Thursday, 31 March 2011

Apology after paralysed cyclist receives bill from Devon County Council

A council has apologised for demanding damages from a cyclist who was left paralysed when he collided with iron railings and fell 15ft onto his head.

Ben Foulds, 18, impaled himself on a railing and suffered a broken back in the incident on Old Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple.

His family said they were astonished to receive a letter demanding payment for the cost of repairing the railings.

Devon County Council has apologised saying the letter was a mistake.

My comment: Funny how councils always rush to apologise after the press highlight their stupidity. Lessons will be learnt? NOT.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about Devon County Council on this blog

Senior director exits Suffolk County Council

A senior director has left Suffolk County Council one day after his departure was announced.

Graham Dixon, director of resource management, left the council on Thursday. Chief executive Andrea Hill told staff about the move in an email.

Ms Hill will now be be taking on his role until "more permanent arrangements can be put in place," said Sally Marlow, head of human resources.

My comment: Does the CEO have the time to do two jobs? If so she must have been under utilized or overpaid previously. Or is this just a tactic to hang onto her own job after the recent furore over her vanity snaps? 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council on this blog

Edinburgh City council suspends five members of staff amid inquiry

FIVE members of staff at Edinburgh City Council have been suspended over possible breaches of practice.

The staff, from the council's property conservation section, were placed under precautionary suspension pending an investigation. Lothian and Borders Police also confirmed they are investigating.

My comment: Lets see what the outcome of the investigation is.

Read the full story from the source The Daily Record

Read all articles about Edinburgh City Council on this blog

Gosport Borough Council, red herrings and councillors

A SUSPENDED councillor is refusing to pay back thousands of pounds in allowances after claiming to have saved taxpayers £200,000.

Dave Smith is still being paid his general members’ allowance of £435 per month despite being suspended from Gosport Borough Council in March last year.

The suspension means he cannot attend council meetings or carry out his duties as a councillor. But a loophole means Mr Smith is still entitled to an annual sum of £5,220 in general members’ allowance.

My comment: The above is a red herring to hide the real story which is why he was suspended in the first place "In a report in The News in May 2009 Mr Smith later accused officers of corruption. He was then reported to the now-abolished Standards Board for England by the council’s chief executive Ian Lycett." Why can't a councillor call council staff corrupt if he thinks they're corrupt? He is a local taxpayers representative not the Chief Executive. This is a good example of why the Standards Board was abolished by Eric Pickles, because councillors and council staff were wrongly using it to bully and silence their critics.

Read the full story from the source The Portsmouth News




Read all articles about Gosport Borough Council on this blog

Hertfordshire Police accuse Frank Bruno of stealing his own car

Frank Bruno says he was stopped by [Hertfordshire] police and accused of stealing his own car. The veteran boxer, 49, called the officers a disgrace for failing to carry out even cursory checks.

Bruno, who was driving his £45,000 Mercedes ML sports car, which has personalised number plates, said: ‘I thought they were joking, I thought it was a hidden camera show.

‘They were a disgrace to stop and ask “Have you nicked the car?”.

My comment: I hope Frank submits a formal complaint.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine sentenced to 16 months in prison

The former Labour MP Jim Devine has become the third MP to be jailed over the expenses scandal after being sentenced to 16 months at the Old Bailey.

He was the first MP to plead not guilty and face trial over expenses fraud.

Devine was formally declared bankrupt last month after failing to pay Kinley [his office manager] £35,000 for unfair dismissal.

My comment: Many more MPs thinking..."There but for the grace of God go I".

Read the full story from the source Guardian

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Caught on film – officer kicks Newport County fan

Caught on film the moment a Newport County supporter was kicked as he lay on the ground by a police officer following Sunday's away match against Wrexham FC.

A spokesman for North Wales Police said the force was aware of the video footage of the incident and was considering its contents.

My comment: Once again a video catches the Police out.

Read the full story and watch the video from the source South Wales Argus

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Report on ex-Wales Auditor General handed to police

Evidence gathered during a National Assembly for Wales inquiry into the conduct of the Wales Audit Office whilst under the leadership of the former Auditor General, Mr Jeremy Colman, will be handed to police for further investigation.

The Public Accounts Committee found the then Auditor General for Wales had allegedly "fallen far below standards expected of a high-ranking public official with regards to his conduct and management of the Audit Office between 2005 and 2009."

A new report claims the Committee had been misled about the true financial picture of the Wales Audit Office by the former Auditor General, Mr Colman, and in particular the proper disclosure of early severance packages in the annual accounts.

My comment: Hiding Fat Cat severance packages?

Read the full story from the source News Wales

Read all articles about the Wales Audit Office on this blog

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

North Yorkshire County Council PR man is held in drug probe

A TOWN HALL spin doctor has been quizzed over allegations of importing controlled drugs, the Sunday Sun can today reveal.

Martin Thomas, a trusted spokesman at a Conservative-led council in the North, has been arrested after two packages of the party drug GBL – known on the street as ‘coma in a bottle’ – were allegedly imported and sent to his town hall office and flat.

The 38-year-old has now been suspended from his influential position as communications and research officer for the Tory council after task force detectives raided his property.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said: “North Yorkshire County Council can confirm that a member of staff, who is the subject of an investigation by officers of the UK Border Agency, has been suspended from his post. “The investigation does not relate to the member of staff’s work for the authority.” 

My comment: Using his town hall office to receive drugs rather suggests that the investigation does relate to his work. Or at least the lack of it whilst engaged in his alleged nefarious activities.

Read the full story from the source Sunday Sun

Three Merseyside Police arrested

Three officers from Merseyside Police have been arrested over claims items seized in police raids were being sold on ebay.

The three officers from the Matrix team were removed from their duties at the start of the month following an internal investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Unit.

The ECHO understands the inquiry began following allegations about items going missing from people’s homes after they had been raided.

My comment: I wonder what went missing?
 
Read the full story from the sources Juice FM and the Liverpool Echo

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Cafe owner wins extractor fan appeal against Stockport Council

A cafe owner who was ordered to tear down an extractor fan because the smell of bacon offended Muslims was celebrating a 'victory for commons sense' today.

But the mother-of-seven and her husband Cetin, 50, who is himself a Turkish Muslim, appealed the decision. After a six-month legal battle, the Planning Inspectorate finally announced they had won their case.

The council will now have to pay all of Mrs Akciecek's legal costs plus their own, which include the costs of planning reports, lawyers' consultations and meetings. All will be met by the public purse.

My comment: From what I hear the biggest stink in Stockport emanates from the Town Hall. 

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about Stockport MB Council on this blog

Stoke-on-Trent city council's £365K Bill to save just £600K

A COUNCIL has been criticised after spending £365,000 to hire a cost-cutting firm – to identify £600,000 worth of savings.

It was brought in to look at key services, including housing maintenance and council tax collection, to try to make them more efficient.

Vanguard Consulting have been paid just over £1,000 a day by Stoke-on-Trent city council and in under a year raked in £365,400, with an additional expenses bill of £17,884.

