For some reason, probably my state of mind at the moment, this made me roar with laughter this morning:
The Queen, Baroness Thatcher, Parliament and flagship West End stores have only just escaped an extraordinary plan by Conservative-controlled Westminster council to make them – or their staff – responsible for sweeping the streets outside their homes and businesses.
A confidential document seen by Tribune shows a hand-picked group of senior councillors and top officials have been investigating whether to introduce an American system known as a “frontage obligation” – making every resident and business in the centre of London responsible for cleaning the pavement outside their premises.
The plan – part of a huge package of cuts designed to reduce expenditure by 40 per cent – has been secretly costed by the council. The documents say the controversial proposal would save £18 million in cleaning bills.
However, it would have to be supported by spending £4 million employing snoopers to make sure every resident and business complied.
Replace street sweepers with clip-board carrying (or, more likely, laptop carrying) enforcement officers who would bollock people and fine them for not sweeping their pavements. Brilliant!
You could extend this idea to the whole Big Society. Just sack everyone who works for the council, then employ a few heavies to go round and ‘persuade’ people to volunteer to do the stuff the council workers used to do.
Mr Jones is it?
I see you are a builder. Can I put you down for three mornings next week on building control? Great! Here’s your volunteer’s badge.
Well, yes, who….
You’re a gardener, yeah? Next two weekends up in Lammas Park OK for you? Laahvley! Very public-spirited of you Mr Smith.
Yes, what do you…?
Saw you win that cookery competition. Knew you’d want to do your bit. Acton Primary School OK for you next week is it? Gooood. You know it makes sense!
Yes, I’m starting to warm to this Big Society idea. I’m too lazy to volunteer though, so I think I’ll put together a tender to do the enforcement. I’ll just wander down to the gym and recruit some manpower.
Hat Tip: Patrick Butler for the original story.