On Being Chained To A Tree

On Being Chained To A Tree

The latest local issue to have lit up Facebook is a Wisbech Standard exclusive, that the Town Council may intend to dig up some trees.  I know, it’s not the stuff of a Daily Mail headline, but it has nevertheless got some people into a royal rage.

On the thread, John Elworthy, who lit the fuse in the first place, asks why “other Councillors” haven’t commented.  He means Samantha Hoy and I, of course, since we are the only ones who frequent that particular site.  I don’t mind though, because the whole thing lets me blog about the two issues that really bug the hell out of me.  In fact, these issues are framed beautifully by the tree story.

One issue I have said over and over again, to my colleagues, on this blog and to anybody who will listen is that all of our local Councils suffer from the same core problem.  That core problem is communication.  Regular readers will have heard me mention it in recent blog posts.  Over and over and over again we find ourselves amidst a media, or a social media, storm.   When this happens the opposition clap their hands with glee and immediately start concocting some load of old guff to make best use of the chaos.  Petitions, dramatic photo shoots, declarations of “incompetence” and “corruption” and all the other “go to” buzzwords to put a hate on the local Council.  And it is so damn easy to avoid.  That’s what irritates me.

Communication fails at every level.  Officers don’t properly brief Councillors.  Lead Members don’t properly brief their group and the wider Council.  Cabinet don’t properly talk to backbenchers*.  People get into positions of special responsibility and seem to immediately lose any knowledge of when and how to communicate what they are doing.  So when stories come out, it is quite often in some colourful piece in the local newspaper, which immediately gets shared around two dozen social media groups.  Before you know it everybody has an opinion, people begin spouting “facts” that have no bearing on reality, other people take those facts and have an opinion on them.  And so on, like some twisted Council version of Chinese Whispers.

Social Media is the reason for all of this.  The world has moved on, people communicate instantly, ideas are shared, stories are told, actions and reactions reverberate outwards in every direction.  Meanwhile our local Councils, and many Councillors, are still sitting by their old telephone and thinking “well, it’s not ringing, so everything must be fine.”  All of our Councils, and most of our Governmental institutions around the country, are hopelessly out of date.  By the time some of them have learnt to Tweet, Twitter will be in the history books and we’ll be Whooping, or Snarking, or whatever the new thing is.  Yes, of course, many people don’t use Twitter, Facebook and the like.  But a solid thirty or forty percent do and that’s growing every day – and even the ones who don’t will often be talking to somebody who does.

This is a big problem for local Councils and the tree issue is a good example.  Now I am not on the Markets Committee who have authority over this stuff and I don’t know the full scope of the plans for the Market, but Cllr David Oliver is a clever guy who often has good ideas and it may well be that the trees have to come down due to structural damage, or because they are sickly.  But at the moment the story reads: “Evil Council chopping trees to make concrete wasteland.”  That’s probably abject nonsense, but if nobody is responding to questions being asked then the story grows and grows out of all connection to reality.  Before you know it, you have what we have today, which is what should have been a positive story about the Town Council doing exactly what people always ask for and improving the Market Place into people threatening to chain themselves to trees.  All because of a complete lack of proper communication.

Which brings me on to the second thing that irritates me, and the reason I have recently taken some time out of Facebook.  You see, I am sick to the back teeth of being the visible face of every ill-thought, poorly judged or just badly communicated story.  The only Wisbech Councillors you regularly see on Facebook are Samantha Hoy and I.  So every time anything happens, regardless of whether I am anything to do with it, often even if I don’t support it, I am the person who gets all the questions, the name-calling and the abuse.  I don’t mind a bit of abuse, but what I resent is being the punchball for other people’s failure to communicate.

The reason for this is that so many Councillors think Social Media doesn’t matter.  They stay off of it, usually saying they “don’t understand it” or “aren’t interested.”  I think they wish it did not exist.  That’s all very well, but wishing something doesn’t exist does not stop it from doing so.  It is there, people are on it, if you don’t come up with some way to address that then you will always be playing “catch up” on every issue, every story, even media fanfare.  Which doesn’t work, because by the time you’ve gotten involved, most people have already made up their minds and moved on.  This is what happened with Estover, with the Hudson name change, with many other issues.  But we never seem to learn.