My comment: The councillors and senior staff who approved this consultancy should be removed because they are clearly not fit for purpose. Did none of them think to agree a conditional fee based on the amount of money saved? It's not bloody rocket science. 

Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk

Read all articles about Stoke-on-Trent City Council on this blog

The invisible police

In worst forces, fewer than 10 per cent are actually fighting crime.

Fewer than one in ten uniformed officers in some police forces are available to man the front line at any one time, a damning report reveals today.

There are also more officers on duty on a quiet Monday morning than at any other time of the week – and the fewest just after midnight on Friday when levels of drunken violence soar.

The watchdog found many other forces fared little better, with an average of 12 per cent of officers available to catch crooks and keep people safe.

Sir Denis revealed that his staff faced resistance from some chief constables and that 21 forces out of 43 did not reply to a survey.

My comment: Just what is the point of a watchdog if the body they are supposedly watching can ignore them with impunity or the best they can do is write a report? The same goes for Local Government Ombudsmen V local authorities and the Parliamentary Ombudsman V government. Toothless watchdogs are just a waste of taxpayer's money.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Police on this blog

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Surrey Police pays out £15MILLION of taxpayers' money in fuel allowances

A cash-strapped police force has paid out a staggering £15million of taxpayers' money in fuel allowances to officers, it was revealed today.

Surrey Police pay out more than £2million EACH YEAR to officers who claim petrol allowance for personal use, which includes driving to and from work.

The police have defended the payments, saying they were needed to stop officers transferring to forces which offered higher salaries like the Met.

My comment: Taxpayer's money used to give fuel allowances to Police Officers for personal use? Didn't MPs use a similar excuse for fiddling their expenses? Pay not good enough so we were encouraged to pad our expense claims! I wonder how many are paying tax on their expenses for private use?

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Eastbourne DG Hospital under fire after error details withheld

ATTEMPTS to cover up a blunder at Eastbourne DGH have been exposed during an investigation into a baby’s death.

A coroner criticised hospital officials for withholding vital information from him in their reports of baby Jacob Anscombe’s death at an inquest on Thursday (March 10).

He was just hours old when a doctor gave him the wrong injection following a heart attack. He died early next morning on October 21.

The NHS trust which runs the DGH has been forced to apologise for hindering the inquest.

When coroner Alan Craze began his inquiries he discovered witness statements had been altered and mentions of the blunders had been erased.

My comment: Will anyone lose their job for what is a clear attempt to pervert the course of justice? I doubt it because they state “We will do everything it (sic) can to avoid any similar occurrence with regard to information pertaining to any inquest the coroner may hold.” In other words they get away with it because they promised to do everything they can to avoid tampering with evidence in the future.

Read the full story from the source Eastbourne Herald

Read all articles about the NHS on this blog

Councillors in row over decision to change farming land to light industrial

THREE Liberal Democrat councillors have withdrawn from their positions on East Devon District Council's planning committee and ordered an investigation into how a planning decision was reached.

Lib Dem leader Councillor Geoff Chamberlain, Councillor Steve Wragg and Councillor Derek Button have decided to play no part on the committee until the investigation is complete.

Their decision followed the committee's approval of planning permission for the change of use of land from farming to light industrial at Waldrons Farm, in Farringdon, near Exeter.

My comment: Three councillors with integrity? How rare these days.

Read the full story from the source This is Exeter

Read all articles about East Devon District Council on this blog

Sacked Baby P boss's legal war could cost the taxpayer £3.5m

In the Appeal Court she renewed her fight against the council, regulator Ofsted and former children's secretary Ed Balls over the loss of her £130,000-a-year job. Ms Shoesmith claims she was made a scapegoat and that her career was ruined by a media witch-hunt and political pressure.

My comment: Like all heads of failing (failed) departments she should have fallen on her sword long before being sacked.

Read the full story from the source London Evening Standard

Read all articles about Haringey Council LB on this blog

Anglesey councillor to face court over benefit claim

A LONG serving councillor has been accused of failing to declare his council earnings while claiming around £7,700 in incapacity benefit.

Hefin Thomas, who represents Pentraeth on Anglesey, has been charged with making a false statement while claiming the benefit.

The former portfolio holder for Highways and Maritime is alleged to have failed to declare the full allowance income he received for his work as a county councillor.

”Incapacity Benefit is paid to people who can’t work because of illness or disability who are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, or Statutory Sick Pay has run out."

My Comment: Looks like his get out will be to argue that being a councillor on £13.834 of taxpayer's money isn't work.

Read the full story from the source Daily Post

Read all articles about Anglesey Council and all articles about Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on this blog

Kirklees Council leader 'meddles' in information requests

KIRKLEES Council leader Mehboob Khan has been meddling in public information.

Everyone has the right to request information held by public sector organisations under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

But the Examiner can exclusively reveal that Clr Khan has been amending the information which has been prepared ready to send out to people.

Former council leader Kath Pinnock has described his actions as “disturbing”.

EXAMINER reporter Katie Grant asked the Freedom of Information service how much council tax is currently owed by people living in Kirklees – including all overdue payments.

The FOI officer prepared a full response using information from the Revenues and Benefits service dating back to 1993 which was sent to Clr Khan.

But Clr Khan replied: "This is not going out. Who prepared the response?"

A new response was prepared which only showed figures for the financial year 2010/11 – a financial year that still has not finished.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose Councillor. Hope the electorate remember his actions come voting time. If you wish to submit a Freedom of Information request to Kirklees Council this can be done on-line at WDTK 

Read the full story (all 5 pages) from the source The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, also read David Higgersonss article for his views on the Examiner story.

Read all articles about Kirklees Council on this blog

UPDATE 24th July 2011: Mehboob Khan, misconduct hearing to be held!

KIRKLEES COUNCIL leader Mehboob Khan will be investigated for misconduct over his handling of public information – but the entire process will be conducted in secret.

And that comes after Clr Khan admitted amending public information before it was sent out to people.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose councillor. 

Read the full story from the source The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Monday, 28 March 2011

Another MP not fit for purpose?

Police called and hours of CCTV footage scanned after ‘union men’ walk off with half a bottle of Labour MP’s £14 wine.

A Labour MP has been accused of wasting police time after he summoned an officer and two security guards to investigate the theft of half a bottle of wine from a Commons bar. 

Dunfermline MP Thomas Docherty claims two men, believed to be union activists, walked off with the unfinished £14 bottle of chardonnay.

Even though the bottle was later returned to him, the men disappeared and Mr Docherty demanded they be apprehended.

Mr Docherty was later taken to one side by two fellow Labour MPs who told him ‘to stop making a mountain out of a molehill’.

My comment: There's plonk and there's plonkers. Would the police turn up if I reported that some one had stolen my half finished pint? I think not. Why do the police allow MPs and Councillors to waste their time whilst refusing to turn up when citizens reports more serious crimes. Furthermore, I wonder if he bought the wine on expenses?

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Read all articles about MPs and all articles about the Police on this blog.

The Public centre branded a waste of money

The Public centre was today labelled as “perhaps the worst example of a gross waste of public money” in a damning report by MPs on the Arts Council.

