Implausible Story No23

 

Cabinet Meeting, December 2004

Good Morning lads and lasses take a pew and we'll get on with today's business.

The PM has asked me to deal with things while he's visiting his doctor.

What is it Deputy PM? Is our esteemed leader poorly?

No Eustace he's in the prime of his life. I meant his Spin Doctor not his actual doctor.

The theme of this meeting is to think of any more ways to make a little money on the side so we can reduce income tax just before the election.

What's that Mr Home Secretary, "privatise the treasury and sack the Chancellor"? I think that's going a bit far to get the leader's support. After all he's really good friends with the chap. You shouldn't believe all you read in the papers.
What I was thinking of was extending this business we've already got underway... transferring costs from the exchequer to council taxes.

Let me remind those of you who haven't already realised what we've done lately.

First, the transfer of the issue of licenses to pubs from the local magistrate to the local council.

I haven't heard of that one Deputy PM, enlighten me.

Well it hasn't actually been publicised along those lines Eustace.
You know about the obsession of the working man? I use the expression in the broadest sense of course.

What do you mean Deputy PM.. you mean that the workforce doesn't really work?

No not at all Eustace. Just because a man spends his life filling supermarket shelves instead of digging coal 2 miles underground doesn't mean he isn't working… I meant his obsession for drinking alcohol.
Not really an obsession. It's just that over the years, like Prohibition in the US... because we didn't allow pubs to open until it was quite late, most people thought of drinking time as a special thing… something like a reward.
If we tell everyone they can just walk into a pub at any time, even at breakfast time, they'll treat this like winning the lottery and be really grateful to us and vote for the party at the next election.

That's an amazing idea Deputy PM, but what's that got to do with saving money?

Well Eustace, let me spell it out but don't go blabbing to one and all, it's supposed to be a secret!

The Think Tank for Making Money came up with the plan.

At the moment magistrates issue drinking licenses and dancing and music licenses for pubs, like they've done for donkeys years. It's just that with high wages and expenses of magistrates and their helpers the TTMM worked out that it actually cost 20 million pounds to issue the bits of paper. They think that, as local councils are very good at issuing bits of paper, a few extra bits wouldn't go amiss and we could save 20 million pounds.
How is that connected with 24-hour drinking Deputy PM?
Well all was going well until we discovered that with all these liberals and whatnots in the local councils, not to mention teetotallers, they all ganged up and said that the licenses would have to go up in price from £5 to £2,000. The cost of all the extra staff, they said.

Good heavens Deputy PM. That sounds a lot!

It is a lot Eustace, and it will put up the price of a glass of beer by quite a lot and of course one of the very aims we are planning will backfire.

The beer-drinking workers won't vote for us at the next election!

That sounds pretty serious Deputy PM.

Indeed Eustace, hence we've changed the slant, as it were. All-day-drinking is the thrust. The beer drinking fraternity will be so grateful they won't realise the license thing was the hidden agenda, as it were.
Pubs will sell so much beer in the extra time they're open that they will be able to keep the prices the same.

Won't all the beer drinkers be paralytic Deputy PM?

Possibly Eustace. So we've got a second ploy.

We'll tell everyone that we're really against all day drinking by telling everyone that we'll charge extra to those publicans that allow beer drinkers to imbibe more than a pint or two. We can't have drunken beer drinkers causing mayhem.
By the time people realise that we've saved 20 million pounds by adding a few pence to the price of a pint they will already have voted for us.
It seems to be working because the papers have concentrated on the headlines, "24-hour drinking", and, "police budgets to be paid by rowdy pubs", and haven't picked up on the 40,000 per cent increase in the pub license.

Next I should mention another of the Think Tank's ploys.

Decriminalisation of illegal car parking.

You mean we won't get a criminal record for stopping on a double yellow line to pop in for a packet of fags Deputy PM?

Quite right Eustace.

That sounds a great idea Deputy PM.

Quite Eustace.
The hidden agenda is the transfer of police responsibility to local councils.

More time for our brave Bobbies to fill in all these new forms that we've issued to reduce the level of crime.

How can filling in forms reduce crime levels Deputy PM?

We won't go into that Eustace. It's too complicated.
Suffice it to say that, in future car parking will be up to the local councils.

Won't that be quite difficult Deputy PM?
I mean, won't the local councils have to employ lots of people to look at meters and issue fines and install lots more ticket machines everywhere?

Well, look at it this way Eustace...

If big business can make lots of money from the motorist then local councils will be able to as well.

Just think.

You'll only be able to park outside your own house either by paying lots of money for a special disk or paying a huge fine.

Some councils have already got their own plans underway, it's just we'd like them all to get involved. In fact by charging lots of money they'll be able to keep the council tax bill from going up to pay for the extra things we've shifted to them without hardly anyone finding out.

And what's more the way councils already work by sending a bailiff to collect outstanding council tax money will already be in place.

Why haven't local councils spilt the beans Deputy PM?

Simple Eustace.

The more things councils have to do, the more people will have to be employed.

The more people employed the more the salaries of the bosses can increase to reflect the extra responsibilities.

In fact all council workers will probably get promoted and benefit from better pay scales.

Take the New Forest District Council for example. *** see below

A few years ago parking was free. Now they've just increased car parking charges in their area by up to 100%, and the price of the special clocks they issued to local residents to give them free parking have gone up by 20%.

That's only fair Deputy PM. Why should local people be able to park free, after all they should travel by bus to do their shopping and not clog up the roads with their cars?

There aren't any buses in lots of the New Forest Eustace, at least maybe only one per day. Last year NFDC issued these clocks at cost to locals to compensate them, saying that it was only the tourists and visitors that would have to pay for parking.

What are you getting at Deputy PM?

Well I heard from a very good source that these clocks are going to help finance the cost of making street parking an expensive business Eustace.

The bigwigs in Hampshire County Council have told the New Forest that their parking clocks are far too cheap and they should charge a lot more and use the money to pay for hiring people to stop everyone parking free at the side of the roads.

Of course I'm only quoting this as an example Eustace.

It's going on all over the country, but don't tell anyone. It's supposed to be a secret.

Decriminalisation of car parking offences sound like a jolly good thing. But we mustn't let anyone get wind of the extra high cost of stopping their car.

Deputy PM… why don't we tell people that they'll actually save pots of money not using petrol?

Explain yourself Eustace...

If you stop your car for an hour instead of driving it at 30mph that could save a gallon of petrol at least. Parking for £2.50 per hour will actually save the motorist nearly £2.50.

Jolly good idea Eustace. We'll slant car parks as "petrol saving sanctuaries".

I'll pass that to the lads in the Think Tank tomorrow.

Something along the lines..

Signs saying, "Stop here for half price petrol". People will be queuing up in droves to feed the meters!

Right that's enough for today lads and lasses... and see if you can think of any other ways of saving money by the next meeting...

*** information contained in an inch of documents received from NFDC under the Freedom of Information act

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