Friday, 29 July 2011

Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan denies assault

An alleged assault by Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan on a man in a social club is being investigated by the police.

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders police can confirm that they have received a report of assault which occurred during the early hours of Monday, 25 July outside the premises of Bonnyrigg Rose Football Club. "Inquiries are continuing."

My comment: Waiting for the outcome before commenting. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

UPDATED 26th September 2011: Midlothian Council leader charged over assault.

A LOTHIANS council leader has been charged with assault following an incident in Bonnyrigg earlier this year.

Derek Milligan, head of Midlothian Council, is said to have been involved in the alleged incident at Bonnyrigg Rose Social Club in July.

Read the full story from the source Scotsman

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Police officer had sex while on duty

A police officer is under investigation for allegedly having sex with three different women while on duty.

For the past 12 months, he has been on restricted duties at Rochdale police station with no contact with the public. The restriction does not suggest guilt. All of the alleged encounters were consensual.

My comment: When duty calls?

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Gedling Borough Council spend £40,000 chasing £1,900 tax debt

A COUNCIL could be forced to pay out more than £100,000 – for pursuing a bankruptcy order against a elderly Notts man who owed just £1,900 in council tax.

Nottingham County Court heard that the bill for court and bankruptcy trustee fees currently stood at £68,692.

My comment: Another 'you couldn't make it up' story about a stupid council taking risks with taxpayer's money.

Read the full story from the source This is Nottingham

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

£1bn credit card spree by Ministry of Defence staff

Military officials and chiefs have splashed out almost £1billion on taxpayer-funded credit cards as thousands of soldiers face job cuts, it emerged yesterday.

Over the past four years, the MoD spent £986,041,110 on department charge cards, substantially more any other government department.

The revelations will fuel growing concerns over the management of the ministry, which is shedding 17,000 posts by 2015 in an attempt to save £4.7billion.

My comment: What is more interesting than the vast amount of money spent on credit cards is the fact that they don't want to publishing a breakdown of the total. 

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about the MOD on this blog

Confidential Police file found in street

Lancashire Police have begun an internal inquiry after a confidential file containing a teenage rape victim's details was found in the street.

The police document was found by a man walking his dog in Blackpool, Lancashire, on Saturday.

It is understood to have contained the girl's photograph, her age, address, phone numbers and school.

Insp David Old, of Blackpool Police, said he was keeping an open mind on how it got into the hands of the public.

"It's likely there will be a look at procedures and if there is a lesson to be learnt procedurally from this, we will."

My comment: Lesson number one, don't leave confidential files in the street! It's not bloody rocket science.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Kent County Council and chauffeur driven cars

THE leader of Kent County Council has come under fire from members of his own cabinet over the use of chauffeur-driven cars.

It follows revelations last month Mr Carter has been using council-owned cars to conduct his private business interests in Fulham and Kingston-upon-Thames.

A total of 26 councillors and officers used them last year at a cost of £33,966. Top of the list was council chairman Bill Hayton who came in at £12,235. Next came Mr King who cost £8,500, with Mr Carter third at £6,480.

The costs incurred by each individual member, which have been published for the first time, would have been much higher had petrol and wear and tear to be included.

Mr King "If we were employed privately we would not be able to do it because the maximum 48-hour working week would be broken every week."

My comment: The point Mr King is, that you are not employed privately, you are an elected representative of the people and shouldn't be chauffeured around at the taxpayer's expense to the tune of £8,500 plus petrol and depreciation so you can pretend to be more important than you really are. In the words of Lord Sugar's apprentice program, you're not a big fish, you're not even a fish!

Read the full story from the source This is Kent  

Read all articles about Kent County Council on this blog

Monday, 25 July 2011

Confidential Kirklees Council files on a computer stolen by burglars

CONFIDENTIAL files on 25 people were on a computer stolen from the home of a Kirklees Council employee.

None of the information was encrypted and no one at Kirklees Council has been disciplined as a result.

Iinformation lost included names, addresses and long term health needs in the theft at an employee’s home in March 2011.

My comment: The person who should be sacked is the one who allowed unencrypted personal details to be stored on a none password protected laptop.

Read the full story from the source The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Read all articles about Kirklees Council on this blog

MP threatens to sue activist

A NORTH-EAST MP has threatened to take legal action against a grandmother in a bizarre row over a boules pitch.

James Wharton, the Tory MP for Stockton South, took action to remove “Save our park” posters stuck to trees by former teacher Carole Jones.

The MP found himself dragged into the row over the boules pitch when one of Mrs Jones’ posters depicted him as a James Bondstyle evil genius working with Yarm Town Council.

But Mr Wharton didn’t find the posters amusing. In an email, he accused Mrs Jones of fly-posting and distributing libellous cartoons.

My comment: An MP who obviously hasn't got the 'boules' for the rough and tumble of the job. I hope the electorate remember this at the next election.

Read the full story from the source Darlington and Stockton Times 

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Copeland Councillors refuse a special allowance cut

Members of the all-Labour Executive – reduced by one to seven in the next financial year – receive an extra £6,178 a year for special responsibilities. But at Tuesday night’s full council meeting, the minority Tory group, backed by Independent councillors, failed in a bid to persuade the Labour executive members to take the cut.

It was part of a budget move to provide free parking for the first hour every day right across the borough. But with all Labour councillors voting against, it was defeated by 21 votes to 17.

Special responsibility allowances will total £52,000 in 2010-11.

My comment: No councillor should be able to vote on their own allowances. 

Read the full story from the source The Whitehaven News

Read all articles about Copeland Borough Council on this blog

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Watchdog is asked why it took 4 years to ban teacher

SCOTLAND’S regulatory body for teachers has come under fire for taking nearly four years to ban a member of school staff who it later admitted “simply could not teach”.

The accusation came in the wake of a decision last week by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) to strike off Janet Garner, a secondary school maths teacher.

Mrs Garner was removed from the teaching register after a hearing found her guilty of serious professional incompetence while working at Alva Academy and Alloa Academy in Clackmannanshire between 2003 and 2007 – when she was sacked by the council.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose watchdog to add to the long list of not fit for purpose watchdogs in the UK.

Read the full story from the source Herald Scotland You may have to register to read the full article.

Read all articles about Watchdogs on this blog

Glasgow City Council staff suspended or sacked in fraud probe

MORE than a dozen council staff have been suspended or sacked and a manager disciplined over a long-running scam to defraud the authority.

The workers, all employed at a Glasgow City Council roads department depot, were involved in a scheme which saw them clock-in late and leave early, as well as take authority vehicles home for personal use.

Some of those suspended were also accused of stealing diesel from the depot.

The scam emerged after a whistleblower contacted managers in the council’s land and environmental services (LES) department.

Some of those suspended were also accused of stealing diesel from the depot.

My comment: Another story about council officer corruption that probably wouldn't have seen the light of day south of the border. Councils down here tend to bully whistle-blowers out of their jobs and get them to sign a gagging/compromise agreement in order to hide the corruption.

Read the full story from the source Herald Scotland You may have to register to read the full article.

Read all articles about Glasgow City Council on this blog

Edinburgh City Council official sacked in contracts probe

A COUNCIL officer has been sacked after he was found to be listed as a director of a building firm now being investigated over repair contracts awarded by the local authority.

