LICHFIELD District Council has announced the opening of a new visitor attraction in the City, the new museum and heritage site will be operated by the Bletchley Park Trust and the income generated will help to fund the crisis-ridden Council’s IT upgrade.
The floundering local council’s IT department is in turmoil. In less than eight weeks time Microsoft ends its support for the Council’s neglected and now defunct Windows XP operating system and Office 1903 software which forms the platform for all of the Council’s antiquated computer systems.
Lichfield Council will be disconnected from the Central Government computer networks in September 2014 unless it can convince the Cabinet Office that it’s IT infrastructure has been adequately upgraded.
Kelsey Griffin, Director of Operations and Communication for The Bletchley Park Trust commented:
‘This has been a real find for us, a Staffordshire Hoard for the computer age. When we heard about the appalling mess that the Council has allowed it’s IT department to get into we arranged a visit straight away.’
Originally formed to develop a museum, heritage site and education centre at Bletchley Park in order to preserve the contribution to computing, electronic security and intelligence in World War Two, the Bletchley Park Trust has expanded its remit and turned its sights on the Lichfield District Council’s pre-historically significant IT department.
Ms Griffin added:
‘Imagine our delight to find council workers still using equipment from the dawn of the electronic computing era. A couple of officers in the planning department were still making the best of their Sinclair ZX Spectrums and a lady in Accounts said that she didn’t think she could cope if they ever took away her abacus. The City Engineer proudly gave me a demonstration of his slide rule.
‘Council staff are allowed to use Council computers during their lunchtime for personal use. Who’d have thought that you could find a set of workers in modern times still enjoying Space Invaders, Pac Man and that tennis game with the slidy bats and bouncing ball with the bop-bop-bop noise.’
Councillor Iain Eadie , Cabinet Member for IT, Waste Management and Face Buffing, said:
‘It’s not my fault. IT was previously the responsibility of the Cabinet Member for Finance, Democratic and Legal Services. I welcome my appointment but clearly it’s no coincidence that I’m also responsible for Waste Management.’
Councillor Christopher Spruce, 99 year-old Cabinet Member for Finance, Democratic,Legal Services and Regally Dressed Ex-Mayors said:
‘Its not my fault, I don’t even know how to switch on the TV let alone a computer and I was completely confused when my manservant upgraded what I thought was a desklamp into a fully functional dumb terminal.’
Council Leader Mike Wilcox commented:
‘To me, to you.
‘Fortunately I bailed out of operational responsibility for absolutely everything just in time. But I welcome the intervention of Bletchley Park Trust who are best placed to optimise the use of our cherished equipment and provide the Council with valuable income to facilitate our IT systems upgrade to bring the City into the latter part of the 20th Century. The new visitor centre will be based in the Council’s IT Server Room F451 as soon as improvements have been made to the building to conform with fire regulations.
‘Unfortunately this has meant that the planned development of Virtual Friarsgate has been postponed, but I expect that it will be delivered on time and on budget in 2015.
To me, to you.’
Many council employees will be taken on by the Trust as tour guides, whilst the three full time IT employees, having been made aware that IT consultants in the private sector charge up to £3k per eight hour day, have resigned and become self-employed.
Anyone interested in exploiting the Lichfield District Council IT network architecture vulnerabilities pre-changeover can download a handy guide at http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/5832/item_6_ict_looking_to_the_future
The Leader of Lichfield District Council believes work on a modified and radical Friarsgate development could finally get underway.
Cllr Michael Wilcox made his comments following a tormented, Merlot induced, sleep after Wednesday’s meeting of the Strategic (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee of Lichfield District Council. The Council concluded that the City was heading for a fiscal cliff of over £1m if the original scheme had gone ahead.
The new £100 scheme will consist of shops and leisure provision, including a multi-screen cinema, a marina, a beach and herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically down Birmingham Road.
Development work is now expected to start immediately and should be completed by the end of February. Cllr Wilcox explained:
‘In the light of budgetary constraints it has been decided that the existing development agreement with S Harrison for the Friarsgate project will be terminated. I had expected their completed development to be delivered to us on time in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and again in 2013 but there is only so often that you can issue the same press release without looking like a complete fool.
‘In its place your Council will create a Virtual Friarsgate shopping and leisure centre. This online virtual reality cityscape will only be accessible from computers and mobile devices located within the city centre.’
