Meadows ward monthly report 13

Another full month of a high degree of lockdown. Everything else continues to be reduced in significance by the public health emergency.  The UK has been the worst in Europe in managing the crisis.
Data published on 1st May has announced the death of 3 people in The Meadows by April 17th.

Mantra still is follow the revised government advice, which local people have been pretty good about.
But the advice changes again tomorrow, and some groups of people have been working to the forthcoming standards.

Following the guidance has been a tad compromised by the Prime Minister excusing the actions of some – they were following their paternal instincts. I might have pleaded for mercy, but in the end, we’d have been better off if the biggest culprit had been fined.
Disappointed for Nottinghamshire teachers, who came for unwarranted criticism – when really we just have to talk things through to work it out.

Still the Covid-19 disease has hit Nottingham less hard than might be expected given we are a compact and dense city, with higher rates of BAME and higher rates of people earning in the 7th, 8th and 9th deciles. The rate of positive tests is low by national standards, but it’s not obvious why.  

Cases picked up via the Golden Number (01159155555) are still coming through, but people have been coping, or not, without seeking much extra help.
Nottingham City Council is working in very different ways, including full council, which appointed a new Chief Executive (who starts in September).
The council is not receiving the money it should for the extra services being provided.  We are going to be betrayed by the Gov’t on the promises they made.

A conservation area has been agreed for the Old Meadows.

An assault in The Meadows, although understanding of how it come to happen is not yet known. The Police have been making progress on drugs; although our unformed officers did suffer a very unfortunate experience.

Can say –
– Police have been patrolling Victoria Embankment and talking to people to encourage social distancing;
– extra patrol issued 3 tickets for speeding on Saturday;
– noise from quads and motor bikes is annoying and is looked for, but it’s easier if info is supplied on where the machines are kept; since no-one in The Meadows has said anything, it is not clear that the offenders are local; and they have been witnessed elsewhere;
– the report of a stabbing was in fact bleeding from an assault and did not involve the use of a blade; the victim has declined to prosecute;
– 2 people arrested on 27th Feb on drugs charged were sentenced on May 7th to 3 years and to 32 months;
– Our Lady & St.Patrick’s church are exploring extra measures to protect their grounds against being used for abuse;
– it is understood that 20mph speed limits can be enforced;

also
– council have re-instated bulky waste collection, but weeding is beyond us at the moment; might be helpful if people could hoe nearby roadsides;
– some Old Meadows streets were sent letters on Saturday about looking after alleyways and taking advantage of bulky waste collections.

127 cases logged since 3rd May, 2019, from around 53 new clients, collected from phone calls, e-mails, Facebook posts etc.  An e-mail to Meadows residents was issued on behalf of co-Cllr. Nicola Heaton and myself.

Practically no rain in May, and this on top of the country’s driest ever recorded Spring, means new problems are on their way, a short 4 months after all the problems with floods and broken dams elsewhere.

There is one almighty reckoning to come when we do strive to recover our economy and society.

But a huge reckoning is now taking place in the USA, following the murder of George Floyd, by a Policeman who constrained him by sticking a knee on his throat for 8 minutes, despite the victim’s pleads of “I can’t breathe”. The Police fired the officer, who already had 17 complaints filed against him, but needed to arrest him and charge him with murder sooner than they did.

Culture and events – 
Films on TV: check out BBC’s I-player!
TV: Charlie Brooker’s anti-viral wipe – just hilarious.
Theatre on internet: Frankenstein.
Documentaries on internet: UK travel vlog of Nottingham by Renata Pereira; History of Broad Marsh by NottsFlix.
And the new pastime – following the fortunes of wildfowl families as they are hatched and grow up.

Plenty of anniversaries, given it’s the elections month of May – Victory 20 years ago and Ten Years since end of ME4SD campaign – and for other reasons – Victory in Europe Day – 75 years on, and Clement Attlee came to power 80 years ago.

And farewells: locally Ken Fleet; and elsewhere, Michael Angelis (Liver Birds, Boys from the Blackstuff, and G.B.H.).

Instinct as a getout

The moment was when Boris Johnson said in his prepared statement that Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity. … I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent … “
Cos the public health instruction was that you must stay at home. Boris Johnson had a letter sent to every household saying so. Instinct as an exemption negates any public policy.

I think you have to be ready to forgive people for getting things wrong; for making a decision that was against the policy; you might have to fine them for it; or censure them; but forgive them nevertheless.
But here, the Prime Minister has accepted a breach of the policy without chastisement, apparently in full knowledge of all the facts, facts which has not been shared with the public.

This may trigger more occasions of members of the public challenging officers seeking to enforce the policy.
But more, it triggers disappointment, or stronger, in those who complied, and sometimes with some sacrifice. And that is what we see in the newspaper front pages, in social media, and no doubt in chatting with friends and neighbours.
And will make the repeat of a call to action should a second wave come, all the harder.