The report into how the arts are funded heavily criticised the quango for its role in the West Bromwich arts centre, which has cost £72million and ran £49m over budget.

The Arts Council has spent more than £32m of taxpayers’ money on the project.

MPs said: “We note that the case of The Public gallery in West Bromwich is perhaps the worst example of a gross waste of public money by the Arts Council."

My comment: When quangos waste taxpayer's money on this scale MPs should stop noting things and start to kick ass. Otherwise just what purpose do they serve? 

 Read the full story from the source Express and Star

Former Herts County Council legal chief admits child porn charges

A FORMER head of legal services at Herts County Council admitted 18 charges relating to child abuse images today (Monday, March 28).

Andrew Laycock, 58, pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to 17 counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possession of more than 5,700 indecent images during June last year.

Robbie Weber, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Mr Laycock, who is now retired, had previously held the role of head of legal services at Herts County Council.

My comment: So much for councils who think their head of legal is beyond reproach. 

Read the full story from the source Hertfordshire Mercury

Read all articles about Hertfordshire County Council on this blog

Westminster Council pays firm £600,000 after parking contract U-turn

A Tory council has been forced to pay £600,000 compensation to a firm it axed as its parking contractor after only a few days.

Westminster had to fork out to stave off a costly court action after it awarded a £46 million contract to Mouchel and then swiftly scrapped it.

The fall-out happened after Westminster realised it had failed to follow its own rules when awarding the UK's biggest parking contract to Mouchel last March.

My comment: It's only taxpayer's money, they can always sack a few more front line workers rather than the idiots responsible in order to recover the money they wasted. Want to know how much they (over) paid their (incompetent) senior officers last year? Download the Rich List and look at page 306.

Read the full story from the source London Evening Standard

Senior redundancies cost council £940k in six months

SENIOR officer redundancies have cost Notts County Council £940,000 in the last six months.

Staff have taken either voluntary or compulsory redundancy in corporate services, and the children and young people's services departments.

My comment: Fat cats in office, fatter cats out of office. I wonder how many senior staff were involved, 2?

Read the full story from the source This is Nottingham

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Probation Service wasting taxpayer's money.

HOME Office contractors travelled six hours from Liverpool to South Wales and back to change a single carpet tile, it has emerged.

The extraordinary trip was exposed in a report detailing the red tape that saw probation service chiefs repeatedly summon workmen halfway across the country to clean windows, paint walls or fix blocked toilets.

A worker travelled from London to fix an alarm in South Wales – only to find he didn’t have the part.

Window cleaners were repeatedly sent from the Midlands and Manchester areas to bail hostels in South and Mid Wales.

Carpenters travelled from Birmingham to repair a broken cupboard in North Wales – but decided it needed a new door and left without fixing it.

My comment: Once again these cases highlight that public bodies' wilfully waste  taxpayer's money!

Read the full story from the source  Wales On-Line

DWP stop disabled girl's benefit

A GIRL with one leg has had her benefits stopped - because officials say she is not disabled enough.

Department of Work and Pensions letter said Olivia's monthly £281 Disability Living Allowance and £26 Mobility Allowance were being cut. A subsidised car her family use for hospital trips is also being axed.

DWP axed the benefits on the basis of a telephone conversation with a teacher.

My comment: This turns on whether DWP validated what they had been told by a teacher before stopping her benefits? 

Read the full story from the source The Sun

Read all articles about the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on this blog

Harrow Council: Let there be light (bulbs on expenses)

A COUNCIL finance expert who claimed the cost of lightbulbs for her home on expenses while being paid a £120,000 salary to cut costs has landed a new job at another town hall on an even fatter salary.

There was mounting anger last night over the wages now being paid to Julie Alderson, with critics claiming the local authority bosses who have hired her for £53,000 a year more than David Cameron is paid must be “crazy”.

While working for Kirklees council in West Yorkshire, Mrs Alderson topped up her pay by claiming an extra £1,000 a month in expenses. Now she is earning £195,600 a year to tell town hall chiefs at Harrow council in London how to trim their bills.

My comment: It appears that most councils don't have councillors with the right skills and enough competence to recruit senior staff. As far as Harrow is concerned they may have been too busy trying to avoid their own council tax? 

Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk

Read all articles about Harrow Borough Council and all articles about Kirklees Council on this blog

Richmond Council planning chief 'got special treatment'

The council’s planning chief got “special treatment” when she consulted her department’s director about a restriction on her own house, it has been claimed.

Councillor Virginia Morris, cabinet member for environment and planning at Richmond Council, told the authority’s environment director Paul Chadwick she did not want to erect 1.7m side screens on her balcony.

“She has had access to meetings with the director of environment and planning which ordinary applicants would not be afforded.”

Councillor Stephen Knight, leader of Richmond’s Liberal Democrats, said: “The concern is that this could well be seen as inappropriate special treatment being given to a councillor.

She was granted permission for a balcony without side screens on January 21, 2010, but objectors contacted the council and the planning committee ruled on February 17 this year that she did, in fact, need to put them up.

My comment: Nepotism is a fact of life in councils particularly planning departments. Normally, however, these 'favours' don't come to light because we have such a weak system of administrative justice and scrutiny in this country. If a councillors don't identify the problem themselves, as in this case, their is very little chance of a discredited Local Government Ombudsman or any other watchdog doing do. 

Even whistle blowers are now being financially encouraged by councils to sign gagging agreements to stop the truth about favours and other wrongdoings getting into the public domain.

Read the full story from the source Richmond and Twickenham Times More information from Out Soon

Read all articles about Lambeth Council (LB) on this blog

Friday, 25 March 2011

When a watchdog becomes a lapdog

Following in the footsteps of the discredited Local Government Ombudsmen, we now have the anti-sleaze watchdog (IPSA) agreeing concessions with MPs, including allowing more to claim rent for a home in London.

Other changes include paying housing and travel costs for children over the age of five and raising staff budgets. MPs will also be able to use Parliamentary credit cards more to ease “cashflow’’ problems.

The proposals by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority should take effect next month, the deadline MPs had given the body to reform or face an overhaul. MPs complained that the system put in place after the expenses scandal is too bureaucratic and leaves them thousands in the red.

Commons Leader Sir George Young welcomed the steps “towards a regime that better enabled MPs to do their jobs”.

My comment: "towards a regime that better enabled MPs to do their job" or towards a regime that makes it easier for them to fiddle their expenses? 

The Watchdog taxpayers wanted
The Lapdog taxpayers got
When a watchdog starts to act as a lapdog for the body they are supposed to be watching they just become another waste of taxpayer's money. Local Government Ombudsmen have been Local Government Lapdogs for years and can no longer justify their existence. IPSA looks like they are now following suit by doing what their masters, the Government, tell them. Nice little doggy, roll over!


Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk

Read all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on this blog

Blaenau Gwent chief Robin Morrison leaves to cut costs

Blaenau Gwent chief executive is to leave his job as part of an ongoing review to cut senior management costs. Robin Morrison will leave the authority at the end of March after a council meeting to "mutually terminate his contract".

