Tuesday, 31 May 2011

PC crashes suspect's 156mph rally car

A police officer who wrote off a suspect drink-driver's high powered rally car and drove it into TWO gardens during a late night spin has been fined.

PC Mark Colebrook, 30, crashed the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution which was due to be towed away by a truck to a police compound in the early hours of September 3 last year. But as he moved the car he lost control of 156-mph motor.

During the impact, the Mitsubishi ploughed through the gardens of two luxury homes in Hale, Cheshire, fishtailed and flipped on to its side.

Colebrook was fined £135, given four penalty points and ordered to pay £200 court costs.

My comment: Must have been going very fast.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Suffolk County Council, Barnet Council and BT

Has BT gained too much influence in local government? 

The ditching of Suffolk’s New Strategic Direction last week by the new county council leader, Mark Bee, raises the question of whether BT has gained too much influence in local government.

One BT director, Max Wide, has played a central role in developing the Suffolk plan and another controversial and derided scheme to change the face of a local authority, Barnet’s easyCouncil scheme.

The programme provides “a platform for BTG’s sales activities with the largest contract opportunities across the UK”. 

The Vital Visionaries are invited to two week-long visits to top US universities where they attend sessions on such topics as “Leadership in the public sector”, “Competing on the edge: strategy and cultural chaos”, and “Engaging the citizen”.

The first visit is to Boston for MIT and Harvard and starts with a cruise and dinner. The second is to San Francisco where the events are at Stanford and Berkley. Again the programme looks tough but there is light relief with a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

My comment: Wine train or gravy train? I am sure I read somewhere that Andrea Hill went to America at BTs invitation and expense, however, that contradicts what BT say, “Given the Public Sector rules on acceptance of hospitality and the reputation and benefits of the programme, clients pay their own flights and accommodation costs.”. So who is right and has Suffolk County Council scrutiny committee investigated a possible breach of rules regarding the acceptance of hospitality? Especially since BT state "the programme provides “a platform for BTG’s sales activities with the largest contract opportunities across the UK”. [My emphasis]

Read the full story from the source Andrew Grant-Adamson

Read more about Barnet Council's involvement on Broken Barnet

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about Barnet Council on this blog

UPDATE 1st June 2011: I decided to submit a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk County Council regarding scrutiny of their CEO's American Trip.

Durand Academy V Lambeth Council: Libel action

A South London primary school is funding a libel action brought by current and former employees over three emails sent by the Chief Auditor of Lambeth Council. The school has ignored a freedom of information request for details of how much it is spending on the court action — but Index on Censorship believes that the costs may already have run into six figures.

The case of Durand Academy raises serious questions both about the chilling effect of UK libel law, and the creeping encroachment of the “reputation management” industry into public life. The school, which is funded largely from the public purse, has admitted paying over £199,000 to a PR firm run by its Vice Chair of Governors.

It’s hard to find a clearer illustration of the need for libel reform than the case of Durand Academy. 

My comment: Essentially a taxpayer funded action V a taxpayer funded defence. And I thought South Tyneside V Mr Monkey was a waste of taxpayer's money. However, at least the streisand effect will bring closer scrutiny to both cases. 

Read the full story from the source  Index on Censorship

Staffordshire Police to spend £480,000 on consultants for cost-cutting plans

POLICE chiefs are set to spend almost £500,000 drafting in external consultants to help the force make further budget cuts and safeguard jobs.

International professional services firm KPMG is to be called in to slash red tape and cut waste in back office services.

The bill for consultants' services will top £480,000 over 18 weeks – almost £4,000 a day, including weekends.

But police chiefs, who say the force has exhausted its own ability to find savings, hope the investment will see a sevenfold return of almost £3.5 million.

Staffordshire Police Authority chairman David Pearsall said: "The consultants have been used by 17 forces across the country already and in some cases have delivered quite striking results.

My comment: If the person in charge of an organisation can't identify where they can make savings they are clearly not fit for purpose. The reason management usually hire consultants is because it allows them to distance themselves from the changes thus minimising any personal blame. Think how many bobbies they could have kept on the streets to combat crime if they hadn't wasted it on consultants to do their managers jobs. 

Read the full story from the source  This is Staffordshire

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Ex-Tory peer Lord Taylor jailed for expenses fraud

Ex-Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been jailed for 12 months for falsely claiming £11,277 in parliamentary expenses.

My comment: Many more MPs and Lords should have also been taken to court, not just a few sacrificial lambs to keep the electorate happy. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Monday, 30 May 2011

Bournemouth Police double standards

A policewoman has been reprimanded after parking her squad car in a bus stop space as she went to buy fish and chips. The unnamed officer - whose force have a zero-tolerance campaign against bad driving habits - was captured by angry motorist Chris Leigh in Bournemouth.

Inspector Chris Weeks, of Bournemouth police, said the offending officer had been identified and disciplined. 'There is not one rule for the police and another rule for the public.' Just days after 34-year-old Mr Leigh took the picture he was himself fined £35 after momentarily leaving his car on a verge while he loaded it outside his home.

My comment: 'There is not one rule for the police and another rule for the public.'  Policewoman disciplined member of the public fined! I beg to differ Inspector Weeks.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Exeter City council use of credit cards 'carefully regulated'?

THE leader of Exeter City Council has said the authority's credit card spending is carefully regulated – even though it did not provide a breakdown of spending when requested to do so.

Exeter City Council and Devon County Council were among local authorities that failed to provide details of their spending over £500 on credit cards, upon request by the Daily Telegraph using Freedom of Information laws.

My comment: And who carefully regulates the use of council credit cards? Why the council of course. Whilst at the same time refusing to provide details. So what have they got to hide?

Does anyone know if councillors / council officers have access to a bumper book of stupid things to say? 

Read the full story from the source This is Exeter

Read all articles about Exeter City Council on this blog

South Tyneside: The Scandal That Could Cost You Millions

Since 2006 the South Tyneside Independents have attempted to get South Tyneside Council and more importantly the Leader of the Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, to answer a series of questions about the finances of Newcastle Airport.

The Council and Cllr Malcolm have always refused to answer any questions hiding behind such excuses as sub judice and that the business of the airport was not the business of the Council.

Strange then that 7 north east councils, led by South Tyneside Council own 51% of the airport and that back in 2006 they pocketed millions of pounds in a one off ’windfall’ payments which can now reveal was from the proceeds of a £377 million loan that those same councils (led by South Tyneside) approved!

This attempt at secrecy and refusal to supply information resulted in the South Tyneside Independents approaching Northumbria Police and a series of meetings were held with senior officers from the Economic Crime Unit to discuss our mounting concerns. The South Tyneside Independents (and the police) also discussed the matter with the Audit Commission and after a number of lengthy discussions were told that this body had no powers to investigate Newcastle Airport even though 7 local councils own 51% of the airport.

Their decision was based on the fact that the councils involved were not subject to public scrutiny because their shareholding is managed by a limited company (that the councils themselves established). The Audit Commission also stated that there was no other official organisation which could investigate the matter. 

The South Tyneside Independents have copies of internal e-mails discussing how to keep the decision to take out such a large loan out of the public eye.