A word of warning about predicting that these events heralds a second wave of disease. Given the status of the disease in the UK, that may not be the case. (And I understood second waves to be associated with new mutations of a virus.)

Chris Grey@chrisgreybrexit·
“Populism is based on the trick of a self-evident elite purporting to speak for ‘the people’ *against* ‘the elite’. So it’s always vulnerable to its leaders being exposed as not of the people and, even, contemptuous of them.”

Dr Mike Galsworthy@mikegalsworthy
“Ironic to watch a Brexiter government desperately put saving an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat before supporting the will of the people.”

Astonishing tweet; apparently from a member of staff.

Stephen Reicher@ReicherStephen
Level 1:As one of those involved in SPI-B, the Government advisory group on behavioural science, I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control COVID-19.

Be open and honest, we said. Trashed.
Respect the public, we said. Trashed
Ensure equity, so everyone is treated the same, we said. Trashed.
Be consistent we said. Trashed.
Make clear ‘we are all in it together’. Trashed.

It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a government which doesn’t want to listen to science.

The quality of mercy is not strained

Never did understand the line. Did strained mean filtered? Or put under pressure. Turns out it means ‘constrained’, or ‘forced’. (Yep, only now have I bothered to check – hence the C grade in O level English Literature.)

I kinda got “the speaker is telling Shylock that mercy must be freely given, and is inviting him to show mercy to the title character.” Our hippy English teacher (twas the ’70s) then pointed out that when they tricked Shylock into giving up his claim, they showed him no mercy at all. Nor does rain often gently fall from the heavens.

It’s been weird. Dancing around strangers during walks at a distance; and taking offence, or causing upset, if either party gets it wrong. It’s not really that we worry about passing the disease on; it’s that someone is not joining in with the campaign to not spread the disease. And we can get mightily righteous about it. Impressive that people have so overwhelmingly joined in with the campaign; but I have had to report situations to the Police this week.

When not talking about strangers of course, we are perhaps more inclined to understand people who have made exceptions. Even if the Govt’s lockdown has come in the form of INSTRUCTIONS

So where next now we know important people haven’t followed instructions. Important people who follow that mantra – “never complain, never explain”.
“He should resign!”
“He should be sacked:”.
(Bit of an issue here – has no-one else never been a staff rep trying to defend a colleague who’s got it wrong at work?)
But I do think an apology is in order. Through an interview, a long one. One where the same points get made in a different way for a long time so the apologies have to be repeated. Maybe using that actor who played the daughter from the Outnumbered family; or Philomena Cunk.

And remember, he’s not the messiah – he’s just a very ….

Postscript: written one day on …
Having wanted to be wary of condemning Cummings outright, a number of points have come up since that make the situation even more frustrating –
– that Cabinet members have cited defence of the child as the proper thing to do; as if other members of the public haven’t made a different decision in similar circumstances;
– that Cummings’ wife, a journalist, had already written a diary of events that clashes with No. 10’s explanation;
– that No.10 has denied that Durham Police had spoken to Cummings and his family, when Cummings’ father had acknowledged that the Police had;
– that Cummings has been accused since of being in County Durham on 3 separate occasions after returning to London;
– that Cummings developed the notion of caring so little for the elitism of the establishment, yet has behaved in an elitist way.
And the original article didn’t make enough about how the actions undermine the enforcers of the lockdown.

Seems unlikely that Boris Johnson will allow Cummings to leave his post; like calling upon Emu to get rid of Rod Hull.

We should work it out

Incredibly disappointed for Notts teachers and the Notts education unions, who will know the importance of children not missing school lessons more than most, for them to be told by the Conservative council leader “it was time teachers ‘pay back a little’, with other services continuing during lockdown.”
(source: Nottingham Post)

I have tweeted – 
“Why the determination to be rude to teachers?
“The criteria for re-opening schools should be about what’s best for public health; end of.
“Not some imagined debt.”


Well done to the trade unions on acquiring the scientific advice.
A bit disappointing that it does not seem to offer enough to encourage a small partial return schools on June 1st.  
(I had wondered if the argument was going to be that the number of cases in parts of the country was sufficiently low to enable a return; but apparently that case has not been made.)

Seems to me the trade unions have been proportionate and dignified.

Unlicensed quad bikes on The Embankment

The hot weather yesterday did see large numbers of people enjoying Victoria Embankment in the evening.
Rang some complaints in and have spoken to the Police today.
We are getting some people hanging around busy spots and not making way – in a manner that would be social distancing friendly – for people passing through. So we’re on the look-out.
On the look-out too for the owners of quads that were hanging around and more at the Embankment. If we can find them, we can impound unlicensed quads and have them crushed.