Scott McDonald, 32, was dismissed from Edinburgh City Council after his connection to the company was discovered.

News of the sacking comes as the council’s Property Conservation Department is under investigation by Lothian and Borders Police for alleged corruption. A total of 18 members of the department and one planning officer have been suspended while the investigation takes place.

The department controls all essential repairs to buildings in Edinburgh and is responsible for £30 million worth of essential works in the capital a year.

The allegations centre on the awarding of contracts by council officials to crony building companies.

My comment: Pity they aren't as keen in England on rooting out Council corruption. However, when we have English Local Government Ombudsmen who are reluctant to accept council staff lie, let alone commit any more serious wrongdoings, what can you expect. 

Read the full story from the source Herald Scotland You may have to register to read the full article.

Read all articles about Edinburgh City Council on this blog

UPDATE 20th September 2011: Corruption claims against Edinburgh council officials.

There are calls for a review of recent work carried out under the statutory notice system, which allows the council to order repairs to private homes.

The BBC understands that police have been passed evidence claiming a council officer went on holidays paid for by a contractor.

The property conservation department's hospitality records until 2009 have now been lost.

BBC Scotland commissioned two experts - quantity surveyor Gordon Murdie and structural engineer John Addison - to examine cases where work was carried out under the statutory notice system.

They concluded that the residents had been over-charged, and that some of the repairs were unnecessary, of poor quality and may actually have made the buildings worse.

Scotland's Property Scandal will be broadcast at 22:35 on Tuesday 20 September on BBC1 Scotland, and on the iPlayer 

My comment:  What about the property scandals in England and Wales? Pity our councils and authorities aren't as keen as those in Scotland to root out bribery and corruption. Or, in some cases making it difficult for the public to find out exactly what private company interests their officers have.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

UPDATE 1ST December 2011: Four sacked after Edinburgh housing repairs probe.

Four members of staff at Edinburgh City Council have been dismissed over an alleged multi-million pound housing repair scam, BBC Scotland has learned.

It is understood the workers were sacked after an internal investigation into the way contracts were awarded for work relating to statutory notices.

About 500 people had complained about statutory housing repairs with concerns including costs and unnecessary work.

When the allegations came to light last year, at least 15 staff were suspended.

My comment: Another 'where were the Scottish Watchdogs and Ombudsmen' to stop this happening?  You can't tell me that at least one of the complainants didn't complain to them.

As far as England is concerned I know why the Local Government Ombudsmen would never be involved. Firstly they think that council officers taking a bung is an urban myth and secondly their track record suggests that even if they came across any evidence of such behaviour during one of their investigations they wouldn't tell the Police.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Friday, 22 July 2011

Fraudster MP claimed £151,000

CONVICTED expenses cheat Eric Illsley claimed more cash than every MP except one, figures revealed yesterday.

The fraudster who was jailed earlier this year, received just over £151,000 between the general election in May last year and April this year in what campaigners called a “kick in the teeth for taxpayers”.

He was only beaten into second place by Labour’s David Lammy, MP for Tottenham just seven miles from Westminster and London’s poorest area. He claimed almost £174,000, mostly in staffing costs which included having to fund maternity cover.

My comment: £151K plus an MP's salary and he still fiddled his expenses. 

Read the full story from the source Express

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Former Canterbury City Council Councillor pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault

A paedophile who compared his catalogue of indecent images and explicit stories about children to works of art was jailed for 15 months today.

Former councillor [and Sheriff] Martin Fisher, 61, told police after he was arrested: "Some people like Picasso. I like pictures of children with no clothes on."

Indecent images of children and paedophilic stories downloaded from the internet were found on his home and business computers.

Fisher, who sat as a Conservative councillor on Canterbury City Council, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault, three of which were on a girl aged under 13.

He also admitted 11 counts of possessing and making indecent images of children, and he was jailed at Canterbury Crown Court, Kent Police said.

In addition to his 15-month jail term, Fisher will spend 10 years on the sex offenders' register.

My comment: Quote: "Child sex offenders often use a position of power or authority to intimidate their victims not to report the abuse and try to convince them they would not be believed." Det Ch Insp Paul Duhig, Cumbria Police. More here.

Read the full story from the source Mirror.

Read all articles about Canterbury City Council on this blog.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Council blacklists

Thousands of people involved in disagreements with council staff have had their personal details stored on secret blacklists.

Bureaucrats have listed the details of members of the public who have been involved in rows with teachers or dustmen over seemingly trivial matters.

They hold the details of almost 9,000 people, but most have never been charged with or convicted of a crime.

Personal information such as car registration numbers, telephone numbers, household pets, nicknames and distinguishing features are listed on the databases.

In many councils hundreds of staff can access personal information about people logged as a potential threat, even though they have no contact with the public and so could never be in danger.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has warned councils that they have a legal duty to keep the information secure.

He said councils should inform residents who are on the database, setting out how they ended up on it. Only in extreme cases where a council believed that telling a resident they were on the list would lead to a violent reaction should they not approach the individual.

My comment: An example of how a council can get it wrong! 

In December 2005, Mrs Clift received a letter from the council to say she had been put on the register of potentially violent people.

After a four-year legal battle, the High Court ordered Slough Council to pay her £12,000 in libel damages.

My comment: The problem with the Clift case is that you need to know you are on a list in the first place. How many people are unknowingly on a council blacklist? Only way to confirm that you are on a blacklist is to submit a Data Protection request to the council, and therein lies the problem! 

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Suffolk Police, if the cap fits?

A teenager was marched home by police and threatened with a criminal record for theft - over a bicycle dustcap.

Daniel Findon, 15, unscrewed the plastic cap from a friend's bicycle tyre during a 'childish prank' and threw it in a ditch while the pair were playing together in the street near his home in Haverhill, Suffolk.

After a policeman appeared with Daniel on Mrs Chamberlain's doorstep, he interviewed them for half an hour then went back to the victim's home and returned with the bike's second dustcap to show the type which needed replacing.

Mrs Chamberlain and her husband Darren, 40, were given seven days to send a letter of apology and pay for the new dust cap.

The incident is now recorded as a 'solved crime' on Suffolk Constabulary's annual crime statistics.

My comment: Is this what Suffolk Police call a proportionate response.  

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line 

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Merton Council should win grass protection award :)

Keep off the grass: 'Brainless' council blasted for erecting bizarre sign on tiny scrap of land. A council spokeswoman said the matter was being looked into but was unable to confirm how much the sign had cost or why it was placed there.

Keep off the grass?
My comment: Another 'You couldn't make up this sort of nonsense.'

Read the full story from the source Daily Mail

Monday, 18 July 2011

Surrey County Council 'spent £2.5m on empty care beds'

Surrey County Council paid about £2.5m last year to healthcare providers for beds it did not use, it has emerged.

The authority said it was "worried" by the figure paid to health firms Anchor and Care UK but was working to renegotiate the contracts.

Under the terms of the contracts, the council pays the companies for the use of 1,000 beds. Last year, about 10% of those beds were not needed.

Opposition councillors accused the authority of wasting taxpayers' money.

My comment: Surrey County Council illustrates why most councils aren't fit to negotiate a roundabout let alone a commercial contract.

