Parking Goes



of Colin Barrow (CBE)

(leader of Westminster City Council)

This page is dedicated to a vague cogitation on the life and times of that most remarkable of civic leaders, Colin Barrow CBE ...who thanks to his attempts to bring in parking charges during anti-social hours and at Weekends within the city of Westminster is destined to become the most famous and celebrated leader of Westminster City Council since Dame Shirley Porter.

As regular readers of the Pear Shaped Comedy Club website will know Colin first came to our attention with his abortive attempt at a blanket flyering ban on Leicester Square.  Having had to communicate with him on this subject I have come to develop a slightly unhealthy interest in Colin Barrow and his unique style of local government.  Recently most noticably manifest in his plans to abolish free parking on single yellow lines ...

...and parking bays ...

...between 6.30pm and midnight Monday to Saturday, and between 1pm and 6pm on Sundays.
Parking will cost up to £4.80 per hour in bays.  The official waffle is to be found at the bottom of this page.

I'd like to stress this is not intended as a hatchet job on Colin.  Mainly because he's a very powerful man and it clearly is.  But while we remain a couple of hundred yards over the border in Camden we are in a slightly more unique position to poke fun at him than those under his more immediate authority.  That said this is not an article purely about Colin.  It is a study of the modern Conservative party through the prism of Colin's career.  Where did Colin come from?  Who is Colin?  What is Colin?  This is the unauthorised and unexpurgated biography both of Colin Barrow and the modern Cameron Conservative Party.

People like Colin Barrow dont just appear from nowhere.  Colin has been around Conservative Politics a long time.  His old "town house"...

...was  Michael Portillo’s HQ during his leadership bid ....

as well as being home to at least one Conservative thinktank (Localis).  Colin donated money to several Conservative thinktanks over the years and is a director of the new and hip Policy Exchange thinktank which came up with many Cameron Conservative policies (particularly their education ones) and is part of the Stockholm Network of thinktanks a "one-stop shop for organisations seeking to work with Europe’s brightest policymakers and thinkers".  Many is the time I have said to Mr Damage "How can we exploit new acts more ruthlessly?" and he's replied "I dont know let's consult the Policy Exchange".   The Policy Exchange prints lots of boring leaflets and it is not to be confused with the Public Policy Exchange which organises lots of boring symposiums on parking discussing why Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says things like

which is twaddle for "I'm declaring the war on the motorist over while simultaneously giving local authorities more power to set highter charges like they wont use them".

The current CEO of the Policy Exchange is Robert Rosenkranz an American multi-millionaire financier who runs the titular Rosenkranz Foundation which give a lot of money to political thinktanks (as does Colin) as well as donating money to US museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and stuff in New York...

Unlike in the UK where it went out of fashion when the Welfare State came in (due to it's association with some dubious historical characters using it to advance business and political interests that were sometimes a bit naughty) ...philanthropy is still big in the USA ...and maybe that's not such a bad thing.  Maybe it isn't every philanthropist who is motivated in their donations to the public good to disproportionately influence public policy in some way and merely coincidental that they're all involved in thinktanks too...  Anyway we know Mr Rosenkranz is a big supporter of all forms of art we felt he would not mind if we stole this picture of him from the philanthropy news digest.... to sate your curiousity....

Although flamboyant Maserati driving Colin Barrow is seldom out of the local news for one hair brained scheme or another ...his most recent media battle for his new and exiting policy of charging drivers to park in the West End even after 6pm seems to be of a different scale of confrontation to the many he has had before..  The sheer number of people slagging off Colin in the press is simply astounding.  It is rare even for Colin to generate so much ire that the owner of Top Shop breaks cover - giving the London Evening Standard with quotes like:

Of course Sir Philip Green (Croydon's tax evading answer to Arthur Daley) is well known for his colourful language.  One recalls ...  "He can't read English. Mind you, he is a fucking Irishman" ...but it isn't just him either...   added to this are other political heavyweights such an Lynda Bellingham, Roger Lloyd Pack and even high profile Tory boy Andrew Lloyd Webber.

