I was pleasantly surprised this evening to see that Councillor Ruth Cadbury, Deputy Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow and Labour councillor for Brentford ward, has finally updated her blog. The previous entry having been made on May 30th, it would have been easy for the cynic to have concluded that her readers had served their purpose and that it was felt there was no longer any cause to be served in keeping us mere mortals up to speed with what was happening in the borough under the "control" of her new administration (regular readers of Ruth's blog will know that "control" is a word that appears with an almost obsessive regularity in her esteemed columns, a feeling of being in "control" is very important and comforting to our Ruth as any who know her will confirm).
But before I comment on the content of her latest offering, let me just issue a little disclaimer lest I be accused of engaging in offensive political posturing. When the election results were announced on May 7th I straight away made clear my position that I felt the new administration should be given a chance. I stated publicly that I personally would not bad mouth the new regime gratuitously but would instead adopt a neutral position, offering praise where praise was due and criticism where criticism was justified.
In my view Ruth's latest encyclical most definitely warrants criticism as its purpose clearly is to soften up local residents for the service cuts which, only a few months previously, she would have had the hoi polloi believe were the sole preserve of non-Labour administrations.
Inevitably said cuts will not be her fault, nor that of her party. They will instead be down entirely to the old administration at the local authority, and to the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat government. Natch.
"I fear we could be returning to an era when homeless families were lucky if they got into a hostel. Local Councils, with less funding, will be expected to up the pieces," she says, somewhat ignoring the fact that such an era has long been with us already as was only too evident to me during my time as Lead Member for Housing.
But the real classic is the following sentence:
"We have told our officers that we will support them in turning round the culture of the Council."
Excuse me? They will support the officers in turning around the culture of the Council? Shouldn't that be the other way around?
It seems clear from the above that the bad old ways of officers directing policy and strategy and elected members merely offering words of comfort are set to return. If, indeed, they ever left us. When I think of how brazenly the Environment Department in particular raised two fingers to the Community Group councillors in response to every reasonable request when we were part of an administration that was allegedly member-led (and would truly have been had the ICG not been so thoroughly undermined) it isn't really difficult to see how this lot are going to be led a merry dance over the next four years, is it?
Ruth has a talent for uttering memorable words and phrases that so characterise the local mentality of the organisation she represents. It was she who happily declared during a council debate a few years ago her party's view that lying to potential voters during election campaigns was simply "politics" and therefore acceptable.
Now it seems she leads an administration which is going to support officers who are going to being about culture change in Hounslow!
I promise I'm not making all this up - take a look for yourself.