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about Surrey County Council on this blog

The Hacking Scandal: Other Police forces were at it

In less than 24 hours, the Met has lost two of its most senior officers. First to go was the commissioner himself, Sir Paul Stephenson. Next up, despite starting the day resolutely determined to hang on, was John Yates, the head of counter-terrorism.

In the two weeks since it emerged that Milly Dowler's mobile was hacked, the almost relentless pressure has turned a terrible affair into potentially the biggest scandal to engulf the Metropolitan Police in decades.

Read the full story from the source  BBC News

My comment: Whilst most people are now concentrating on the Met and Government, I think we should also look other Police forces because it looks like it wasn't just the Met Police that have been selling data/colluding with others. 

Devon and Cornwall police linked to phone hacking and data selling scandal.

Read the full story from the source This is Plymouth

Association of Police Authorities: "Chris Bryant MP calls for inquiry into Surrey police and their alleged collusion with the News of the World in the Dowler case."

Read the full story from the source Chartered Institute of Journalists

Merseyside Police breached strict data protection laws 208 times

Read more on another of my posts here

More Police forces will be added to the list as they come to my attention.

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Herts County Council has been fined almost £2m for bed blocking

 The authority came top of a national list of councils fined for so-called bed blocking because social service care was not available to patients at the time of discharge. Patients have been left waiting in hospital until these become available, preventing others being admitted.

Authorities in London and the surrounding area are fined £120 a day by the Department of Health for every patient who is ready to leave but cannot. HCC was fined a total of £1,962,205 over the last three years.

My comment: Another council wasting taxpayer's money.

Read the full story from the source The Comet 24

Read all articles about Hertfordshire County Council on this blog

Wirral Council pays out more than £335,000 in bed-blocking fines

Wirral are in the top 10 council areas which paid the most in bed blocking fines over the last three years, according to a BBC survey.

The councils were fined for delaying discharges as they were unable to provide adequate facilities for patients on leaving hospital.

My comment: What a complete waste of money. Especially when you consider that the money could have been spent on adequate facilities in the first place. 

Read the ful story from the source Wirral Globe

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog

Web shock coming for public servants

CIVIL servants have been wasting taxpayers’ money by shopping or booking holidays online instead of concentrating on their work.

A check on the websites visited most regularly by staff at the Department for Work and Pensions has shown the majority are not relevant to their jobs.

The most commonly accessed sites at DWP work stations are the search engine Google and the BBC website, but the online shopping sites for Argos, Littlewoods and Amazon also figure prominently in the top 30 sites viewed. Argos.co.uk rose to number seven in the number of hits for last November and then number six in December, suggesting use for Christmas shopping.

My comment: Can't wait for similar Freedom of Information requests to be made to councils by the hundreds of interested parties around the country. 

Read the full story from the source Express 

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

CQC: Winterbourne View 'failed to protect people'

A care watchdog has reported a "systemic failure to protect people" at a hospital where alleged abuse was secretly filmed by the BBC.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its findings after an inspection of Winterbourne View near Bristol. The review was ordered after BBC Panorama filmed patients being pinned down, slapped and taunted.

Police said they had arrested a 12th person in connection with the inquiry.

The Panorama programme was contacted by whistleblower Terry Bryan who alerted the BBC with his concerns about some staff.

My comment: Notice that the CQC criticises the care home but ignores their own failings! The reason why whistle-blowers contacted the BBC is because they were ignored by the Care Quality Commission. Their involvement looks more like an arse covering exercise similar to Ofsted during the Baby P scandal.

Who scrutinises our watchdogs and takes action when they fail?
 
Read the full story from the source BBC News

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

£5k to be spent on reviewing councillors' pay - despite rises ruled out

COVENTRY council taxpayers will fork out £5,000 on consultants to help a review of councillors’ pay – even though pay rises have already been ruled out.

Councillors insist they will not be awarding themselves any pay rise or make any changes whatever the independent review recommends, at a time of cuts and staff pay freezes.

The whole review has been blasted as a waste of time and money.

My comment: I agree, what a stupid waste of taxpayer's money.

Read read the full story from the source  Coventry Telegraph

An end to ‘status quo of secrecy’ at Bolton Council?

THE outside business dealings of senior town hall staff could soon be made public after Bolton Council was issued a High Court threat by the country’s information boss.

The threat comes after transparency campaigner John Greenwood asked for details held on the council’s register of interests in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the council refused, Mr Greenwood, from Breightmet, reported the council to the government’s Information Commissioner.

A spokesman for the authority said the council is seeking advice with a view to appealing the matter. 

My comment: Alarm bells should ring when a council fights tooth and nail to keep their grubby little secrets. 

Read the full story from the source The Bolton News

Sunday, 17 July 2011

South Tyneside Council: Money to chase monkey but not cockroaches

A tenant complained that the council had failed to take effective action to deal with a cockroach infestation in the block of flats where he lived.

The council’s records show that there had been reports of cockroaches from February 2005. The Environmental Health Service responded and provided ‘spot treatments’, but in September 2009 recommended the housing manager in an e-mail that the only effective treatment would be to the whole block. The e-mail says such advice had also been given previously.

The housing service commissioned the block treatment in February 2009. The council says the delay was due to it needing to identify funds.

My comment: Must have spent all their money chasing monkey!

Read the full story from the source The Shields Gazette

Read all articles about South Tyneside Council on this blog

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Angus Council Leader compares FOI to phone hacking

In a quite extraordinary rant, Bob Myles, Leader of Angus Council, has complained bitterly about people wanting to know how much their elected members spend on travel, corporate jollies and gifts – paid for on council credit cards.

While members of the public are as entitled as anyone to lodge requests under Freedom of Information legislation – and do – for some reason Mr Myles’ ire is focused on journalists.

He predicts that some newspaper reporters, whom he sees as now deprived of the practic of phone hacking, will turn to an even greater use of FOI to generate ‘sensationalist stories’

My comment: I can't put it better than the reporter who states: "..the paymasters [taxpayers] have woken up, got smart, are online, are informed up to the minute and are no longer accepting without question whatever tunes the pipers play to sedate them. They are getting stuck into compiling their own repertoires of tunes they want to hear – and stirring music it is."

I think the council leader has shot is council in the foot and now expect an avalanche of FOI about council expenses. May I suggest member's budgets if anyone is interested! 

Submit your FOI request to Angus Council on-line now.

Read the full story from the source Argyl News

Read all articles about Angus Council on this blog

MP in four-letter blast at blind man

A Labour whip unleashed a four-letter tirade at a blind man for getting in her way during a fraught exchange in the Houses of Parliament.

Lyn Brown, the burly MP for West Ham, barged into the back of Talksport political editor Sean Dilley, and his golden retriever guide dog, as he was walking in a corridor towards Portcullis House.

Witnesses were shocked to see a clearly stressed Miss Brown bulldoze into the back of Mr Dilley before overtaking him, shouting: 'For ****'s sake, move out of my ******* way.'

The journalist asked her to be more careful as he did not want to crash into his guide dog, Chip.

Miss Brown then sniped back: 'You are such a rude ******* man, you just walked right in front of me.'

One source said a frustrated Mr Dilley then replied: 'I'm blind, you stupid woman.'

