Daily Archives: Saturday, June 29, 2013

  • How the MoJ treats consultation submissions

    Courtesy of the Criminal Bar Association’s Twitter account, evidence has emerged of the Ministry of Justice’s attitude to submissions to its recently closed consultation on its proposed changes to legal aid, which masquerade under the misleading title of ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ (posts passim).


    The Criminal Bar Association isn’t the only organisation that has received such information: the Bar Council has too.

    image of Bar Council tweet of 28th June 2013

    Some cynics have already said that they knew the MoJ wouldn’t bother reading submissions. However, what the top screenshot shows is the deplorable lack of IT skills on show from the mandarins of Petty France: they are too thick to realise that their email system sends the originator a message if that email is deleted without actually being read!

    Update: Doughty Street Chambers has since tweeted that the MoJ are apparently saying the deletions are an “erroneous technical glitch” and nothing has been deleted, as well as that people have been emailing legalaidreformmoj@justice.gsi.gov.uk to ask for a copy of their response so the MoJ can prove they still have those consultation responses.

    Well, that second tweet from Doughty Street just shows how much confidence and trust in the MoJ has eroded.

  • Capita interpreter dispensed with in trial

    Reposted from RPSI Linguist Lounge.

    Marisa Allman writes:

    We started a 3 day hearing on 25th June with my client giving evidence via a Capita interpreter. To begin with she was unfamiliar with the process for taking the oath, simply reading it to the witness and asking for confirmation.

    It then quickly became apparent from the answers to questions posed that the witness was not being asked the question as it had been put in English. After about 40 minutes of questions the other party who was also Punjabi speaking indicated that the interpreter was not interpreting either the question or the response correctly. My own interpreter confirmed this. The witness also complained that the interpreter was confusing her. A decision was taken to dispense with that interpreter and put in a request for another, who arrived at 3:15. The first day of the hearing was therefore effectively lost.

    I can also tell you that in January or February this year I was involved in a case where the Turkish, unrepresented, father had travelled from Moldova for a final hearing. The interpreter called in sick on the morning of the hearing and Capita were unable to provide a replacement. My instructing solicitor was willing and able to find a replacement from another agency but this was not permissible because of the contract with Capita. No hearing took place, the hearing had to be adjourned to May.

  • Save Felix Road Adventure Playground

    Never having had children, my contact with local play facilities has been limited. However, I do remember having a lovely conversation about the history of Bristol’s Easton district with the late local historian Lionel Ellery a couple of decades ago at Felix Road Adventure Playground.

    The adventure playground itself is sited on what was once the north coalyard of Easton Colliery, which operated from 1824 until 1911. From 1913 to 1972 the adventure playground then site served as a stone yard for Bristol building firm Cowlin.

    Felix Road Adventure Playground was established in 1972 by a group of local parents concerned that their children should have a space to play.

    However, its future is now under threat due to funding cuts by Bristol City Council, meaning it can only open for 2 days a week.

    A petition has been organised to secure the playground’s future. You can sign it online here.

    Paper versions of the petition have been left at these places for signature:

    • Easton Business Centre;
    • EMAP (Action for Children);
    • Easton Community Centre;
    • The Plough;
    • The Jolly Roger;
    • The Queens Head;
    • The Olive Grove Cafe;
    • Cafe Joanna, Chelsea Road;
    • Totally Toys, Gloucester Road; and
    • Playful, Gloucester Road.
    image of Felix Rd Adventure Playground
    Felix Rd Adventure Playground

    The petition needs 3,500 signatures to trigger a debate of the matter in full council.

    What is particularly galling about this funding cut is that Felix Road is located in Bristol’s Lawrence Hill ward, reputedly the most deprived council ward in South West England.

    Meanwhile, play facilities in some more prosperous parts of the city are not having their funding cut to the same extent.

    It is believed that St Paul’s Adventure Playground in St Agnes – an area with similar deprivation to Felix Road – is also under the same threat due to funding cuts.

    Why are Bristol’s poorest districts always treated so badly?

    It’s almost as if the city’s great and good couldn’t care less about those not so fortunate as themselves.