It looked like a lot of fun for young families and the weather was kind but actually
organising a function like the Erith Fun day can be anything but.
For someone whose only young grandchild is more than 100 miles away bouncy castles and candy floss hold little attraction but there are a good number of more serious attractions. Neighbourhood Watch, The Rotary Club, Further Education and I saw something medical in the distance. Something about A&E.
I spotted councillor Edward Boateng busy on the Erith Forum stall (Photo 4) along with Hugh Neal, Mr. Arthur Pewty himself however I have to confess that my main reason for looking in on Riverside Gardens was to see what I could learn about behind the scenes gossip.
Health and Safety issues are inevitable when politicians spend their lives inventing new laws to justify their existence and almost never repeal old ones. Arranging a non-profit making event on public land is inevitably a traumatic experience for the volunteers who give up their time to benefit the community but at least we have a Listening council, Working for you and eager to guide residents through the red tape.
How did Bexley council set about helping this year? In the past there have been issues over toilet facilities and barriers facing the road. There aren’t normally any but during a public event the nanny state comes to the fore.
This year the council got its knickers in a twist over rubbish collection. Given the steep charges imposed for use of the public space you might think that it would come with the usual facilities. Litter bins for instance.
Not a bit of it, Bexley doesn't want its residents to use the litter bins while they are enjoying themselves. Please don’t put your lolly sticks and sweet wrappers in the council bins, hand them to the hard pressed volunteers.
OK, anything for a quiet life. ‘Please Mr. Highly Paid Council Official may we have one of your large wheeled bins? We’ll pay’.
‘No way, go and hire one yourself.’
A lot of phone calls revealed that nobody hires out large wheeled bins for a day. A long term contract, yes, but a day? Don’t be silly.
Back to Mr. HPCO in desperation. ‘You can’t hire a big bin for a day’.
‘Yeah we know but we had to make you jump through a few hoops because that is what jobsworths are paid to do. But now we have had our fun we will hire you one, just this once mind and you must ensure it is secured over the weekend.’
‘How do we do that?’
‘No idea but on no account can you chain it to a lamp post or the like.’
‘OK we will hand it back on Monday after we have sorted the rubbish and taken it down to the tip.’
‘Oh you can’t do that, far too simple. You may be a voluntary non-profit making group but you are also a commercial organisation. You must somehow get the bin to the weighbridge and pay the going rate.’
It’s good that no one expects to make money from community events in Erith because they won’t. Probably Teresa O’Neill OBE (Officers Bugger Erith) objects to seeing her plans to sell Riverside Gardens thwarted especially if the thwarting is by those pesky northerners.
A brilliant series of Fun Day photos on The Grump.