Sunday, 8 June 2014

Whistleblowers Syndrome

I believe that the world is often viewed by its inhabitants through a set of rose tinted glasses. However I suppose when viewed from afar, the vista does have great beauty. The canals have what is euphemistically called a 'rustic appearance' as a 200 year old national treasure languishes in what seems to be a lingering death. It's when you get up close that you find its a warts and all experience. Much of the urban parts of the canal is a dirty and squalid place.

The change from a draconian, litigious quango to a charity has not seen a significant change of the hard attitude towards the customer base. But that attitude spills over at all levels.  However, its only when you get even closer and as a customer you have issues that you want to be resolved. You then discover that even the modern, all singing and dancing charity, still has the same old time worn issues. 

My ongoing experience as a customer of the trust highlights such issues.  The marina where I moor the boat has ongoing problems. In the main from a small number of boat owners who have at best a somewhat cavalier attitude to the rules. That attitude also carries over to what is unacceptable behaviour towards other people. A whole series of issues including anti social behaviour, bullying, theft, criminal damage, fly tipping has been ongoing for a long time. Yet, in a rather perverse sort of way, the customers that make genuine complaints to the trust. Are the very ones who are most at risk from the trust. The customers who the trust should be protecting are the ones who actually experience the bad side of the continuing quango mentality.

The trust has rules and the rules should be enforced. Raising an issue directly with the moorings manager such as bullying was met with flippant remarks such as 'we are not social workers.' Which is in reality an appalling statement that beggars belief.  The trust has rules and the rules should be enforced without fear or favour. This in itself highlights the complete lack of any awareness or commitment to their responsibilities. It also highlights that they are completely out of touch with any notion of customer service and support. In reality, they are absolving themselves from doing their job.

Should the dismissive attitudes, flippant, trite and off the cuff remarks being bandied about be the way that issues are managed. Drawing the attention of the responsible staff to the issues has the same effect as being a NHS whistle blower. There is a long history of whistle blowers in the NHS who raise uncomfortable issues. The whistle blower then becomes the target of the people who should be supporting them. Because that's the easier option. Add to the mix veiled threats such as we are going to close the marina if the complains continue. This then leads the customers into feeling not only isolated but also  marginalised. This attitude clearly states 'you are not valued as a customer and we could not care less.' 

So if managers can bypass or selectively choose to ignore these important issues. It begs the question who is managing the managers?  Why are managers allowed or encouraged to be selective with the rules. After all, I am subject to conforming with the rules of the trust, there is no selectivity applied to me. Plus there are penalties and sanctions if I choose to ignore the rules. If managers are not conforming with the rules, should they also be subject to discipline for ignoring what we pay them to do. 

A recent communication from the trust highlights how bad the enforcement of the rules by the trust has become. The trust is going to run a pilot scheme on addressing anti social behaviour. The reality is that the trust should be clamping down on reported anti social behaviour and the trust should be doing it now! Not running a 'pilot' scheme, the trust should enforce the rules without fear or favour and enforce them now.

So when I read on NarrowBoat World that the Canal and River Trust is going to clamp down on anti social behaviour. I do hope that you will forgive me from taking that news with a couple of large shovels full of salt.  I am expecting pigs to be flying in victory formation over Milton Keynes long before that day arrives. 

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