Beestonia and the Big Society; Beestonia Backs Bouffanted Boffin.

I have a great idea, and I have to thank the 2010 Conservative Manifesto that I recently read, cover-to-cover,  for inspiring it.

Many thought I was mad to even contemplate the masochism of subjecting myself to the inane witterings of Philip Blond (Head of the Tories favoured think-tank, ResPublica) styled with the deft PR-savvy hand of Cameron. They were mainly right, it was a horrific experience, as the above picture shows.  No, I couldn’t find any mention of a privatised Royal Mail, or the dismantling of the NHS, or mention of the woodland sell-off…well, to be honest, theres not much policy  in there whatsoever. Its done on beautiful paper though. And it has gave me a plan that is so Big Society I hope Soubry and Cutts are willing to put our previous differences aside and embrace my brainchild as if they had birthed it themselves.

I envisage a scheme, part-paid expert, mostly voluntary. It will require little money, and will save loads in the greater scheme of things. It will require premises, say, at Broxtowe Borough Council offices, but they’ll not take up much space and will be polite and tidy. Its quite a large building, after all.

People in Broxtowe over the next few months are likely to be poorer, unemployed and deeper in debt. This will cause all sorts of problems: as avaricious energy companies buy in more red ink to adorn their reminders with, and prices climb relentlessly in the shops, the vulnerable are more likely to fall out of their budgets and into trouble. Debt leads to homelessness, ill health, crime and increased suicide levels. All very bad things, which cost a hell of a lot to remedy. Best to nip it in the bud. But how?

I plan to set up a drop-in centre, where people can go and get help when debt starts to bite.  Voluntary staffed could be trained up in the basics, to ‘triage’ the enquiries, and mop up the easier obvious cases, with highly trained, paid Debt Advisors tackling the more complex issues.

Advice would be dispensed free, and without prejudice. It would help people to establish their legal and statutory rights, prevent debt building up and arrest the slide into poverty many families and individuals presently face, and free from the greasy hands of the vultures setting up perches all over Beeston right now: the pawn-brokers, the gold buyers, the money shops. It would stop banks exploiting the weak, and maybe scare them a little into being more understanding when their customers suddenly stop being so attractive to them.

I imagine it would cost a few quid to run: but its an investment. The County Council has millions in reserves, and is putting more aside this year: a cynic would say this is to try and build a slush-fund for the next round of council elections: use it to bribe voters by dropping council tax beforehand; but no, its obviously because they are just waiting for Big Society ideas like mine.

So come on Kay, are you in? We can even name it together, I’ll be over County Hall in a bit, can you call me a CAB?

________________________________________________

I have oft professed (ho ho) my adoration of Britain’s Best Scientist, Professor  Martyn Poliakoff, a Beestonian resident who does his mad scientificating at Nottingham University, and sticks some wonderful stuff on YouTube, while looking like a scientist should: He’ll be presenting a public lecture this Thursday, to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry. It’ll be free, intriguing and you should go. Really. Its better than Eastenders, 762 times better, and thats scientific FACT. Clicky here:

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/chemistry/internationalyearofchemistry.aspx

and as a taster, have some prime-cut Poliakoff. You’ll be in your element:

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4 thoughts on “Beestonia and the Big Society; Beestonia Backs Bouffanted Boffin.

  1. Councillor Steve Barber says:

    I’ve another idea for the Big Society:

    Each area is split into areas of about 2-3000 homes. They then elect someone to represent them on some forum which organises things like bin collections, schools, road repairs and makes planning decisions. These representatives, who should be re-elected every 4 years or so, could meet every so often in a Hall somewhere in the Town to debate how to organise these things. Of course they would need to decide how to raise the money to pay for all these things, perhaps some sort of tax.

    What would we call such a system? What title could we give to these representatives?

  2. I like your idea a lot, miLord Beestonia, and it would appear on the face of it to fit very well into the Big Society idea. But experience is already showing us that:

    (a) the Guvmint doesn’t actually know what it means by the Big Society
    (b) when it does see examples of the Big Society at work that cost a little money for a lot of return, it promptly cuts the funding.

    As an example of the assertion in (b) above, consider Citizens Advice Bureaux. What better example could there be of volunteer action for community good? And very much along the lines of your proposal – a modest investment for big returns. Another example would be the magistrates courts – OK, not everybody’s cup of tea, but they’re all unpaid volunteers – which are being closed all over the country. Libraries… another example which I know is dear to your heart. OK, in fairness, it’s local councils that are targeting those, but it’s all Guvmint at the end of the day.

    I strongly feel that politicians, whether local or national, don’t actually like volunteers doing any serious work. They won’t be bossed around too much, because they’re not dependent on their wages, so they get all independent-minded and don’t follow the party line. Politicians – with some honourable exceptions – do what they do because they genuinely believe they know what’s best for us. If volunteers started getting on with it all over the place, we might start wondering why we need politicians at all. That would never do.

    Sorry. Rant over….

  3. Sean says:

    Good idea Cllr. Barber.
    Might need one thing adding to it…. maybe listening to what the people who voted in these “Big Society” representatives actually want may be a good idea.
    Who knows, maybe it could go National then.
    As for the title to give them, I have few unpublishable ideas for THAT.

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