He then demanded to know Miss Brown's name, as he could not see who had bumped into him, but Miss Brown replied: 'I am not giving it to you, **** off.'

My comment: The standards of our MPs appear to be dropping by the minute. I hope the electorate in West Ham tell this MP to **** off at the next election :) 

This is the same MP who supposedly campaigned tirelessly for a living wage for all and then tried to recruit an UNPAID member of staff to replace an existing, salaried staff member who was leaving for another job elsewhere. 

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Lambeth Council Housing Official squatting in a flat

Lambeth housing officer Venetia Bailey and Ernest Henderson, also a former Lambeth employee - are using their legal expertise and knowledge of squatting laws to drag out the case.

Ms Koningen, who is in her thirties, let out the Victorian flat in Angles Road in September. The tenants were supposed to be paying £1,130 a month in rent direct to her after finding the property through agency Townends.

Ms Koningen served the couple an eviction notice in January over the alleged rents arrears and damage. She now intends to pursue the case through the courts. She has also set up a website detailing the dispute, at iwantmyhomeback.tumblr.com

My comment: Not a good advert for Lambeth Council is it. Employing squatters as housing officials, bit of a joke really.

Read the full story from the source London Evening Standard

Read all articles about Lambeth Council  on this blog

UPDATE 25th July 2011: Council worker 'stripped my house while squatting in it'

A landlady who has spent seven months fighting two people squatting at her home says they have finally moved out - but that her belongings have gone too.

Naomi Koningen had to sleep on friends' sofas after Lambeth council housing officer Venetia Bailey and Ernest Henderson refused to let her back into her Streatham home.

She claims they owe her £6,000 in unpaid rent and smashed windows, changed locks, and sprayed paint on walls, as well as leaving bills unpaid. They moved out last week - but Ms Koningen claims that she then discovered they had cleared her home of everything in sight.

Read the full story from the source This is London

Police guilty of aiding and abetting a drunk driver

A DRUNK motorist was told by officers to drive himself to the police station for a breath test.

Officers were unable to conduct a breath test because they had run out of the disposable straws suspects are asked to blow through.

Instead, they asked him to drive slowly to the station half-a-mile away while they followed in a patrol car.

My comment: Aiding and abetting a criminal act? Why didn't they drive him to the Police station? What would have happened if he had run someone over or had an accident?

Read the ful story from the source Express

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Friday, 15 July 2011

Senior Gwynedd councillor charged with stealing from Post Office he ran

A COUNCILLOR has been charged with stealing more than £53,000 from the Post Office he ran.

Plaid Cymru’s Dewi Eirwyn Lewis, who represents Penrhyndeudraeth on Gwynedd Council, runs Siop Dewi, a general shop in the village’s High Street and which also contains a sub-post office.

He has been ordered to appear before magistrates at Dolgellau later this month.

The charge of theft against Mr Lewis alleges he stole “cash to the value of £53,629.09 belonging to Post Office Limited” at Penrhyndeudraeth between August 31 last year and March 15 this year.

A Gwynedd Council spokeswoman said: “If the individual is found guilty of an offence which carries a sentence of three months or more of imprisonment – an offence of this kind disqualifies an individual from being a councillor for a period of five years.”

My comment: I can't believe that a councillor can be found guilty of a serious offence but keep their job as long as they don't get longer than a three months sentence. This is the second case in a few weeks in which proves a councillor can keep their job even if found guilty of a serious offence.

Read the full story from the source Daily Post

UPDATE 28th July 2011: Ex-Gwynedd councillor Dewi Lewis admits £53,000 theft.

A Gwynedd county councillor who admitted stealing more than £53,000 while a sub-post master has resigned.

Dewi Lewis, who ran the post office in Penrhyndeudraeth, took the money to try to keep afloat his business, Siop Dewi, Dolgellau magistrates heard.

Lewis will be sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court on 25 August.

My comment: At least he's had the decency to resign at last. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Lancashire Police inspector sentenced for assault

A former Lancashire Police inspector has been given a two-year community order after he pleaded guilty last month to two counts of common assault.

Mustaq Patala, 33, of Pleckgate, Blackburn must carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and attend a community domestic violence programme.

The incidents relate to offences against his wife dating from 2009 to November 2010.  Patala resigned from his position at Greenbank Police Station last month.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: "They should feel reassured that whoever you are, if you commit crime in Lancashire then we will seek to bring you to justice."

My comment: Justice, 180 hours community service, is that what they call justice nowadays? 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Member's budgets could be used to buy votes at the taxpayer's expense.

Details of Cheshire and Chester Council Member's budgets [My comment: Why not check out your own council.]

Over the past two years Members - given £5,000 a year for their own personal member budgets totalling £790,000 - funded 770 schemes for 465 organisations.

The figures were revealed when the annual report of the Members Budgets Expenditure Report went before the Executive last night (Wednesday).

This year’s Member budgets have increased to £10,000 for each of the 75 Councillors and Council Leader Mike Jones hopes that over the next four years they will rise to £60,000 per member. [My comment: That's £4.5 million for councillors to spend on individual pet projects which could be used to boost the number of people who vote for them.]

“I put £3,000 into a £50,000 project for nets for the young people in the local area and they have got a first class facility for cricket in Tattenhall now.

“So its what a local member sees as important. It allows local members to be innovative in working in some fantastic schemes going on in your community and to really be an enterprising force in your communities.”

My comment: Whilst there is no doubt member's budgets can be used for good causes there is a serious risk that some members could use them to indirectly buy votes. The council as a whole should award money to good causes not individual councillors.

PS Why not add details of your council as a comment or send me a link to the information and I will add it to this post. 

Read more information from the source Cheshire West and Chester Council

Read all articles about Cheshire West & Chester Council on this blog and more articles about them on my dedicated CWaC Council blog

Civil servants away day at burlesque club

Civil servants spent £4,719 at a burlesque club for a team-building session, but a minister has insisted that no one "watched burlesque chanteuse Lady Beau Peep"

Whereas most organisations would chose a cheap hotel or an empty meeting room at their workplace, the Department of Communities and Local Government, in charge of housing and local neighbourhoods, picked the Brickhouse burlesque club in the east end of London last May.

 In a written answer, submitted to Parliament and published today, Bob Neill, the minister, said the total cost of the event was £4,719.21 – far in excess of the £1,300 figure which first emerged last month when the department admitted the away day had taken place. The cost comprised £3,417.71 of payments made to an events company called Poisson Rouge and £1,301.50 paid to the venue.

[Bob Neill, the minister] "While I am informed the Brickhouse often features such figures as 'burlesque chanteuse Lady Beau Peep' and 'showgirl sensation Amber Topaz', the event in this instance did not involve civil servants watching, or indeed, performing cabaret or other eclectic entertainment."

My comment: Burlesque and bed bars but they didn't look they were busy with  team building and group drumming! Pull the other one.

Read the full story from The Telegraph

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Copeland council taxpayers bill for a £75,000 loan to Rugby Football Club

The borough council stood guarantors for the loan, made by the West Cumbria Development Fund to help the rugby league club stay in business. But when insolvency forced the club into administration in September, effectively clearing the club’s £300,000 worth of debts, it came to payback time for the loan.