The Police have had more success in recent weeks in arresting drug dealers based in The Meadows and perception is that users have gone elsewhere.
Happy to hear feedback on these points.
Bumped into a Meadows resident a few days back in a city centre street who said the City Council have been excellent. So the score currently is 1-0. Let me know if you have an opinion.  
Meanwhile, was sorry to read that one of wardens was spat at by someone who then bit a Police Officer. Reported to the media – fair enough – but the N Post said it happened on Meadows Way, then showed a photo of Bridgeway Shopping Centre – unfair on our local shops.

More interested in wildlife

Plenty of news coverage yesterday for the claim that the lockdown has made us more interested in wildlife.
Well, kinda.  
And yes, I’ve wanted to know that what I had seen was a Dunnock, and then a baby Robin, and then a Black and Brown Pigeon.  
But the regular walks has also meant that we’ve come to follow families –
– 4 pairs of coots; one of which had 6 chicks from which 3 have made it so far;
– 2 pairs of moorhens; one whose nest appears to have been destroyed (appears); one with 2 chicks of which one has made it so far;
– 3 pairs of Canada geese in particular, whose families are known to us as “2and6”, “3and5” and the latest – “2and7”: so far all the young have made it;
– 3 pairs of swans; one of which had 4 cygnets hatch on Monday and who went on their first swim yesterday; 

Great Tit; a bit blurred.


– and finally – 
– a great tit whose been feeding her chicks in a nest (a special place that we found); but was not there today cos she was out with at least 3 others – which we are assuming are the fledged chicks.  
Nice; just nice.

Animal Farm: the graphic novels

Animal Farm “featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels.” Yep, and I’ve bought a graphic version of it.
One reviewer says it’s the first graphical version, but that’s not true – Ralph Steadman did a version in 1995.
Says something of the power of the book, that I remember bits that aren’t featured in this version – e.g. the return of religion through the crow.
The story remains unbearably sad, or depressing.

Mind you, could do with George Orwell now, to write about Trump and Johnson; or maybe the nature of financial markets.

Welcome to a new Chief Executive

Nottingham City Council held its full council over a telecomms conference call today, and broadcast its proceedings on Youtube.
This is a first for the council.

The main item of business is the appointment of a new Chief Executive, Melbourne Barrett.
The following are the points I wanted to make, but the actual speech is available online.

Chair,
I welcome the report recommending the appoointment of a new Chief Executive.
Yes, I haven’t met him.
Yes, I haven’t heard him.
But the appointment comes after a proper advertisement.
The appointment comes after a proper process.
The appointment comes with a unanimous recommendation from the appointments committee.
And I’m pleased to hear the strong recommendations from the committee members, just made.
So how to welcome the Chief Executive?
By recognising just what an important role this is.
Yes, the politicians make policy and do the most to express our pride in Nottingham and our ambition for it. To be the advocates and representatives.
But we need to council to be well run to spot the opportunities and deliver the projects and services.
Councils have tried to run without a Chief Executive elsewhere and come a cropper.
We can help the process by expressing our commitments to the core values in corporate governance.
Our commitment to the Nolan Committee principles on standards in public life.
Our commitment to working within the law and legal guidance; understanding the importance of the section 151 officer; getting to grips with risk management and analysis.

Embracing the tests of corporate governance.
that we are ambitious;
That we want our projects and services properly planned;
performance mangement;
That we have within our staff and partnerships, the capability, the capacity and the culture to deliver for the people.
that we are legitimate in what we do.
There is within our staff and our partnerships and huge amount of knowledge and there are from reviews from the past plenty of good things to draw upon such as gateway reviews from project management.
Our mantra – proud, ambitious, clean and safe. Maybe now adding green would be a good thing.

There is a good deal to be proud of in terms of the ambition shown for Nottingham by the Council.
Turning our public square into a massive stage for events; our castle and our green flagged public spaces; our theatres, concert hall and ice arena; our power station and district heating; our bus company.
Time and again we’ve seen the value in public ownership to keep the value of the proceeds.
(Seg: green public transport)
And to be proud of our city. Much changed. Two very highly regarded universities; the huge provision of health and social care services; medical and bio-technology research; pharmaceuticals; data warehousing and video games; war-gaming come to that; being the regional capital.
Just headline examples of the most enormous assets we have to draw upon.

But we know the challenges too. The public health emergency; the disrespect for local government from government and the national civil service; the direction of resources away from social need; the forthcoming betrayal of promises made on funding the crisis.
That beyond the national challenges of the off-shoring of the wealth made and an ageing society; and the global challenges of globalisation itself, including upon retail, and climate change.

So welcome Melbourne.
Welcome to a great city with great opportunities; with great challenges too.
Know that you are welcome and you have our support, confident in the selection process and the recommendations.
And be confident in the knowledge of the value we hold for the role of the chief executive and wanting good corporate governance.