God too didn't seem too happy either about car parking charges on a Sunday ...

...with the Church of England, the Salvation Army ....

....and several Rabbis piling in as well... when 300 people from a range of churches protested on the steps of Westminster Council's chamber ....

....Mr Barrow did compromise a bit...

But only a bit and there were still many complaints about the effects on weddings and Sunday Schools ... funny you dont hear much about Sunday Schools these days so for those of you who think they're a thing of the past... I was wandering round the embankment the other day when I found their founder... or a statue of him:

Robert Raikes Sunday School System is estimated to have educated 1,250,000 children before the machination of the state school system.  That said it is the 21st century and one would have thought that in 2011 there's quite enough schooling and faith schooling already without God doing it as well so maybe there is an unintended positive here...?  Also down the embankment just by the Savoy is a statue of the late Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan...

...who's Savoy Operas (with WS Gilbert) the over-the-top personage of Colin Barrow may well have escaped from.  Colin originally started out in the oil business before making a sideways move into stock broking.  Having grown very rich he floated his business, sold up and then started looking towards parliament.  As pocket boroughs are no longer available in the 21st century this involved the tedious business of trying to get on the approved candidates list via the usual apprenticeships  in local government so returning from Wall Street ....

....a man of leisure Colin brought himself a house.  A very big house in the country... Darsham House which according to Country Life was built in 1769 and contains six reception rooms, 11 main bedrooms, six bath/shower rooms and four attic rooms, all in fine condition, except for the attic rooms, which need renovation.  Due to Colin it's fairly regularly on the market for about £2.5million if you fancy it...

Here Colin began his passage from successful Hedge Fund manager to successful Conservative Council leader.

Country Life without referring to the identity of the previous owner states in its attempt to sell the property in 2009 for a million pounds less than what Colin sold it for a few years before that the property has been "victim not just of the credit crunch, but of the depredation wrought by its last owner, who literally gutted the interior, ripping out fireplaces, floors and panelling before handing it back to the bank, the current vendor. As a result, Darsham House is now the subject of nine enforcement orders. Fortunately, the basic structure is still sound, but Mr Sheppard reckons that it will take a dedicated buyer with a budget of at least £1m over and above the purchase price, and the ability to work successfully with English Heritage, to restore this sadly abused house to the splendour it deserves."

It seems that while Mr Barrow did apply for planning permission to "renovate" the Grade II listed building he also stripped the interior and sold it without having completed the "renovation".  He then moved to Wesminster.  But despite or perhaps because of his rapid rise up the party machine in Westminster ...The local Conservative Suffolk Coastal District Council (not to be confused with the Suffolk County Council Colin was on) were not happy  with the substantial alterations to his 17th century property and would not just let the matter drop ... this resulted in a memorable criminal trial.  Or would what would have been a memorable criminal trial if Judge David Goodin had not thrown the case out with the statement that...

...leaving the nine enforcement orders the problem of the next owner...

Given that Suffolk Coastal District Council is a Conservative one ...this episode would seem to suggest that Mr Barrow is not without his enemies within his own party in particular Conservative Suffolk Coastal District Council leader
Cllr Ray Herring...

So why did Colin return to London?  Perhaps at some point he ran out of money... Or perhaps with Suffolk County Council being split at the time with no overall control it was a bit of a boring place to hang out but...  Whatever the reason it isn't done for our civic leaders to admit they're in politics for a career Colin claimed that this was because of the needs of his autistic son (Mr Barrow got his CBE for services to the National Autistic Society).  Yes, even Colin has redeeming qualities.

Of course one other reason for Colin's move to London could have been work...?  Man Group was floated in 1994 and Colin's  golden handcuffs fell off in 1996.  After that he did not as he implies above give up work but was Chairman of Sabre Fund Management, a post he held until December 2005.  Maybe living in a very big house in the country didn't quite gel with his second job which he started in 2001 of being a founding partner of then new hedge fund - Eiger Capital.  Eiger Capital collapsed (a victim of the banking crisis) in 2008 leaving a lot of bills.  Colin raised a few eyebrows when it emerged that they had left a huge bill in unpaid business rates behind them.

