diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BoJoWatch: Help a London Park

"The Mayor of London is giving ten grants of up to £400,000 to London's most needy parks to make them cleaner, safer, greener, and nicer places to visit. Londoners are now invited to vote for which parks win an award."

Hurrah! The money Boris saved by scrapping "The Londoner" is being spent on upgrading several of the capital's much-loved parks. Repaint some railings, lay a new multipurpose games pitch, introduce community vegetable plots... that sort of thing. Which sounds great and green and worthy and fantastic. Except for this "vote" nonsense. Here's the catch.

"There are forty seven deserving parks for you to choose from. To make it easier they have been divided into five London sub-regions. The winners will be the two parks in each of the five London sub-regions, which get the most votes."

So 47 parks deserve money, but only 10 will get any. What Londoners are really being asked to choose are the 37 parks that will get nothing. In common with most reality TV shows these days, harnessing the power of the public vote ensures that there will be far more losers than winners. Never mind sharing out the money 47 ways, it's all going to go on two showcase improvements in each of five London sub-regions. If you live in Hillingdon and the money goes to Hammersmith, never mind, maybe it'll be your turn in 2013.

Which means that voting is really important. The ten communities that rally the most online support will get themselves a 21st century landmark park on their doorstep. And everyone else will have to make do with a few swings and a patch of dog-squat grass. Quick, head over to the online voting form and make your choice! Voting ends at 5pm on 30th January 2009, so there's plenty of time to make your voice heard, and that of your friends too. Vote wisely, vote early, and vote often.

Oh hang on, I've just read the rules more carefully. "Each person has just one vote and can vote for only one park. We will be carrying out various checks on the information put into the website by voters and reserve the right to remove any votes where we have reason to believe irregularities have occurred."

That's a relief. Boris has ensured that online voting procedures will be rigorously regulated and strictly scrutinised. There is no possible way that any park-related voting irregularities will be permitted. The online voting form is absolutely totally 100% fraud-proof. Various cunning security devices have been employed to ensure that vote-rigging is absolutely impossible.

See, that's brilliant. By asking voters to give their name, GLA scrutineers will be able to see at a glance whether anyone has voted before. How fortunate that London's voters are trustworthy souls, and wouldn't dream of typing a false name into either box. Or indeed a different false name every day until the end of January. Or pretending to be ten imaginary members of the same family. These evil devious ploys will definitely not work at all.

See, that's brilliant. By asking voters to give their location, GLA scrutineers will gain additional information to help them weed out multiple voters at the same IP address. How fortunate that London's voters are trustworthy souls, and wouldn't dream of pretending to be at a workplace, or at a school, or indeed "at a park", and then giving hundreds of different false names as if the entire community is voting. These evil devious ploys will definitely not work at all.

See, that's brilliant. By asking voters to give their postcode, GLA scrutineers will have all the information they need to prevent mischievous ballot manipulation. How fortunate that London's voters are trustworthy souls, and wouldn't dream of entering a different postcode each time (or, more cunningly, pretending to be at a workplace and then typing in the same postcode every time). These evil devious ploys will definitely not work at all.

So come on London, let's all vote to give our nearest small park a much needed financial boost. I'm starting my 9-week campaign for the Greenway today. And it's refreshing to know that, when the results are announced in February, it'll only be the most deserving parks that win. And definitely not the big well-known parks with well-mobilised community support and an army of deceitful rule-twisting voters.

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