A few weeks back there was an announcement in the local media that to make things super duper for local folk with visual medical issues, Moorfields Hospital would be opening a service centre within Bedford Hospital. I have a long term visual disability in the shape of an artificial right eye and it needs a buff up and clean from time to time and so this caught my attention. In the past I’ve had it polished by staff at Bedford Hospital and wondered how this new addition would help. It’s brilliant, I’ve waited two months for an appointment and been told that as a result of introducing Moorfields to Bedford, the Hospital will not be offering the service. Here’s the fun bit, as my needs are specialised Moorfields won’t be offering it at Bedford either so the only way it seems for me to to get sorted is for me to go to London when I know for a fact that there’s a specialist at Bedford that could sort me out in minutes but he’s not allowed to see me (even though he’s coming to my birthday in a few weeks.
Here’s the way the scam worked. Bedford Borough Council slowly whittled the number of full time council employed manual staff down and replaced them with agency workers through a company called Aptus. This eventually resulted in a workforce almost exclusively agency sourced and on lower rates of pay and reduced conditions than permanent council staff. This created paperwork savings and together with a system of overcharging itself (i.e. the service arm of the council fleecing the other departments) Bedford’s Commercial Services Department (CSD) was lauded as a success story. Big profits. It then gave the profits back to itself and everyone went home happy! Except the agency workers!
To keep the scam going full time staff in the CSD received a bonus, lower staff got a few hundred, the higher ups received into the thousands. Those that questioned the negatives of shafting the actual workers were told to shut up, often with menace. And so on and on it went. It was nothing short of 50 plates spinning on canes. Magic of a particularly brutal kind as the syringe and dog shit collectors were well and truly kicked into the gutter while Shaun Fields, the then Chief Executive and the “brains” behind the sleight of hand took his top tier of flunkies off for team meetings at a plush hotel on the very outskirts of Bedford, a little place called …er ….Peterborough. This little nugget itself is worth noting. The Chief Executive, the man trying to sell Bedford as the place to be, Mr Pride in Bedford, someone who didn’t live in Bedford opted go elsewhere! Apparently he and Stewart Briggs, often described as a highly paid bag carrier (still there £130,000 plus a year) liked the antiques at the venue.
The boil has been lanced and as of last week 150 agency workers have been taken on as full time Bedford Borough employees. The two tier system has ended, partly though the Agency Workers Regulations and (I suspect) the costs of moving from Aptus to Blue Arrow. Another influencing factor was the current Mayors long standing dislike of the financial system underpinning the whole scam so CSD was disbanded last year and the integration of the agency staff was only a matter of time.
I first came across the scam about 10 years ago when they awarded one of the street cleaners a certificate for being Temporary Employee of the Year and the went on to applaud his commitment for being a temporary bod for the last 12 years. Right from the start it had a stench of decay and deception attached to the whole deal as frontline workers were sent to the margins. No holiday pay, no chance of promotion, little training, no cover for work related injuries (and there were some spectacular accidents).
As our latest missives in the local paper make it clear, the local Liberal Democrat Mayor, Charles Muttley Royden his sidekick and the Borough Press Office are exerting spin in everything they say and do. Together with a local media that maybe should check the finer details of press releases (that’s you Ben!) the Council are becoming adept in keeping the full impact of the cuts away from us. From what I’ve heard direct from the former agency staff it’s a start but there are inconsistencies. So we are still watching!
Strong stuff as Gill becomes TV critic and takes a caustic view of street patrolling pastors as seen as TV, head straight to the Beyond Bedford page for these substantial words of wisdom sent by electricity from a small village near Southport. Actually it was Alabama 3 and Chumbawamba who wrote the God’s House track Gill and it was me that leant it you!
April Fools were very evident yesterday, the local newspaper had a mocked up picture of a cable car going down the line of river from Bedford, Radio 4 had one about making OAPs generate electricity on little treadmills while they wait for their money but the best one is an oddity as it comes on April 2nd just to catch us out, it’s from Ed Milliband offering to make “everyone matter” as the red rosettes and “we know what you need” smiles emerge from under the stairs for the local elections and people come to pester while you watch telly.
