Sunday, 21 April 2013

St. George. Who? What? Brentwood Council doesn't care.

St. George's Day is the one day we get to celebrate being English.  St. George is not only the Patron Saint of England but also the Patron Saint of Scouting.

It is perhaps for this reason that Scouts, Cub Scouts and Beaver Scouts around England renew their promises after conducting a St. George's Day march.  This tradition has been a regular fixture of the Scouting calendar in Brentwood with a procession along the High Street.

Times are tough in Brentwood.  Costs are going up and people are losing their jobs because the Council are opting to freeze Council Tax.  Services are being cut, parking charges are being increased, central housing benefit cuts are not being maintained with local funds, bedroom tax is being introduced and difficult decisions are being made.

Clearly Tory majority Brentwood Council is doing its best to live up to Cameron's expectations.  It would require too much loss of face for the Council to decide there had been enough cuts and, to provide residents with the services they need, Council Tax needs to rise. 

There are all sorts of small consequences of this type of political manoeuvring that detract from quality of life and today I experienced one.

Ethan turned up, together with about 100 or so other young (and middle aged) members of the Scouting Community, for the 2013 St. George's parade.

For the first year the parade didn't travel along the High Street.  The Council decided that, this year, they'd ask the Scouting movement for £1,000 for the road closures required.

The Scouting movement is staffed by thousands of volunteers.  They are an exemplary embodiment of Cameron's Big Society.  They help children to become better people for the benefit of society and Brentwood Council has chosen to start charging them for one of the integral activities of the Scouting year.

Well the Brentwood District Scouting movement didn't have £1,000 in spare change which meant an alteration to their plans.

Instead of an impressive parade involving all Scouts marching along the High Street the Scouts set off at intervals to walk on the pavements, and cross at the pelican crossings, quietly making their way towards the church.  After the service they did the same, but in reverse.

It wasn't the same, but it got me thinking.  This is clearly a new policy and other parades may well be affected.

The other major parade involving the Scouting movement is the Remembrance Day parade.  I wonder if there might be a bit more fuss when the Council decide that not only do we not need to celebrate the fact that we're English in style, but we don't need to remember our war dead properly either.