Westminster Councils civic shame

Last Tuesday night the taxpayer provided an estimated £23000 for a civic dinner hosted by Westminster Council. Selected ‘friends‘ of the council were invited to the newly refurbished Northumberland, in Northumberland Avenue to sit alongside Conservative Councillors and highly paid council officers.

But when it comes to spending taxpayers money on themselves, nobody does it better than a certain group of Tory’s at Westminster Council. We watched a band of trumpeters disgorge from their coach, booked to serenade guests whilst they trough on free pheasant.

Council workmen busied themselves across the street creating a pen to herd the expected protesters in. Keeping them as far away from the councils mystery guests as possible. As we waited more police assembled around the hotel entrance to protect eight ex-Lord Mayors, six ambassadors, four peers and those high ranking police officers.

The council have tried to play down the event as much as possible, so far refusing to say who was invited, or how they were selected. When the council was asked who decides what names are added to the guest list, they remained somewhat coy, simply stating that the council decides. The council have said they only have a paper copy of the guest list, presumably the original computer document has strangely been deleted along with any backups. So why is this one civic event the council would rather you didn’t know about?

Could it be because they themselves can see the hypocrisy of holding such a lavish event after the councils abysmal performance this last year. Many observers were aghast at the councils insensitivity and contempt shown to recently sacked employees by stubbornly going ahead with the extravagant dinner in the current economic climate.

Due to a series of financial blunders the council are making deep cuts in front line services. One of the first groups to feel the axe fall are Westminster’s City Guardians and City inspectors, with job loses of 55 announced a few weeks ago. This was after council bosses claimed that front line services would not be affected. Both the City inspectors and Guardians play a vital role in maintaining the environment for Westminster residents. Without them residents can look forward to more waste, graffiti and abandoned cars on the streets. Residents can also look forward to the illegal street traders making a return to the west end peddling their iffy gear from suitcases. The signs are that many more front line services will either be axed or cut back in the near future.

Unison the public service union who represent many of the city guardians and inspectors had organised a demonstration outside the Northumberland. Unison were joined by hundreds of the No To Bike Parking Taxes protesters, who have done much to expose the financial incompetence of Westminster Council over the last 19 months.

Things got off to a poor start when police singled out the NTBPT protesters, handing them leaflets threatening them with arrest under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) (download leaflet). SOCPA makes all offences arrestable, meaning that protesters who might previously have received a warning, could now be arrested for the most minor of incidents. How minor, well even the use of a megaphone was considered a serious and organized crime, until a more senior police officer gave his permission for it to be used to address the protesters. But with the caveat that the megaphone must not be used to heckle or even criticise the fashion sense of the ‘great and the good‘ lining up over the road to take advantage of their free happy meals.

There seemed to be some confusion where exactly the SCOPA zone ended, with some maps showing the boundary of the zone running down the middle of Northumberland Avenue, whilst others indicate the whole width of the Avenue is included (view sample SCOPA map).

Those protesters who did walk into the middle of the road were often escorted back to the holding pen, even if they were trying to take a photo for the family album.

Some protesters thought the policing was heavy handed on the day, and indeed we did come across one over keen senior officer. But there were no riot vans, and this certainly didn’t compare to other protests we’ve witnessed which did get a little fruity. Our experience of the police was OK on the whole, the majority of whom were probably just bored and cold. But we can’t be everywhere, especially as we remained in the VIP booth down the far end of the holding pen, so if others had a different experience to ours, leave a comment.

As the hour approached for the sluice gates to be opened on the civic dinner trough we saw more and more guests arriving. Due to the build up of traffic down the avenue many guests were dropped off further down the road, forcing them to scuttle along to the hotel entrance on foot, heads down in shame.

Each time a free-loader arrived we witnessed some excellent chanting from the protesters, such as the popular ‘shame on you‘, and our favourite ‘who are you‘. Some guests were so flustered by the protest that even the operation of the hotels revolving door stumped them. But this might have been because most of these people have staff to do mundane chores such as door opening for them.

Some guests toughed it out, glowering at the cheek of the protesters, treating us to some of the best Paddington Bear stares we’ve seen for a long time.

A few guests stood and waved their trotters in the air, showing off their top of the range Ratners baubles to the peasants.

Other more elevated toffs were greeted by the councils resident arse licker, no doubt to explain the working of the revolving door to them.

To add mirth to the spectacle a secession of pizza delivery scooters arrived at the entrance of the five star hotel. Boy these toffs can sure tuck their food away when it’s free, or was someone playing a little ironic joke on the evenings serious and organized nosh up.

Now what gala event would be complete without some awards.

But as Nutsville’s invite to the nosh up was lost in the post, we’ve had to pick the winners from photo’s taken on the night. We could only gawp in wonder at how people so wealthy, who can afford the best in haute couture money can buy, can still end up looking like a sack of spanners arriving for an Essex wedding. There couldn’t have been a tabby cat left alive in Belgravia last Tuesday night.

fashion road kill

fashion road kill

So we will start with our fashion road kill awards.