The local media seem to have fallen for this obvious howler as they repeated it so obviously no one’s noticed that the Labour party has for some decades been a convenient “tool” allowing a jaded tory party to have a breather, consolidate itself and then plan the next hijack! A systematic fleecing by which capital continues migrating from the many to the few! April Fools we are! Don’t get me started on the Lib Dems or the Tories!
I thought the Galloway stuff was funny, this has had me on the floor! Half inched and slightly re-written from the BBC News site. I’m sure that Catholic Priest Martin McVeigh has been victim of a cruel (but effective) joke!
2 April 2012
Priest in ‘indecent images’ row at primary school in Pomeroy
An investigation is under way after indecent images were “inadvertently” shown by a Catholic priest during a presentation at a primary school in County Tyrone. Father Martin McVeigh projected the images contained on a memory stick that he had brought witnh him onto a screen during a meeting for parents in Pomeroy in preparation for First Holy Communion. One child was also present.
Parents said 16 indecent images of men were displayed. The priest said he had no knowledge of the offending imagery.The incident occurred during a meeting at St Mary’s School in Pomeroy on 26 March. The parents said Fr McVeigh quickly removed the memory stick. Although quite how there was time to show 16 images isn’t explained!
“He was visibly shaken and flustered,” said the parents. “He gave no explanation or apology to the group and bolted out of the room. The co-ordinator and the teachers then continued with the presentation. “The meeting continued in his absence, however, the parents who viewed the pictures were horrified and distracted. “Twenty minutes (you can do a lot in twenty minutes) later he returned, he continued with the meeting and wrapped up by saying that the children get lots of money for their Holy Communion and should consider giving some of it to the church.” Possibly to support subscriptions to specialist web sites and to buy memory sticks.
In a statement on Monday, Cardinal Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, said “inappropriate imagery was inadvertently shown by a priest at the beginning of a Powerpoint presentation, causing concern to those present. “This was immediately removed from the screen although most of the priests in the area have had a chance to check it to assess its content.
“The priest has stated that he had no knowledge of the offending imagery. The archdiocese immediately sought the advice of the PSNI who indicated that, on the basis of the evidence available, no crime had been committed. “The priest is co-operating with an investigation of the matter on the part of the archdiocese.”
Look if you can’t show your holiday snaps to your mates what’s the world coming to?
I’m not going to try and hide the fact that I smirked my way into work last Thursday having heard that George Galloway had not only whooped Labour out of what should have been a safe seat but also kicked the Lib Dems into the long grass with them losing their deposit in the process.
Thing is I tend not to take much notice of what’s happening in Parliament and I wasn’t aware that there was a by-election, there’s usually media chatter but (and I can only guess) as it was a safe as houses Labour constituency it was overlooked as we all got lathered up with queuing for petrol, waiting for our invite to Dave’s dinner parties and chomping on hot food at the roadside cafe. So hearing that George Galloway was an MP once more sort of cheered me up until the weather forecast took the shine away!
Now the anarchist web newsrooms are pulling the “victory” apart and dissecting events and quite rightly so, away from the fun filled spectacle of watching Milliband / Clegg / Varsi trying to talk their way out the excruciating embarrassment all its achieved is putting Galloway back in a big house where apart from sound-bites he’ll be able to achieve sod all. Credit where due, he’s an effective speaker, crowd manipulater and more so he’s ideally equipped to convince people that paradise comes with an X next to his name!
The Bradford seat is made up of a massively disenfranchised population and there’s more going on there apart from the anti war stance (and that’s not dismissing public anger at this ongoing obscenity) there’s a wholesale rejection of mainstream politics and its cast of dancing buffoons and it seems out of frustration came the easiest answer, thousands and thousands wanting something different, someone to lead them at which point the whole question of the ability of people to shape their own futures collectively becomes lost as the winner parades round Bradford in an open top bus. Galloway didn’t achieve that much last time round even with the RESPECT bandwagon being far more prominent before it splintered and apart from the humour that will come of him being there again, regardless of what you think of him, he’s not going to change the world or more to the point he’s not going to change Bradford. He has however promised to save an old Odeon in his new town! So to some, they’ve voted in their own personal Jesus.