Daily Archives: Wednesday, February 17, 2016

  • The Document Foundation is 4 today

    Today The Document Foundation, the independent self-governing meritocratic body created by former leading members of the OpenOffice.org Community to continue developing a free and open source office suite – LibreOffice – celebrates the 4th anniversary of its incorporation as a charitable Foundation under German law (gemeinnützige rechtsfähige Stiftung des bürgerlichen Rechts).

    To mark this milestone, the Foundation has released the video below to illustrate the breadth of the LibreOffice community today.

    Happy birthday, The Document Foundation!

  • Vicious toilet

    Beware if you ever visit the gents at the Bull Hotel at Fairford in Gloucestershire; the vitreous china might attack you.

    Last Friday’s Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard reports that a customer who smashed the toilet to bits claims he was acting in self defence.

    Wot you lookin’ at? Wanna fight?

    The unnamed Kempsford man claims he was about to be attacked and smashed the toilet to attract the attention of other patrons.

    However, the local constabulary were unimpressed by his assertions and he’s due to appear before Cheltenham Magistrates on 24th February.

    Hat tip: Dr Bob Irving.

  • Bristol to increase fly-tipping enforcement

    Yesterday Bristol City Council set its budget for the next financial year.

    While the Bristol Post’s report concentrated on the 4% increase in council tax and Bristol’s donation of £500,000 for a Concorde museum in neighbouring South Gloucestershire, its political editor, Ian Onions, somehow managed to omit some important news for those fighting environmental crime in the city.

    This news was that the city council will be employing two more so-called “streetscene” enforcement officers next year, bringing the total number of these officers employed by the city council to 8. These officers are responsible for bringing fly-tippers and litter louts to book.

    photo of Marg HickmanLawrence Hill ward councillor Marg Hickman conveyed this news to Tidy BS5 campaigners yesterday evening, stating that the Labour group’s amendment calling for the 2 additional officers was the only amendment to the Mayor’s budget to receive 100% support in the council chamber.

    Marg was one of 2 councillors to speak to the amendment (another colleague spoke on dog fouling, another of the blights of urban life, in support of the amendment. Ed.). Her speech is transcribed below and conveys many of the sentiments that Tidy BS5 campaigners have been voicing to the council for the past 2 years, with the local authority’s lack of action to date neatly summarised by the phrase “glacial speed of change“, although your correspondent reckons that glaciers actually move faster than Bristol City Council and a more accurate comparison would be with tectonic plates.

    Institutional neglect has been the impact of Green Capital on parts of the city. What is certain is that, when it comes to the cleanliness of most areas of the city, this much-praised initiative has had minimal effect.

    In 2013/14 Bristol had the unenviable status of the dirtiest place in the South West. According to government statistics, Bristol residents reported 10,472 incidents of fly-tipping – can you imagine how many more unreported incidents there must have been? It was with this statistic as a backdrop that the number of street scene enforcement officers was cut in 2013 from 10 officers, plus support staff and 3 dog wardens, to approximately 6 today. In comparison I can reveal that during our Green Capital year we had an army of PR experts – 45 in total – all employed to make the council look good. Well, I know, and I am sure many of you would agree, that our residents would prefer it if we employed more people to keep our communities looking good rather than ourselves.

    There seems to me to be complacency in the council regarding the unacceptable levels of fly-tipping and litter in areas from Lawrence Hill and Eastville to Lawrence Weston, and it is compounded in the south of the city by the Mayor’s refusal to sign off the waste recycling centre in Hartcliffe.

    In BS5, one of the city’s fly-tipping hotspots, which stretches from across the road from Cabot Circus to Eastville, there have been 32 enforcement actions taken against people. This low level of enforcement is because of the cuts and the lack of ongoing training and development of the enforcement staff. We need to augment our street enforcement officers and provide proper support and training, and learn from best practice from around the country to deal with the issue of waste at a time of shrinking budgets.

    We have to support communities across Bristol blighted by this environmental eyesore and come up with solutions that work. We need to consult affected communities, speed up the glacial speed of change, and increase the number of properly trained and supported enforcement officers.

    We have before us an amendment that will get the ball rolling and help kick-start the change we need to clean up our streets. Surely money would be better spent on this rather promoting more and more PR people.

    We would all benefit from this amendment. The communities you serve would benefit and Bristol as a whole would be a cleaner and happier city. Please support this amendment today so that Bristol can be the cleanest city in the South West and not the dirtiest.