T.Aldous broaches the subject of service level agreements. This is surprisingly sensible of him. And very naughty, as all around the table know the council rule that service level agreements can only be negotiated after the library has moved in and the old library building is sold. (Please could any passing Audit Commission inspectors wondering why Helminthdale's service charges are four times those of comparison authorities forget they read this paragraph).
We pop into the library-to-be, full of workmen and painters. Slap bang in the doorway is a PC sitting precariously on a Homebase pine bracket shelf five feet above the ground.
"What on earth is that?" I ask.
"It's the PC for the CCTV. We've just bought a camera so that we can have security footage of the car park."
"Why's it there?"
"It's the most convenient place."
"Convenient? It's the entrance to a public library. You can't put it there!"
"Why not? What's wrong with it?"
"Well, for a start it looks horrible. For next it's unsafe. And for finals it's insecure."
"Well, we can't move it. It has to be there."
I spend an hour trying to explain the folly of having an unsecured PC perched on a shelf in the entrance to a public library. I make noises about security, health and safety, maintenence and replacement insurance. They think I'm being awkward. Finally, old crabby asks: "Are you going to pay for it to be moved?"
I shrug and give up. I won't pretend to be sympathetic when they come along bleating that somebody's either stolen or broken the processor.
I had the last laugh. Just before I left it dawned on the centre management that the equipment wasn't plugged in.
"No it's not, love," said the sparks, "we're rewiring the room."