But the situation has angered Tory members on the Labour controlled local authority. “What this means is a loss to the Copeland taxpayer,” said David Moore, the Tory group leader. “Several of us flagged up the risks the council was taking at the time. No-one wants to say we were vindicated but the bottom line is that our taxpayers will have to pay the price, picking up the bill just at a time when we are having to make big cuts and big savings to keep services going.”

Council leader Elaine Woodburn told The Whitehaven News: “We have come forward and honoured our commitment.

The council also faces having to pay back a £50,000 bank overdraft which it agreed to guarantee to help Whitehaven RLFC survive around the same time as the £75,000 loan.

My comment: Why an earth is a council underwriting loans to a Rugby Football Club. I wonder how many times councillors and senior staff used the VIP lounge? An earlier post suggests they like a good jolly in Copeland Borough Council.

Read the full story from the source Whitehaven News

Read all articles about Copeland Borough Council on this blog

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Rochdale MP’s firm owes taxman £110k after going bust

A company owned by a Labour MP has gone into liquidation – owing more than £100,000 to the taxman.

Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, co-founded the social research company Vision Twentyone with Ruth Turner, close adviser to Tony Blair and chief executive of the former prime minister’s Faith Foundation. The firm – set up in 1999 – has been placed in voluntary liquidation after losing around 75 per cent of its business in the past six months.

Its previous work included social research and running citizens’ juries to come up with ways of improving communities.

The majority of its clients were in the public sector.

My comment: Business goes bust, clamp down on MPs expenses, he must be feeling the pinch.

Read the full story from the source Manchester Evening News

Read all articles about MPs on this blog

Copeland Council tries to gag News over leak

THE Whitehaven News was threatened with legal action last week by Copeland Council over today’s published story about the council’s plans to restructure the senior management team.

Details of the restructure were leaked to us, and last Wednesday, after we approached the council for comments, it brought in solicitors who threatened to apply for a court injunction if we failed to meet specific conditions.

They demanded a written undertaking by the Editor “not to make use of the [leaked] document whatsoever” and to return it to the council by hand by 2pm last Wednesday.

The Whitehaven News was given 30 minutes to comply. We did not do so and argued via our solicitors that the public interest outweighed any question of confidentiality in deciding to publish.

There had also been suggestions from within the council that co-operation on stories and advertising could be withdrawn in future.

Editor Colin Edgar said: “That is tantamount to blackmail. We will not be bullied.

My comment: Bullying people is the only thing council CEOs appear to be good at.

Read the full story from the source The Whitehaven News 

Read all articles about Copeland Borough Council on this blog

Monday, 11 July 2011

Liverpool Council corporate hospitality cover-up scandal

LIVERPOOL Council covered up details of corporate hospitality lavished on officials, the Daily Post can reveal.

The authority has apologised for the cover-up, which was instigated following a Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act request by the Daily Post.

The cover-up, which happened in 2009, only came to light after the results of an internal council investigation were leaked to the Daily Post.

Last night, council leader Joe Anderson described it as “a scandal” and vowed that it would not happen again.

Daily Post Editor Mark Thomas said: “I was shocked when I discovered that information we legitimately requested from Liverpool Council, on a matter of public interest, had been doctored before being given to us.

The Daily Post will now be referring the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office for further investigation.

My comment: They aren't the first council to doctor an FOI response and I doubt they will be the last. The ICO should come down on them like a ton of bricks. 

Read the full story from the source Liverpool Daily Post

Read all articles about Liverpool City Council on this blog

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Captain Jack Cameron: Watchdogs, Ombudsmen and Commissions

Yesterday the Prime Minster said 'We turned a blind eye to phone hacking scandal.' I say the government turns a blind eye to many things.

FFFFFF Flipping NOTW?
In addition, the Government already have a system of ministerial arse protection in place. They are called watchdogs, ombudsmen or commissions.

The whole reason we have such incompetent, weak and toothless watchdogs, ombudsmen and commissions in this country is to make it easier for ministers to turn a blind eye. And then should a scandal ensue, also avoid responsibility by laying the blame on others. Remember Baby P and Ed Balls?

Take the Press Complaints Commission & recent Phone Hacking scandal and the Care Quality Commission & recent Winterbourne scandal as examples. Both watchdogs were set up without the teeth and resources to do anything really effective. Hence their reliance on a sticking plaster approach to problems after they arise rather than pro-actively stopping them before they arise. Or at least nipping them in the bud before they get out of hand..

Local Government is probably the easiest way for me to explain this Ministerial Captain Jack approach. Put yourself in the position of the Minister for Local Government for a moment.

How do you stop the truth about the real level of wrongdoing, maladministration and rot in Local Government getting out. In addition, how do you position yourself so you can deny knowledge and responsibility should a scandal, similar to the Baby P, phone hacking and Winterbourne ones above, ever hit the press.

Step 1: Set up a watchdog, in this case let's call them the Commission for Local Administration in England and refer to them as Local Government Ombudsmen. Sounds a lot better than Local Government Minister Arse Covering Commission.

Step 2: Keep responsibility for selecting and recruiting them but make then accountable to no one else.

Step 3: Give them only enough power and resources to retrospectively bury the problems they encounter.

Step 4: Don't give them any mandatory powers. Then they won't be in a position to enforce any of their recommendations. We can't have a watchdog with teeth can we?

Step 5: Staff them with as many incompetent ex local authority staff as possible,  undermining any possible competence and impartiality to introduce bias in favour of a positive outcome for Local Government.

Step 6: Allow them to commission and manipulate their own customer satisfaction surveys thus deviously boosting the public's perception of their effectiveness.

Step 7: Should a select committee try and investigate the Role and Effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsmen, take the necessary steps to derail the investigation.

Step 8: Should things really start to get out of hand ask another friendly commission, let's say the Law Commission, to review Local Government Ombudsmen and come up with some recommendations that will help me maintain the status quo. A review is always a good way of keeping the public happy and making them think we are going to change things for their benefit.
FFFFFF Food?

Step 9: Should a scandal hit the press, do a Captain Jack, deny all knowledge and blame the watchdog scapegoat.

Step 10: Divert attention away from the fact that government ministers were responsible for setting up the useless watchdog in the first place by setting up another useless one to take over. It fools the public every time, even if the replacement ends up being worse than the one we replaced. As it did with the Health Care Commission - Care Quality Commission change.

Captain Jack Pickles. 

Read all articles about Watchdogs on this blog

Friday, 8 July 2011

Social worker struck off

A social worker was struck off yesterday for putting a dangerous teenage paedophile with a foster family - where he carried out sex attacks on their two children.

Julian Swan failed to tell the unsuspecting family the 19-year-old had a history of 'sexually inappropriate behaviour ' with children.

Swan, who had been a social worker for eight years, claimed he was being made a 'scapegoat' for mistakes by social services officials. 'I have been scape-goated by the Vale of Glamorgan council.'

My comment: Julian Swan didn't read the abuser's file before placing him with the family. Julian Swan was not fit to be a Social Worker and got what he deserved. Just a pity he wasn't exposed as an incompetent before this horrendous case.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

MP claims 1p for a phone call... and it costs £30 to process

MPs are lodging expenses claims for as little as 1p – but landing taxpayers with a bill of £30 a time to process them, it emerged last night.

A study by the National Audit Office revealed the staggering cost of simply running the new MPs’ expenses regime, which was set up in the wake of the scandal which shamed Parliament.