Customers will be able to take a virtual tour of the shopping centre, calling in and shopping at Boots, Next, Marks & Spencer, Harvey Nichols and many other stores that rejected the bricks and mortar destination.
For those without the benefit of mobile computing, a new IT suite will be created within the coffee shop of Debenhams in Three Spires Shopping Centre. A spokesman for Debenhams, Mike Taylor commented:
‘We are delighted to support this initiative. Our store is in fact already a Virtual Debenhams, being much smaller than our other outlets and stocking only one item of a very limited product range. In the likely event that you want something that we do not have in stock you’re welcome to go to the Bullring.’
Additional terminals will also be available in the Lichfield Library, however there will only be limited access as the Library is never open at times when the public wish to use the facility and, in any event, all the staff will shortly be sacked and Library’s resources transferred to Stafford.
It will also provide a boost for local bar restaurant Malt, the pretty blonde girl who works there at weekends said:
‘We have put together a special ‘shoppers package’ with discounts for virtual shoppers who can enjoy fish and chips for £5 whilst awaiting the delivery of their shopping from proper retail centres within two hours of placing the online order in Virtual Lichfield.
‘I’m certainly looking forward to being able to get hold of a wider range of beauty products from Virtual Lichfield. And stop following me,’ she added.
Cllr Wilcox declared the proposal helps deliver the Council’s F4FS policy: ‘As a city we need to work together – To Me, To You, that’s my mantra.’
Beacon Street Area Residents Association (BASTARDS) spokesman Martin Littleone said:
‘We are against this proposal, it will attract illegal immigrants into my living room.’
Anyone wishing to complain about the delay in the original proposals should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A local shopping precinct in Redwood Drive/Parkhill Road, Burntwood has played an unlikely, yet significant, role in the European space programme.
The European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta probe was awakened this week after a ten-year trek across the Solar System. Its destination is a periodic comet known as Comet 67P.
The Rosetta orbiter will rendezvous with Comet 67P and release a small robotic lander, the Philae Lander, for a controlled touchdown onto its surface. This will be a difficult and hazardous stage of the mission as the robot approaches the craggy, uneven and pockmarked surface of this mysterious cosmic iceberg.
To the astonishment of many local residents, a replica of the Philae Lander was launched by ESA in Redwood Park yesterday (Wednesday) and brought down to earth in a series of controlled landings in the Burntwood shopping centre car park by mission scientists.
Dr Mathias Lauer, mission controller of the lander phase of the project, was delighted:
‘As a training exercise we needed to simulate the harsh alien environment of the comet as closely as possible. With its hazardous, craggy, uneven and pockmarked surface the Burntwood car park proved to be the ideal test site. The exercise proved to be a huge success, I estimate that we have covered 95% of all possible mission-threatening events likely to be encountered by the landing vehicle on the various challenging areas of this hostile local terrain.’
Not everyone is as starstruck, local resident Mrs Pam Boreham commented:
‘I’ve been complaining about the state of this car park for years, my late mother was shuffling round inside one to those potholes for hours before I arrived to help her out.’
Sankeys Fish Bar owner Georgios Papadopoulos however was quick to take advantage of the news of ESA’s involvement, he said :
‘I’m delighted to hear that the car park has found a suitable use and more delighted that my shop is a mile down the road from it. But to celebrate we’ve launched a new commemorative dish, “The Philae of Fish on a Bed of Chippings”’.
Councillor Susan Woodward (Lab) of Chase Terrace Ward, who based her recent election campaign on a manifesto pledge to resurface the area, commented:
‘I’m always delighted to hear about inward investment to the Ward, but for the life of me my dear, I’ve no idea where this car park is ?’
The ESA has now taken off, but the publicity has come to the attention of filmmaker Martin Scorsese who has shortlisted Burntwood as the location for his next film, ‘Kiev: The Final Days’.
Anyone who has been affected by the condition of the shopping precinct car park can point Councillor Woodward in the right direction by contacting her at email@example.com
In an effort to improve commuter travel times between Lichfield City and Birmingham New Street train operator London Midland is facing the prospect of having its franchise revoked as Network Rail prepare to convert the line into a cycle track.
Severe weather, fallen trees on the line, overhead line equipment failures, trespass, fatality incidents, freight locomotive failures, winter conditions and displaced train crew : just some of the foreseeable events that competent train operators take in their stride.
