Thursday, 28 May 2009

New Internet Toys

I've just come across a new website which is pretty cool. It's called Bambuser and it allows you to video stuff straight to the web from your phone near live ie only a few seconds delay.

Here's a page of someone having hours of fun demonstrating it to his work colleagues. Cool no?

A highlight is this one where we get a nice tour round this guy's office with quite a bit of coverage of other workers.

There's several more where he show's his clearly impressed collegues footage of them on the interwebs (although forgetting to mention that it's not only monitoring but recording and that it would still be there for the likes of me to dig up 12 months later), one or two where he puts his phone down so the screen goes blank and the conversation continues, presumably without the other party realising. We get to hear them discussing poor ticket sales of an unspecified event (although I think its probably NCC's 'Splendour' festival at a guess).

"There goes your privacy!" laughs our amateur filmmaker at one stage...

Hmmm, on reflection I'm not sure about the morals of this. If my manager did this I reckon I'd be pretty pissed off. I suspect this person's employer might be a little unhappy too.

So who is the lucky organisation getting snatches of its inner workings plastered over the internet and its workers data protection rights soiled? Well the fact thats it's up here should have alerted you pretty much immediately that it is, of course, Nottingham City Council. The Communications Directorate at a guess.

And the cameraman? None other than the Director of Communications, Stephen Barker.

If you see yourself in one of the videos you might want to have a word, although I suspect they won't be up there much longer...

Update; as this article is getting visitors again and tthe vids have obviously been removed (see anon comment below, wonder who that could have been?) here are a couple of screenshots

Click on em for big.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Things Missing

Anybody heard anything more about poor old Richard Antcliff?

He was bailed until February and I would have thought a decision on whether he was to be charged would have been taken by now.

Update 40 mins later; Bloody hell, sometimes I think I'm psychic. I was just having a randon root around the NCH website and found him at their ASB Scrutiny Group meeting of 9 Feb 2009.

He introduces himself at the meeting as the Head of Community Protection whereas before he was referred to in the media as the Chief Anti-Social Behaviour Officer. However I'm not clear whether his post is NCC or NCH.

So does this mean he has been moved while his 'little difficulty' is sorted out? Has it all blown over and its just a perfectly innocent promotion?

Problem is I can't find anything about the Community Protection service on NCC's website apart from Community Protection Officers. RA does discuss CPOs at the meeting in a manner that suggests that he has some say in what they do which implies he's still NCC. There's not much about ASB either apart from the hotline to report it. Annoying...

Anybody know any more please email me or add comments.

End of update.

I'm also waiting for the minutes of the latest Standards Committee minutes on the NCC website. There was a meeting on 20 April where the Cllr Grocock issue was to get some consideration (although if memory serves it was just to appoint the sub-committee that was to hear the referral). There isn't even an agenda for the next one up.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

To Twit or Not To Twit...or Off Topic Question of the Week...

I've been thinking of signing up to that Twitter thingy. Not for any particularly well thought out blog related strategic reasons but because all the big lads in the blog playground seem to have done it and I'm starting to feel a bit left out. Kind of like back in the day when everyone got Raleigh Choppers and I was forced to make do with the hand me down Raleigh Shopper...

But what the devil is it for, thats what I want to know? I'm certainly not going to get into that nonsensical announcing every toilet visit to the world rubbish. The only thing I can think of is to announce when I've put a new post up here and I'm not sure thats the sort of earth shattering news that fellow Twittees would fall over themselves to sign up to.

So tell me fellow bloggers, have you got Twitter? What do you use it for? Has it enhanced your life, or at least boosted your hit rate? Or can I afford to sit this one out (I never did get a Chopper after all)?

Update; have decided to give it a go.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Dinner Time

One of those comedy gold stories in the Evening Post today.

Apparently, councillors and guests were used to getting a 3 course slap up meal (sometimes including 'coq au vin' or 'pavlova', the gluttons) at council meetings but at the meeting this week they were downgraded to 'soup and sandwiches'. The full enormity of the horrors they had to endure can be summed up by the revelation that 'there was no butter for the bread'.

Seems that the big dinners were costing £1000 a time for 55 councillors plus guests but the soup and sarnies deal sets us back half that. I always thought good socialists survived on beer and sandwiches myself.

Class warrior Graham Chapman apparently said

"If I had known it was a grand a meeting I would have cut it earlier."

Well done him. Up the revolution brothers (and sisters, sorry Stan).

I'd go a step further, get meals on wheels in, let them enjoy the same culinary standards that Nottingham's housebound old people do.

Or how about going vegetarian to reduce CO2 emissions? I'm sure Veggies would be happy to sort something out.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Something's missing...

Strange. Not had a single visit from Nottingham City Council so far today. I've had over 20 for the first half of the week.

Wonder if I've been firewalled? Not that they'd be such control freaks to stop their employees accessing a link to the 'secret report' I'm sure.

Update 8.50pm; still no NCCers

Update 15 May; there's been 2 in today!!! Hurrah.

Weird Search Terms

Having a quick look through me Google Analytics earlier. Seems that somebody hass happened upon this blog via the search term -

"can you store monkeys in council properties nottingham?"