So I was asked what I thought about the possible plan to cut down the trees as part of the market place redesign.  I don’t know, I haven’t seen all the details.  The idea to streamline the market for future events isn’t terrible.  I love the idea of a bandstand or performing area in the middle and in order to do that some stuff probably does need to go.  Sometimes, if trees are growing and doing damage to structures around them they do need to be cut down.  But to be completely honest, I’ve not been involved.  This is Cllr David Oliver’s baby, which has not yet come to full Council.  So David Oliver should be the one on Facebook and elsewhere answering questions about it.

If there are no answers forthcoming, or if the answers aren’t good ones, then I will ask my Medworth constituents what they think.  And if what they think is that we shouldn’t cut those trees down then maybe I’ll be right there alongside Pam “Greywitch” Thompson chained to a tree.  Which will be a new experience, if nothing else.

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*And before anybody says: “Oh what you need is the Committee System” – no it is not.  The Committee System is equally susceptible to poor communication, as can be seen by the broken authority that was Cambridgeshire County Council.  The Committee System would take all of this and add more bad things to the mixing pot. What is needed is for people to properly consult and communicate, in advance of taking decisions that will bug the hell out of everybody involved.  And for them to be sufficiently foresighted to recognise what those issues are.

Statistics – First Half Of 2015

Statistics – First Half Of 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the blog statistics.  I know, I know, numbers are vanity, results are sanity. :)

But it’s good to see that reader numbers are holding up well.  The first half of the year sees nearly a quarter of a million hits, which is not as high as the glory days on County Council, but is still a pretty significant number.  I don’t know how these views stack up against other Cambridgeshire political blogs and sites, but I think it still puts my little old site in the top group.

I’m pleased about that for three reasons.  The main one is that it means some people – thank you, you crazy, crazy people – like reading what I write, so it doesn’t seem quite so much like talking into a vacuum.  The second reason is that it means people have opportunities outside the mainstream media to hear arguments and views that might otherwise be ignored or spun away.  Finally, I like it because it means that local issues and local politics has a place, that some of you are interested enough to bother visiting.  I see that as a positive sign.  Apathy is destructive.  Engagement is constructive.  Buzz words aside, you guys rock!

stats

The most popular blog posts so far this year were:
“Times Like These”: http://www.stevetierney.org/2015/05/15/
“Crying Wolf”: http://www.stevetierney.org/crying-wolf/
and “Bile”: http://www.stevetierney.org/bile/

One quarter of a million individual people visited this site in the first half of this year.  Some of those will be spiders and crawlers and other net traffic, as ever.  But this is still a significant number and I’d like to thank each and every reader for taking the time to pop by.  See you again soon, I hope.

Birds Of A Feather

Birds Of A Feather

I often hear local opposition Councillors bemoaning the way the local Conservative group have “ganged up” on them, or sprung to one another’s defence.  They always try to peddle this like some diabolical conspiracy, rather than what it actually is.

Put simply, the reason people are in the same political party is because we broadly share a similar group of political views.  We aren’t the same though – even within the Conservatives there is a wide range of opinion.   We also tend to have worked together for years and so many of us become friends.  When you get good friends, who share political views, it shouldn’t really surprise you if they are ranged on the same side of an argument.

What makes their objections more mystifying is that the opposition do exactly the same.  Just look at the way local UKIP roll up to support whatever the latest Bucknor wheeze is on regular occasions.  Given that the Bucknors’ politics are way over to the Left on most issues, and UKIPs policies sit in a different part of the political spectrum altogether, this isn’t an obvious partnership.  But due to the history of local politics, and the fact that local ‘Kippers are not really very “traditional UKIP” in their views, its pretty common.  In the same way, Virginia Bucknor has sprung to Paul Clapp’s defence this weekend as people began pointing out the various falsehoods in his ridiculous letter to the paper this week.  This is what she says:-

In some Tory 2015 Election leaflets they wrote about tackling speeding vehicles. I’m guessing this may have been what Cllr Paul Clapp was referring to. He may also have been referring to the previous Tory election promises made about 20 mph.