But not London Midland whose public performance measure for December 2013 was, even by its own standards, appalling being its worst monthly performance for over two years.
Lichfield commuter and cycle enthusiast Richard Wheeler commented:
‘I’m delighted by the news, I really look forward to being able to cycle all the way to work in Colmore Row from my home in Brownhills. I think that I could do the journey door-to-door in three hours, which is probably a half-hour saving on my average train journey in January.’
Midland employers have also welcomed the news. Birmingham based international law firm Wragge & Co’s head of HR commented:
Birmingham City Council spokesman Peter Blinders added:
‘Many Council employees make the daily commute between Lichfield and Brum. We welcome the bold move by Network Rail, it will do away with all those old excuses about being late for work because of problems with the trains.’
Local council trade unionists however are less enthusiastic:
‘Our members have rights,’ said UNISON official Rob Robertson, ‘it has been a long standing tradition that we could blame ‘leaves on the track’ and ‘thoughtless bastard suicides’ for our members being late to work. This track conversion is a disturbing development. It puts the onus on our members to take responsibility for their own lives, that is completely unacceptable.’
Commuter and local real ale enthusiast Len Pearson also expressed concerns:
‘I’ve weighed in at over 22 stone for years now and I’m not sure if I’m fit enough to make the daily round trip, although if the rumours are true and each station is being converted to a Greggs then I’ll give it a go.’
Anyone who wishes to join in the debate can do so by contacting London Midland on Twitter @londonmidland or just use hashtag #incompetentcunts .
As the excesses of the festive season take their toll, many people are planning to get outdoors and take more exercise in the coming weeks.
And the question on many people’s lips is ‘Am I too young to join a rambling club?’
Paul Stevens, a 45-year old member of Lichfield Golf and Country Club said:
‘My wife and I gave up on the sex five years ago, so, naturally enough, I took up golf. The kids have now gone off to university and it’s become apparent that we haven’t actually had a conversation for over 18 years.’
Mr Stevens, who has recently been forced to leave the Lichfield Round Table on the grounds of age, has been looking for new ways to waste time and fill his meaningless life for the next twenty five years, after which he hopes to retire, and, shortly afterwards, to die. He continued:
‘I’ve found myself drawn to retail outlets such as Blacks and Trespass and admire the outdoor clothing, the walking boots and those extendable walking sticks. I’m seriously considering joining a rambling club but I’m not sure that I’m old enough?’
Lichfield and District Ramblers chairman Ron Shoosmith commented:
‘It’s true to say that most of our members are in their eighties and nineties, but it’s never too young to start. Nationally membership numbers are down; we don’t seem to be able to recruit new members as fast as the existing members die. So younger potential members are welcome to apply, in fact our youngest member is a sprightly 71-year old.’
The self-employed, unemployed former bank employee, Mr Stevens is not convinced:
‘I feel like I’ve been cast adrift, I’m an inbetweener,’ he said ‘I may have to take up cycling.’
Anyone who is in their 70’s, still alive and having an interest in sheep should contact Lichfield Ramblers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lichfield City striker Nick Anderson has agreed not to use a “waving” gesture again during or after a match.
Anderson, 34, made the sign at the final whistle of Lichfield’s Boxing Day thrashing by Littleton.
Former BBC Midlands boss Cath Hearne, who witnessed the event in a photograph in the Lichfield Mercury, accused him of a “disgusting Ashley Blake style” hand gesture.
Ashley Blake, a former BBC Midlands Today presenter, was sacked following a conviction in 2009 which resulted in a two year prison sentence for being a ‘a bit of a twat’.
Ms Hearne told the Daily Mail:
‘Ashley Blake gave an informal, jolly ‘wave’ at the end of each news programme that many racists found offensive.
‘Ms Hearne quit the BBC earlier this year after evidence came to light that she herself was also ‘a bit of a twat’.
A statement from Lichfield City FC said:
‘The club has asked Nick not to perform the gesture again. Nick immediately agreed to adhere to this request after acknowledging it had caused offence in some quarters.’
The club will continue to consider Anderson for matches while the matter is being investigated internally and by the Football Association.
Anderson said that he gave the characteristic wave as a gesture of support for the former TV presenter who has not worked in the media since his release from jail.
He vehemently denies having any intention to cause offence by his club’s dismal recent performances.