Boris Johnson's deputy Kit Malthouse is Alpha Strategic Plc's finance director.

Hedge funds were the brainchild of Australian speculator Alfred Winslow Jones....

... who discovered that if he combined short selling with long selling he could create a fund that was a bit more insulated from the general upward and downward trends of the market.  After all guessing the general upward and downward trends of the market is a rather tedious and not risk free endeavour which has been known to lead to traders jumping out of windows.  So anything that makes stockbrokers' lives simpler by making them more complicated must be desirous.  ...Well in theory the fund is insulated from the general upward and downward trends of the market....although it didn't stop Eiger Capital going bust.

Long selling is buying shares and waiting for them to raise in value then selling them (speculating on a stock increasing in value). 

Short selling is paying a fee to borrow someone else's shares on the basis of a promise to pay them back in kind (i.e. give them the same number of shares back) at a later date. You then sell the borrowed shares and if that stock decreases in value then you dont have to pay as much to buy them back.  One of the dangers of this is the risk of being "called away" and having to pay back at an unfavourable price because there simply aren't enough shares being long sold then short sold to be long sold again to be short sold again to be short sold again to be long sold so no one on the stock market has any real idea what anything is actually worth any more.  Here's a picture no one understands.

As this was illegal under the Investment Company Act of 1940 Jones created a legal loophole by limiting the fund to 99 investors in a limited partnership rather than allowing any ordinary mortals to buy shares in his company for buying, selling and borrowing shares to buy and sell and borrow again. 

Even today ordinary mortals are not allowed to directly invest their savings in Hedge funds as we're too thick to get the concepts.  So we are banned from investing our ISA allowence in this way.  Instead we are encouraged to save for our old age in a pension fund that is invested in dodgy hedge funds because if it all goes pear shaped the government can sort that out by rasing the retirement age.   

Interestingly (although it may be unrelated) the collapse of Eiger Capital coincides with the Brown government's ban on the short selling of bank shares ... a political policy recently come into fashion again down the Eurozone.  Or it could be something to do with the troubles of their main sponsor Natexis Banque Populaire? which on December 15, 2008, revealed that it had lost more than US$450 million in the Madoff investment scandal ...

Ironically Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was its self very similar to a Hedge Fund - all be it an illegal unregistered one.

"Bernie Madoff is running the world's largest unregistered hedge fund. He's organized this business as a 'hedge fund of funds' privately labeling their own hedge funds which Bernie Madoff secretly runs for them using a split-strike conversion strategy getting paid only trading commissions which are not disclosed.' If this is not a regulatory dodge, I do not know what is." - Harry M. Markopolos (the man who exposed Enron as a gigantic Ponzi scheme)

Of course not all Ponzi schemes are Hedge Funds and not all Hedge Funds are Ponzi schemes but as Ari J Officer the Business correspondent of Time Magazine explains problems arise when speculators start dealing in a combination of liquid and illiquid assets.  Because the value of illiquid assets must be estimated there is a temptation to overestimate them.  And that's where the fun starts...

Anyway I'm digressing quite a bit now, aren't I?  I suppose the pont is that for all this enthusiasm the Conservative Party seemingly has for Colin... including being in business with the deputy Mayor ... Colin's parking plans dont seem to have many fans even in his own party... in particular Stephen Hammond, parliamentary private secretary to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

...although perhaps I should emphasise the words "seem to" there.  He certainly doesn't seem to be loved by Boris Johnson who rushed to distance himself from the scheme with the diplomatic response

which is not a "no, this wrong" but a "it's Colin's responsibility" ...So presumably if they do get away with it Boris can claim it was all his idea.  Colin responded

Is it?  Was it?  Why "experimental"?

Well, as we have explained before, Councils cant just do "what they like".  If Councils had unlimited power they'd be the Queen or the Prime Minister or the EU or the President of the United States and clearly you can't have a situation where local government undermines national government.  Or can you?  So there are statutory limitations on local government power which are quite complicated legally.