WTF? I'm not making this up they really bloody did. Should I report this to someone? Should NCH be monitoring banana consumption levels in their properties via RFID counting of banana skins in wheelie bins? Is the answer actually 'NO'?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

More Thoughts on the Leaked Report

At the full council meeting on 9 March 2009 Cllr Jon Collins said this of the (linked below) draft report -

" No, I don’t think a three year old draft that simply records unevidenced opinions, prejudices and tittle tattle says anything telling about the way Nottingham City Council is run."

Well, I've now read the whole document and in my opinion the only thing JoCo has got right in that paragraph is the fact that the report is 3 years old. But you'd be justified in checking your calendar.

As far as the 'unevidenced' jibe goes, throughout the report the authors provide supporting evidence in the form of quotes from interviewees in a sidebar. They provide examples of processes that don't work, such as the fact that service plans were supposed to draw from the Corporate Plan but were in fact required to be completed before the Corporate Plan was available. They repeatedly state when their opinions are drawn from interviewees' accounts, such as when they disclose that four members of the Strategic Management Team said that it was-

"not corporate, not strategic, doesn't manage and isn't a team"

thus backing up a similar account from other workers. Further discussion of the SMT begins with -

"An examination of the agendas..."

thus explicitly setting out the evidence they used to draw their conclusions.

It goes on. Sorry JoCo but 'unevidenced' is not a sustainable claim that you can make about this report.

Secondly, JoCo's claim that the report cannot cast any useful information about how the Council is now run, when so much of the report concerns his style of working and 'micromanagement' which has the potential to undermine the Chief Executive, holds no water (it seems that the Evening Post was really rather kind to JoCo in its report on the leaked document). Especially when another Chief Exec was bundled expensively out of the door not long after following a fallout with Cllr C. This tells us a LOT about how the top end of the Council is run, how it is clear that any Chief Exec has to be prepared to be undermined by the Leader and how much effort must be spent on not offending him. Sometimes the head of the administrative side has to challenge the head of the political side and if a Chief Exec doesn't feel able to to do so then they can't do their job.

In its final recommendations the authors say -

"A line in the sand needs to be drawn and a new member/officer protocol produced so that respective roles are clearly defined and communicated to all."

This is not too dissimilar to one of the recommendations of the Audit Commission in its report on the Housing Allocations fiasco, which included new protocols for Councillors when advocating on behalf of constituents. The Council voted to accept these recommendations only for its Standards Committee and Executive Board to set about watering them down.

Essentially NCC is being told time and time again that its procedures on member/officer relations are inadequate yet are pulling every trick in the book to stop any change to tighten those procedures up. One of those tricks, it is now clear, included throwing a report away and hoping nobody would get to see it. Different times, different tricks, same ends. Still want to argue the Hardmoor report can give no clue about how the Council is run JoCo? Jane Todd? Anyone?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

'That' Report in Full

A while back we mentioned the Eve Post's coverage of the leaked report by Hardmoor Associates stating, among other things, that NCC is 'dysfunctional'. Unfortunately the wimps at EP didn't provide us with a downloadable copy.

Thank goodness then for Indymedia who have by some means closed this gap.

A direct viewing link from Indymedia is here or you can download the file to your hard drive here.

I've had a quick skim through and I have to say that there's nothing to change my original conclusion that Hardmoor's mistake was to tell NCC something they didn't want to hear.

Update; report now available on Wikileaks.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Techie Fail

Has anybody else noticed that NCC's website regularly falls down outside business hours?

Friday, 8 May 2009

Here's One Just for the Fun of It

As I hope most people accept, a lot of what I write here is quite important. I put quite a bit of effort attempting to uncover incompetence, negligence and occasional skullduggery in our fave council.

On the other hand, occasionally I just like to take the piss. I've just been reading through some of the Councillors' 'annual reports' on their profiles and, well lets just have a look shall we?

Cat Arnold

Cat would like us to know that one of her successes is her request for a bin to be placed outside the Medical Centre on Kibworth Close. Unfortunately there is clearly an annoying little voice in her head pointing out that this is essentially bugger all because she then feels the need to add -

"Because small touches make a big difference."

Yes they do Cat. Or at least they can help you convince yourself if you haven't actually done any big touches. Like answering your emails.


Rob Lee

Rob first of all gives us a bit of history.

"I first got elected to Nottingham City Council in 2003. I was re-elected in 2007 as a Labour Councillor for Basford Ward."

Except that its a somewhat incomplete history as he forgot to finish that first sentence. Here it is now, for the first time in full -

"I first got elected to Nottingham City Council in 2003 as a Liberal Democrat, before dumping on them like a z-list Judas and jumping into bed with the Labour Party (with a short spell as an independent for the sake of appearances). I was re-elected in 2007 as a Labour Councillor for Basford Ward."

Not that its any easier to get yourself selected as a Lib Dem as opposed to a Labour Party candidate in Nottingham I'm sure.

Dick Benson

"Collectively and individually we have worked on, and dealt with, a number of issues. Though surgeries are not held, we are always available via telephone or email."

"My budget has been pooled with the other Wollaton West ward councillors, its use has yet to be finalised."

"Challenges and successes

As a member of a minority group of just 7 Councillors...the challenge is to continue to probe, scrutinise and question the Labour administration and its policies and performance, in the knowledge that whatever we achieve they retain a very substantial majority."

NCCLols translation service - "I've done bugger all."

Childish I know but its been a quiet week. I might dip in again and if there's any more with unintended comedy you'll be the first to know.