My comment: A public authority going out of its way to avoid public scrutiny is something that the government should put a stop to. Mr Monkey is not South Tyneside Councils only problem because this looks like they do have something to hide.

Read the full story from the source South Tyneside Independents

Read all articles about South Tyneside Council on this blog

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Paper exposes council leader's FoI 'meddling'

A council leader faces a misconduct investigation after his local newspaper revealed he was “meddling” in Freedom of Information requests.

Last week, the council decided there was a case for Khan to answer, after allegations made by the newspaper showed Khan “may have compromised the impartiality of council officers”.

The council also found that: “The allegations also raise the issue of whether the subject member had used or attempted to use his position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for himself or any other person an advantage or disadvantage.”

Grant said she is surprised none of the national press has picked up the story, particularly when you consider Khan also sits on the Standards for England Board – an organisation set up to champion “and promote high standards of conduct amongst our local politicians”.

A spokesperson for the organisation told the Examiner that Khan would be excluded from involvement in the board’s case-handling activities while the investigation was ongoing.

My comment: I doubt he is the only councillor who interferes with FOI requests.

Read the full story from the source  Press Gazette

Read more about the background here.

Read all articles about Kirklees Council on this blog

Sharon Shoesmith could have been legally sacked by Haringey

Sharon Shoesmith could have been fired without anyone having to pay her a penny in compensation if Haringey Council had simply served her with a written notice terminating her contract.

It should have cited her incompetence after the catalogue of errors by her social workers leading to the horrifying death of tragic Baby P.

Had the council done this, while giving her the chance to defend herself, it could have thrown her out of the job in weeks and the taxpayer would not now face the prospect of paying her up to £1million.

Legal experts said a simple “contractual notice” terminating her employment and following the proper legal process on the part of Haringey would have given her no grounds for complaining.

My comment: Essentially Haringey Council failed Baby P then failed the taxpayer. 

Read the full story from the source Express

Read all articles about Haringey Council LB on this blog

£5m raised by Camden Council with one camera on Britain’s most baffling road

Motorists have been fined a staggering £5 million for driving down a quiet residential street which has been dubbed ‘Britain’s most baffling road’.

More than 41,000 drivers have been hit with penalties after a council erected nine signs that confuse everyone who enters the road, and a CCTV camera.

Most confusing is the rule that bans motorists from driving one way down the street in the morning and then from going in the opposite direction in the afternoon. Last night campaigners accused the Labour-controlled Camden Council in North London of using motorists as a ‘cash cow’ to help boost Town Hall coffers.

Paul Pearson, a parking campaigner who runs the Penalty Charge Notice website, said: ‘It’s absolutely staggering. This is highway robbery. It’s one of most profitable cameras in the country – and it’s in a residential street.

‘This is a clear case of using cameras to raise revenue for a cash-strapped Town Hall.’

My comment: I agree because if Camden Council were interested in road safety they would have improved the signs a long time ago with some of the money they have been raking in.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about Camden Council on this blog

South Tyneside Council V The Monkey

For the first time, the American social networking site [Twitter] has bowed to a court action brought by a British group complaining that they were libelled in messages. My comment: The tweeter didn't contest the case leaving Twitter with no option. If the tweeter had contested the case it is likely the outcome would have been very different.

The individuals who brought the legal action were councillors and officials at a local authority, South Tyneside. They launched the case in an attempt to unmask an anonymous whistle-blower who calls himself Mr Monkey. My comment: With Mr Monkey using a pseudonym all they could have obtained from Twitter are the IP addresses and email addresses linked to the Twitter accounts in question. They would still need to link those address to the person behind Mr Monkey. Should they make a mistake and involve an innocent person they could well end up being liable for defamation themselves. 

Mark Stephens, a leading media lawyer who has represented WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange after the US government sought to obtain his Twitter account details, said: “I think it is inappropriate for a local authority to spend money on this kind of exercise. Local authorities cannot sue for libel and, if individual councillors have been defamed, they should take proceedings at their own cost.”

The action is believed to have cost council tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds. My comment: Unconfirmed reports suggest £75,000 so far but the big money together with the big risks for the taxpayer will come when the real legal action starts. No doubt there will also be counter claims from the defendant/s which will further increase the costs and the risks to the taxpayer.]

A council spokesman said: “The council has a duty of care to protect its employees and as this blog contains damaging claims about council officers, legal action is being taken to identify those responsible.”

My comment:  How can it have cost the taxpayer anything if 'individuals' brought the legal action? Surely it is their responsibility to fund their own legal action. The question I would like to ask is what part did the individuals play when the decision to underwrite their legal case was taken by the council?  

In addition only one is a council officer the others named are councillors and as such are not council employees.
The legal action to unmask the culprit was brought by three councillors and one senior official: Ian [Sic] Malcolm, the council’s Labour leader, David Potts, former Conservative group leader who is now an independent, Anne Walsh, a Labour councillor, and Rick O’Farrell, head of enterprise and regeneration. 

Irrespective of the merits of this case I think some external independent scrutiny is urgently needed regarding the risk to the taxpayer. Is anyone in Tyneside a member of the Taxpayer's Alliance or would like to complain to the Audit Commission? One word of warning don't use the Local Government Ombudsman, they are a waste of time and effort.

Readers may be interested to know that a number of years ago an anonymous blogger using the name Tony Parrish caused a similar stir in Liverpool. Liverpool City Council's attempt to identify and take action against the blogger ended up triggering a number of additional 'I am Tony Parrish' blogs which rather defeated the object of the exercise.

Read the full story from the source  The Telegraph

You can read more about the background here.

Read all articles about South Tyneside Council on this blog

How Conwy council bureaucrats brought misery to farmers

Mr Williams, who runs the farm with his wife Edna and sons Berwyn, 27 and Selwyn, 29, said: "I've been farming all my life and I've never seen anything like this.

"We found ourselves being pursued on totally groundless charges and the cases have brought a lot of stress and heartache to my family for nearly three years.

Mr Williams' solicitor said the case was "one of the worst abuses of the law I have seen by a council against a respected and award-winning farming family".

David Kirwan, a farming specialist with Wirral-based Kirwans solicitors, said: "There was never any justification for bringing this case and it is a scandal that it has been allowed to drag on as long as it has.

Mr Kirwan said the case was just the "tip of the iceberg" of "pointless prosecutions". A series of cases have been brought then dropped in similar circumstances to Mr Williams' ordeal, including several in north Wales in the past few weeks alone.

The cases have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Councils have also been criticised for making "excessive" claims for costs, in cases where they are successful, to help boost their coffers at a time of financial cuts. Last week one council's claim for costs against a farmer from Abergele was slashed from £15,500 to £1,750 at Mold crown court.

My comment: Is this a case of council jobsworths trying to justify their existence or a council using devious tactics to in an attempt to boost their coffers? If it's the latter they have made a real pigs ear of it [pun intended].

For a full list of all the other cases they wasted taxpayer's money on please read the full Telegraph article. 

