Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Strangeness of Scrutiny

Well, Diane and I [in our capacity as YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic committee members] went to the first Scrutiny meeting in August, and then a month later Lorraine [Musical Ark] and I attended the next one. We represented both our own charities and the orchestras and choruses etc.

Besides being teachers of music for children and adults with Additional [Special] Needs, the three of us are also academics [as in, we write books and articles, and I seem to write an awful lot of letters and blogs these days.]  and it was frustrating not to be able to counter some of the council officers' and the councillors' arguments.

What was strange was that we could give our five minutes' worth of speech, then we had to listen to councillors, and sometimes council officers debating the issues without giving us a chance to correct the incorrectness of some of the assumptions. We were thus, junior partners in the debate, yet as West Park users of sixteen years, we knew rather more about some parts of the situation than anyone else round the table.

On 17 September 2013, ten months after we were evicted from our home of many years, I thought that Scrutiny was going to examine the correctness of the procedures that led to our homelessness, and how we were rehoused, or not, in the ensuing months. But no, we were filibustered and sidetracked into a childish and facile account, certainly not a debate, of the value of the various health and safety reports, concluding that it was almost certain that someone would have been electrocuted had the centre not been closed when it was, and even that maybe it should have been closed sooner.

[Now, as a Russian graduate and sometime reader of Gogol, I had met this stuff in a previous life, and was rather surprised to be taking part in this little charade a century or so later.]

The word, "repairs" didn't feature at all in this debate.

There was hardly any time to consider what happened to the ex-users, because we treated to this rambling story of health and safety reports, with a total lack of academic rigour, and sometimes scant regard for the truth. [eg, someone, I can't recall whom, told the meeting that YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic had rejected the offer of storage space at the warehouse at Domestic Street, preferring to store instruments in their own houses. Actually, YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic did store equipment at this depot, but not being given our key for it till June 2013, and it being next to the Armley Gyratory it was/it is not an easy place to use. Anything being used on a regular basis did have to live in volunteers' homes. And I have to say that the novelty does wear off.

The worst thing about the marimbas is that you can't stack anything on top of them; whereas steelpans can be quite neatly set up behind the sofa.