Abandoned Highways Equipment, Calthorpe Street, Bloomsbury, Camden

‘Can’t Do Camden’

Owen Ward: Camden’s employees suffer from a disease. A disease which makes them go to extraordinary efforts to do nothing.

How much effort does it take to get Camden to do something?

It’s a trick question – doing nothing is what Camden do best.

I am far more proactive than most in trying to get things resolved. But sometimes it becomes apparent that no amount of effort will succeed in getting something done. Because for every ounce of effort put into trying to get something resolved, Camden pride themselves in returning two ounces of reasoning as to why technically, no we cannot do that, because this and that, so try again next week.

The absurdity of this is that I often see officers going to such contortions to justify doing nothing that it actually appears to be far easier just to do what’s asked. But that isn’t what they’re there to do! After all – the level of professionalism demanded by the Civil Service requires every officer should be able to justify doing nothing in any situation. ‘Can’t Do Camden’ – it should be the name of an app where you report things that need doing. You get a report back saying ‘done’, check what you reported and it isn’t done. You flag it up with Camden. ‘Don’t you get it’, they say ‘that’s the whole point! Doing nothing is what we do!’

Now not every officer and department in Camden behaves in this way. There are pockets of goodness in Camden, where officers rebel against ‘Can’t Do Camden’ and actually manage to do something – but be careful, don’t let on to anyone that I actually did something. I might lose my job, after all!

But let’s face it, Camden is a huge black hole of human resource and money, into which gigatons of energy go in but the will to do nothing is so enormous that not even a glimmer of useful work can escape from its event horizon. Some theoretical councillors have predicted that Can’t Do Camden will one day consume the will to live of all human beings in Camden.

The destructive analogy does not go amiss considering Camden’s ‘ambitious’ plan to flatten the whole Borough and convert it into the world’s largest luxury apartment block. It’s a good question what Camden will actually do when the whole Borough is full of empty property and empty of people. After all, how will Camden be able to justify doing nothing when there’s nobody asking them to do something?

‘Dear Diary,

Today I considered doing something but due to unforeseen circumstances I will endeavour to respond to your enquiry within twenty working days. Your rights of appeal are contained somewhere on the internet. Your reference is 348F0001P. We are completely committed to doing whatever you ask of us.

Senior Diary Entry Manager

And when they’ve successfully raised £100T from selling land to property developers, becoming the single most profitable company in recorded history, how exactly will they spend the money?

Well – there’s always the cyclists. We can turn the Borough into the world’s largest velodrome.

I personally simply cannot wait for this future ‘Super-Camden’ full of skyscrapers, the world’s largest supply of dockless bicycles and nobody to ride them. Councillors fly in from Qatar and land at Camden City Airport to take selfies atop the Burj Camden, the world’s new tallest tower. Councillor Bin Salman Al Saud boasts about how he’s managed to create the world’s most profitable company simply by selling off all the land, repeatedly stating that he’s committed to a zero person Camden, and all the while ensuring that their officers do absolutely nothing. Genius! They reminisce about how the current site of the Burj Camden used to be a quaint little square on that old imperialist board game ‘Monopoly’ – Bustle Square? Something like that. It’s so much better now we don’t have any of those pesky people to worry about.

But between today and the advent of Super-Camden, how can I get rid of a pile of highways equipment on Calthorpe Street? Hm.

It’s been reported many times since it got dumped there over two years ago by Camden’s contractors.

Lately I met with an officer to discuss how to get it removed, along with about twenty other pieces of equipment scattered throughout the area. He said it would all be gone before Christmas – I just had to supply a map. Great! But then he later told me that I’d misquoted (or ‘miscoated’) him.

Cant’ Do!

So I took photos and sent a map of all the locations to his manager. He confirmed it would all get removed.

But then it wasn’t.

I asked him what could be done about this. He said it had been removed. I checked and it hadn’t. I should now apparently go out and take photos of them all again and send it on a map… again. It’ll be investigated… if the evidence supports my claims….

Wait… I’m asking Camden to do something? Well of course it won’t be done! That’s the whole point isn’t it… I’m just asking for emails explaining why it can’t be done?

A great way to spend a rainy day, trying to get something done!

Can’t Do!

One thought on “‘Can’t Do Camden’

  1. Depressing but rings so true. But maybe you are missing the blind stupid theorists, who work for the Council but don’t live here, those that callously use their powers at Camden to inflict whatever they choose, (whatever their ill- thought through ideas might be) on hapless residents! They do all under the guise of a democracy and transparency that has been warped, with figures that don’t add up, with consultations that have reached only the obliging, actions full of conflicts of interests and displaying no empathy. It is those callous Camden staff who then go on to make empty promises of compensating improvements that never seem to happen, probably because this would actually require some thought effort and follow through! Ahh, I then walk a few metres into Islington and I breathe a little easier again and see, though not perfect, all is not wrong with the world, that there is still some skyline and respect for our heritage and ease of life.


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