His departure means a reduction in the corporate management team from [five?] to four, and a possible saving of £315,000 over five years. Resources director David Waggett has been appointed interim chief executive.

My comment: So why was he recruited in the first place if the council can now do without him? Probably recruited when councils could waste taxpayer's money without accountability on too many fat cat senior staff.

Here are the 2009/10 remuneration packages for Blaenau Gwent senior staff,  Chief Executive - £141,175, Corporate Director Community Services - £123,707, Chief Education Officer  - £77,896, Corporate Director Business Development - £197,057 , Corporate Director Environment - £100,663, Corporate Director Resources  - £100,780.  Total cost of their previously bloated management team £741,248. For more information read the taxpayer's Alliance Rich List (Pages 38/9).

Read the full story from the source BBC News

The ICO: Monitoring compliance with the Freedom of Information Act

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a list of public sector bodes, including 18 local authorities, which it says are being monitored for failing to respond to freedom of information requests on time.

We intend to target our monitoring activity towards those authorities which repeatedly or seriously fail to respond to freedom of information requests within the appropriate timescales.

Monitoring may be a precursor to further action if an authority is unable to demonstrate an improvement within a specified timescale.

We monitor public authorities over a three month period. We will then consider whether further action is appropriate. The next list of the authorities we intend to monitor will be publicly available once these considerations are complete.

List of currently monitored authorities

Babergh District Council
Birmingham City Council
British Transport Police
Bromsgrove District Council
Cabinet Office
Calderdale Council
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust
Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission
Department for Work and Pensions
Government Equalities Office
Gravesham Borough Council
Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Home Office
Lancashire County Council
Legal Services Commission
London Borough of Barnet (Council)
London Borough of Croydon (Council)
London Borough of Ealing (Council)
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (Council)
London Borough of Islington (Council)
London Borough of Newham (Council)
Medway Council
Metropolitan Police Service
Ministry of Defence
North West Strategic Health Authority
Northern Ireland Office
Rural Payments Agency
Surrey Heath Borough Council
The Scotland Office
Transport for London
Westminster City Council
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
Wolverhampton City Council

My comment:  The ICO needs to show some real teeth if they expect improvement from a public authority. Monitoring followed by a mild slap on the wrist is not good enough.

Read the full story from the source Information Commissioner

Read all articles about the ICO on this blog

North East Lincolnshire Council fills none job post

The UK’s most infamous non-job has been filled.

Non-job of the week: Future Shape Programme Manager, paying £70K a year. Since then this non-job has been talked about by newspaper columnists and has featured on radio and television.

North East Lincolnshire Council’s chief executive insists this new role is vital for the council. In the following video you will see a clip of the new Future Shape Programme Manager, and there is an interview with the chief executive at the end.

It’s as if someone has asked the question, “Are we over-staffed?”, and they got the reply, “I don’t know, but perhaps we should hire a few more people to find out!” 

My comment: If the council's senior staff  don't have the skills to shape the future of the council then they should be sacked. The current CEO's comment in the video 'we can't do it to ourself is ludicrous'. Me thinks he should be the first to go followed by the elected representatives who approved this nonsense.

Read the full story (and watch the video) from the source Tax Payer's Alliance

The LGA fat cats

One useful role for the Local Government Association could be offering Town Halls some tips of streamlining layers of senior management. Unfortunately the LGA is in no position to do - it is a worse offender in this regard than any local council.

Look at these salaries for the LGA "family." Why does the LGA needs three levels of chief executives? The CE John Ransford, The Deputy CE Jo Miller and the newly appointed Assistant CE Corin Thomson. This is an organisation that doesn't deliver any services to the public - yet has more levels of chief executives than even a large local council.

There are a further 20 people at LGA with salaries in excess of £85,000, another three at Local Government Employers in excess of £95,000, another three at Local Government Regulation £85,000 and another one at Local Government Leadership at £100,000. The salaries stated do not include pension contributions by the employer which can add another 15-20%.

My comment: Councils should stop spending taxpayer's money for membership of the LGA. They are already paying huge salaries to the fat cats in their own authorities, why should they use taxpayer's money to contribute to the hefty salaries handed out to employees of the LGA. Divert their LGA membership cost to front line services!

Read the full story from the source conservativehome

Read all articles about the LGA on this blog

IPSA: Part of the problem not part of the solution

Even by the standards of Quangoland the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority offers astonishingly bad value for money. In its first year, 2009/10, its accounts shows it spent £2.9 million.

Its workload was that it 'received, validated and paid over 3,800 claim forms'.

So its budget didn't include the cost of the MPs expenses themselves - just the cost of administering them. Any Human Resources Department of any private company would regard that level of productivity as staggeringly dismal.

The Chairman, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy is paid £700 a day. The Chief Executive Andrew McDonald is paid 'between £105,000 and £109,999' a year. What does he do for the money? Presumably he is too grand to check any of the grubby receipts himself.

The 'Director of Policy' John Sills is paid £85,000-£89,999. IPSA's policy seems to be to go soft on MPS in the hope that MPs will go soft on IPSA. There is also a Director of Communications, etc, etc. They should just employ people to check that the exes are legit.

The farce can't go on. IPSA is part of the problem not part of the solution. Even if MPs were paid an extra £10,000 each on their salaries there would be still be a saving for the taxpayer if IPSA and the MPs expenses were abolished as part of the deal. Until this decisive change is brought in this humiliating mess will continue.

My comment: £2,900,000 to validate 3800 claim forms works out at £763 to validate each claim form. Probably much more than many of the claims. This is typical public sector/quangoland madness. IPSA: More an expensive lapdog than an effective watchdog!

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on this blog

Chelmsford Borough Council 'rubbish Gestapo' fine nurse £75

A mother condemned council workers as ‘rubbish Gestapo’ yesterday after they threatened her with a criminal record for putting a black sack out next to her full wheelie bin. Two ‘rude and aggressive’ uniformed staff visited Sally Singh last month.

Ignoring her pleas to come back later because her son had been seriously ill all night, they handed her a £75 fine, threatening her with a court appearance and £2,500 penalty if she failed to pay.

On Wednesday it emerged families were being told to remove wheelie bins from streets within hours of binmen emptying them or face a £110 fine. Local Government Minister Bob Neill said at the time families were being ‘hammered’ with bigger fines than shoplifters.

My comment: Hardly a response proportionate to the offence. Being an oldie I remember when the bin men picked up the bin (and any other rubbish) from the back of the house, emptied it in their dust cart, brought the bin back round the back and even put the lid on. Mind you that was back in the days when councils served the public whereas now we are expected to serve the 'Gestapo' councils.

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Suffolk County Council pays potential whistleblowers to keep quiet

A controversial council chief oversaw payouts of more than £500,000 to gag departing staff last year. Andrea Hill, who is paid a £218,000 salary, presided over the handouts that ensured former employees would not become whistleblowers. Forty-one people were paid between £2,000 and £60,000, at an average of £12,714 each.

