Monday, 31 October 2011

Kent County Council’s Head of Energy Procurement charged with fraud

Kent County Council’s Head of Energy Procurement, Ross Knowles, was charged with counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of money laundering at a court in Kent last month. He pleaded not guilty.

So Knowles and his organisation were buying energy on behalf of local authorities and other public bodies. But it is claimed that “management fees” from Centrica and Npower somehow found their way to him rather than to LASER or Kent CC. There’s no suggestion that the firms involved knew the money was allegedly going to him personally – so it will be interesting to see how the prosecution suggest that was organised, if the firms presumably thought their payments were going to a legitimate recipient.

My comment: We will have to wait and see what the outcome is but lack of scrutiny appears to have played a part.

Read the full story from the source Spend Matters

Read all articles about Kent County Council on this blog

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Police Inspector was part of South Wales paedophile ring

A POLICE force has described one of its former inspectors as “abhorrent” after he admitted being part of a paedophile ring which discussed abusing young children in online chatrooms.

Geraint Lloyd Evans would hold regular internet discussions with other paedophiles across South Wales in which they would discuss abusing children under the age of 13.

The 47-year-old, of Purdey Close, Barry, admitted conspiring to incite engagement in unlawful sexual activity with a child under 13 during an appearance at Swansea Crown Court.

In the first case of its kind, the former policeman, who was previously stationed in Bridgend but was sacked by South Wales Police last month, also admitted possessing more than 170 extreme pornography images including bestiality.

My comment: If you can't trust a Policeman just who can you trust. Certainly not a politician.

Read the full story from the source South Wales On Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Wirral Council admit guilt but why no sackings or resignations?

Wirral Council: Corporate Governance Cabinet Committee - 26/10/11 

7.1 A vulnerable group of people with learning disabilities in the care of Wirral Council was abused by this Council over many years. It is imperative that the Council addresses all the weaknesses that contributed to this unacceptable outcome.

My comment: A vulnerable group of people with learning difficulties could only have been abused by Wirral council if their senior management and members were not fit for purpose. So it's ludicrous for those very people to now suggest it is imperative for them to address their weaknesses. Good management would have either ensured the problem didn't arise in the first place or failing that put a stop to it at soon as it was brought to their attention.

Neither would good management  have sacked the whistle blower and sat their arses for years compounding the injustice they would have sacked the perpetrators and thanked the whistleblowere as soon as it was brought to their attention.

What is needed to bring confidence back to the residents of the Wirral is a root and branch clear out of all cabinet members, all senior management and all those guilty of perpetrating the offence.  

If that doesn't happen I suggest the good people of the Wirral vote every cabinet members out at the earliest opportunity. 

Read the full committee meeting notes PDF

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog

Flintshire Council’s £3m consultants’ bill

FLINTSHIRE Council spent almost £3 million on consultants in just 12 months.

The latest figures from the council’s audit team have revealed that during the second half of 2010/11 £1,610,898 was spent on employing 146 consultants.

Earlier this year the council came under fire when it emerged £1.25 million was spent employing consultants during the first half of 2010/11, despite a total workforce of more than 8,000.

The council’s human resources department racked up the highest bill spending a total of £438,263 on 16 consultants in just six months, followed by the environment department which spent £366,403 employing 67 consultants.

My comment: If council staff need consultants to help them do their job then they should be sacked and replaced by those who can do their job without having to resort to expensive external consultants to do their job for them. It's not bloody rocket science.

Read the full story from the source The Leader

Read all articles about Flintshire County Council on this blog

Pembrokeshire County failed to take disciplinary action over false reference

No disciplinary action has been taken by Pembrokeshire County Council after it was revealed a school provided false information in a reference for a former member of staff who had been dismissed for sexual misconduct with a young person.

According to the joint Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Estyn report “a school provided false information in a reference for a former member of staff stating that they had resigned from their post when in fact they had been dismissed for sexual misconduct with a young person”.

My comment: A school provided a false reference which allowed a person to hide the fact that they had been dismissed for sexual misconduct and the council take no action. Another example of this country going down the drain.

Read the full story from the source Western Telegraph

Read all articles about Pembrokeshire County Council on this blog

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Seven Leicester city councillors are chased for council tax

Seven city councillors were chased up for late payment of council tax bills, it has been revealed.

Officials said they had to send warning letters to a number of politicians to recover nearly £900 of outstanding debt in the last financial year.