If, for example, Westminster Council were to invent a bylaw that everyone parking their car had to make sure they had left the house in possession of a blueberry jelly they are subject to Judicial Review under the terms of "Wendesbury Reasonableness".  And if you don't have the money to take your council to expensive Judicial Review then you can opt for the cheaper solution of the Council Ombudsman.  

The way for a Council to avoid judicial review is to implement a proper consultation exercise before changing its behaviour.  For most councils like Westminster (the flagship for all repressive council legislation because traditionally it's always had the most money) this usually involves issuing a consultation document that is as narrowly distributed as possible.  But this policy has dangers.  What if it does go to review and the courts decide you haven't had a large enough consultation...?  Or worse still what if people get wise and are constantly scanning your sites for hidden consultation documents.  Well, then you need a new way... and the simplest new way is to introduce your new scheme anyway but call it an


Colin likes experiments.  Like this one...


Experimental Orders may not, under the  Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, last for more than 18 months, but do not require the formal advertisement and objection procedures of permanent Traffic Regulation Orders

The NTBPT campaign against the introduction of charging for motorcycle parking ended up in the Appeal Court where the NTBPT lost.  They claimed that the use of an experimental order that was actually meant to be permanent was wrong and simply a revenue raising measure.  Pointing out that the revenue raised from Parking Charges (£81.5 million) exceeds what Westminster City Council raises in Council Tax (£80 million).  Conversely the Council argued that when you subtract costs from the £81.5 million raised that only leaves £35million...

which is a " modest surplus" spent on road improvements.  In a peculiar piece of logic only the legal profession could machinate it is not illegal for the council to make a profit from parking or to introduce measures that result in greater profit from parking only to intend to increase income by increasing parking charges so as long as a fiction can be thinly maintained that increased charges are something to do with regulating supply and demand then as Cllr Lee Rowley would say...

...however as Sir Philip Green points out there is no logical reason why a high demand for parking availability should require an increase in parking charges or a further actual loss of on street parking (for example by removing the right to park on yellow lines).  This is actually a complete inversion of Conservative concepts of the free market.  Actually what is happening is that supply is being cut to increase demand to further increase the amount that the motorist must pay?  In short this is the exploitation of a natural monopoly to maximize profit.  There will then be even more demand on even fewer places - a vicious cycle...?

Apparently the surplus revenue is ring-fenced to be used for transport related expenditure unless the Council is judged to be 'excellent' by the Audit Commission, in which case the surplus goes into the Council's general budget (as is the case for Kensington and Chelsea).  This is probably bollocks but that's what it says on Wikipedia.

Of course Colin could increase council tax to balance the books but this would not fit with the government's spending plans or Colin Barrow's personal assurance that Westminster City Council Tax will remain frozen until 2013...  Westminster has the 2nd lowest Council Tax in the Country behind only Wandsworth.  As one can see from this graph... of Band D council Tax rates...

...people in Croydon pay twice as much in Council Tax as people in Wandsworth or Westminster - a major factor in being able to achieve this is parking charges and fines ...although it has to be said that Wandsworth and Westminster have more higher band Council Tax payers.  Then again...

Also Council Tax Bands stop at £320,001 and above and the average price for a flat in Westminster is £823,308 compared to £162,302 in Croydon meaning that basically absolutely everyone in Westminster is in the top band H and pays approximately the same Council Tax it is to all intents and purposes a Poll Tax as the banding makes no distinctions about the average cost of property within the borough boundaries.  It's worth remembering too that people in what the Department for Communities and Local Government quaintly still calls "the shire counties" pay more (£1453) than those of us in  towns (£1372) for a Band D property.  Comparatively London is cheaper still to live in than other towns with an average Band D council tax of £1308 - which is pretty much down to Westminster and Wandsworth's exceptionally low rates...   The ludicrous disparities in the system can be seen more obviously still by plotting the above Band D tax rate data over the Greater London area and creating a grid. 

In a world where the tax burden was shared equally from authority to authority the map would be only one colour.  The disparity can be further enhanced by viewing the map in 3D. 