The monthly cost to taxpayers of such agreements has quadrupled since Mrs Hill, 46, joined Suffolk council in early 2008.

Suffolk’s gagging payouts totalled £521,277 last year. From January 2008 to September 2009, just over £10,000 a month was paid out. That has now risen to £43,000 a month.

Kathy Pollard, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Tory-run council, said: 'There have been quite a few high-profile communications people who have left but that doesn’t account for all the staff. 'It's very hard to know what is going on but it is obviously something to do with the culture of the council.'

My comment:  Other councils such as Cheshire West and Cheshire have also started to use 'gagging agreements' to stop potential whistleblowers in their tracks. Obviously they must have something they prefer to keep taxpayers in the dark about! Does anyone else see the irony of a situation in which taxpayers money is used to pay off potential whistleblowers so they, the taxpayer, won't know what their council is up to? Kathy Pollard hits the nail on the head when she states "it is obviously something to do with the culture of the council".

Read the full story from the source  Daily Mail

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about whistle-blowers on this blog.

Bungling cops

NIGHT Stalker Delroy Grant remained free to terrorise hundreds of victims because of a string of police blunders.

At one point he was even mistakenly eliminated as a suspect - and continued raping and burgling for another decade.

The number of additional victims is officially put at 146. In reality, officers admit it is far higher. The Metropolitan Police last night issued a public apology over the DNA error.

My comment: I note they have apologised but I can't find any mention of disciplinary action against the person or persons responsible. No doubt they will say lessons have been learnt in an attempt to draw a line under this fiasco. Until of course something like this happens again.

Read the full story from the source The Sun

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Somerset County Council £800-a-day consultant

Somerset County Council has defended its decision to hire a consultant at a cost of £800 a day.

Lesley Ottery has been hired as a "business improvement director" for six months.

The Conservative-led authority says taxpayers' money will be saved as Mrs Ottery will look to see where savings can be made in the council's budget.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Alan Paul said the decision was "disgraceful".

My comment: If Somerset County Council have no one in-house who can identify savings then their current senior staff are not fit for purpose.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about Somerset County Council on this blog

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Police warning for former councillor in emails dispute

A former Keighley councillor has received a police warning in a dispute with Keighley Town Council.

Brian Morris, the former chairman of the town council’s allotments and landscapes committee, confirmed he received visits from a police sergeant at his home earlier this year.

But he said he was not charged with anything. “I thought it was a joke and a waste of police time,” he said.

Keighley town clerk Miggy Bailey said she and her colleagues took action after receiving “unacceptable” e-mails from Mr Morris.

My comment: I thought that was what spam/email filters were for. Note how the Police get involved when a council or councillor reports a very minor problem (Daffodils) but often don't want to know when a member of the public reports serious crimes. I wonder if the Police would get involved every time I received a few 'unacceptable' emails?

Read the full story from the source Keighley News

Read all articles about the Police or all articles about Keighley Town Council on this blog

Tory MEP ordered to pay back £345,289 for unjustified expenses

Former Tory MEP Den Dover, who was expelled from the Conservative Party over allegations of expenses misconduct, has been ordered by the European Court of Justice to repay £345,289 in "unjustified" claims.

Mr Dover, 72, an MEP for the North West England region from 1999 to 2009, was suspended and then expelled from the party in November 2008 for "gross misconduct" after the Parliament demanded repayment of £538,000 in allowances officials said should not have been claimed.

My comment: MEP fiddles his expenses, gets a medal and may yet keep his ill-gotten gains?

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Flintshire Council’s six-month bill for consultants: £1.25m

FLINTSHIRE Council spent more than £1.25 million on consultants in six months, it has emerged.

More than 150 consultants were employed by the council in the first half of 2010, despite a total workforce of more than 8,000.

My comment: It's only taxpayer's money! :)

Read the full story from the source The Leader

Read all articles about Flintshire County Council on this blog

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Not enough money to repair Cumbria’s roads

County council officials say frost damage has wreaked havoc with the roads network, which is in a “bleak” condition littered with potholes.

And they admit there is nowhere near enough money to carry out all the required repairs. The council is concentrating its limited budget on busy main roads.

There will be little, if any, maintenance of minor country roads and estate roads in towns.

My comment: No wonder they have no money left to repair pot holes when last year they paid their now ex CEO a total remuneration of £464,113 (Salary of £97,509 with bonuses of £15,435 and a contribution of £351,169 to his pension pot). 

Read the full story from the source  News & Star

HM Revenue & Customs double incompetence

HM Revenue & Customs debt collectors have threatened to visit the home of a frail 95-year-old widow and confiscate her possessions, even though she has paid too much tax.

We asked the charity Tax Help For Older People to look at her case. After examining her records it emerged that she has in fact paid more than £380 too much tax.

HMRC agreed with these figures. But in another staggering example of incompetence it failed to tell its debt management section, which issued the threatening letter.

My comment: Yet another 'you couldn't make this up' story about the pubic sector.

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Read all articles about HM Revenue and Customs on this blog

Leicester City Council memory stick goes missing

Council memory stick containing codes to house keys of 2,000 vulnerable residents goes missing.

Medical details were also contained on the computer stick, Leicester city council admitted. Bosses are scrambling to change the KeySafe home codes for affected users. The files of nearly 4,000 vulnerable LeicesterCare residents were lost.

My comment: Another 'you couldn't make this up' story about a public authority.

Read the full story from the source Mirror News

This news comes almost two years after Leicester City Council signed an undertaking with the ICO for losing details of 80 children on an unencrypted memory stick.

My comment:  Never mind signing undertakings the person responsible should have been sacked two years ago and the person responsible should be sacked today. We need  watchdogs with teeth not one that relies on signed undertakings that are obviously worthless .

Read the full story from the source computing.co.uk

Read all articles about Leicester City Council and all articles about the ICO on this blog

Andrea Hill, Suffolk County Council Ice queen

Andrea Hill’s enormous salary and lifestyle as a council boss has caused national outrage – and her home isn’t even in the county she runs.

Council taxpayers in Suffolk are funding one of the nation’s most expensive county council chief executives. In an area of the country where the average salary is about £23,000 a year Andrea Hill is pocketing £218,000. That is £76,000 more than the Prime Minister receives and would pay for all the county’s crossing patrols for an entire year with plenty of cash left over to buy new library books.

Under her control Suffolk County Council was criticised for spending more than £6,000 on team-building exercises. The training included chocolate-making lessons, drumming, singing and rope walks. Later £12,000 was paid to “development guru” Sol Davidson for 23 sessions with Hill. He is described as an expert in “leading on the edge of chaos”.

Then there was an outcry when it emerged that a photographer had been commissioned to produce makeover- style portraits of the council chief. The bill showed that more than £1,400 was paid for “Andrea Hill photos”. Her constantly-evolving hairstyle became a source of fascination, changing from auburn tints to soft curls and short crop. Hill also raised eyebrows by turning up clutching a £1,300 Prada handbag to officially welcome Prince Charles and Camilla to Suffolk. Her insistence that her first name is pronounced “Arn-drea” has become a joke among staff. In her last post Hill was nicknamed “the Ice Queen”. 