The Waterless Tory leaflet had read: “We will not let …. the petition for the 20 mph speed limit rest”. (There had been a huge petition which the Tory Cllrs for Waterlees had been involved with).

Also the request to introduce 20 mph was raised at every one of our street surgeries so, like the 2 other town councillors for Waterlees who were Tories, we were trying to do what residents were asking.

Sadly though, Virginia’s defence of Paul Clapp is as misleading as the original diatribe.  She suggests that the fact that we have said we want to combat speeding in recent literature is the reason Paul is claiming we support her 20 MPH zones – despite this making no sense whatsoever.  I am sure that virtually every Councillor wants to stop people driving dangerously and thereby keep local folk safe.  What we disagree on is how to go about that.  So us saying we’d like to work to slow people down certainly does not mean we will support her idea, nor have we ever said it did.  We don’t think 20 MPH blanket zones will do what they claim in Wisbech, we think they would be a waste of time and money and we think that it is County Councils job to handle highways issues, not that of Wisbech Town Council.  Her attempt to conflate the two is pretty desperate.

Virginia Bucknor spends some time talking about her “street surgeries.”  It’s pretty hard to verify the truth of this since we have no records of the Street Surgeries, nor of what was said or to whom.  Nor even if it was said by different people, or the same person over and again.  (Which might seem a little distrustful,but see the following paragraph for an example of how words can be used to mislead.)  It’s funny that despite the Bucknors continually claiming to have “mass support”, there’s really no evidence that this is the case.  Even Labour recognised this.  In their election literature this year they said they backed the 20 MPH zones but only if a local referendum proved public support.  Good position that, I commend them on it.  What if another Councillor claimed that they had done street surgeries in Waterlees and had been given the opposite steer from local people?  They haven’t, but the point is good.  If this is strongly supported, let’s have a local referendum and let’s ask local people who vote “yes” to chip in a pound each to make it happen.  In short order the Bucknors would have proof of the support *and* all the money they need, if they were right.

She then goes on to refer to election literature and Councillors in Waterlees who supported her policy.  She does this cleverly, almost immediately after talking about this year’s election literature, so that the reader will link the two.  But this is spin.  In fact, the literature she is referring to is from four years ago and a completely different set of Waterlees candidates, none of whom are still Councillors and none of whom stood for election this year.  So hardly relevant to the current debate or Paul Clapp’s bizarre letter.  There was no mention of support for 20 MPH in any of this year’s Conservative literature, and I would know since I was campaign manager for most of the town’s seats and was involved in the design of most of the literature, alongside the candidates.

I suppose, when perhaps you only win your seat because another party stands aside to give you a free run, you probably feel some obligation to stick up for them.  Particularly if they’ve lost a huge number of their activists over the issue, because those were winnable seats dammit and winnable seats are rare these days.  But that’s just guessing.  What would I know about it?

I Don’t Think Paul Clapp Is An Idiot

I Don’t Think Paul Clapp Is An Idiot

I was asked by somebody today: “Is Paul Clapp an idiot?”  I shook my head, bemused by the very idea that Paul Clapp could possibly be an idiot.  There are a lot of things I will tolerate, but having people take random shots at other Councillors isn’t one of them.  Particularly if those shots are not based on any sort of actual truth.  Truth these days is in short enough supply.

The question was triggered, I believe, by this letter from Paul Clapp in this week’s newspaper:

Last year I was at a Wisbech Town Council meeting to support a proposal put forward by Councillor Virginia Bucknor for a 20mph speed limit in Waterlees Village.

It was laughed out of the town council meeting by the Conservatives. Councillor Samantha Hoy stated that it was unenforceable, this was backed up by Councillor Steve Tierney.

Nearly a year later it is rolled out again by the Conservatives – only this time it’s a good idea.

Surely if it was unenforceable last year it must be unenforceable this year.

Are we going to have the joy of speed bumps down every road in and around Wisbech?

I cannot understand why the Conservatives threw out Cllr Bucknor’s proposal, even though it had the full support from the residents of Waterlees, but now wheel out the same proposal as their own idea.

Hypocrites.