In a world where the tax burden was shared equally from authority to authority the map would be totally flat but as we can see there is a large chasm in Zone 1.   By the end of 2013 Westminster City Council Taxes will have been frozen for a full five year.  Basically the entire borough is subsidised by motorists and business and this is how Westminster maintains such tiny Council Taxes.  While having the lowest residential council tax rates Westminster has the most punitive Business Rates in the country... Here's a bar chart of average business rates ...

On top of this there are two business investment districts to further add to Westminster's coffers.

Heart of London


New West End Company


And a third has been discussed (though perhaps business aren't buying it?)

Professional board sitter Dame Judith Mayhew Jones of the New West End Company called in October for all traffic to be banned in the West End on a Sunday as it gets in the way of the Business Investment District's view that streets are merely extensions to shopping isles.  So maybe it isn't actually all about parking revenue but about controlling who hangs out in the West End...?

Oh well it's not as silly as their previous scheme of having fast and slow lanes for pedestrians on Oxford Street and it's good she got a free holiday to Times Square.

Of course as more and more of central London becomes pedestrianised traffic flow will become more complicated creating more and more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating more congestion resulting in more excuses for pedestrianisation creating a no go zone for ordinary people with cars.

One has to say too that one fails to understand why members of the New West End Company need to travel to New York to see a pedestrianised town center full of people who cant get a gig indoors when there's one in Croydon. 

Or how you can compare congestion on a grid system road layout (New York's grid was standardised in 1811) ...

....with only one intersecting diagonal Street (Broadway which intersects the grid at Times Square)...

....with one where everybody has to circle one roundabout at the bottom of Trafalgar Square because Ken already pedestrianised the top side completely messing up the traffic flow around the already insane one way system.  

Actually the short truth of it is that the West End's one way system has never really worked since its inception?  Has it?


The volume of central London that is pedestrianised grows slowly but surely all the time.  Many people probably cannot remember that Eros used to be in the center of a roundabout and at one time you used to be able to drive round Leicester Square...
London's highly complex road system is a mixture of two way streets and gyratory systems.  This means (much to the chagrin of the New West End Company) pedestrianising the West End is a logistical nightmare that no computer simulation can solve.  There are actually very few East to West passageways due to previous piecemeal pedestrianisation plans meaning a complete rethink would be required.  Due to the illogicality of London's road system it's easier to go West to East than East to West - or is it the other way round?  Well, it's certainly easier to enter London from the North than the South... I think.

The logic of a gyratory system is to create one way streets where traffic moves in a series of circles to speed up traffic flow.   The problem with this is it tends to create junctions that are intimidating to navigate because of the speed of the traffic ...and where it is very difficult to stop.  Added to this for a gyratory system to work properly traffic lights must be correctly phased London wide.  A very difficult thing to achieve when nimby civic leaders like Keith Moffitt the then Liberal Democrat leader of Camden Council decided to rephase his traffic lights against the wishes of everyone else ... completely messing up a gyroatory system that spans both Camden and Westminster and beyond.... 

It's probably not an accident that Milton Keynes which was designed as one large intermeshing huge gyratory system has Britain's highest suicide rate.

With every Council having its own authority to organise traffic rather than any logistical overview you end up with loony schemes like Lancashire Council's plans to make every "reisdential road" 20mph.  At which point they really should give up with tarmac and bring back horses.  Which probably is the long term plan given the rate the oil is running out.

Conservative Lord Young of Graffham optimistically suggested that Mr Barrow might be pursuaded to change his mind by the prospect of being voted out...

The problem is, of course, that Colin Barrow will never not be elected.  With it's high property prices and punative-on-lower-income-earners Council Tax that's effectively a flat rate for almost everyone ....Westminster is a Tory small state Utopia - and with so many MPs owning second homes there the chances of Parliament voting to even things out is sod all.   There's never not been a Conservative Administration at Westminster Council since the Council's inception in 1964.  Not even when Dame Shirley Porter was in charge.

So in order to try and make sure that Westminster didn't try and do anything too outrageous to the detriment of people outside Zone 1 there used to exist a body called the GLC

which changed between Labour and Conservative control and set parking policy on a London-wide basis rather than authority by authority...