In each case, the sum was eventually paid but five of the councillors – two Liberal Democrats and three Labour members – had to be sent at least a second warning before they settled the bill.

My comment: A few more do as we say not as we do councillors.

Read the full story from the source This is Leicestershire

Read all articles about Leicester City Council on this blog

Friday, 14 October 2011

Policeman jailed for lying under oath

A Greater Manchester Police officer has been jailed for 12 months after he lied under oath to escape a driving ban.

PC Myles Hughes, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, persuaded barman Paul Doyle to lie for him after he was caught driving over the limit in April 2010.

He claimed it was not his fault as Doyle, also 35 and from Macclesfield, had served him the wrong drinks.

Both admitted perjury and were jailed for 12 and four months respectively at Liverpool Crown Court.

My comment: At least he was caught and punished for lying, how many people get away with it? 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Southwark Councillor groomed a blackmailer

A Labour councillor who campaigned with Harriet Harman is facing jail after he today admitted sending a '15-year-old schoolgirl' graphic online messages.

John Friary begged the man he thought was a teenager for racy pictures and arranged to meet 'her' for sex after she contacted him on the internet.

The 53-year-old thought he was exchanging explicit online chat with a teenager called 'Hannah' but was really the victim of a scheming blackmailer who planned to extort money from him.

Following his arrest he was sacked as the cabinet member responsible for community safety at Southwark Council and resigned as a councillor.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose councillor. Responsible for community safety? You couldn't make it up.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Basildon Councillor and their register of interests

A SENIOR councillor is being investigated for failing to declare property he owned in the borough.

The standards sub committee referred the matter to Dawn French, council monitoring officer, for investigation.

David Dadds, former deputy cabinet member for resources, failed to declare a connection to three business premises in Basildon Council’s register of interests.

All property owned in the borough must be updated within 28 days.

Mr Dadds’ properties were not declared for between four years and six months, until July.

My comment: How can it be right that a breach of a council's code of conduct is investigated by a council officer? That's just plain stupid.

Read the full story from the source Basildon Recorder

Where do some council cabals get their ideas from?

It would appear many of them get them from an old Charlie Chaplin film. One which was originally intended to be a comedy spoof of Hitler NOT a training film on how to run a council.

Is your council one of those controlled by a cabal who believe that democracy is flagrant, liberty is odious and freedom of speech is objectionable?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Workers return to Stoke-on-Trent City Council after being made redundant

COUNCIL workers who pocketed £330,000 in redundancy payments later returned to work for their old employer in new roles.

One redundant worker who agreed a redundancy package with Stoke-on-Trent City Council spent just 27 days away from the authority before returning to a new job.

A further two workers waited just 32 days after agreeing a settlement before being re-employed at the council.

Figures obtained by The Sentinel show £330,603 has been paid out in compensation packages, which includes the notice period, to 25 workers who have since taken new jobs with the authority in the last six years.

It has also emerged that eight members of staff are "double-dipping" – claiming a pension after retiring from their positions with the council, but now being paid wages for a new job.

Critics have blamed "bad management" and claim the workers should have been re-deployed within the authority, instead of being allowed to pocket pay-offs first.

My comment: Another public sector 'you couldn't make it up' story. It's only taxpayer's money they are wasting so I don't suppose they care. The person who allowed this to happen should be sacked and never allowed back.

It is clear from other articles on this blog that  officers not councillors control Stoke City Council. 

"FIFTEEN top officers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council claimed a share of £115,000 in expenses for moving house to take up their jobs, but none of them actually moved to the city." Read more here.

"Newly elected councillors in Stoke-on-Trent are being asked to sign what is effectively a gagging order that prevents them ‘criticising’ the City Council." Read more here.

Read the full story form the source  This is Staffordshire

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

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Worcestershire County Council: A tragic death because they ignored a whistle-blower and failed to protect a vulnerable child!

Teacher reveals she warned Kidderminster school about Dana Baker abuse.

A TRAINEE teacher, who was told to “back off” after she discovered a pupil was being abused, last night said the tragic teenager might still have been alive today if she had been helped.

Desperate Dana Baker summoned up the courage to confide in teacher Vicki Shakespeare about her abusive relationship with a paedophile karate instructor from Birmingham.

But when the 35-year-old English tutor tried to sound the alarm so that the underage Kidderminster schoolgirl could get help, she was rebuffed by the authorities – and Dana was later found hanged.

