Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Barnet council rubbish collection fiasco - another fine mess!

Mike Freer, leader of Barnet council, has been doing some damage limitation on remarks made at a Cabinet scrutiny committee by the council's chief executive Nick Walkley. Did Walkley really say that under the council's Future Shape plans rubbish collection might not be a core service? Yes, he did.

When local paper the Hendon Times reported this, the story was quickly pulled from the paper's website. The journalist was sat down (metaphorically or actually, it doesn't matter) and made to write another story where Mike Freer explained what Nick Walkley had really meant to say. That under Future Shape rubbish collection would remain a core service, but that the council would work at minimising the amount of rubbish it had to collect.

The trouble was that the second story the journalist had to write did not suit Freer either. It too has been pulled. Why? Because, again, the journalist took the trouble to write down what the subject actually said: Freer had described his chief executive's remarks about rubbish collection as 'clumsy' and 'cack-handed'.

This makes Walkley, the man Freer hired, look bad, and it makes Freer look bad as well: he is clearly not much better at managing the message than Walkley.

What a pair! When I think of the two of them together in future, you know who will spring to mind?

And, shamefully, after two pulled articles, Barnet residents are still no closer to knowing whether under the council's Future Shape plans rubbish collection will be a core service or not.

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