Another day, another form. In time for my first meeting I must formally declare any business interests of my family and I, so that they can be taken into consideration when it comes to particular Parish decisions and allocation of roles and responsibilities. This is fair enough, and a comforting level of rigour in how the Council is administered.
My professional and business interests are not a subject for this blog; but suffice to say that for this to represent a Conflict of Interest to Council business would require a significant devolution of power and/or a political crisis the like of which this country has never seen.
Nonetheless, my mind wanders. I picture a CEO of a playground infrastructure company strategically placing Councillors across target geographies. Biding his time to land lucrative refurbishment contracts or delivery of over-elaborate climbing frames. Readers of a certain age may recall an influx of plastic ‘Tree Man’ installations across parks and public leisure spaces in the mid 1980s. With a swing under one arm/branch, and a slide accessed via the trunk/mouth, were these part of some coordinated Parish level conspiracy? The wild look in the Tree Man’s eyes certainly suggested something wasn’t quite right.
A bit of web based research reveals that over £1Bn of public money is spent annually via the thousands of Parish Councils across the UK. It is reassuring that the checks and balances are in place to ensure this is spent legitimately and with full accountability.
I am confident that the minuscule slice of this budget now entrusted to my colleagues and I will be in safe hands. If any off-cuts of AstroTurf happen to find their way into a Councillor’s garden, I will ensure it is thoroughly investigated and dealt with swiftly.