What chance of any change in the future?

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One often hears stories in modern times of local councils failing to arrive at seemingly straightforward decisions and speedily implementing them due to the situation being “complex”, or owing to delay caused by adherence to absurd red tape protocol or arguments regarding cost and who is to pay.

This leads to interminable arguments rather than prompt, effective action and hang the consequences for those wider public on the receiving end.

Though going by the following ode to errant bureaucracy appearing in the January 5, 1907 edition of the Penistone Express (on page 7) such practices were alive and well even then.

“I wish to move,” the Chairman said,

In tones of deep concern,

“That as the fireman’s water tap

Is leaking, so I learn,

And can’t be stopped because it lacks

A washer fitted tight –

That labour be at once employed

To put the matter right”.

Up rose a haughty Councillor,

And wants to know, he states

If this new washer will be paid

Out of the public rates?

Each fireman as a tenant on

The premises resides,

So they (the firemen) not the rates,

This washer should provide.

And then the Council room grew thick

With argument and strife

Until the chairman fled the room

In terror for his life,

And though this happened long ago,

The water’s running still,

Because the members can’t decide

Who ought to pay the bill.

A tongue-in-cheek rhyme to be sure, but seemingly born of exasperation regarding the dysfunctional behaviour of councils despite oft expressed wider public concern at the time.

This begs the question as to how come despite changes in personnel and councillor representation over time, the same dysfunctional behaviour is witnessed on an on-going basis down the decades; with often only pain, grief and suffering as a result.

So what chance of change in the future I wonder?

Michael Parker

Robertshaw Crescent, Deepcar, Sheffield, S36