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Read all articles about Conwy Council on this blog

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Student saves victim ‘as cops sat 25 yards away in patrol car’

A BRAVE student told yesterday how she risked her life to stop a brutal street robbery while two cops sat in their patrol car just 25 yards away. Gutsy Marie Wastlund, 27, ran to the rescue after a night out when she saw three hooded thugs kicking and throttling a woman in the street.

She claims she frantically waved at the officers, parked just along the road, but they ignored her pleas for help.

Supt Ian Wylie said: “I intend to investigate how we responded to this incident to make sure that our officers are providing the highest possible standard of service.”

My comment: Why am I no longer surprised at stories like this about the Police?

Read the full story from the source Mirror

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Fury as police ban starting pistol for traditional Whitsun race

Villagers in Oxfordshire are smarting after being hit with a ban on using a starting pistol to send off competitors in a centuries-old race.

A shotgun was once used to start the Great Shirt Race, which is held at Whitsun and features two teams pushing prams round Bampton's pubs and drinking half a pint of beer at each. But in 2000 that was replaced with a starter pistol after pressure from police.

Now they've been told that because the starter pistol, an Olympic .380 BBM, can be converted for criminal use they cannot use that either.

Thames Valley police spokesman Adam Fisher said that similar starting pistols had been converted into lethal weapons and used in recent shootings, primarily in London.

My comment: Extrapolating that logic, fast cars are used by criminals for getaways so do we also ban fast cars? Knives are used more often that guns so why not ban all knives? Cars kill people so should we ban all cars? Many common items in a supermarket can be combined to create a bomb so do we ban these?

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Investigation into alleged bullying, harassment and fraud by senior NHS bosses

The New Journal can reveal details of a series of serious allegations against NHS Camden managers. One member of staff is accused of bringing out the primary care trust’s on-call engineers to fix the boiler at his home when it broke down.

NHS Camden is responsible for the administrative control of all medical services across the borough, including hospitals and GP surgeries.

A whistleblower has claimed that seven staff felt forced to quit their jobs after complaining they had been subjected to sustained bullying by superiors. Some were clinically depressed and had to seek counselling, it is claimed.

Meanwhile, allegations of fraud include misuse of public funds and illegal access to confidential data. NHS North Central London sector, the primary care trust’s over-arching body, has confirmed this week it is investigating and treating the matter “very seriously”.

The allegations include claims that:
A maintenance manager was bullied until he went on long-term sick leave with severe depression and was in need of therapy.
A contracts manager also had counselling for bullying.
A risk manager was bullied, harassed and made ill.
An admin manager harassed by senior management suffered serious health problems.
Two help-desk operators have been harassed by senior management.
Foul language, racial harassment, bullying of technical teams.
Accusations of “illegal access” to data accounts.
My comment: Now we know why senior staff in public authorities like using compromise agreements so much, to keep potential whistle-blowers from spilling the beans. Were are the procedures, scrutiny and watchdogs to stop this happening in the first place. Once again they are trying to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Read the full story from the source  Camden New Journal

More about compromise agreements here.

Read all articles about the NHS or all articles about whistle-blowers on this blog.

Fly-Tipping 'On The Rise' As Council Charges Soar

Cash-strapped councils are hiking up prices for bulky waste disposal - with fears it has sparked a rise in fly-tipping.

A survey of 148 council boroughs across the UK reveals the price of skip permits has risen by as much as 650% over the past five years.

Over the past couple of years fly-tipping has fallen in some boroughs but it is predicted to soar again as the increased costs of waste disposal and cost-cutting initiatives have an impact.

Experts suggest there is a direct link between fly-tipping and the cost of waste disposal.

A survey conducted by AnyJunk found skip prices in Bradford rose by 100% between 2009-2010, in Glasgow by 89% and in Bristol and Bath by 67%.

Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "I don't think increased prices should give anyone a reason to fly-tip. 

My comment: Can you imagine a private company saying that increasing their prices should not be an excuse for customers to try an alternative. 

Read the full story from the source SKY NEWS

SFO cock up leads to £372,000 payout for 6 days in jail

AN ARISTOCRAT claims he has been promised £372,000 in taxpayer-funded compensation for the six days he spent in a British prison.

The Austrian multi-millionaire had been questioned by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office over allegations of bribery and corruption at aerospace company BAE.

But he was awarded the payout from the Government’s Central Funds after the SFO discontinued its inquiries.

On hearing about his compensation the count, whose homes include a London mansion and a Scottish castle, joked to an Austrian magazine: “I would have stayed four weeks had I known that.”

My comment: That works out at over £62,000 a day, not bad for a days work being banged up. Where do I apply? :)

Read the full story from the source  Express

Police chief facing misconduct investigation gets £180,000 pay-off

A leading Scotland Yard official under investigation over ‘highly sensitive’ misconduct allegations made by a female colleague has retired early with a £180,000 pay-off.

Critics claim that Martin Tiplady, the Met’s director of human resources, has been given favourable treatment because of his status in the force. They say the payout is an ‘abuse’ of taxpayers’ money.

The Daily Mail revealed in October that Mr Tiplady was facing career-threatening allegations made by Raphaella Hamilton-Appiah, a member of staff more than 20 years his junior.

My comment: The usual way out for senior public servants who, as Mrs Shoesmith has just proven, are very difficult to sack for misconduct or incompetence, without the authority concerned taxpayer paying them off or incurring significant costs. 

As with everything else the public sector do, they can't even sack senior staff properly. As a result it is easy for people who have been sacked to find a loophole and claim unfair dismissal. This racks up significant court costs and eventually an even bigger pay out, hence the let's pay them off or promote them attitude. They don't want to be caught out making a 'Balls up' of sacking someone after all :)  

If anyone is aware of a senior public sector staff member who has been sacked for misconduct or incompetence in office without significant cost to the taxpayer please let me know and I will list them below.  Unless subject to a superinjunction  :)

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Friday, 27 May 2011

Councils spend £100m on taxpayer-funded credit cards

Councils have spent tens of millions of pounds on taxpayer-funded credit cards with local authority executives and councillors treating themselves to first-class travel to foreign destinations and stays in five-star hotels, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

£500,000 was spent on gifts such as Tiffany jewellery, Gucci products and pure silk ties, while online shopping sprees racked up bills of more than £300,000 at Argos and £150,000 at Amazon. One council even bought llamas on its credit card.

Last night, Whitehall officials were shocked when shown details of the credit card bills with senior Government sources claiming that another MPs-expenses style scandal may be emerging. It is not clear whether rules or laws have been broken and any public money can be reclaimed.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, charged with overseeing local authorities and cutting waste described the spending as “wild”.

The documents show that Cornwall Council was responsible for the most excessive spending, with a total credit card bill of almost £9 million including £1,145,160 on hotels alone since 2008.

In contrast, 48 councils did not issue the credit cards with several others only incurred bills running into thousands of pounds.

Whitehall officials are understood to be increasingly concerned that there was little oversight on the expenditure with few checks made on the use of taxpayers’ money. 

The documents show that officials used the council cards to treat themselves to iPads, Macbooks and iPhones, with more than £100,000 spent on Apple products alone
My comment: Just like the MPs expense scandal, why do we have to wait for a newspaper to expose the problem, where was the scrutiny and where were the watchdogs?

Check out your council here.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph 

GMB calls for statement about Andrea Hill

GMB today called on Suffolk County Council to make an immediate and unequivocal public statement regarding the absence from work of Andrea Hill the Chief Executive of the Council.

This GMB call is in response to recent press reports that Andrea Hill, Suffolk's Chief Executive may not return to work. In these reports Mrs Hill's absence is put down to 'extended personal leave'. It is also reported that 'Mrs Hill oversaw dozens of "gagging orders" to prevent staff detailing their experiences at the local authority, presiding over payouts totalling more than £520,000 last year'.

Shaune Graham, GMB Senior Organiser said, "The rate payers in Suffolk and the staff of the council including GMB members emploed [SIC] there are entitled to an unequivocial [SIC] public statement from Suffolk County Council regarding the  absence from work of Andrea Hill, Chief Executive of the council.

This public statement should also clarify reports that £520,000 of tax payers money was used to fund 'gagging orders' for staff at the council.

These media reports are damaging to the reputation of Suffolk County Council and the coucil leaders have a duty to come clean and clarify the position  immediately."

My comment: A bit premature when you consider that there has been an investigation (which has only recently concluded) and the special committee meet next week to discuss the findings.

Download the full statement from the source GMB

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about Andrea Hill on this blog

Councillor calls for Police investigation into destroyed planning documents

POLICE should lead the investigation into destroyed planning documents to avoid claims of a whitewash says a Liberal Democrat councillor.

Clr Kevin Reynolds has called on the new council leadership to bring in Cheshire Police to investigate documents that were destroyed in the planning department as part of its call for openess at the Town Hall.

It comes after it was revealed the council [Warrington Borough Council] had binned planning documents dated up to 1996 in a report on the council’s handling of complaints from residents in Culcheth.

Clr Reynolds (LD – Whittle Hall) said: “If there is dodgy dealing going on in planning I do not think if you hold an internal enquiry the wider public will say it’s ok.  It should be open and transparent and the only people who can do that is Cheshire Police.

My comment: Destroying documents that you are statutorily obliged to keep is the first stage of a cover up. An internal investigation would be second stage. Someone needs to find out why planning officers destroyed planning documents evidence.

Read the full story from the source Warrington Guardian

Read all articles about Warrington Borough Council on this blog

Suffolk County Council: Special disciplinary committee

SUFFOLK: A special committee that discusses disciplinary matters and complaints against staff is due to meet at Endeavour House next week.

The discipline and appeals committee does not have a regular schedule of meetings, unlike most other county bodies, it only meets when there is a specific matter to discuss.

A meeting of the committee has been called for next Friday – although the details of what will be on the agenda are likely to remain confidential.

While its deliberations will be in private, it is understood a decision about the outcome of the meeting will be published after it has concluded.

My comment: My guess is that this is about Andrea Hill.

Read the full story from the source EADT

Read the background to this special committee meeting here.

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about Andrea Hill on this blog

Surrey County Council none job of the week

Surrey is also looking for in Internal Communications Co-ordinator. Surrey County Council seems intent on increasing the amount of backroom managers, when other councils are looking at reducing the numbers. Almost every week there seems to be a new job advert looking for change managers.

My comment: Back in the good old days when Chief Executive Officers were called Town Clerks weren't Internal Communications Co-ordinatirs called Post Boys (or Girls).

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Taxpayer funded Council away days

A Sky News Waste Watch investigation has today revealed that councils spent more than £2 million on away days over the last two years. Laser tag, trips to the zoo, Centre Parcs and narrow boat outings are some out of office trips local authorities made when they should be eradicating all unnecessary spending. Westminster council were the biggest spenders with £164,275.

Some specific examples are:

Carmarthenshire Council spent £17,976.93 at Parc y Scarlet’s Rugby Stadium and also visited Ffoslas Racecourse.

The London Borough of Merton spent £10,269 at the Hilton Hotel in Cobham including £4,000 on food and drink for ‘training focusing on making efficiency savings’ in July 2009.

My comment: Only a council can spend money so they can focus on saving money.

Read the full story from the source Taxpayer's Alliance

Read all articles about Merton Council LB on this blog

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Torbay Councillors take too much money

VOTERS in Torbay think councillors are taking too much out of the public purse, even with a self-imposed five per cent cut coming into effect this year.

That was the verdict when the Herald Express conducted a poll outside Torquay Town Hall this week.

It follows the announcement that new mayor Gordon Oliver has increased from five to seven the number of councillors with senior executive roles who can claim special allowances.

This year councillors will take home just over £7,900 in basic allowance (a five per cent reduction) with another £6,500 available to those chosen by mayor Oliver to be his executive lead members.

Ann Forsyth, of Chelston, Torquay, said: "I don't think they should have anything." She said her father was a councillor and former mayor of the Bay at a time when councillors did not receive an allowance.

My comment: Once on board the taxpayer funded first class Gravy Train all they want to do is get even more of their colleagues on board.

Read the full story from the source This is South Devon

Merton Council refuse to quash emergency doctor's parking fine

Council staff have refused to rip up the ticket handed to a GP providing emergency psychiatric care in Wimbledon. 

Dr Harvey Gordon was called to Haydon’s Road in Wimbledon on August 12 last year along with police and ambulance crews, to assess a man with serious mental health problems who, for his own safety, was being taken into care against his will.

The Surrey-based doctor parked in a residents space as no public parking was available, but left a note and British Medical Association badge on his windscreen. When he found he had been ticketed by Merton Council, he appealed, but was told to pay up.

An independent adjudicator said although the ticket was not illegal there were “compelling reasons” to cancel it, but the authority ignored the recommendation.

My comment: Shame on Merton Council but what is the point of having watchdogs if a council can ignore them with impunity? I wonder what the council officer concerned would say if they called out an emergency doctor to their child and had to wait because the doctor was driving round and round looking for a parking place? I just hope an elected representative gets involved and brings some sanity back into Merton Council officer's decisions because as it stands it looks like they are the ones in need of psychiatric help.

Read the full story from the source This Is Local London

Read all articles about Merton Council LB on this blog

Leicestershire County Council social workers still suspended on full pay

Three social workers who were suspended on full pay after ignoring warnings about a father who later attacked his baby are still off work 10 months later.

They were suspended after a serious case review examined how Zak Whitlock, 21, was allowed to return to the family home in Wigston despite having a history of mental illness, domestic violence and drug abuse.

He was left alone with his daughter, known as Baby B, despite warnings he could harm her. Whitlock smashed the seven-week-old's skull and fractured a rib. She was left permanently brain damaged and has a severely misshapen head.

The serious case review published last summer unearthed a series of blunders by Leicestershire County Council staff. Three social workers, including a manager, were suspended. But almost a year later, disciplinary proceedings have not been concluded and the individuals are still suspended.

A council officer, who did not wish to be named, said: "These things are very complicated. "When people's livelihoods are on the line you've got to be incredibly thorough."

My comment: "When people's livelihoods are on the line you've got to be incredibly thorough." but obviously not when a a baby's life is in danger?  

After Leicestershire County Council, Baby B, Harnigey Council, Baby P, Birmingham Council, the NHS scandals and others, why has no watchdog or ombudsman been sacked for allowing council social services or the NHS to get into such an appalling state in the first place?

Don't MPs ever connect the dots? 

Read the full story from the source This is Leicestershire

Read all articles about Leicester County Council or all articles about Watchdogs  on this blog

Judges made 333 privacy orders in the last five years

The worrying extent of gagging orders keeping secrets from the British public was laid bare last night. Analysis showed there are more than 333 court privacy edicts in place shielding the identities of celebrities, children, vulnerable adults, criminals and businessmen.

The judiciary has failed to keep official statistics, but the analysis suggests there are far more injunctions in place than was previously thought. They have been issued in the past five years by unelected judges and, in many cases, the media was unaware of their existence and therefore unable to challenge them.

My comment: Judges using gagging orders to stop the public getting the facts, councils using gagging agreements to stop ex staff exposing them to public scrutiny and council staff trying to use gagging agreements to stop councillors exposing them to public scrutiny. Welcome to secretive Britain where the public are not allowed to know. All thanks to judges and legal eagles distorting the true meaning of the human rights act.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Judiciary/Judges on this blog

Essex County Hall in a spin....about spin

AN advert offering £500 a day to be a temporary spin doctor at Essex County Council was not meant to be published, the authority insists. The council appeared to advertise for an interim head of communications for six months.

The role had been criticised by Brentwood MP Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government, and Colchester MP Bob Russell, who said it was not right to spend up to £71,000 on a spin doctor when services were being cut and jobs axed.

But a spokesman at Essex County Council said the “rogue” advert had been published in error by the authority’s recruitment agency. She added: “Essex County Council has no plans to recruit an interim head of communications.

My comment: Rogue advert? Having read their feeble excuse I think they actually need a spin doctor.

Read the full story from the source Southend Standard

Read all articles about Essex County Council on this blog

Are civil servants being gagged?

The shake-up of the coastguard service has sparked questions about whether civil servants should be giving evidence to select committees.

At a session of the Commons transport select committee, chair Louise Ellman accused shipping minister Mike Penning of breaking a promise that coastguards would be permitted to give evidence to her inquiry.

Coastguards around the country have been furious about this, concerned that civil servants are in danger of being "gagged". Penning said, however, that coastguards could not give evidence to the select committee because they are required, in their capacity as civil servants, to uphold government policy.

My comment: What a load of claptrap from Mike Penning. Just because civil servants have to uphold government policy doesn't mean they shouldn't give evidence to a select committee. Looks more like Mike Penning wants to gag them so the truth doesn't come out. Is Mike Penning is trying to pervert the course of a select committee investigation?

We are now in the stupid position of having council staff wanting to gag councillors,  councils wanting to gag staff, Judges wanting to gag the press & public and now Mike Penning wanting to gag civil servants. 

Read the full story from the source Guardian

NHS Doctors forced to prescribe drinking water

Doctors are prescribing drinking water for neglected elderly patients to stop them dying of thirst in hospital. The measure – to remind nurses of the most basic necessity – is revealed in a damning report on pensioner care in NHS wards.

Andrew Lansley ordered the review by the CQC to put a quick end to poor patient care. The latest report – by the Care Quality Commission said three of 12 NHS trusts visited in the past three months were failing to meet the most basic standards required by law.

My comment: This case highlights what I have been saying about watchdogs such as the CQC and ombudsmen such as the Local Government Ombudsman for years. Why is Andrew Lansley ordering the body that's guilty of allowing this to happen in the first place to investigate a problem they and their predecessor should have put a stop to long ago. 

The CQC state on their own website that they regulate care provided by the NHS, local authorities. This case rather goes to prove they (together with all watchdogs and ombudsmen) are not fit for purpose because they obviously don't put a stop to wrongdoing. Enough of the bloody endless reports sort the problems out. I doubt any patient would accept that the CQC are regulating the NHS just as I doubt complainants would agree that the Local Government Ombudsman is having any impact on council wrongdoing. 

Message to the government, get rid of all toothless watchdogs and ombudsmen and create bodies with real teeth who can solve problems rather than just issue endless reports. Preferably not staffed by ex staff from the organisations they are supposed to be regulating. This further illustrates the problem.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the NHS, all articles about the Care Quality Commission or all articles about Watchdogs on this blog

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

High Court judge allegedly 'battered his wife

A respected High Court judge allegedly battered his deputy coroner wife after an argument about their cleaner.

James Allen QC, 61, is said to have assaulted his wife of 14 years Melanie, 44, at their plush home in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Police went to the couple's home on February 20 last year after a 999 call was made by an eight-year-old child at the house. On a tape played to the court, the child can be heard telling the operator that Mr Allen was 'trying to kill' Mrs Allen.

Mr Allen admitted he had discussed photographs of her injuries with his wife. Prosecutor David Holderness asked: 'Why then given your professional capacity and that of your wife, did you discuss any of the evidence of the case?'

Mr Allen told Bradford Magistrates Court his wife's injuries were caused after she punched herself in the face three times during a 'heated' argument.

One witness, Dr William Lawler said he believed Mrs Allen had suffered three or four blows to the face and it was unlikely to have been self-inflicted.

My comment: What a defence! What a .........

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

UPDATE 26/5/11: Yorkshire high court judge found guilty of wife assault.

My comment: District Judge Daphne Wickham said she did not believe the couple’s account! That means as well as assaulting his wife they may both be guilty of lying and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Read the full story from the source Yorkshire Evening Post

Read all articles about the Judiciary/Judges on this blog

A former Cumbrian councillor faces more charges

A former Cumbrian councillor accused of raping a boy will now also face nine charges of indecently assaulting another child in the 1970s. Tony Brunskill, 65, was charged earlier this year by Cumbria police with three counts of rape and one of inciting a boy to engage in sexual activity.

Now the News & Star can reveal that Brunskill, a former chairman of Eden council, was in recent days charged by Lancashire Police with nine counts of indecent assault.

Brunskill had represented the Lazonby ward in Eden as an independent since 1991. 

My comment: I wonder how Ken Clarke would describe this.

Read the full story from the source News & Star

Read all articles about Eden District Council on this blog

Unlicensed coach company was "hiccup", says council chief

A COACH firm taking disabled children to and from school in unlicensed minibuses escaped detection because the service involves too many vehicles "to possibly check".

London Hire Services (LHS) had its £3.7 million contract suspended this week for operating coaches without the sufficient number of licences. The Kent-based firm had been taking pupils to and from St Giles Special School, in South Croydon, in seven unlicensed vehicles since the contract began on April 27.

Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people and learners, described the issue as a "hiccup" and said the special needs transport service involved too many vehicles "to possibly check".

But records held on the Vehicle and Operators Agency (VOSA) website, easily accessible to the public, show LHS did not have sufficient licences to operate the routes it had been awarded. VOSA, the Government's road traffic regulator, inspected the coaches on Tuesday and found LHS had broken the law.

Call for investigation: The award of the council’s most valuable disabled transport contract to a firm with little experience and no licences has raised serious questions about the procurement process.

My comment: Councillor Tim Pollard, I think it's a council cock up not a hiccup. As cabinet member for children, young people and learners why did you put their lives at risk? Research appears to show you did it to save money. I hope your solicitor made you all aware of the corporate manslaughter act! I think the investigation should first rule out any connection between LHS owners and councillors.

Read the full story from the source This is Croydon Today

Read all articles about Croydon Council LB on this blog

Heavy-handed Thames Valley police

'Heavy-handed' police scrambled helicopter to hunt schoolboy whose football broke greenhouse window... and now he faces life-long 'criminal record'

A schoolboy faces a lifelong 'criminal record' after a police helicopter and riot van were scrambled to hunt him down - when he accidentally kicked a football at a greenhouse. Tom Clarke, 15, was horrified when he miss-kicked the ball and it looped over a garden fence and smashed a greenhouse window pane.

Just 30 minutes later a police helicopter was spotted hovering above the house using thermal imaging cameras to search for him. Two patrol cars and a riot van were also dispatched to search nearby gardens in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, on foot. A pair of uniformed officers eventually tracked Tom down and he apologised to the greenhouse owner.

But days later Thames Valley Police sent a letter to Tom's dad Darrin telling him his youngster had 'accepted responsibility for criminal damage'.

My comment: The Police of all people should know the difference between an accident and criminal damage. All it took was one proper bobby to visit the scene to establish the facts. Another Police force bringing the Police into disrepute.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Hyndburn council parking tickets may not be valid

All parking tickets issued in a town since 2008 could be void after the council failed to update traffic by-laws.

Chris Fisher, 39, spotted Hyndburn council cites the out-of-date 1991 Road Traffic Act when he was ticketed in Accrington, Lancs.

My comment: Neil Herron is on the case.

Read the full story from the source Mirror

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat Leader’s wife is caught on camera

These images show the moment the wife of a political party leader took an election leaflet from a letterbox and replaced it with one of her husband’s.

Frances Heap, wife of Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Mike Heap, is caught on camera removing the pamphlet of Labour’s Gurcharan Bedi while on the campaign trail in the Spring Vale ward.

Mr Bedi lost in the May 5 election to Councillor Heap by 41 votes. The pictures were caught a camera outside a resident’s front door and posted on internet video-sharing website YouTube.

My comment: Theft

Read the full story from the source Express and Star

Read all articles about Wolverhampton City Council on this blog.

Dudley Council waste £3,700 on ‘racist’ email probe

More than £3,700 was spent investigating a complaint about a Black Country councillor who sparked a racism row with a joke email, it was revealed today.

Solicitor Helen Kidd spent a total of 48 hours investigating a complaint by Councillor Crumpton.

Councillor Turner, member for Hayley Green and Cradley South, who sent the email to all councillors in December using his council account, was subsequently found guilty of breaching the council’s code of conduct following the investigation in February.

My comment: 48 hours to investigate a simple open and shut complaint? Typical solicitor, why do anything in a couple of hours when you can spin it out and ramp up the cost.

Read the full story from the source Express and Star

Read all articles about Dudley Council on this blog.

Tomlinson police officer to face manslaughter trial

PC Simon Harwood will face criminal proceedings for striking newspaper vendor with a baton during G20 protests in 2009.

A police officer will face trial for manslaughter over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests.

PC Simon Harwood, 43, a Metropolitan police officer, will face a criminal prosecution for striking Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground in April 2009.

Tomlinson, 47, had been trying to make his way home from work through demonstrations near the Bank of England when he was pushed from behind. He collapsed and died three minutes later.

Three weeks ago an inquest jury decided Tomlinson was "unlawfully killed".

My comment: No comment until after the trial.

Read the full story from the source Guardian

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Police officers face misconduct hearings over Barwell suicides

FOUR police officers will face misconduct hearings for failing to stop gangs of youths hounding a Barwell mother and her disabled daughter.

Fiona Pilkington, 39, set fire to the car she was sitting in with daughter Francecca Hardwick in October 2007, killing them both.

It later emerged that Ms Pilkington’s family had been the victim of a decade-long campaign of abuse where they lived in Bardon Road, Barwell.

During an inquest into their deaths Leicestershire Police confirmed that they had been in contact with the family 33 times. Almost no action was taken by the force though.

Today an Independent Police Complaints Commission report has been published slating the force.

Four officers, an inspector, sergeant and two police constables, will face misconduct hearings. Another police constable is "receiving management action for unsatisfactory performance".

My comment: What about more senior officers, why does the buck always stop just below them leaving officers under their control take all the blame?

Read the full story from the source  Coventry Telegraph

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Monday, 23 May 2011

5 Policemen face axe in 'too violent' arrest

Five male officers with Enfield Crime Squad face a misconduct rap after allegedly using unnecessary force in the "hard stop" arrest in Edmonton, North London. They are also accused of doctoring the film.

My comment: The strong arm of the law? What about more senior officers, why does the buck always stop just below them leaving officers under their control take all the blame?

Read the full story from the source The Sun

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Lord Hanningfield defends expenses claims

Tory peer accused of expenses fraud said today he believed he was entitled to the money because most other members of the House of Lords claimed the full amount available.

Lord Hanningfield, 70, who denies six counts of false accounting, said he "quite honestly assumed" he could claim the maximum amount after learning that this was what 85% of peers did. Lord Hanningfield said he spent "a minute a month" completing the Lords' expenses claim form in exactly the same way each time........ "If I had known how important some people saw those forms, I would have done much more. I didn't see it as self-certifying, I saw it as means of getting expenses," he said...  "No-one ever told me those forms were so important. I am horrified to be where I am now because of those forms."

My comment: How an earth did this man get to be leader of Essex County Council and a Lord without knowing the importance of correctly filling in claim forms. I hope Essex County Council taxpayers take notice and force their council to undertake a full investigation into all his expense claims whilst he was their leader.  

Read the full story from the source The Independent

Read more about the background here

UPDATE 26/5/11: Lord Hanningfield found guilty of expenses fraud.

My comment: The first MP jailed for fraud only served a quarter of his sentence.

Read the full story from the source Guardian 

Read all articles about Essex County Council or all articles about the House of Lords on this blog.

'Night out' gaffe by council repairs chief

STAFF in the city council's statutory notice department were preparing to celebrate being cleared of wrongdoing with a "night out like no other" in the months before 14 workers were suspended.

In an e-mail leaked to the Evening News, property conservation boss Brian Sibbald reassured his staff about an internal audit that would inspect every process within the department. He adds: "Following the 'successful' outcome of this audit, there shall be a staff night out like no other!!!"

Instead, nearly half the department has been suspended and senior sources have alleged that fraudulent activity of a "serious nature" has been discovered by independent auditor Deloitte and police during the lengthy investigation.

Today, a source told the Evening News: "This department was so internalised, even complaints made were handled by the department itself. "Some of the people involved seemed to view themselves as untouchable. The system was open to abuse and some people took advantage of that."

My comment: I thought all council departments worked that way. 

Read the full story from the source Edinburgh Evening News 

Read all articles about Edinburgh City Council on this blog

Chris Huhne please note - Policeman sent to jail for speeding lies

A policeman who tried to dodge speeding tickets by twice claiming a man living in Hollywood was driving his car was jailed for six months yesterday.

Detective Constable Jason Butler, 45, already had six points and was worried about losing his licence when he was twice clocked by a speed camera breaking the limit.

So in a bid to avoid the points, he tried to claim his vehicle was being driven by a 'Walter Earl', an American tourist he had met years earlier through his police work. But Interpol tracked the man down, who proved he was in America at the time of the speeding offences.

Judge Francis Gilbert QC said the offence was "very serious" particularly when "committed by a police officer who is bound by his duty to enforce and not to break the law".

He added: "This offence must carry with it a very serious deterrent otherwise we might as well throw away the cameras and forget the whole system altogether.

"If people can get away with nominating friends and families to take their points it defeats the whole system. As a police officer you knew exactly what you were doing and you did it twice."

My comment: No wonder Chris Huhne is so worried!

Read the full story from the source This is Cornwall

Read all articles about the Police or all articles about Chris Huhne on this blog

Inquiry into Andrea Hill continues

SUFFOLK: A significant week for the county starts today as the law firm which is carrying out an inquiry involving chief executive Andrea Hill starts to sift through the contents of interviews of staff.

Multi-national law firm Wragge and Co, which is based in London and works with many local authorities across the country, was called in by the county council after it received “Anonymous whistle-blowing complaints.”

Staff from the law company have been carrying out interviews in Suffolk, but the last of these was scheduled for last Friday. It is now due to compile a preliminary report for the county council.

My comment: At least it's not the usual council run 'internal cover up' type of  investigation. However, we will have to wait and see what they do with the report, publish or bury. In addition if Suffolk County Council didn't promise those who signed compromise agreements immunity why should any ex staff assist them with their enquiries? If they did break their compromise agreement and assist the inquiry the last thing they need is Suffolk County Council taking action against them for breaking their agreements to keep quiet.

Read the full story from the source Evening Star

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about Andrea Hill on this blog

MP Douglas Carswell says Judiciary looking like an 'ass'

Frustration in parliament reached new heights on Friday when the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, took the unprecedented step of criticising MPs for "flouting court orders" in the Commons.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said he was confident the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, would ensure there was a debate. He said: "I think the problem is that the judiciary is making itself look a bit of an ass. There is something poetic about both the bill of rights and Twitter pointing towards the supremacy of the people.

My comment: If you look like an ass, walk like an ass, act like an ass and talk like an ass, as many judges do, then you can't blame people for thinking you are an ass. Giving out injunctions/super injunctions like confetti may yet come back to bite them on the ass. Pun intended.  

In addition, Lord Judge criticising MPs was as daft as a Solicitor's recent decision to take twitter on. Don't they realise that all they have done is pour petrol on their respective fires.  

Read the full story from the source Guardian

Read all articles about the Judiciary/Judges on this blog

Judges are unelected, out of touch and shockingly arrogant

As the Committee on super-injunctions was composed entirely of judges and lawyers, we should not be very surprised that its conclusions are so inadequate and do little or nothing to lift the veil of secrecy from public life.

Indeed, two of the committee represent law firms – Carter Ruck and Schillings – which in recent years have been at the forefront of moves for ever greater secrecy. It is a bit like asking two notorious sharpshooters to sit on a committee discussing the use of firearms in the Wild West.

if Lord Neuberger and his colleagues have their way, journalists publishing the words of such parliamentarians could be prosecuted if they are judged not to have acted ‘in good faith and without malice’.

This is a preposterous infringement of both parliamentary sovereignty and freedom of expression, which illustrates an alarming arrogance on the part of the higher judiciary.

Lawyers reasonably say that Parliament originally passed the Human Rights Act, along with Article Eight, but almost no one envisaged the way in which judges would chose to develop this law, or the speed.

My comment: Judges should be asked why the privacy of rich footballers, playing away from home, is more important than freedom of speech? The Human Rights Act makes no such distinction, it is they who have decided privacy is more important than free speech, well for rich people that is. So I for one must agree with Stephen Glover Judges are unelected, out of touch and shockingly arrogant and something need to be done NOW.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Judiciary/Judges on this blog

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Judges block Home Secretary from deporting convicted terrorist

A convicted terrorist banned from Britain for being a risk to national security has been stopped from being deported by the courts.

Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Rix and Lord Justice Lloyd backed the terrorist's right to be in Britain while he mounts an appeal. Lord Justice Pill commented that denying him access to Britain could lead to "potential injustice". The case puts the judiciary and the Government at loggerheads once again, and comes after the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, warned MPs against using parliamentary privilege to reveal the identities of those who have obtained injunctions to protect their privacy.

My comment: Welcome to broken Britain where idiotic Judges put the rights of terrorists and rich footballers who play away from home above the rights and freedoms of the public and our elected representatives. 

Last year the total pay bill for all judges in England and Wales came to £290 MILLION and one of them was even allowed to handle cases by email and telephone so they could go on holiday to Tenerife. Which is probably a lot safer than holidaying in Britain where they may meet one of the many wrong 'uns they decided to let off. Karma must be a real worry for many judges.

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Read all articles about the Judiciary/Judges on this blog

Councillor wanted taxpayer funded council magazine to push Labour Party

A councillor has said Leicester City Council's publicly-funded Link magazine could be pushing Labour Party messages. In an e-mail to other councillors seen by the Mercury, Councillor Rob Wann said the magazine could be used to help publicise the party.

In the e-mail, Coun Wann said: "We have the Link magazine, which I think we can push a more Labour message through and ensure it gets to every household.

"Who cares if we are challenged for using it for political purposes? We have 52 councillors so why not?"

My comment: Another plainly not fit for purpose councillor.

Read the full story from the source  This is Leicester

Read all articles about Leicester City Council on this blog

Councillor defends public's cash in his personal account

ALMOST £5,000 of public money was paid into a councillor’s personal bank account to avoid a ‘misunderstanding’ in the Muslim community.

Bedford Borough Councillor Mohammed Masud applied for funding from the Sustainable Communities Fund from the North Bedfordshire Community Safety Partnership.

The partnership made an exception to pay the cash into Cllr Masud’s account to avoid any suggestion one Mosque was being favoured over another despite the councillor being the chairman of Westbourne Road Mosque in Queens Park.

My comment: Don't you just love the official reason. To avoid any suggestion that one Mosque is being favoured over another they pay the money into the private bank account of the chair of just one Mosque. You just know a council is involved when you hear crap like this.

Read the full story from the source Bedfordshire on Sunday

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lancashire County Council legal battle after Birmingham City Council loses

THE LEGAL battle over County Hall’s social services cuts has taken a fresh twist after a council decision was ruled ‘unlawful’ in a test case.

Birmingham City Council now has to reconsider its decision to cut back the support given to disabled adults after a judge said it could have a ‘devastating’ impact on people.

The historic verdict could have an impact on Lancashire County Council, which is fighting a similar action from the same firm of solicitors, Irwin Mitchell.

