Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Opportunities in Newham's parks

If you want a picture of what is wrong with British politics, you could do worse than look at the job advertisements in the Guardian Society section each Wednesday.

Today's outstanding ad - it takes up the best part of a page - comes from the London Borough of Newham. It has the slightly worrying heading "Opportunities in Parks".

And what opportunities they are:

  • Head of Parks: £46,300 - £49,000
  • Parks Development Manager (Engagement): £30,600 - £33,100
  • Parks Development Officer (Engagement): £27,000 - £29,000
  • Parks Development Officer (Planning & Delivery): £27,000 - £29,000
  • Assistant Parks Development Officer (Planning & Delivery): £24,100 - £25,600
That's five posts with an annual salary bill somewhere between £155,000 and £165,700. You are left wondering how much money will be left to pay for staff or amenities in the parks themselves.

Worse than the cost, though, is the attitude that the advertisement reveals. Take the job description for the Parks Development Officer (Engagement):

The post provides an exciting opportunity for an experienced and skilled communicator, with a focus on building and enabling the active involvement of local people.
The essence of radical politics is the belief that the poor are as good as their masters. The early Labour leaders wanted the workers to run their own industries.

That belief in the abilities of the masses has been abandoned by many on the public-sector left. They now see their role as a quasi-therapeutic one, delivering services to a population whose members lack the ability to run their own lives.

Nothing could be more patronising than the belief that the people of Newham need professional staff "enabling" them before they can use their local parks. The sad thing is that the people behind this advertisement flatter themselves that they are dangerously left wing.

No comments: