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Reading Between the (Yellow) Lines

We feel fairly confident that you know how we roll here at NOT BAd; that we have set up our stall offering such priceless gems of exquisite wordage that even Peter Simon would be left speechless as our multi-faceted prose splits light under the Bid TV cameras.

We like to think that you keep coming back for more because you appreciate our clarity of thought, our conciseness and – we modestly suggest – our forthright delivery; qualities guaranteeing you, dear reader, a secure reading experience. Sigh as you dunk a Duchy Original safe in the knowledge that the purity of elevenses isn’t going to be soiled by the sort of indecisive shilly-shallying sweeping like norovirus through journalism today.

So, it is with your reading pleasure in mind that we say to Berwick councillors Isabel Hunter, Brian Douglas and Jim Smith:

“What the f**k?”

What the hell were you thinking when you decided to block proposals for free parking in Berwick again? Or weren’t you thinking at all? You were so busy fiddling with your Lanyard of Power and doodling geometric designs in the margins of your expense slips that you forgot you were meant to be serving the people of Berwick?  That you are councillors precisely because we – no doubt off our heads on Buckfast and stovies, eh? – thought, in a moment of sheer bloody misguided madness, that you guys would have our best interests at heart as you went to play with the big boys in Northumberland C*unty Council.

Okay, Councillors Hunter, Douglas and Smith. Maybe we’re being unfair. Maybe you don’t work in words. Maybe you need bright colours, impenetrable graphics and Peter Snow.  Sadly Snow’s not available, but try to picture this.  Here’s what happens when hard-working local women have a modest day off…

[Dream sequence, Patrick Duffy in the shower optional]

9.00am  Hairdresser, cut and blow dry, maybe a colour. Time: 2 hours. Spend: £65-ish.

She didn't know what frightened her more. Going into space or having a perm.

11.00am Coffee with x 2 friends. Time: 1 hour. Spend: £6 per head.

Women Having Coffee

They had reached a stand-off, where the first one to cut another slice got called a fatty.

12.00am General browsing with x 2 friends for something completely useless (it doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s made from gingham). Time: 1 hour. Spend: £10 per head.

Gingham. For ladies too self-controlled to develop a crack habit.

1.00pm  Lunch with x 3 friends. Time: 2 hours. Spend: £15–20 per head.

The ladies all agreed. A pipe was the perfect digestif, and sexy to boot.

Total Spend: £193 on just airy-fairy fannying around. No specific purchase necessary.  Women are bloody brilliant at this sort of pissing up a wall.

Who knows, perhaps they all had their hair done before meeting up. Just think. All that lovely money pouring into local coffers.

Or not.

Because the only coffers brimming with this kind of financial incontinence are in Kelso. Or Blyth. Or Ashington. But sure as shit not in Berwick because the possibility of finding long-stay affordable parking in Berwick in order to enjoy a day such as this is about as likely as Nick Griffin converting to Islam and adopting a brown baby.

The effect of the recession on our town is staggering. You only have to look down the High Street and see fear glazing the shopfronts in the manner of death in the eyes of a wounded impala. For Councillors Hunter, Douglas and Smith to block any initiative that could help boost trade in Berwick – their town, the one they’ve been elected to represent – leaves us furious and bewildered.

And then we remember.  The proposal to introduce free parking was put forward by Conservative opposition councillors and… oh.

Isabel Hunter – Lib Dem

Brian Douglas – Independent

Jim Smith – Lib Dem

NOT BAd is sure that this is little more than a coincidence wrapped up in a fancy-that, and that councillors grazing on grass roots are nothing like their flesh-eating counterparts higher up the political food chain. We feel confident that ugly accusations of party politics are unfounded and simply not true one tiny bit and that, gracious, our elected officials work only for the good of the people they represent rather than looking for any old excuse to perpetuate tired notions of tribalistic point-scoring.

But we’ll just throw it out there, for the sake of completeness.

However, let’s be fair.  As far as Northumberland County Council is concerned the Berwick political contingent are the unwanted kids from a first marriage, tolerated yet largely overlooked. They have no real say. Time to go directly to the horse’s mouth, then.

NOT BAd wrote to Northumberland County Council asking them to explain to us the discrepancies in their parking policy; why some towns in Northumberland are granted free parking and others are not. Below is their reply. (In light of its technical complexity we have broken it down into manageable chunks and offer an interpretation in brackets where necessary.)

“Dear Not The Berwickshire Advertiser

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding parking in Northumberland.

[Thank you for your enquiry regarding parking in Northumberland.]

“Northumberland County Council has last year completed consultation on 10 proposals that would help shape a new Northumberland Parking Strategy in providing fit for purpose framework for determining parking provision in Northumberland.

[Last year we thought about parking quite a lot.]

“The proposals was [sic] a parking model to be applied to all parking places as a mechanism to provide a fair and consistent approach to identifying where intervention either in the form of charging or time restrictions in the off-street car parks and on-street parking places should apply.

[And we mean, a lot.]

“However responses and comments from the consultation demonstrated a lack of support for this approach.

[We decided the idea of fairness and consistency was rubbish.]

“As an alternative to the initially proposed scoring method, the strategy now seeks to apply the following principals [sic] at a local level to determine the value and convenience of on and off-street parking places in order to assess the type of controls and [sic] need to be applied:

[So after going on a paint-balling team-building exercise, we had a bit of a thought shower and came up with something which, while unfair and inconsistent, does involve an exciting number of bullet points:]

  • Economic vitality of the settlement [number of chichi coffee shops versus number of charity shops]
  • Demand on parking space
  • The type of user demanding the parking space [who]
  • Location/proximity of the parking place [where]
  • Consideration of other parking provision [pavements?]
  • Services/facilities provided within or close to the parking place [see “where”]
  • Impact of controls [Oh, blah, blah.  Migration of trade to areas with free and unrestricted parking]
  • Displacement of parking [see above]
  • Seasonal and weekend variations in demand [whether there’s adequate parking outside the chip shop]

“This approach will be applied to all towns and settlements to ensure fairness and consistency in identifying where intervention either in the form of charging or time restrictions in the car parks should apply. The above principals [sic] will also influence tariff levels applied to individual settlements.

[These variables mean that some towns will be subsidizing free-parking schemes elsewhere in the county to the detriment of their own economy, but luckily we’ve worded them in such a way that people will be too confused to kick off. We totally rock.]

“This work is now in progress and officers are discussing this at a local level with key stakeholders.

[You can’t stop progress, baby.  And don’t be ridiculous.  Of course, you’re not a key stakeholder, you’re a resident.  Like, get a grip.]

“Kind regards

[Up yours]

“Parking Services, Sustainable Transportation, Local Services Group, Northumberland County Council”

[Tracy from Accounts]

So there, dear reader, you have it. Northumberland County Council talking about inconsistency and unfairness in terms of consistency and fairness.  We don’t think even Derren Brown could manage such sleight of hand and, indeed, we had to sit on our own to stop us from bursting into spontaneous applause despite ourselves.

We can see how Hunter et al felt powerless to resist.

"Trick," Nick Clegg thought. "Next time I'm definitely going to say 'trick.'"

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One comment on “Reading Between the (Yellow) Lines

  1. Brilliant!!!

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