Vicki told the Sunday Mercury how she was horrified when Dana opened up to her about the nightmare love affair with predatory paedophile Jaspal Riat, from Handsworth.

She claims she immediately informed a child protection officer at Wolverley CE Secondary School, only to be told: “I already know about it. You are not the first to tell me. I’ve heard it all before. She is telling everyone. You are too involved. You need to back off. She is an attention-seeker.”

Speaking for the first time after the two-week trial, which found Riat, 48, guilty of the abuse, key witness Vicki said: “I was asked in court if I was happy with the way the school had handled Dana’s situation.

“I said ‘no’ then, and I stand by that now.

A Worcestershire County Council spokeswoman said: “A Serious Case Review following Dana Baker’s death is ongoing, to which Wolverley CE Secondary School has contributed.

“Unfortunately, we cannot comment in any detail on individual cases but we can confirm that the school followed all of the appropriate pastoral care and safeguarding procedures.

My comment: Yet another council ignoring a whistle-blower and a vulnerable child and yet another council investigating itself. Just what does it take to bring the people who ignored the whistle-blower and the child to book?  

Read the full story from the source Sunday Mercury

You can also read more about the background to this tragic case here

Sex case karate instructor jailed for 8 years. A 48-year-old karate instructor who seduced a “vulnerable” 13-year-old Wyre Forest girl pupil and had regular sex with her was jailed for eight years today.

 Jaspal Riat's “despicable” behaviour towards Stourport High School and Sixth Form Centre student Dana Baker drove her to attempt suicide and she did kill herself when she was 16, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

My comment: School, council and social service all failing to protect  a vulnerable child?

Here is a clue to why Worcester County Council may have thought the Karate Instructor's actions were acceptable.  

Read all articles about Worcestershire County Council on this blog

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Rochdale Council documents found outside football ground

Hundreds of council documents containing personal information were found strewn across the street outside a football ground.

Fans on their way to Rochdale's home match with Wycombe at Spotland found lists of names, addresses and phone numbers and a series of political papers.

They included parts of the electoral register, a list of Labour party members in areas of Rochdale and planning applications.

Town hall bosses have now launched an investigation to establish how the documents were lost.

My comment: Proof, once again, that you can't trust a public authority with our personal information.

Read the full story from the source Mail on Line

Read all articles about Rochdale Borough Council on this blog

Cabal controlled Councils?: Your suggestions

Tweet 1

"What does it take to create a council cabal? Leader + CEO + others that will play by THEIR rules + a large proportion of weak councillors."

Tweet 2 

"Examples of Councils controlled by cabal? Now or in recent past, Wirral, Suffolk, South Tyneside, Carmarthenshire, Barnet, your suggestions."

Responses
 
AliceBlundrland Alice in Blunderland @publicwatcher You can add Rhondda Cynon Taf to the list and I expect Caebrwyn will have something to say on the subject as well.

TimMinogue Tim Minogue @publicwatcher Sunderland, Kent, H&F, Cotswold, Pembrokeshire ... cabinet system makes it almost inevitable.

NCCLols Andy @publicwatcher I would suggest Nottingham is in that group.

InsideCroydon Inside Croydon  @publicwatcher: Examples of Councils controlled by cabal? @TimMinogue Try #Croydon

cwaccwatcher CWaC Council Watcher @publicwatcher "Examples of Councils controlled by a cabal?" I think Cheshire West and Chester Council should be included.

caebrwyn Jacqui Thompson @publicwatcher #carmarthenshire council is moving beyond 'cabal' and entering the 'junta' stage...

More to be added 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Is one Watchdog starting to show a little backbone?

BBC Scotland

The Scottish public services ombudsman has strongly criticised local authorities and housing associations for their handling of complaints.

Jim Martin said complaints systems were often cumbersome and bureaucratic.

Of the complaints investigated by the ombudsman’s office in 2010-11, a total of of 34% were upheld either fully or partly.

Mr Martin said: “To put this another way, in over a third of cases that had already been investigated by the local service provider through multiple, often lengthy stages of review and appeal, that provider had got something wrong.”

Press Association

Ombudsman Jim Martin complained there was a “lack of customer focus in public services”.

He made the accusation in his annual report as he called on public-sector organisations to try to meet a “gold standard”.

However, he said: “In too many cases, particularly in local authorities and housing associations, complaints systems are confusing, difficult to access, slow, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic.”

