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DIARY-TOULMIN SMITH

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Barnet LBC is seeking the return of damages from jailed Tory peer Lord Archer, who in 1989 the council described as...
Barnet LBC is seeking the return of damages from jailed Tory peer Lord Archer, who in 1989 the council described as an 'anti-social specimen'.

The council paid him£2,000 after he threatened to sue over agenda papers which raised his 'association with prostitution'.

The issue arose when Labour councillor Kitty Lyons condemned an invitation to Archer to hand out awards at a local school.

A council spokesman said Barnet would be asking for its money back, plus interest, following Archer's jailing.

There was a time when a limousine meant a celebrity, usually one of our American cousins, was in town.

But the sight of limos no longer heralds the arrival of a star of the silver screen as the Lincoln Towncars can now be hired quite cheaply.

So much so, in fact, that councillors at Suffolk CC are calling for a ban on the cars after one was spotted stuck in a narrow street in a medieval village.

The new chief executive of Brighton & Hove City Council is possibly the trendiest chief executive yet, complete with earrings (two in each ear), sharp suit and groovy tie.

Could this new look, more reminiscent of local DJ Fat Boy Slim than the traditional town clerk, pave the way for a more stylish and relaxed feel in our town halls?

When GCSEs replaced O-levels there was criticism they were too easy. This should take nothing from the success of a chief constable in north Wales.

Richard Braughton has just achieved grade A in a GCSE in Welsh.

He says he could do the job perfectly well without speaking Welsh but 'it would not be right'.

So the gauntlet has been thrown to applicants for the job of chief executive at Carmarthenshire CC who must speak Welsh or show a commitment to learning the language.

Stevenage BC is introducing a poet to capture the essence of chatterings in the chamber.

A statement from the council says: 'Poetry is not something that is associated with council meetings, but official meetings in Stevenage now include a short poem capturing events between each meeting.'

Why the poems by Tom Hulley are about what happens between the meetings, rather than during, is not clear.

An example of Tom's poetry describes firework night in the town: 'Oh/Yes/Burn/Burn/Spurt/Splutter/

Whizz and fizz/Then rage and roar.

It concludes: 'Thanks to the council/

Getting us together/and never mind the weather/that's how good it feels.'

Mayor Hugh Tessier (Lab) said: 'I have chosen to focus on three years of our cultural life - democracy, art and youth. I thought that by having a civic poet we would be able to keep people updated on these issues in an interesting way.'

Judging by this example, he might find the machinations of local government lack a little fizz.

While the rest of the country was basking in the recent heatwave, those caring folk at Cambridge City Council were more concerned about staff getting heatstroke at the city's folk festival.

A festival-goer told me council staff were given free sunscreen and baseball caps to ensure they did not collapse. But no-one seemed worried about the gallons of industrial-strength real ale consumed by the crusties.

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