My comment: For more info about the Photos. The good citizens of Suffolk should vote out the elected representatives who made the CEO recruitment and training decisions. If they are daft enough to pay over the odds for someone who then needs training they are clearly not fit for purpose. The fact that Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke has also been to life guru Sol Davidson for lessons in 'leadership development' may explain a lot. 

Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council on this blog

Twitter ban for Coventry councillors

FRUSTRATED councillors today called for "common sense" after being banned from sending messages on the networking website Twitter during a council meeting.

They were ordered under council rules to switch off their mobile phones and stop “tweeting” on Twitter – posting messages about the debate to their friends and followers.

Only Telegraph reporter Les Reid was allowed to continue reporting the debate on Twitter live from the chamber, and his messages were fed onto the home page of the Coventry Telegraph website.

My comment: Easy way around this nonsense for any Councillor, just get a friend/researcher/relation to do it for you until Coventry Council comes to its senses. Or in the alternative use a device other than a mobile phone to Tweet.

Read the full story from the source Coventry Telegraph

Read all articles about Coventry City Council on this blog

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

£635,000 benefits blunder at Flintshire County Council

FLINTSHIRE County Council could lose out on hundreds of thousands of pounds after a series of benefits blunders.

A damning report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has identified a catalogue of ‘weaknesses’ in the authority’s complex housing benefit payment system, including an overpayment to tenants of more than £235,000.

And, as a result of a separate error, it could also have to pay back as much as £397,000 to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) due to an over-claim for housing benefit reimbursement.

Cllr Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of the Labour opposition, has demanded resignations over the mistakes.

He said: “There is total incompetence at the helm of Flintshire County Council and enough is enough.

Kerry Feather, the council’s head of finance, said: “The findings of the WAO are being taken very seriously and urgent action is being taken.

My comment: If this happened in a private company heads would have rolled already. Flintshire on the other hand can pass the cost onto the taxpayer and no doubt the Head of Finance will keep their job. (Remuneration £100,397. Basic Pay £81,960, Employers contribution to pension £18,277, Expense Allowance £160. Source Taxpayers Alliance Rich List

Read the full story from the source Flintshire Chronicle

Read all articles about Flintshire County Council and all articles about the Wales Audit Office on this blog

Monday, 21 March 2011

Another Councillor makes an Ass of himself.

It is the scenario the phrase 'conflict of interest' could have been invented for: the local politician who hates the team he represents and supports their bitter arch-rivals.

Simon Blackburn, prospective leader of the Labour Council in Blackpool, could not hide his fury when his beloved [Blackburn] Rovers fell 2-0 down at home to the Seasiders at the weekend, reverting to type and suggesting the very people that voted him into office prefer the intimate company of four-legged animals to that of their own species.

My comment: I am sure they would prefer the company of a donkey to his.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-line 

LGA: Councils were overstaffed

Councils to save millions through shared services

Sharing chief executives, merging back-offices and joining forces to procure goods and services will save councils hundreds of millions of pounds over the next ten years, analysis by the LGA can reveal.

My comment: Proving that councils must have been overstaffed with 'part time' managers in the first place. Nice one LGA, talk about an own goal! 

Read the full story from the source LGA media release spin

Read all articles about the LGA on this blog

‘Farce’ as councillors’ cones are confiscated

RESIDENTS were delighted when councillors paid for 20 traffic cones to stop football fans parking across their drives.

But in a skit worthy of a comedy sketch, the cones were confiscated from Leeson Road the following week... by a “super-diligent” council parking official.

A Bournemouth Council spokesperson said the officer had mistakenly thought that the cones had been placed in the wrong road and borrowed them to use in Littledown Avenue.

He was said to be unaware that they had been bought for Leeson Road residents by ward councillors.

My comment: Typical officious parking official.

Read the full story from the source Daily Echo

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Watchdog raps Essex County Council for breaking rules

ESSEX County Council has been condemned in an official report for not carrying out basic procedures properly. Local government watchdog the Audit Commission investigated six areas where the council received a Government grant.

Despite the council spending tens of millions of pounds on managers and consultants, it often failed to meet basic standards of accounting, proper practice and checking on work.

Failings included: - When it asked for information, in nine cases the commission says it received it late and it contained errors.

- For the third year running, contracts for the council’s Surestart programme, worth £31million, were not awarded in accordance with rules which required a full tender process.

- The council, and those it gave grants to, did not keep proper records of where the money was spent, and council accounts were littered with errors.

My comment: A system so open to corruption needs more than a rap from the Audit Commission. Another failure by an ineffective Watchdog! Essex County Council should sack the person responsible, end of. In addition why did it take the Audit Commission  three years to report Essex County Council for not awarding contracts in accordance with rules? 

Read the full story from the source Brentwood Weekly News

Read all articles about Essex County Council, all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Audit Commision on this blog

£218K Council fat cat gets £1400 makeover and we pay for it!

FAT CAT council boss Andrea Hill was accused of “shocking vanity” yesterday after spending £1,474 of taxpayers’ cash on a glamorous new official photograph.

Ms Hill, who is paid £218,000 a year – £75,000 more than the Prime Minister, had the picture taken for the brochures and website of Suffolk county council.

The photoshoot came weeks after it emerged that the 46-year-old chief executive had “leadership coaching” sessions costing £14,000.

My comment: The Council also contributed to her pension which elevated her remuneration for the year to £267,775. When will this madness stop? In addition why would you employ a leader that costs £267,775 a year who needed leadership training?  

Click here to see one of the £1,474.74p set of pictures.

And here to see two more that look more appropriate for someone joining a dating agency than the Chief Executive of a Council. UPDATE: Pictures have now been removed!

Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk Also read an update by David Higgerson

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council on this blog

Touched a nerve? Suffolk County Council Google searched for "daily mail andrea hill photo shoot" and ended up visiting my blog at 1.44pm on the 22nd March 2011.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Council rip out kiddies' playground and replace it with a WALL.

COUNCIL workmen ripped out a park's kiddies' playground - and replaced it with a 6ft BRICK WALL.

Officials told stunned residents there was no cash left for new swings, a slide and climbing frame at Shepley Wood. They said kids could practise football by kicking a ball against the wall instead.

Angry Eileen Pritchard said: "All youngsters will do is cover it with graffiti, climb on it - then fall off and hurt themselves." Cllr Kevin Welsh, from the Labour-run Audenshaw council in Greater Manchester, said: "Funding was slashed so we built a 'kick wall'."

My comment: Another, 'you can't make this sort of nonsense up' story. Are the councillors not worried that residents may line them up against the wall for crimes against common sense? Maybe the council should also do this thus completing their exercise in stupidity. To see how much money this council wastes on its senior staff download the Town Hall Rich List (PDF) from the taxpayer's Alliance and read page 276.

Read the full story from the source The Sun

Read all articles about Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council on this blog

Best comment from another article about the wall in the  Manchester Evening News comes from Rambo, "I phoned the council about this, but is like talking to a brick wall!"

