Previously this week I’ve written about Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and a Christmas film. The spirit of Christmas is, of course, supposed to be the moral and ethical side of things, the side that deals in generosity, selflessness and respect for others.
The case of the young chap who had too many shandies and boarded a train without the correct ticket or no ticket at all probably falls into this area of Christmas cheer.
The famous phone video shows what happened although there is also a CCTV version, which allegedly shows the young chap being a bit more “boisterous” shall we say? The current bottom line of this saga is that the “big guy” who tackled him has been charged with assault, the train guard has been suspended and the “big guy is also in danger of facing disciplinary action for bringing his employer into disrepute. Nice.
How very 2011. The moral minority (MM) are up in arms because a young chap was manhandled and abused by the “big guy”. Something must be done. Outraged and, the favourite, favourite word of the MM, “offended”. Off with his head! Throw away the key. Not for the young drunk guy of course. No, no, no, no, no. This is for the “big guy”.
The young guy was in the wrong. Okay most people get it wrong once in a while but aren’t we all tired of people doing something idiotic and then wasting our time or costing us money? “Big guy” may have been over zealous. The guard didn’t use the training he had, had to deal with such incidents. And?
Enter Christmas spirit. Young guy apologises for being an idiot and asks the police to drop all charges. He asks Scotrail to immediately reinstate the guard and he also asks “Big Guys” employers to drop the disrepute nonsense.
The Police could have a quiet chat with “Big Guy” without recourse to the courts. They could hold a discussion with the young chap and point out the error of his ways.
Scotrail could shoot another video covering the number of these fare infringements and the loss this represents to them and subsequently their customers who end up paying more because of it. They could also provide examples of how that lost revenue could be spent on improving services to their customers.
Let’s hope common sense prevails.
Now here is another example of the further need to see a valuable demonstration of the “Christmas Spirit”.
Edinburgh Council. You remember them? Well they’ve really played a blinder this time. Cuts are to be made to save £5.5 million. Now I ask you to remember that specific amount. 35.5 Million.
The £5.5 million (as reported by Michael Blackley the City Council Reporter for the Evening News in the December 22 2011 edition) will be saved by –
Introducing a £10 charge for people who need permits so they can have delivery or removal vehicles parked at their property.
That’s not a saving that’s an increased charge on residents.
£10.000 reduction in rate charge for Gracemount Youth and Community Centre.
That’s not a cut to services that’s a cut in rates!
3% cut to Children and families department supplies and services budget.
That’s a cut. But is it a cut which will reduce costs by a few thousand, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or even more? Unlikely to be really significant although worthwhile perhaps?
3% rise in fees and charges within the services of the Communities Department.
That’s not a saving that’s another increase in cost to the residents.
Saving £112,000 by not producing the A-Z of council services booklet for resident.
That is a saving, but why spend that amount of money on a booklet in the first place?
£35,000 funding cut to Sestran.
That’s a cut but very small.
£100,000 cut in payments made to NHS Lothian for them providing beds to vulnerable people who will be kept at home instead.
That’s a cut, on the handling of vulnerable people. It is to be hoped that this does not result in a negative outcome.
So it’s cut here and there but mainly increase costs for the residents.
But there is a further twist. Another adjoining article states the following. The refuse collection industrial action, which dragged on for almost three years and only ended because of the threat of privatisation cost the council £5.5 Million.
Enter Christmas spirit.
No additional charges for residents will be levied.
The privatisation of the refuse services will proceed as per the report by the Council Officers and audited and assured by the accountancy firm brought in.
An enquiry will be carried out immediately, by an external body, to discover how £5.5 million could have been lost during the industrial action, how no action was taken to reduce the on going costs and the dispute was not ended quickly in the residents favour. Heads should roll where incompetence, and the sum of money involved suggests significant incompetence, is evident.
Real cost reductions across all council activities and services should be pursued regardless of outcome and should not be manipulated for political reasons.
A strange way to define the Christmas spirit?
The council and councillors have suffered reputational damage, which has been serious enough to reduce the confidence of residents to a point where it is becoming impossible to believe anything, which the council now says.
Drastic action to address this is required very much sooner than later.