Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells'
I don’t know what the statistics will show, but my impression is that we have had more visitors than usual, certainly, the roads seem to have been more crowded.
It seems that, last week, as they have done for at least the last 40 years, a volunteer helper was holding a book sale outside the museum, something which provides valuable and much needed extra funds for the museum, when our meter maid (of the male gender) materialised, wearing his Hi Vis vest of Righteousness and complained that the table containing the books, and the books themselves were on Council property and should be removed. Our volunteer gently remonstrated that the table and books were not blocking traffic – if you have visited the museum, you will know that anyway traffic there is almost entirely pedestrian, and the table was so positioned that it would not have blocked a juggernaut, should one of those manage to get down there.
Our meter maid argued a bit more before storming off, presumably frustrated at having failed to discover the registration number of the table and books, so that he could issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to them. His parting cry was that the volunteer had been rude to him and that this would be reported to his superiors. Now, I happen to know the volunteer and would estimate that the likelihood of him being rude – to anyone – is several orders of magnitude less than the chance of my having a Damascene conversion and calling for our hospitals to employ more management consultants and administrators!
I understand that some meter maids are issued with equipment allowing them to record people being rude, presumably so that they can learn better to be rude themselves. If our meter maid had such equipment, I should love to hear what was said. Meanwhile, if he would like to learn what rudeness really is, I suggest he makes himself known to me, and I will be happy to enlighten him.
More seriously, this raises several issues. For example, since this meter maid is employed by North Devon District Council, his duty is to see that parking regulations in Council car parks are enforced. Now, whilst there is a small car park by the museum (parking there is by permit only), the table was not on the area designated as a car park. Accordingly, our meter maid was not acting in an official capacity when he took time off his duties to argue about the table; he was acting as a private citizen. Perhaps his employers might like to suggest that he has better things to do whilst they (we) are paying him, such as the job he is paid to do.
Then there is his confident assertion that the table was on Council property. Is he omniscient? Has he seen a copy of the lease, which defines the extent of the property let to the museum. As it happens, I have a copy of that lease, and I could not be completely certain either way!
Plea to NDDC: if you have to employ meter maids who do not fulfil all of the National Careers Service’s list of qualities required for meter maids, please keep them in Barnstaple. We don’t want them!
And just in case NDDC are unfamiliar with the National Careers Service’s list of qualities required for meter maids, they include the following:
patience and tact
an assertive but polite approach
the ability to handle difficult situations in a calm and professional way
One odd thing: when the group first came on the stage, they asked holidaymakers to show their hands. Very few hands went up, which suggest that the audience may have been mainly locals. Is the Landmark not promoting itself sufficiently to visitors?
At the time of writing, 6 lives have been lost in Britain to the sea this weekend. It is worth remembering that every time someone gets in trouble in the sea, whether through bad luck or stupidity, our lifeboat crews risk, and occasionally lose, their lives in an attempt to rescue them. It is incredibly easy for us to underestimate the power of those impressive looking waves. Every year we read of holidaymakers dying because they underestimated the power of the sea. When will they ever learn?
Have you heard that NDDC have appointed “ambassadors” tasked with reviving three North Devon towns, Barnstaple, South Molton and good old Ilfracombe. Our “ambassador” is Mr Rodney Cann, who we are more accustomed to hear of when he is telling us how he is going to improve our rubbish service by cutting collections. The logical end point of this, of course, is that the collections are cut out altogether and the resulting service is brilliant.
Incidentally, just to be clear, when I said “rubbish service”, I did not mean the general service we get from NDDC, which we all agree is rubbish. I should, perhaps, have said “garbage service”.
Anyway, I am in two minds about this. On the one hand, it is good that NDDC have woken up to the fact that there are some towns other than Barnstaple in their territory. On the other hand, I agree with Mike Edmunds: why is the “ambassador” a resident of Fremington, and not someone from Ilfracombe, who might be expected to know the needs of our town better than a non-resident. I know nothing of Mr Cann other than what I have read, so I cannot really comment on his suitability for the post. However, I can say that I would prefer that a local person had been chosen. He would have day to day contact with people living here, who could let him know what he was doing wrong. What is more, as Mike Edmunds says, Ilfracombe Town Council have been doing a rather good job by themselves, without any help from NDDC. What do we need an “ambassador” for?
Once again, whatever the truth, the impression is that we are being dictated to from Barnstaple, rather than in a real democratic partnership.
I am sad and angry that the Church Street post office is to close. I understand that the payments from their bosses to provide a post office service have been gradually reducing until it became uneconomic to continue. It is difficult to reach any conclusion other than that this is a deliberate policy on the part of The Post Office to close small operators without, they hope, attracting the opprobrium of actually closing it themselves, and without the need to pay out the owners who they have let down. As it is, the family running it have effectively been forced out with no compensation. Disgraceful! Another choice closed down.
If you plan to attend University for the first time this year and are studying a hard science (including maths and computing) or engineering subject, you may qualify for a bursary from The Tubby Foundation. Look at mrtubby.online/rules. There will be 2 bursaries on offer this year. You will need to get various documents together to apply, and the deadline is 2nd September, so, if you are thinking of applying, get a move on.
And finally ….. Please don’t forget the demo in support of our NHS on Tuesday 23rd August. It starts at Pilton Park at 10am and goes on to the traffic lights by the hospital at 10.30am. wear red and bring some red ribbon. If you can't attend, please show some support by wearing something red, if your employer allows, even if it is just a piece of red ribbon. Northern Devon NHS Healthcare Trust say there are no red lines. We say there is a red line: HANDS OFF OUR HOSPITAL.