... Older readers may recall the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 and "Pavements are for People" campains...

...and to replace the GLC we now have the GLA who's website states that...

The Mayor cannot intervene in parking issues,
which are the responsibility
of the local borough councils.

So what's the point in him then?

Particularly since Colin has decided to embark on another of his experiments and merge Westminster Council with Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea to form a

like this

in effect starting his own duplicate authority in competition with the GLA.  Colin's plans for the three Councils as one are outlined in the document ironically titled "DRIVING CHANGE: leadership, trust and money" which shows the three potentates (from left to right Sir Merrick Cockell, Stephen Greenhalgh and Colin Barrow CBE) smiling rather inanelyWhile I'm not an expert in local government it would seem to me that one immediate problem with the concept of 3 council leaders ruling as one is it automatically tripples the volume of waffle... 

A scheme that was no doubt machinated where all three men hang out - Localis.

Anyway has to say that even if it is true that...

These proposals protect vital front line services at a time of necessary financial adjustment. They will lead to a 50% reduction in the number of middle and senior managers. A 50% reduction in the overheads attached to frontline services to the public. And ensure that in 2014/15, the costs of overheads and middle and senior management will be a smaller proportion of total spend than in 2010/11. does kind of rely on there never being a Labour or Lib Dem administration and raise a few constitutional issues to say the least? 

Adding to the confusion Britain already has one one of the most complicated sytsems of local and regional government but that doesn't matter because...

It’s about keeping all our libraries open, making over one million books available to people across the three boroughs, and saving £1million in the process by cutting library management costs.

In all, Tri-borough services will help a million people and save £33 million in total over the next four years.

As if three Tory leaders were not enough there's even a picture of Eric Pickles holding aloft the new Driving Change document like Chamberlain's piece of paper too...

Mr Pickles of course made his name in the 1980s introducing savage public spending cuts that slashed Bradford City Council's budget by £50m over years - particularly controversial as the Council was actually hung at the time and he broke the agreement that the position of Lord Mayor is rotated between the parties by putting a Conservative mayor in place which gave him the extra vote needed to make a majority... so a big fan of democracy and saving money.   To be fair there is some attempt to square the constitutional circle..........

The three authorities (in the style of Woodrow Wilson) have agreed a 19 point
Sovereignty Guarantee

which sets out the rights and responsibilities of the contracting parties.

In full the 19 points are

1. Local residents will continue to elect the same number of councillors to each Council.
2. Each Council will retain its own constitution, setting out how it makes decisions, organises scrutiny and delegates authority.
3. Each Council will continue to set its own council tax and publish its own budget and accounts.
4. Each Council will continue to be able to set its own spending priorities.
5. No Council can be ‘out-voted’ by the two other Councils in a way which requires that Council to
adopt a policy, accept a cost or change a priority that its decision makers are not willing to support.
6. There will be no change in the name of any of the Councils.
7. The costs of changes and the benefits achieved from change will be fairly attributed and shared to the satisfaction of all three Councils; if necessary using mediation.
8. No Council will be obliged to break an existing contract.
9. The boundaries of the areas for which each Council is responsible will not change. Each Council will continue to speak up for its own residents, even where there is an apparent conflict of interest between the boroughs.
10. Each Council will be able to set its own policy for how services are delivered.
11. The Councils will commission service from contractors, voluntary bodies and others together, but can also decide to commission, or grant aid, on their own.
12. Nothing in these proposals is intended to stop Councils developing local ideas about how to
support their local communities. A commitment to shared learning, innovation and value for money
13. The Councils will share what works in service delivery and encourage their neighbours to learn
from successful innovation.
14. The Councils will adopt common specifications where these are compatible with each Council’s policy objectives and budget preferences and where these are likely to give best value to taxpayers.
15. The Councils commit to a continuing process of exploring how working together might lower
costs; be a better platform for devolved responsibilities from Government; and/or improve the
quality of service delivery.
16. The Councils will commit to exploring how by working together, councillors can enhance the ways in which their Councils deliver their responsibilities.
17. The Councils will expect to keep these arrangements under review, in order to ensure they
remain fit for purpose.
18. Any of the arrangements that constitute agreements between the Councils can be ended on
notice, though any Council withdrawing will be responsible for its own consequent costs. Any joint
external contracts will be covered by the same legal considerations as now.
19. Where shared services arrangements are brought to an end then the notice period will be twelve months, unless a shorter period is expressly agreed by the other parties and the costs arising from termination will be fairly shared between the Councils in a pre-agreed manner.