PAUL CLAPP

County councillor, Wisbech North

Now just looking over that letter it is clear that quite a lot of things are wrong with it.  Let’s go through them.  It says the proposal was “laughed out of Town Council.”  An odd description for what was, probably, the single longest and most detailed debate I’ve ever been involved in at Town Council.  One which grew quite heated – there was certainly no “laughing.”  What actually happened is that there was a long protracted debate where people took a number of different positions over both the policy idea itself, and also the suggestion that this County Council issue should be either paid for by Town Council, or funded through a Minor Highways bid instead of the other (better, IMO) application of the day in Walsoken.  The vote went against the Bucknors and UKIP and, as usual, some of them appear to still be sulking about it.  Maybe, next time, prepare a better case?

Quite a lot of people felt that enforcement of a blanket 20 MPH zone was problematic – and so while it’s true that Cllr Hoy and I agreed to some extent on that, so did most other Councillors.  That wasn’t the reason it was turned down, though.  There were a number of reasons it was turned down, but high on the list was the fact that it is a County Council function and that many of us felt that if County Council thought it was a good idea they could get on and do it without asking Town Council for money.  Guess who the County Councillor for Waterlees is?  Cllr Paul Clapp.  So, the Councillor whose job covers highways, came to Town Council to ask us to do some Highways work for him, or pay for it.  Yes, dear reader, it is yet another example of ‘Kipper Councillors having no clue what their responsibilities are, it seems.

Then he says it is “rolled out by the Conservatives nearly a year later.”  I have no clue what on Earth he is on about.  We Wisbech Town Council Conservatives are not rolling out any 20 MPH plans.  Nothing like that has been considered, discussed or proposed by us.  So he has either plucked it from his imagination, or he is talking about some other Conservative group elsewhere.  I have no idea which it is and I don’t really care.  But next time Paul Clapp writes a letter calling me a “hypocrite”, he wants to have his facts straight.  Because, frankly, I’ve had enough of it.

I was struck by the odd comment about “the joy of speed bumps down every road.”  So on the one hand he says he pushed the idea of 20 MPH blanket zones last year, on the other hand he is complaining about the potential consequences of his own idea?  Typical muddled ‘Kipper thinking.

So just to put it straight.  Neither I, nor Samantha Hoy, nor any other Conservative Town Councillor I am aware of is suggesting the Bucknor’s 20MPH zones idea this year.  To the best of my knowledge we all still feel exactly the way we felt about it last year (please see previous blog posts.)  Perhaps this is like the “hospital closure” and the “community house closure”.  A thing to talk up, so that when it doesn’t happen you can claim you “stopped it?”  I have no idea.  I’m bufuddled by it all.  Perhaps it’s just the heat?

 

Now I Get It

Now I Get It

You know when you are really puzzled by a turn of events and then suddenly you get a new piece of information and you’re like: “Oh, now I get it?” Well, I had one of those moments tonight thanks to the mysterious Twitter person “The Fen Watchman” who pointed out the following statement from a meeting of March Town Council earlier in the year:

156 Fenland District Council Update

Since Councillor Owen was not in attendance, no update was obviously provided by him.
However, the Leader of FDC, Councillor John Clark, provided the following information:
a) With the increasing District budget pressures and limited resources, it is likely that the cost implications will be felt by all Town and Parish Councils. Services currently provided free-of-charge are likely to become chargeable or cease altogether.
b) After May 2015, it is possible that any future Leader may have to give consideration to the dissolution of Fenland District Council, with the four market towns coming under the auspices of various surrounding authorities.

The first part seems to be an early reference to things like the Free/Paid Parking debate.  But it is the second part which caught my eye.  So, the Leader of Fenland District Council, feels that consideration will need to be given to closing Fenland District Council entirely.  And was happy to make this statement publicly in a Town Council meeting while being minuted?

I’m puzzled that the Leader of FDC would feel that such a turn of events would be the Leader’s decision to make.  It wouldn’t.  It would be the job of the leading party’s group and then of the whole Council.  I’m also uncertain why a statement like this would be made without consultation with the wider group or Council.  Maybe it was an error in communication?  I can only hope.  Either way, I think it would take a quite extraordinary Leader to be able to convince his entire group to vote for their own dissolution.  Which is a good thing, since breaking up Fenland District Council would be a poor result for our Market Towns and Fenland as a whole.

Who Do You Follow?

Who Do You Follow?

Watching this Friday’s Daily Politics I was struck by the long argument caused by the fact that some Scottish MSPs are apparently “following” cyber-bullies, an example being a Twitter account whose name was “Yes! Thatcher Dead.”  Andrew Neil continually asked: “Why are you allowing your colleagues to follow these people?”  To which, the SNP lady kept saying: “But Labour do it too…” and so on.

What a stupid argument.

Since when does it matter who you “follow” on Twitter?  The only people who that would matter to are people who don’t understand Social Media, or people who just want to score points at any cost.  It’s ridiculous.  Following somebody on Twitter, or on Facebook, doesn’t indicate that you agree with the things they say.  That’s such a bizarre notion and yet it tied several commentors on the program up in argument for nearly ten minutes.

Following somebody doesn’t mean you like the person, that you agree with the person, nor even that you want to draw attention to the person.  Following somebody on Twitter is no different to reading about somebody in a newspaper.  Everybody who reads about some terrorist in The Sun isn’t suddenly condoning terrorism, are they?  They are just reading about it.  That’s what following somebody is.  You do it because you want to see what they say.  It might be because you liked something they said in the past and wanted to see what else they came up with, but even in that instance it doesn’t tie you to some tacit agreement of everything they ever say after that.  It might equally be that something they said shocked and appalled you in the past and you want to keep an eye on them, perhaps to counteract their arguments, or to demonstrate the paucity of their ideas through debate.

It gets muddier still though.  On Twitter you can change the name of your account any time you like – not the original signup name, but the screen name.  Even in the early days when you only have a few dozen followers nobody is going to check them all constantly to see if their names have changed.  Neither are you always watching their comments, so you certainly can’t be expected to always see what they are saying.  And even if you did see what they are saying, the fact that you are following them doesn’t indicate support of those statements.  So let’s say you follow somebody whose Twitter name is “happy_Cat.”  Then, while you are sleeping they change their name to “Iluvhitler” and post a load of anti-semitic hogwash, then go quiet for a few weeks.  Next morning you won’t notice they’ve changed their name, their nasty comments will already have been lost way down the Twitter Feed, you will have no clue.  So if you are asked, three months later, why you are following somebody called “Iluvhitler” who has expressed a desire to commit genocide, is that in any way reasonable? Of course it isn’t.

This is a really slippery slope, as anybody who watched Daily Politics will have seen.  The SNP lady could have said: “Who I follow has no bearing on my views, that’s crazy talk” but instead she responded with accusations about politicians from other parties and the people they follow.  Before you know it, the Social Media Police (self-appointed) will be scouring the lists of who everybody follows and compiling all the most “juicy” ones into a damning – yet utterly nonsensical – list.  Members of the public who don’t understand Social Media, and they are legion, will simply nod and say: “I knew they were all wrong-uns.”  It’s yet more destructive hogwash and everybody should challenge it before it goes too far.

Before you know it the focus will have moved from who you follow, to who follows you.  This is even more crazy than the original assertion and will then lead to some activists and politicians deliberately following their rivals with dummy accounts which then switch names and profiles to sound horrific.  It’s all just so pointless and overblown, but potentially very destructive.

Finally, every politician at every level will be forced to run a dummy “public account”, sanitised by constant scrutiny and terrified censorship of online links.  This will lead to a withering of genuine debate and the anodyne politically-correct responses that everybody hates to hear from the mouths of those that represent them.  As ever, we are encouraging a regime which strengthens and normalises all the worst things about our political communications.

Don’t let it happen.  Online connections are just like telephone connections.  You are no more responsible for who you follow than you are for the people who answer the phone when you ring out.   it’s just another witch hunt.  Don’t be a part of it.

Bumpy Ride

Bumpy Ride

Independent Councillor Virginia Bucknor made the following Facebook statement today:

FDC have already outsourced Building Control. Staff from Peterborough Planning have been contracted to Fenland Council for a long time as we’re under-resourced, FDC are planning (if the Conservative-controlled councillors support) to outsource Parks and Open Spaces later this year – this will be a particularly terrible loss for Wisbech.