First prize in the road kill haute couture section goes to this ensemble. The judges liked the inventive use of dead skinned rats, set off with clever new use of crumbled BacoFoil. Which our fashion expert tells us can be torn off and used as a take home doggy bag afterwards.

skinned rat and bacofoil

skinned rat and bacofoil

Then there is the sack of spuds award for the guest who could smuggle in the largest sack of Maris Piper’s. Unconvincingly we thought, but we did enjoy watching this wretched creature wobble her way up the stairs.

sack of spuds award

sack of spuds award

We move on to the millinery award for silliest hat of the evening. We had a clear winner with this example, we think he’s entered these competitions before, it was so good.

Comedy hat award

Comedy hat award

Now we must move on to the technical award, which this years goes to the worst photographer of the night. It was a unanimous judges decision when we saw this fella waddle out from the hotel to demonstrate his photographic skills. The performance was only slightly flawed when the flash failed to fire, but that can be easily fixed by buying some batteries next time you prat.

Technical prat award

Technical prat award

If she's smoking then use more lubricant

If she’s smoking then use more lubricant

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6 Comments

Peter RobertsMarch 12th, 2010 at 11:03 am

Getting a bit personal.

Keep to the issues – wasted money and corrupt councillors not attack the guests. Detracts from the message of the campaign.

Ogri GrindstaffMarch 12th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Getting a bit personal.

Keep it up. The guests are guilty by association and deserve the same withering contempt they displayed to us. (Contempt displayed from the security given by ranks of burly policewomen and steel fencing).

CMCerMarch 12th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Peter – If you dance with the devil you’re likely to get your eyebrows singed.

woodstockMarch 12th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I like the silly hat picture…. the policemans tit (read: helmet) just in shot!

The guests are there, guilty by association. When you dance with the devil, you wait for the song to stop!

NarkMarch 12th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

The following was heard between Martin Low and Alistair Gilchrist inside the Northumberland Hotel the other night:

ML: “Oi, Pot Head… Gilchrist”
Ali G: “Martin… I don’t smoke cannabis, just Silk Cut Extra Super Mild But Really Weak”
ML: “No, I mean you look like a fuckin’ Toby Jug you cunt.”
Ali G: “Charming. Anyway, what do you want Martin?”
ML: “Want any profiteroles? Duchy of Cornwall pigs in blankets?
Trumpets? Pheasant sarnies? Beluga Caviar? Residents head on a plate? Colin Barrow’s seat at the table, just £500 to you.”
Ali G: “I can’t Martin, I’ve paid £400 for my companion tonight Leilani who ISN’T a ladyboy.”
ML: “She looks like she does extras, sure you won’t need the cream from the profiteroles?”
Ali G: “Fuck off Martin, I am a biker you know.”
ML: “You’re a cunt you mean.”

Any resemblance of Martin Low to some dodgy attention seeking 1940′s spiv is purely intentional.

The SwineMarch 16th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Heres food 4 thought!
£23,000 4a slap up bash at the Nothumberland!

The ‘MET’ (god bless their souls) have the biggest police force in GT Britain,
If all leave was cancelled they’d have 23,000 ociffers on duty! My wife worked out (in about 2 mins) that if she could get Hyde park (in the WCC) for nowt & used all the fallen branches on a BBQ, she cud do a cheeseburger with fried onions & a bit of salad for all 23,000 ociffers!!!
(I wonder if Ali G wud let Traffic Division park their motorbikes for free? Not if Danny Chalkley cud help it)

This cud be done wiv no ‘BackHanders, off record ‘Ex-cratia Payments’ or ‘Under The Table Deals’.

The moral of this story is: If you invited The Met & said 1 person, 1 burger, The Met would be forever grateful (i hope) but they WOULD’NT FORGET because they got something FOR NOTHING with NO STRINGS attatched & they would’nt be looking round for another burger after they’ve finished. We’d have our own onsight DOCTOR as well!
Whereas with the WCC’s Councillors, highly paid officials & invited ‘JUST SO’ dignitaries, they’re always looking for SOMETHING MORE on their plate because they’re NEVER HAPPY with what they’ve got & as soon as they’ve had their fill FOR FREE, THEIR OFF!!!
And they’ve not got to worry about PARKING A MOTORCYCLE!

It seems as tho the WCC has taken on the role of the modern day NAZI HIERARCHY, they can do whatever, whenever or however they like. The poor everyday soldier, (our MET) had to do what they’re told or its curtains for them. So spare a thought for our ociffers, they may well agree with us but they’re under orders. (ok theres a few SS in there, play deaf!).

Food for thought! you’ve had your three courses now, of which i hope you thoroughly enjoyed.

Best Regards to all BIKERS & ‘THE TEAM’.

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