Update: My FOI request on the 18th March 2011 for more information.

Their visit to my blog on the 21st March 2011.

And a longer visit on March 22nd to read this particular post.

Conwy council finds Byron Davies, CEO, guilty of misconduct

The chief executive of Conwy council has been found guilty of misconduct for being overly aggressive towards staff.

Allegations against Byron Davies, 52, were aired at a meeting on Monday, and the minutes were published on Friday. They show the council passed a resolution which found him guilty of misconduct, while the minutes include claims he was rude and abrasive.

Mr Davies, 52, was suspended last March after he was arrested by police investigating an alleged rape. The council chief. from Yelverton, Devon, has been suspended for a further unspecified period while the council looks into other matters.

There is another set of disciplinary matters, and it is alleged that Mr Davies might have misled the council's senior disciplinary committee when he answered the question about whether he had ever been convicted, arrested or investigated for any form of misconduct either in work or out of work in the past.

Mr Davies took up his post at Conwy council in February 2009.

My comment: No doubt they will end up paying him off with a massive amount of taxpayer's money. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about Conwy Council on this blog

Councillor has pop at the Herald on Twitter

A ELMBRIDGE councillor who tweeted an offensive word in response to a Surrey Herald story, later admitted the article was accurate and insisted he made his comment because he thought the item was 'misleading'.

Rowan Cole, Conservative councillor for Walton Central, wrote 'Another completely b******** news story from the Surrey Herald' and hashtagged it with the word 'shoddy'.

Despite posting the comment, which was made in relation to an article about a lease agreement being negotiated between Surrey Police and Elmbridge Council, on Thursday, March 10, he says he cannot confirm what the word he asterisked out was.

Following an interview with a Herald reporter, Mr Cole Tweeted that he would not be intimidated into giving up his democratic right in a free society to criticise what he sees as a poor news article.

My comment: Just as it is the public right to expose #shoddy councillors. 

Read the full story from the source SurreyHerald

Council tax non-payment letters sent to 11 Harrow councillors

ELEVEN Harrow councillors have been sent reminder letters for non payment of council tax since April last year, the Harrow Times can reveal. 

Five were sent letters twice and the outstanding sums ranged from £36 to £1,960, although Harrow Council has refused to reveal whether any were forced to attend court as a result.

The information was brought to light using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) but the authority answered just four out of 21 questions, claiming the rest could “lead to the identification of individual councillors”.

My comment: Another perk for some councillors?

Read the full story from the source Harrow Times

Read all articles about Harrow Borough Council on this blog

Kent County Council staff amongst country's highest earners

In 2009-2010 thirty employees in Kent were given six figure salary packages. 

Matthew Sinclair from the Taxpayers' Alliance says: "We found that many councils in the South East are paying enormous rewards to their staff.

"There are many council chief executives earning over £200,000. Some of the most well remunerated council staff were in the South East at authorities like Kent County Council, which have always been near the top of our list, continue to have some of the best paid senior staff."

There's no doubt council budgets are under pressure and the Local Government Minister Grant Shapps says that at this time when councils are having to making spending cuts, more town hall chiefs should consider taking a pay cut themselves.

My comment: There are fat cats and there are fatter cats.

Read the full story from the source  BBC News

Read all articles about Kent County Council on this blog

Wokingham Councillors may lose first class travel

A review of borough councillor’s expenses could spell the end of claims for luxury travel and a pay freeze for members.

Liberal Democrats are asking the independent panel conducting the review over the next few weeks to freeze the allowances and scrap a clause allowing first class rail travel.

Councillor David Lee, leader of the council, would not comment on whether he thought allowances should be frozen, but spoke out against a cut, saying the role of councillor should not be restricted to the wealthy.

The members basic allowance is £7,360, however councillors with special responsibility, such as Cllr Lee and Cllr Bray, receive an additional sum. The special responsibility allowance is £5,000, however Cllr Lee gets four times this, while Cllr Bray gets 1.5 times this.

My comment: Why were they allowed first class travel in the first place? Please get off the first class gravy train.

Read the full story from the source getwokingham

Read all articles about Wokingham Borough Council on this blog

Councillors branded hypocrites over free parking permits for themselves

Councillors have been branded hypocrites for keeping free town centre parking for themselves while increasing other charges by £1.2m.

All 48 elected members are entitled to free parking at the Guildhall for council duties, but while some cycle or use public transport, others have used it for shopping or dining.

An annual parking permit at the nearby Rose car park would have cost £2,592.

Last month, Liberal Democrats approved a budget increasing the cost of business permits by up to 300 per cent, residents’ parking by up to 50 per cent, and pay-and-display by 50 per cent. Conservatives abstained.

Vic Bellamy, who won 300 votes standing on an anti-waste platform in last year’s council election, said: “It’s hypocritical. If everyone else has to cut back, they should too.”

My comment: I love the council argument in favour of free parking for Councillors...because our Councillors are only on £7500. By that theory everyone in the area with an income of less than that should also get free parking but they don't. If you can't fill your boots with money fill them with perks?

Read the full story from the source Kingston Guardian

Read all articles about Kingston Upon Hull City Council on this blog

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Council pays for free classes in graffiti

TEENS are being taught how to spray graffiti – by a local council using taxpayers’ cash.

Free classes in “urban art” could be a training ground for vandals in Hayling Island, Hants, said The Taxpayers’ Alliance.

My comment: You just can't make this sort of thing up. There are probably some front line service staff losing their job whilst taxpayer's money is spent on this sort of nonsense.

Read the full story from the source The Mirror

2,295 Council Fat Cats on £100K plus

A RECORD 2,295 town hall employees are raking in six-figure salaries, a report reveals today. And 686 of them get paid more than the Prime Minister’s annual salary of £142,500.

The number of bosses pocketing more than £100,000 a year soared by 18 per cent in the past 12 months and 48 chiefs were paid over £250,000.

Highest earner was Phil Dolan, chief executive of South Somerset District Council, who walked away with a £569,000 taxpayer-funded package after retiring last year.

My comment: Isn't this what happened just before the banking collapse with their 'greed is good' mentality. Will we see a similar meltdown in Local Government?

Read the full story from the source Express.co.uk

Saltney councillor faces disciplinary action over Facebook remarks

A SALTNEY councillor faces disciplinary action after being caught making derogatory comments about her town council on a Facebook page.

Newly-appointed Cllr Ann Moran published a rant about the authority on her profile page on the day she was sworn in as a town councillor. The comments were made a couple of hours after the January town council meeting.

Saltney town councillors unanimously voted to report Cllr Moran to the local government ombudsman, who will assess whether there is a need to hand out a punishment.

Councillors were to consider a notice of motion put forward by Cllr Richard Lloyd, which stated: “This town council deplores the action of the newly-appointed councillor, Mrs Ann Moran, in publishing such derogatory remarks about her fellow town councillors on a Facebook page, thereby bringing this town council into disrepute within hours of signing her agreement to abide by the code of conduct.”

It added: “This matter (should) be brought to the attention of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.”

