Brownhills, now marketless, is declining fast. No action from the council, despite their sympathetic noises, and the Local Committee seem rather quiet about the situation, too. No planning application from our saviours Tesco seems forthcoming, so let’s see how this situation connects with out retail sector. Still, they’ve found someone to take on Subway again, so that’s reopened. I hear salads are on special offer. After you – no, I insist…