My comment: The outcome depends on whether they consulted properly, in line with disability legislation, before reaching its decision. Something Birmingham City Council failed to do. The judge in the Birmingham City Case said the council had failed to take account of disability discrimination laws and criticised the authority’s flawed public consultation on the proposed cuts.

Read the full story from the source Lancashire Telegraph

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council or all articles about Lancashire County Council on this blog

Axe falls on some lordly benefits

The Government hopes to chop at least half the salary of the Speaker of the House of Lords.

The incumbent, Labour’s Lady Hayman, has decided not to seek re-election in July. Perhaps her circa £110,000 salary will evaporate with her.

The non-job of Lord Speaker was created in 2006, mainly because the then Lord Chancellor, Charlie Falconer, wanted longer lunches and disliked having to sit on the Woolsack in his hot wig. The Blairites duly inserted one of their own: ex-Labour MP Hayman.

A small fortune in salary and expenses was sucked from the tax teat.

The Lord Speaker’s perks include gold robes, global travel and gorgeous apartments. The position cost millions. And yet the Lord Speaker hardly says a word in the Chamber. What a Gilbert & Sullivan nonsense.

My comment: The mother of all public sector none jobs. Why does the government only want to cut half the salary rather than the whole job?

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the House of Lords on this blog

MP accused of lying over '£60,000 election expenses'

Aides of Chris Huhne have been taped apparently admitting they misled the authorities over his general election expenses.

Two former Lib Dem councillors have come forward with recorded evidence they say proves the Energy Secretary spent more than he was allowed to in the bitter fight to keep his ultra-marginal seat last May.

Mr Huhne’s election agent is heard telling colleagues the campaign cost £60,000 – £10,000 more than stated. ‘The elections have cost more than we declared,’ she said.

The campaign spending figures were officially submitted to the returning officer and signed by Mr Huhne

Making a false declaration of election expenses can lead to a year’s imprisonment.

My comment:  I wonder if he will ask his wife to to do the time :)

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Check out his other problems here.

Read all articles about MPs or all articles about Chris Huhne on this blog

Councils’ rubbish idea to raise revenue

Some cash-strapped local authorities are starting to charge at the dump for household waste.

Last month Somerset Waste Partnership, which manages recycling and waste services on behalf of the six authorities, brought in pay-per-visit fees at four recycling centres threatened with closure. Householders now have to pay between £1.20 and £2 to enter the sites.

“These tip taxes are utterly counterproductive,” Pickles said at the time.  “I urge local residents to report the council to the district auditor and to the local government ombudsman.”

But, a month on from the introduction of the changes, a spokesperson for Somerset Waste Partnership says: “We’ve had no legal challenge from legal watchdogs or from any of our residents as yet.

My comment: The Local Government Ombudsman that Pickles mentions has no mandatory powers, so they can't stop this. The government set up the toothless local authority arse licking Local Government Ombudsman in 1974, One that is now also staffed in the main by ex local authority officers. 

So why does Pickles suggest they have the power and independence they don't have? Especially since the department he now runs, has for the last 20 years, recruited Local Government Ombudsmen from the local authorities they are supposed to be watching. Which hardly makes them as independent as Eric would like us to think they are. Here is an example of the background of a typical LGO, recruited in 2005 by the government department he is now in charge of.

Council watchdogs? More like council lapdogs. Here is an example of a Local Government Ombudsman sucking up to a council.

Read the full story from the source  Global Daily Business

Friday, 20 May 2011

Call for review over Suffolk County Council’s £405,000 payout

THE leader of the Lib Dems at Suffolk County Council has called for a panel to be set up after a massive increase in ‘gagging’ payouts to staff.

Cllr Kathy Pollard said she was concerned but not surprised after it emerged that £405,000 had been spent in just four months, paying departing staff so they did not criticise the council.

That figure compared to £520,000 for the whole of last year, while three years ago the council was spending roughly £100,000 a year on the staff compromise agreements. Questions need to be asked as to why it has suddenly shot up.

She said in five years the amount spend on the top management team – people on more than £50,000 a year – had soared from £6 million a year, to £16 million. 

My comment: There appears to be a common denominator between excessive top management pay and excessive use of gagging orders, Andrea Hill. However, there is only one person you can really blame and that's Jeremy Pembroke, the leader of the council at the time Suffolk recruited Andrea Hill and the person who protected her until he stepped down just before the sh*t hit the fan. 

Read the full story from the source  Bury Free Press

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council or all articles about Andrea Hill on this blog

Councillor given community order over assault on ex-partner

A town councillor has been ordered to do unpaid work after he assaulted his former partner on two occasions.

David Jones, a Liberal Democrat councillor who represents the east central ward of Porthcawl, pleaded guilty at Bridgend Magistrates’ Court to assaulting Rosemary Toombes on November 5, 2010 and March 26, 2011.

My comment: Wonder what he would do if he fell out with a local resident?

Read the full story from the source Wales on Line

Police to pay damages for women 'held in slavery'

Four Nigerian women "held in slavery" after being illegally trafficked into the UK were awarded a total of £20,000 damages today by a High Court judge who concluded that police had breached their human rights by failing to investigate complaints.

They complained that the Metropolitan Police had infringed their rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by failing to investigate over a "significant" period of time.

Solicitor Tony Murphy added: "The (police) commissioner should not require a court judgment to appreciate the importance of investigating child slavery. His decision to fight this case sends a dangerous message to officers that combating human trafficking is not a priority for the Met."

My comment: No doubt the Met Police, like all Police forces, prefer to investigate cases similar to these,  the theft of half a bottle of wine from an MP, a serous crime reported by councillor, emails sent by a councillor, another serious crime reported by a councillor, or even yet another serious crime reported by a councillor.

Read the full story from the source The Independent

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

How will councils spend your £53 billion this year?

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, today published new figures showing exactly how much town halls have to spend for each resident. He encouraged local taxpayers to go compare and ask how their money is being spent this year.

The average spending figure is equivalent to councils spending over £1,000 for every resident in their area. 

My comment: At least we can now compare councils and see which are spending our taxes effectively and which are wasting them.

Read the full story from the source  DCLG

Suffolk County Council chief spent £405,000 on 'gagging orders'

One of Britain’s highest paid council bosses spent £405,000 on “gagging orders” in just three months to silence staff complaints about the authority.

Andrea Hill, the chief executive of Suffolk County Council, agreed secret payouts for 13 employees which cost the authority £405,665.90.

Mrs Hill, 47, is currently on extended leave on full pay following complaints about her management style and the suspected suicide of a senior colleague.

Documents show the payouts were all made in her final 12 weeks at her desk.

The “gagging orders” were funded at a time when severe cuts were being imposed on council services.

My comment: Suffolk are not alone in their use of gagging orders to stop the truth getting out. Stoke on Trent City Council Senior Staff even asked councillors to sign gagging orders so the Chief Executive could stop them speaking out, how bizarre and undemocratic is that? Cheshire West and Chester Council also use gagging orders, which is not surprising when you realise that their CEO and other senior staff came from Stoke on Trent City Council. 

Read the full story from the source Telegraph

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