A self-employed van driver in Wales has been fined for smoking in his own van. What is it about the local authority mindset, why is it even worse in Wales, and do the local police have nothing better to do?
In my post Smoking Snoopers of 25 February 2007, I commented on the fact that the government had handed £29.5 million to local authorities to help them enforce the smoking ban. It coincided with the news that the police no longer bothered – as a matter of policy – to attend at the scene of a burglary. I did not know it at the time, but the sum so allocated was exactly twice the amount which the Treasury (Gordon Brown Prop.) had shaved off the budget for flood relief.
My focus was on the sort of people who would become smoking snoopers, getting their thrills from lurking to catch people enjoying themselves. They would include, I said:
The sludge which collects at the bottom of every local authority pond who get moved from department to department because they are really unemployable even in that undemanding environment, but who cannot be dismissed through political correctness or union strength.
Imagine being all that and Welsh with it!
A year on from the institution of the ban, the officials of Ceredigion council (that’s Cardiganshire for those who do not read Welsh) have leapt into action to mop up some of their share of the equivalent Welsh budget. A petty-minded official is a petty-minded official everywhere and perhaps one from Ceredigion came across the regulations at his remedial reading lessons and set out to find someone to catch.
The trap was apparently part of a “multi-agency operation”, and you can just imagine the excitement of some dim little council runt at being involved in something which sounds like the SAS joining forces with the Drugs Squad. The other half of the “multi-agency operation” was the police force. Whilst one knows that half the staff at local authorities are only employed to keep them out of the dole queue and have plenty of time on their hands, one might hope that the police would have better things to do, even in Wales. Perhaps rustling, or whatever else it is they do with sheep up there, has dropped off.
The real issue here is one of priorities – if Dyfed Powys police really have nothing better to do, then perhaps they should focus on some of the training deficiencies identified in the Home Office audit report of July 2008 – though my attempt to read it came unstuck at a sentence about ”developing a scrutiny of strategic resource leverage”, which might as well be in Welsh for its value as a piece of communication.
To be fair, the report seems to say in summary “Sod all happens here and Dai Plod has it under control”. Even so, there must be more important things to do than to pursue a chap smoking in his own van.