It disclosed that the average cost of processing a claim was £30 last year, whatever the number of items included in it.

A survey accompanying the report revealed that almost a quarter of MPs want to go back to the old discredited expenses system – with a fifth believing they should not have to submit receipts at all.

My comment: It's clear that some MPs are just trying to bring the new system into disrepute by submitting stupid claims. I just hope the electorate remember those involved at the next election.

Some 85 per cent of MPs complained they didn’t have time to fill out their expenses claims.

My comment: What a pathetic excuse. Some MPs still don't get it do they? I just hope the electorate remember those 85 at the next election. Check out what your MP does have time for here. Mine and many others for example spends hours as parliamentary  advisers to private firms to earn even more money from their position. Time better spent filling in their expense claims?

The NAO said the tough new expenses regime run by the IPSA had begun to restore public confidence.

My comment: It has, now they should reject any claim until the total reaches a sensible level. 

MPs yesterday approved plans to carry out a ‘root and branch’ review of the laws governing expenses by the end of the year.

My comment: We shouldn't allow these money grabbers to have anything to do with the system which was set up to scrutinise their expenses.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Thursday, 7 July 2011

When are our elected representatives going to stop all this honourable bullshit?

MPs and council officials in Essex have expressed their disbelief after it emerged that disgraced former peer Lord Hanningfield is still receiving his £11,500 councillor allowance despite being jailed for fiddling his Parliamentary expenses.

The shamed Lord, real name Paul White, 70, was jailed for nine months last week after he was found guilty of illegally claiming £13,379 in parliamentary expenses.

But despite the scandal he has still not resigned his post at Essex County Council.

Councillor Mike Mackrory, Liberal Democrat deputy leader on Essex County Council, said the former Conservative peer should do the 'honourable thing' and step down.

My comment: What a stupid comment, if he was honourable he wouldn't have fiddled his expenses. Message to all elected representatives please stop all this honourable bullshit. Whilst we have so many Councillors and MPs guilty of wrongdoing I don't think the word honourable can be applied to any elected representative. If it could the honourable ones would disavow their colleagues not continue to imply they are in any way honourable.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line  

Read all articles about Essex County Council on this blog

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Councils and Hospitals £94million to settle more than 3,000 cases

An Evening Standard investigation found 33 councils and health trusts in the capital paid to settle 807 cases, rather than air them in open court.

The figures, obtained using freedom of information laws, reveal town halls and hospitals across the country handed over a total of £94million to settle more than 3,000 cases, including 305 claims of discrimination on grounds of disability, sex, race or age.

86 health trusts across the country, including 20 in London, admitted paying a total £49.7 million to settle 1,220 claims out of court. And 65 councils, including 13 in the capital, used £44.5 million of public money to end 2,099 claims.

My comment: Whilst a proportion can be explained away by the compensation culture I would suspect quite a few are down to councils falsely accusing whistle-blowers only to face losing in court.  The Haringey example in the article highlights the issue.

Social worker Nevres Kemal, 46, who tried to raise concerns about Haringey council's treatment of children before the death of Baby P.

The council singled her out as a whistleblower, falsely accused her of child abuse and investigated her nine-year-old daughter's welfare. During what she described as a four-year "witch-hunt", Miss Kemal lost her job, faced a police investigation and her family and health fell apart.

Haringey eventually dropped the case and paid her undisclosed compensation.

Read the full story from the source This is London

Read all articles about whistle-blowers on this blog.

Copeland Council £2000 on a jolly and £90,000 on consultants

COPELAND Council yesterday defended itself over spending nearly £2,000 on a recent staff team-building away day. It included problem-solving and outdoor activities such as canoeing and orienteering.

One independent councillor claimed “it was a jolly” but council chief executive Paul Walker said: “I think £60 a head is not extravagant for this quality of training.”

Deputy Tory leader Alistair Norwood claimed the £1,980 spend was a waste of money. “It is disgraceful and can’t be justified at a time when we are cutting services and forcing people out through compulsory redundancy. What kind of message does it send out to other staff who are losing their jobs and to the electorate generally?”

But independent councillor, Brian Dixon (Distington) asked: “When people are losing their jobs in the council, why have we spent money on a jolly like this?”

Mr Dixon, a former GMB union leader, also hit out at what he calls excessive payments made by the council to consultants and is calling for an inquiry. “My understanding is that £90,000 has been paid to consultants over a period of three months recently."

My comment: Consultants appear to be taking over the asylum.

Read the full story from the source Whitehaven News

Read all articles about Copeland Borough Council on this blog

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Bridgend Council spend £100,000 on 'McPath'

Far from discouraging pupils from a junk food diet, a council is making it even easier to indulge – by spending £100,000 on a footpath from their school gate to McDonald’s.

My comment: Strange but true.

Read the full story from the source Mail in Line

Sussex councillors forget to pay council tax :)

Absent minded councillors are being chased by their own officials for hundreds of pounds in unpaid council tax.

More than a dozen councillors have been given reminders from their local authorities for late payment of council tax in the past two years.

Several councillors even had to be given second reminders while one councillor was issued with a court summons.

My comment: Another you couldn't make it up story about councillors. If councillors are so absent minded they forget about paying their council tax, forget about reminders and only remember when issued with second reminder are they fit for purpose? Who wants absent minded idiots running a council? 

I bet they never forget to put in their expenses claims or attend a freebie junket. 

Read the full story from the source The Argus

Andrea Hill: A catalyst for a change in the law?

Why pay her another £163,944 – the equivalent of nine months’ pay – when the council was not contractually obliged to. The reason is in the next paragraph: “The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) England Regulations 2001 grant special employment rights to certain officers in local government (the Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial Officer).

“Following a preliminary investigation, those rules require the appointment of an independent external assessor and a detailed examination of any allegations or proposed disciplinary action.

“The county council may only act in line with a recommendation made by an external assessor. Suffolk County Council estimated that the external procedure in this case could cost well in excess of £250,000.

But it surely raises questions about why council chief executives and other senior executives are so protected in law that it is prohibitively expensive to go through the formal process to examine allegations and if necessary take disciplinary action against them.

If Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, was not looking at repealing this outdated legislation, he should be now. 

My comment: Well spotted by the author of the article. Now we know why councils shy away from sacking CEOs, Monitoring Officers (usually head of legal) and Chief Financial Officers. They are hamstrung by a stupid law in favour of poor performing senior officers. 

Another example of this here  

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

Electoral Commission sorry for out-of-date AMs advice

The elections watchdog has apologised after a new Welsh assembly member fell victim to out-of-date guidance for candidates and was disqualified.

An independent investigation found Liberal Democrat Aled Roberts did everything reasonably expected.

He and fellow Lib Dem John Dixon stood down when it emerged they were members of bodies to which AMs cannot belong.

The Electoral Commission apologised for a mistake in Welsh-language guidance for candidates at May's election.

My comment: Rule number 1, never believe a Commission, a Watchdog or an Ombudsman, always check the validity of what they write, produce or say. More often than not there are errors. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about our failing Watchdogs on this blog.

Shropshire Council to dismiss ALL staff

Dismissal letters have been sent to about 6,500 Shropshire Council employees.