The question is what are the "costs" of termination...?
And how "pre-agreed"?

I expect there isn't actually an answer.

The job of all local councillors is and has always pretty much been to implement the unpopular policies of central government.  In many ways the more unpopular you can be and get away with it the better it is for your long term career.  Just as many in Mrs Thatcher's government were quick to criticise Pickles management of Bradford Council at the time they secretly admired him for being able to do it and keep his job and he was eventually rewarded with the Brentwood and Ongar Constituency.
  Local Councillors are the cannon fodder of government. 

Of course there maybe something in the plan to buy services across several councils.  But Westminster Council's own "Partnerships in Parking" scheme was certainly not without problems in that it ended up down the European Union who complained that the company subcontracted to (Verrus) ...was subcontracted to "automatically" ...or something...breaking competition rules.  The truth is probably that while the arrangement of six councils collectively bulk buying the services of one company may have resulted in a short term discount ... over the longer term they have, of course, actually only succeeded in putting Verrus's competitors out of business - weakening their negotiating position when the have to rebid the contract?

While George Osborne choses how many millions will need to be saved to cut the deficit someone's still got to make that work on the ground by deciding exactly what services and rubbish collections will be removed, what street lamps wont be fixed, what pot holes will remain unfilled and what books wont be available to read.  The most ambitious Councillors are always the most masochistic.  And Colin is very masochistic indeed...?
  In a way we at the Pear Shaped admire him...

For it is interesting that while the Supercouncil scheme is sold as an equal partnership the document also contains the words

Reducing chief executive posts from three to two, recognising that Westminster needed to retain its own chief Executive given its capital city responsibilities

...which tells you who really has the trousers on.

If you're wondering why no one's tried merging Councils before it's not because Colin Barrow alone is a genius (although this is true) but because local authorities have only actually had Cabinet style government since 2000.  This has been a huge success meaning that the lower rungs of the political class such as Steve O'Connell can now pay themselves more than ever before and build bigger buildings to replace the perfectly good ones that are there already....? 

Merging the three councils will not only mean there are less administrators it will presumably mean that there will be less people on the executive Supercouncil than on the individual councils ...allowing individual Councillors to earn more money than ever before.

Needless to say all these cost saving measures are not very popular with Linda Perks of Unison

or Peter Allenson of Unite

So will the parking charges go through...?

It's not surprising that given the controversial nature of the proposals backbench Conservative Councillors (Lindsey Hall and Daily Mail [which happens to have offices in the West End] feature writer Glenys Roberts) can be seen grumbling to the media and a coup against Mr Barrow is rumoured...

Perhaps all these arguments are like the arguments Boris and David reportedly have.
A fake smokescreen?
Or perhaps the council are floating a worse case senario
so that when something awful but not quite as awful does come in
we'll all give out a sigh of relief and ...think ourselves lucky?

We like Colin.
Colin is Brave.

Photo Credits
Eric Pickles
Sir Philip Green by Katie
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber - US Government
Northern Rock queue by Alex Gunningham from London, Perfidious Albion (UK plc)
Stephen Hammond from Wikipedia
Boris Johnson by Jerry Daykin
Queen Elizabeth II by Nasa
Lord Young of Graffham by the LSE
Boris Johnson opening bell at NASDAQ by
Other photos culled from Council, Unions and other Party propaganda
Maps are screengrabs from Google maps
Contour Maps are generated in Surfer
Cant remember where I got Linda Perks of Unison from but she's always at a podium
Short selling diagram by