FDC have agreed to contribute £850,000 to the A14. (I was the only councillor to vote against as there was no evidence of how Fenland residents would benefit).

We are now paying £1/2 million for a Pensions gap as we have one employee in the Port pensions group.

I suspect Licensing will be moved to King’s Lynn.

What do I think? The council is driven by difficult budget cuts, easy options (cut staff or move them elsewhere) and short-term goals. The expertise and local knowledge will be gone and FDC will cease in 4 years and the community will be much the poorer as our current committed officers who are already suffering low morale and some working under extreme lack of staff, will be small fish in a big pond – based somewhere else.

We will also be left with councillors whom residents will hope are competent to fight Wisbech’s corner – probably on Norfolk County Council and King’s Lynn. Whittlesey will be part of Peterborough. March and Chatteris probably moved to Huntingdon council.

A very sad future for Fenland.

Unusually, her comment was lacking in any political “sting” and was broadly factual.  With that in mind, I thought I’d have a look at it.

So first – what she is right about.  She’s right about the things that have been out-sourced and she’s right about the things that might be out-sourced – as much as you can be right about a “might be” situation, anyway.  She’s also right about the contribution to the A14.  But what about her gloomy prognosis?

I would be surprised if Licensing moved, but then I was surprised by today’s announcement in the press that the Leader had decided to share Planning.  Don’t get me wrong, I have some information which wasn’t in the public domain and so I was not yet able to share, but I am unsure why any of this appears to be a foregone conclusion?  It hasn’t been to Overview & Scrutiny as a pre-decision item.  It hasn’t been discussed by Full Council, nor by the ruling political group at this point either.  So if it is a foregone conclusion, then I guess it’s one of those things decided behind closed doors.  I very much hope this isn’t the case, since this is precisely the sort of thing which backbenchers always complain about, and which new leaders always claim they won’t do.  If the full level of input that non-Executive Councillors will have on something this significant is going to be a seminar and a brief chat, then that would be a real shame and, in my opinion, a mistake.  But let’s hope not.  Maybe everybody has the wrong end of the stick?

Mrs Bucknor talks about “easy options” and then refers to staff cuts.  I’m not sure I would agree that its an “easy option” to cut staff, particularly not now that the Council is quite lean.  These are, after all, real people with real families who have worked hard for us for years.  There’s nothing “easy” about telling people they might lose their jobs.  But I understand what she means – if you’ve got difficult budget decisions to make then its probably easier to just slice here and dice there and share the other thing than to really use your imagination to look for innovative solutions.  Where I differ from Mrs Bucknor is that I’m prepared to admit that such imaginative new ways to do business are not easy to find.  Which is why neither she, nor I, are suggesting any in our critique.  Though I have a few ideas I will suggest over the next few weeks.

I do agree with her on the danger of a “cuts at any cost” approach, though.  Rushed, ill-considered, or even Officer-led cuts can be counter-productive and can indeed be a false economy.  Incorrectly applied, we could well end up with the situation she describes – losing experience and skills, sacrificing local service and knowledge before an altar of “savings”, many of which may turn out to save nothing at all. Some of which will ultimately come to cost, rather than save, money.

And yes, I am genuinely concerned with a quiet momentum that seems to be building.  A momentum that points to Fenland eventually doing and managing so little that it is mothballed, that services and representation is fielded out to a variety of other authorities, while Wisbech – which sits so comfortably on two borders – is stretched like a medieval torture victim on the rack.

None of this has to happen, though.  It is one outcome of many possible ones.  And it would be such a shame because – moaners and naysayers aside – Fenland District Council has been a rather successful authority.  It has managed to weather the austerity storm, because of sound financial management, strong leadership and no small measure of luck.  I wont deny that I am worried by the speed and nature of some of the proposed changes.  I’m worried by the way things seem to be rushed through with little input or scrutiny from any but a select group.  I’m worried by the way we seem to totter from one situation to another, like a boat tossed on a violent sea of public opinion.  I’m worried by the way communication seems to be an afterthought, rather than an intrinsic part of a strategy.

But most of all I’m worried because I don’t know what the Big Plan is.  Beyond some fancy buzz words I don’t know what the vision is for Fenland.   And without a vision, you are simply reacting to events, rather than being proactive.  It’s a very difficult position to maintain successfully.  I have every faith that there is a Plan – because I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy and I like to believe the best.  I would hate to believe that Mrs Bucknor is right about the “sad future for Fenland.”   But now, leaders and higher-ups, would be the time to start talking about that vision.  To start telling us how all this fits together, and where it goes.  If we’re going on a journey, that would be a great way to avoid a bumpy ride.

Superfast Broadband

Superfast Broadband

This email was received today.  Put on my blog for public information purposes.

Hello,

Connecting Cambridgeshire is pleased to confirm that new fibre broadband cabinet(s) have gone live in your area and are accepting orders for superfast broadband.

We need your help to inform local residents and businesses of the good news, and how they can upgrade to superfast broadband. We have also sent this information to your local broadband champion, if you have one, to help spread the news.

To support this, we will send the Parish Council a pack of posters and postcards highlighting the arrival of superfast broadband and how to get it, to distribute locally. We have also attached generic articles, which may be useful for your village newsletter, community website or Facebook pages to spread the word.

A coverage map showing the new live cabinets serving each postcode area can be seen on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website ‘my area’ pages for each area together with useful upgrading advice on ‘How to get superfast broadband’.

The best way for people to check if their premises are connected to a new cabinet that is now offering a better broadband service is to try to order a fibre package through an Internet Service Provider.

The broadband speed delivered depends on a number of factors including the length of the line from the cabinet, the line quality, and the equipment and internal wiring within premises. There may be some premises connected to an upgraded cabinet that are simply too far away to receive a fibre service and some residents may have to wait a little longer to get improved broadband.

We hope you can also help us to make businesses in your district aware that they can apply for Government connection vouchers up to £3000 to install superfast broadband through our Destination Digital business support scheme. Businesses can find out more at www.destinationdigital.info

We are happy to support local meetings or events to promote take up of fibre broadband and are also looking for good stories to share on the website about how better broadband is benefiting communities and businesses across Cambridgeshire.

You can contact the Connecting Cambridgeshire team by email, or call 01223 703293 if you need further information.

Kind regards

Connecting Cambridgeshire team

Ouroboros

Ouroboros

Today, I was thinking (as you do) about Ouroboros. For those not familiar with the ancient Egyptian legend, Ouroboros is a huge serpent usually depicted eating its own tail. The Norse version of the creature has it growing so large it could circle the world, but it rather seems to me that something which is dead set on consuming itself would be more likely to get smaller and smaller and smaller.  Magical enchantments aside.  :)

Now don’t get me wrong. Small is beautiful, no doubt. Particularly in regards to local Councils. Nor would I deny that, starved of external sustenance, any organisation is going to be left with little choice but to eat itself. Starving animals do the same thing, by consuming their fat reserves first and then their muscle reserves, before succumbing to the eventual ending of every case of long-term severe resource deprivation.

When a Council is huge, bloated, top heavy – it can stand a little of this. Or a lot, sometimes. The unsightly mass goes, replaced by a lean, mean working machine. The unnecessary and the overly bureaucratic and the vanity projects disappear, in a perfect world, leaving the key services on which people depend.

But at what point have you gone too far?  If you have a dozen key services; but you “share” out five of them, close down two of them, turn three of them into voluntary organisations and then begin “consulting” on the “rationalisation” of the other two, what have you got left?  At what point does astute Leadership become self-destruction?

Ouroboros has been variously considered to represent the first living thing, eternity and entropy. But the huge world serpent isn’t real, to the best of my knowledge. It’s a metaphor, and a pertinent one. My personal view is that any organisation which is forced to eat itself will eventually come to a point where the “hard decisions” are no longer: “Do I keep doing this?” and “Can we afford to do this?” Instead, the decision becomes much simpler. “Do we still do anything at all?”  And “Why are we here?”

At that point, perhaps the serpent will have consumed itself entirely and will be quietly replaced with something else. Maybe that’s the point?