The letter states that all council staff will be dismissed on 30 September and immediately rehired, but only if they agree to a 5.4% pay cut.

Staff who do not accept the pay cut will be dismissed without compensation, the letter states.

My comment: All sounds a bit draconian to me. Not the best approach because angry staff will always find a way to get their own back.

Read the full story from the source BBC News Shropshire

Hampshire County Council: £7.25m payout to managers

Hampshire County Council is forking out £7.25m in redundancy payouts to senior managers, it has emerged.

Christine Melsom, Hampshire-based founder of anti-council tax group IsItFair, said: “The county council’s enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme is extraordinarily generous, especially when one considers it is financed by the public purse.

Hampshire County Council’s compulsory scheme offers seven times the statutory payout.

My comment: Two points, firstly they can't have been really needed otherwise they wouldn't have been able to get rid of them. Why do they fill councils to the gunnels with none management jobs in the first place other than to give the CEO a larger empire. Don't taxpayers deserve lean councils all the time. Secondly, why such enhanced terms?

Read the full story from the source Romsey Advertiser

Whistleblowing to CQC hits record high

The Care Quality Commission has seeing a record rise in whistleblowing calls, but there are mounting fears that it lacks the “teeth” and resources to properly investigate nurses’ concerns.

In May, the regulator stated in board papers that a shortage of resources had left it in a position where it would “almost certainly” risk “fail[ing] effectively to identify or deal with non-compliance, leading to persistent poor quality care for users and reputational damage”.

Royal College of Nursing director of policy Howard Catton said: “We would like an effective regulator with teeth. Given the scope of the CQC’s responsibilities, there are questions about whether it’s sufficiently resourced to do the job.”

My comment: Risk failing? They have failed from the get go. Like all public service watchdogs and ombudsmen they have no power and no resources to do a proper job. No public service watchdog/ombudsman ever had or ever will have any real teeth. That's the last thing the Government want.

Read the full story from the source Nursing Times

MoD loses track of £6.3bn in assets

The Ministry of Defence has been urged by MPs to get a grip of stock control problems which have left it unable to account for billions of pounds worth of military equipment.

The Commons Defence Committee said it was "dismayed" that the National Audit Office had qualified the MoD's accounts for the fourth year in succession after it lost track of assets worth £6.3 billion - including radios worth £184 million.

It said the MoD must speed up its plans for sorting out the problems with its stock control system - currently expected to continue for another two to four years.

"It is alarming that the department should be unaware of the location, usability or indeed the continued existence of assets to a total value of £6.3 billion," it said.

My comment: This case highlights the problem with watchdogs and Government. We don't want toothless MPs and Watchdogs who can do no more than urge wrongdoers to do the right thing. We need MPs and Watchdogs who have the power to kick backsides and sack the miscreants responsible.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Police or the courts could only urge wrongdoers to put matters right. Surely MPs can't be that thick they can't see a connection between ineffective watchdogs and public authority wrongdoing (rhetorical). Obviously they must be otherwise they would have done something about the problem long ago. 

The National Audit Office had qualified the MoD's accounts for the fourth year in succession yet all they and MPs can do is urge the MOD to pull their socks up. What a joke!

Read the full story from the source This is London

Read all articles about the MOD on this blog

Outrage as Andrea Hill gets £218K Pay off

CONTROVERSIAL town hall boss Andrea Hill, one of the country’s highest-paid council chief executives, yesterday accepted a six-figure payoff.

Mrs Hill’s payout was last night branded “outrageous” by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which called for full details of the investigation to be published.

In May it emerged she spent more than £405,665 on “gagging orders” in three months to silence staff complaints about her council.

The council added: “Whilst there were undoubtedly claims which, in the current climate, might not represent best use of public money, the committee accepted that there was no dishonesty in the claims made.”

My comment: Two points, firstly there is something seriously wrong when public authority decisions and investigations are shrouded in so much secrecy. The taxpayer has a right to know what they have paid for and why. Secondly, when is the climate ever right for any public servant to gorge themselves on public money. 

Does Suffolk County Council have a mandate to make a hash of things and then use secrecy and taxpayer's money trying to stop the taxpayer finding out what went wrong and why? I don't think so!

Read the full story from the source Express

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

Monday, 4 July 2011

Middlesbrough election fraud probe

POLICE are investigating claims of fraud in the local election which saw Ray Mallon was reelected as Middlesbrough mayor.

Cleveland Police has confirmed it is looking into allegations that postal votes registered in the towns Clairville ward are suspicious, after being approached by a former politics lecturer.

 Staff from Middlesbrough Council are helping police with their inquiries. There is no suggestion that Mr Mallon is part of the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: "We are looking into allegations of electoral fraud.

In a separate matter Mr Mallon could face a Standards Board hearing amid claims he breached the authority's code of conduct. 

Accusations have been made that he failed to declare his close friendship with a businessman during council meetings about the town's taxi trade.

My comment: The world of politics gets seedier by the day. 

Read the full story from the source The Northern Echo

Reading council 'mis-spent £325,000 section 106 cash'

An investigation at Reading Borough Council has concluded that £325,000 of section 106 (s106) planning gain money was wrongly allocated over a period of four years.

An independent review was carried out by Wokingham Borough Council after councillors raised concerns about management of s106 funds by the previous administration.

The review found that because no senior manager had overall responsibility for s106, there was "insufficient council-wide co-ordination, strategic control and direction".

My comment: Diverting Section 106 'bungs' away from their intended purpose into Officer and Councillor pet projects is wrong. However, when Section 106 agreements were invented, as a way of legalising planning bungs, it was obvious to everyone then that some Councillors/Officers/Council would misuse them. Therfore, it comes as no surprise when they do.

Read the full story from the source Regeneration+Renewal

Sunday, 3 July 2011

CEO of Leicester City Council lodges complaint against mayor

Sheila Lock, the council's most senior officer, has written to the council's legal boss citing 10 criticisms of her treatment by Sir Peter, another senior member of staff and the council. The authority is considering whether to abolish the role of chief executive and make Ms Lock – who earns £174,000 – redundant.

In her letter, Ms Lock said she was lodging a grievance against Sir Peter and another senior member of staff.

However, a council spokesman said last night that the grievance was not valid and could not be dealt with. She said grievances could not be made against the mayor because he is not a councillor, or the staff member because she is less senior than Ms Lock.

Ms Lock, who has been on sick leave from her post for several months, made her complaint in a letter to the council's legal boss, Perry Holmes, on May 24.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose overpaid and under worked Council CEO trying to stifle genuine criticism and comment.

Read the full story from the source  This is Leicestershire

Read all articles about Leicester City Council on this blog

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Birmingham councillor was offered sexual services in massage parlour

A SENIOR Birmingham councillor has told how he visited a massage parlour to alleviate back pain – but was offered “sexual services” on the side.

Read the full story from the source The Birmingham Mail then you decide.  
  • Councillor Harmer’s name was revealed in a membership list, seen by the Mail, which was sent out by the owner informing clients of a change in contact details.  
  • The venue has pictures of its staff on the webpage dressed in their underwear, or draped across beds. Their faces are obscured. 
  • It says it offers Nuru massages, described on the site as “erotic”, for a starting price of £40 for 30 minutes. 
  • It is based in an apartment near the Six Ways roundabout in Erdington, but only reveals its full address to registered website members.  
  • He was shocked by the proposal made to him by Thai staff at Fruity Spa, in Erdington, and made his excuses and left.  
  • “I have had therapeutic back massage for the last 15 years or so, which has been very effective, and I’ve rarely had back pain in that time. 
Please note:  A spokeswoman for Fruity Spa, which is also known as Myumimassage, said: “I think Yumi has sold the business.”

