What’s the truth behind the echoing corridors?

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, December 6, 2013


What’s the truth behind the echoing corridors?

Who needs salt mines, when we’ve got Lynnbottom Tip?

THE VIEW FROM HERE LAST week’s CP story, headlined Misery at County Hall, unfolded a grim tale of Draconian cuts and the ghastly evisceration of civic folderol within the IW Council.

The Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace during the Russian Revolution could not have done a better job. Gone, according to an anonymous source within County Hall, are the "civic cars and crested crockery", gone are the fat cats and vast salaries and, more sinisterly, figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal "hundreds of staff" to have left the council in recent years.

It becomes more Russian by the minute. First the crested crockery disappears and then hundreds vanish. Now Stalinist fear and a regime of political purging stalk the corridors of the Kremlin — sorry, County Hall.

"Buildings stand empty, entire floors are quiet and dark with unoccupied desks," our informer whispered to the CP, having no doubt checked his paper-clip tray for hidden bugs.

Stalin would have been well impressed. "People are just no longer there. Sometimes you don’t even say goodbye. It’s a familiar experience to ring up a colleague and find there’s nobody on the end of the line."

Oh yes, they knew all about that in the good old days of Soviet oppression. A silent telephone, people vanishing without saying goodbye? Salt mines, my dears, salt mines. That was Stalin’s solution.

OK, I know we don’t have any salt mines on the Island but have you seen the size of the Lynnbottom Tip? Don’t tell me that’s all potato peelings and used nappies.

That’s why those people don’t answer their telephones. Trundled away in a dawn raid by the Biffa cart. What’s more, isn’t it a coincidence Island Roads is busy "resurfacing" our highways at the precise moment when all these people are disappearing?

Has anyone looked into the holes they keep digging?

No, I thought not.

They surround them with barriers until they’ve chucked the bodies in and covered up their grisly work with so-called asphalt. Twenty per cent asphalt, 80 per cent macerated council employees, if you ask me.

Next time your journey’s thwarted by a "Road closed" sign, just go home and don’t ask any questions. And if there’s a knock on your door at midnight, don’t answer it.

You think this is all fanciful? Well, if you want absolute proof of the hideous goings-on at County Hall, here it is. "Leaving parties are hardly ever held," our informant told us, crouched in the wardrobe at a safe house and wearing a false beard.

There, now do you believe me? Leaving parties. The last sacrosanct bastion of office life.

You can get rid of the tea trolley, you can get rid of jolly japes on new recruits, you can even get rid of the water cooler but leaving parties? That’s creepier than a deportation order to the gulag.

Obviously there’s no tea trolley at County Hall because they’ve chucked the crested crockery off the parapets and you can’t play jolly japes on new recruits because there aren’t any.

I understand there’s still a water cooler but that’s probably only because they’re going to adapt it for waterboarding those who have incurred the displeasure of the council’s commissariat.

But the disappearance of leaving parties should dispel all doubt that "misery at County Hall" is a euphemism. Those precious traditions of the mass exodus to the pub, the farewell drinks, the hilarious speeches, the unexpected revelation that the person you’ve hated all these years is actually a fantastic fellow, the five-minute appearance of the managing director and the relief when he clears off, the injudicious mixes of alcohol and the office junior throwing up in the loo — without all this, there exists not mere misery but the screaming torment of the doomed.

Oh yes, and no leaving parties means, of course, no more whip-rounds for that farewell present.

I’m afraid "whip-round" has assumed an altogether different meaning at County Hall and unless our informant is a masochist, he won’t enjoy its effects as he gets carted off to the stationery cupboard for correction.

What matters at the hospice

A SUPERBLY orchestrated PR exercise from the big guns as Tina Harris, whose tenure of the chief executive’s post at the hospice has not been entirely without controversy, departs to take up a new job on the mainland.

According to Mrs Harris, this move is "a very positive personal choice," while Peter Kingston, chairman of the trustees, continues the happy-bunny skipping about by saying: "Tina has been responsible for a number of important developments and we will look for someone with the drive to continue this work."

No word, of course, about how things have been going seriously up the spout at the hospice in recent times.

Well, the executive can say what they please. What’s important is they actually realise in their hearts what a mess it’s all been and appoint the right person next time round.

We know they’re being mealy-mouthed but this is no time for carping. If they get it right eventually, we’ll forgive them this blatant spin of damage-limitation puffery.

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