My comment: The only thing that has brought Saltney Council into disrepute is their attempt to silence criticism and was the reason why the government decided to scrap the English  Standards Board. When will Wales follow suit and stop this petty political bickering being considered by the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales? Does Saltney want to end up like Angelsey and many other Welsh Councils? 

Read the full story from the source The Flintshire Chronicle

Lessons have to be learned from national park map blunder

THE arrogant blunder by the National Park management of naming shallows, rocks and an abyss in Loch Lomond after themselves, and insultingly calling one place Giro Bay, has reduced them to nation-wide ridicule. Have they nothing better to do?

Not only have they had to destroy £36,000 worth of new navigational maps, but they should reflect if these maps ever needed publishing in the first place as the latest mapping technology seems only to have confirmed the accuracy of the 19th century maps.

This appears to be just another example of a pointless quango creating needless work in an effort to justify its existence.

My comment: Must have a look at the map and see if there is an idiots way or a  quango's folly! 

Read the full story from the source Lennox Herald

Commissioners take over troubled Anglesey council

LOCAL Government Minister Carl Sargeant yesterday took the unprecedented step of putting Wales’ most troubled council under the direct control of appointed commissioners.

Anglesey Council, beset by warring factions and divisions for several years, has had an interim managing director – who was parachuted in by the Assembly Government – since August 2009.

He told AMs in a statement to the Senedd: “Too many Anglesey councillors are still more concerned with pursuing their own advantage than with meeting the needs of Anglesey’s citizens. This is not democracy – it is the politics of the playground.

I believe that councillors who have operated irresponsibly despite numerous independent inquiries, Ombudsman cases, critical audit reports and a ministerial intervention, have been given enough chances to mend their ways.

My comment: Tip of the Iceberg. Many councillors across the country prefer to play political games or pursue their own advantage rather than serve the residents who elected them. It also rather goes to prove that Ombudsmen and Auditors are not fit for the purpose if councillors can ignore them for years.

Read the full story from the source Wales On-Line

Read all articles about Anglesey Council on this blog

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Exeter council workers given priority

Tickets to Lee Evans' Exeter gig sold out after council workers are given priority.

CITY council staff and councillors were given the chance to snap up tickets to an exclusive comedy night before the event was advertised to the public, the Echo can reveal.

The authority announced in a media release last Friday that Lee Evans would play a one-off warm-up gig for his sellout UK tour in the council-run Corn Exchange next month.

But the 500-seat event had already sold out the night before after council employees and councillors had received an email the previous day, telling them about the event and giving them the chance to buy up to eight of the £25 tickets each. The tickets sold out within hours of the email being sent.

The decision to alert council employees to the gig before the general public was branded "foolish" by one councillor yesterday as tickets were hawked online for double their face value.

One member of the public said he was extremely angry about the situation.

"The Corn Exchange is, after all, owned by the public and the council which organised this event is paid for with our money. It has effectively become a corporate event for the council." 

My comment: Couldn't put it better myself. Joke for Lee, what do you call a comedian hosting an event for councillors and council staff? A straight man! After all they are the real comedians, always wanting to take the piss out of the public.

Read the full story from the source This is Exeter

Read all articles about Exeter City Council on this blog

Peter Adams, Poole Council nearly gets girls arrested for picking daffodils

THREE young girls broke down in tears after police told them off for picking daffodils in a park.

Sienna Marengo, four, was plucking flowers with her sister India, 10, and step-sister Olivia, six, when they were spotted by a passing councillor. [Peter Adams].

Two constables arrived in a car and warned the girls’ mum Jane Errington, 35, that she and partner Marc Marengo, 49, could be arrested for theft and criminal damage.

Two officers then came up, saying they’d had a report of flowers ripped up. They said, ‘We have let you off, but if you don’t leave it we will have to arrest you for theft.’ The little ones started crying. It was frightening for them. They did have daffodils, about 20 between them, but surely the police have better things to do?”

Peter Adams, a Tory on Poole Council, claimed he saw the girls take “large bunches of 70-80 flowers”. He said: “We are proud of our parks and can’t have people ripping up public property. But I was surprised the police sent a squad car with two PCs.”

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “We were told a significant amount of daffodils were being pulled out and thrown around.”

My comment: Notice the difference between the girls picking 20 flowers between three of them and what Peter Adams apparently told the Police, bunches of 70-80 flowers, we can't have people ripping up public property, throwing them on the ground

This story is not about right and wrong as many reporters and commentators suggest, it's about the proportionality of the response when someone, particularly a child, does something wrong. And why the Police turn up when informed of a criminal act by a councillor but often ignore more serious criminal acts reported by members of the public.

Read the full story from the source The Mirror

Read all articles about the Police or all articles about Poole Borough Council on this blog

UK Border Agency lost track of 180,000 migrants on expired visas

An astonishing 181,000 migrants whose right to live in Britain has expired could still be here, auditors have found. The figure includes workers, students and their relatives whose visas have run out in the last two years, and who have been refused permission to stay on.

The National Audit Office, which uncovered the statistic, said immigration officials ‘cannot be sure’ how many have gone home. It found the UK Border Agency knew where all the failed applicants had lived in Britain – but has not checked if they are still there.

My comment: Most staff, if asked if they had done the job they were paid to do, replied by saying I cannot be sure, would be sacked or at least disciplined. Apparently this is not the case with immigration officials!

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

March of the cash cow traffic wardens

Cash-strapped Birmingham City Council has pulled in more than £4 million in parking fines from its 32 parking wardens in just 12 months.

The council's Civil Enforcement Officers issued a whopping 126,171 penalty charge notices between January and December 2010, securing the local authority £4,256,599 in revenue. As a result, on average, each one made an impressive £133,019 for the council.

My comment: Why don't they call it what it is, a tax on motorist in order to reduce general taxation! Same goes for bin fines taxes and many other so called 'fines' that councils appear keen to invent and impose. 

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council on this blog

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Former council chairman breached code of conduct

THE former chairman of a Devon council has been censured for breaching four counts of its code of conduct. David Griffiths had a number of disputes, dating back several years, with landowner and publican Alan Isaac, a monitoring board heard.

When the Isaac family applied for planning permission to change two barns at Upexe Barton Farm from agricultural to commercial use, Mr Griffiths, of Chapel Coombe Woods Lane, Upexe, was chairman of Rewe Parish Council.

The parish council wrote a strongly-worded statement to East Devon District Council planners, opposing the planning application. But it later emerged that Councillor Griffiths had failed to declare an interest or leave the room when the application had been discussed.

Alan Isaac's wife, Jane, raised a complaint about the issue when the parish council could not provide her with minutes of the meeting where the application had been discussed.

Denise Lyon, the district council's monitoring officer, found that Cllr Griffiths had not avoided conducting himself in a manner which could be regarded as bringing his office into disrepute, had failed to disclose a personal interest at a meeting, had failed to declare a prejudicial interest and failed to withdraw from the room when he had a prejudicial interest in the matter being discussed.

My comment: Hell hath no fury like a public official/officer who holds a grudge! 

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