My comment: If I had back pain and wanted a therapeutic massage I think the alarm bells would have been ringing the minute I visited the original website. Not after I had visited an apartment and been offered extras! 

I can confirm that the Fruity Spa appears to have changed hands. They now warn visitors that "NO SEXUAL SERVICES ARE OFFERED AT FRUITY SPA". In addition the Myumimassage site is now only available on Google cache. However, they apologise that their old telephone number has been cancelled and then give the same number as the current Fruity Spa. So they appear to be still connected.

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council on this blog

Accrington Council orders politicians to put questions in writing

A town hall’s local politicians have been ordered to stay silent - because every time they open their mouths their arguments end up in court.

One in five local councillors have turned to lawyers to settle their rows in just two years in Accrington, the leader of the local council said yesterday.

New rules will insist the civic representatives of the Lancashire town put their questions in writing to try to curb the vigour of their language and keep their vendettas out of the council chamber.

The new rules will require councillors to submit points in writing rather than putting them in person when Mr Parkinson takes questions. Mr Parkinson said the idea was to stop abuse and not to make it easier for him to deal with difficult questions.

My comment: Pull the other one Mr Parkinson! If the chair can't control your council meetings get a new chair. What is this country coming to? We have councils trying to stop councillors talking to the press and now a council trying to stop councillors debating issues with councillors. 

Read the full story from the Mail on Line. With thanks to Malice in Blunderland for the tip off.

Swansea tops the complaints list

The annual report of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (2010-11) is available online. It contains some fairly interesting data, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Something which caught our eye is that nearly a quarter of alleged conduct breaches (45 out a total of 187) originated from Swansea. It is the single highest figure out of 22 local authorities.

The table shows 45 cases of which 34 were eventually discontinued. Investigations were not pursued on a further 8; 2 were withdrawn and the Ombudsman decided that the 1 allegation provided no supporting evidence.

My comment: What is it with Councillors? This is the reason why Eric [Pickles] decided to scrap the Standards Board for England. Misuse of the system for political motives rather than real complaints.

Read the full story from the source Inside Out. With thanks to Malice in Blunderland for the tip off.

Read all articles about Swansea Council on this blog

Friday, 1 July 2011

Carlisle City Council squandering more than £500,000 a year

Cash-strapped Carlisle City Council is squandering more than £500,000 a year because it is locked into a fixed-interest loan.

The £15 million loan was taken out in 1995 at an interest rate of 8.75 per cent fixed for 25 years. It appeared to be a good deal at the time. But plummeting interest rates mean the council now pays way over the odds.

The annual interest payment is more than £1.3m. If the authority took out the same loan today, payments would be £772,500 – more than £500,000-a-year less. It cannot get out of the arrangement.

The council’s next problem is how to repay the £15m when the loan matures in 2020.

But Labour’s Cyril Weber, who was a councillor at the time, defended the loan. It was taken out to fund capital spending including the regeneration of Raffles. Mr Weber said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the time it was an attractive offer.

My comment: You don't need hindsight to act in a prudent manner. An interest only loan, 25 Years at £1,312,500 =  £32,812,500 plus the original £15,000,000 to repay in 2020 = £47,812,500 total without a prudent get out clause. That works out at £1,912,500 a year for a £15,000,000 loan. 

As an amusing aside whilst Googling Raffles, to see if the money had been well spent I came across the following 2004 entry on Chavtowns about Carlisle which mentions the Raffles estate ["With plenty of boarded up housing on the Raffles estate"]. So if the post was correct and houses were boarded up, 9 years after the loan was taken out, was it money well spent?

Read the full story from the source News & Star

Birmingham City Council debt set to reach a record of £2.5bn

Debt levels at Birmingham City Council have doubled in the past seven years and will reach a record £2.5 billion by 2012, latest figures show.

The council’s borrowing stood at £1 billion in April 2004. By March this year the figure had increased by 100 per cent, largely to pay for capital projects such as the new civic library, the council house improvement programme and buying the Pallasades shopping centre for the redevelopment of New Street Station.

By 2013-14, the city will be repaying debt at the rate of almost £270 million a year – equivalent to £43 on the council tax, the finance scrutiny committee heard.

The District Auditor and councillors from across the political divide have concerns about the scale of borrowing, which places Birmingham at the top of a debt league table. No other major English city is borrowing as much per head of population as Birmingham.

Scrutiny committee member Coun Mike Leddy (Lab Brandwood) described the level of debt as “frightening”.

My comment: Don't tell me that their isn't a legal cap on the amount of debt a council can incur before someone does something about it.

Read the full story from the source Birmingham Post

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council on this blog

Lord Hanningfield jailed for 9 months

Former Tory peer and Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield has been jailed for nine months for fiddling his parliamentary expenses.

Paul White, 70, was convicted of six counts of false accounting relating to nearly £14,000 of claims in May.

My comment: I would like to know if Essex Council audited his expense claims when they found he was fiddling his Lords expenses. I doubt he would fiddle one but not the other.

Read the full story from the source BBC News 

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UPDATE 14th Sptember 2011: Lord Hanningfield has been arrested by police over allegations that he made fraudulent claims during his time as leader of Essex County Council.

Read the full story from the source EADT

Councillor involved in new four-letter Twitter row

THE controversial ex-leader of the Conservatives on South Tyneside Council is in hot water again after using abusive language on a social networking site.

During a recent exchange on Twitter, Coun David Potts used a sexually explicit term when referring to a fellow Tweeter.

In his exchanges with ‘Cleadonsteve’ he also labelled him a ‘little s***’, and claims he makes more money in a month than he does in a year.

It’s the second time 28-year-old Coun Potts has raised hackles by his choice use of language.

Earlier this year the self-confessed alcoholic used his Twitter account to label South Shields MP David Miliband a “w****r” for accepting a role with Sunderland AFC.

He resigned from the Conservative Party after the outburst, and now serves as an independent for the Cleadon and East Boldon ward.

But he has only attended one council meeting since the turn of the year, causing anger among political opponents who say he has no right to claim his councillor’s basic £700-a-month allowance.

My comment: Another dodgy elected representative outing themselves.  

Read the full story from the source The Shields Gazette

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Merseyside Police breached strict data protection laws 208 times

MERSEYSIDE police officers accessed classified force computers to spy on their colleagues, families and friends.

Members of the force breached strict data protection laws 208 times in the past three years.

It has also emerged that a large number of the officers illegally checked on the progress of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s 2009 court case.

After disciplinary hearings, seven staff resigned, or were “required to resign”, with three handed final written warnings.

Breaches at neighbouring Lancashire Constabulary – where there were 84 breaches in three years – included an officer telling his daughter that her new boyfriend had previous convictions for sexual offences.

My comment: Two more cases that prove public servants can't be trusted with personal data. 

Read the full story from the source Southport Visitor

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