Local Government Ombudsman Watcher

The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman has wrong footed the Local Government Ombudsman by criticising complaints systems, something the Local Government has never done.

Worse still, the system he criticises is the system adopted by the Local Government Ombudsman, 'confusing, difficult to access, slow, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic'.

Malice In Blunderland

Good job he [Scottish Public Service Ombudsman] knows nothing about the Pigs Ear situation we have to tolerate here in Wales is all I can say.

And that includes the LGO. Lots of people no longer bother to use the LGO even with very serious complaints as we now realise its a pointless waste of time and energy. As a result things do not improve.Underneath everything is in a mess.Everyone just carries on regardless knowing that they can.

I think a while back the WLGO was bragging about how complaints had  dropped.We know why. Jump through hoops and if you are lucky to be chosen only 'recommendations' can be made which are 'ignored'.

Bottom line is that many do not have anywhere they can take their complaints to that take them seriously. Insult is added to injury as well as injustice.

Here is a reminder again of a dreadful situation involving RCTCBC that is still ongoing and unresolved as it is being 'ignored' .I think this case sums it all up. The system is a joke. On us.

My comment: It's about time all our useless watchdogs stopped supporting the bodies they are supposed to be watching and started to do the job they are paid to do. If they did maybe we wouldn't have the Wirral Council type scandals, the Baby P type scandals, the Winterbourne type scandals, the North Staffordshire NHS type scandals and many, many more.

Read all articles about our various watchdogs on this blog. 

Wirral Council: Vote of no confidence in the leader

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog and you will gain an understanding of just how bad Wirral Council is and why there is a vote of no confidence in the leader.

My comment: There is no doubt Steve Foulkes, as a council leader, is not fit for purpose. The problem is, as it is with many councils, that a small group of people have a stranglehold over the council and can seed all committees especially scrutiny committees with their 'friends' so they can do two things, keep themselves in power and stop the truth getting out. This kind of system shouldn't have been allowed to develop in the first place but now it has it must be eradicated without delay from all councils not just Wirral.

No confidence in the Leader of the Council

Following a series of damning independent reports into the running of Wirral Council, I, along with Cllr. Lesley Rennie have submitted a motion calling for the removal of Cllr Steve Foulkes as leader of Wirral Council.

This is necessary because of the exposure of a catalogue of failures, some contained in yet another secret report, occurring under Cllr Foulkes’ leadership, which are bringing the Borough into disrepute.

People, both inside and outside the Council, are deeply concerned at the repeated stream of revelations and scandals. It is clear that Cllr. Foulkes and the one party Cabinet he leads is not able to provide the leadership the Council needs at this critical time.

Instead of seeking to bring the Council together to solve these issues, Cllr. Foulkes is reverting to his bunker – unable or unwilling to listen to more than a few of his most trusted Labour lieutenants – while the residents of Wirral and the rest of the Council looks on in horror and disbelief at the revelations.

Wirral Council must change, the warning signs of what his leadership was doing to Wirral were clear to those that had suffered under it, which is why I commissioned this latest independent report.

Cllr Foulkes has refused to accept accountability for his failures and step down of his own accord. It is now time to blow away the corrosive culture he has allowed to develop, where questioning and transparency are discouraged and staff intimidated into taking actions to protect those at the top. Trust has been lost. More bluff and bluster will not do. The current Leader of the Council is part of the problem, not the solution.

The call for Cllr. Foulkes to step down will be decided by Council on 17th October.

The full motion is:

In accordance with Article 7.3 (iii) (d)
Proposed by Cllr Jeff Green
Seconded by Cllr Lesley Rennie

Council notes

1) That under Councillor Foulkes’ leadership Wirral residents have had to endure
Two Public Information Disclosure Act Reports
A Secretary of State intervention leading to the Sue Charteris Library Report
Audit Commission Red Flag
A damning Care Quality Commission Report
A number of issues raised by the Director of Finance in the Council’s own Corporate Governance Statements
District Audit qualification of the Council’s ability to secure Value for Money from a contract let under his leadership

That under Cllr Foulkes’ leadership extra ordinary failings have become ordinary

The overt politicisation of the Council’s administration, starting with the break up of the all party approach to Council governance and the dismissal of Conservative members from an all party Cabinet. Council believes this excluding tendency was compounded by his dismissal of Conservative members from the all party ‘HESPE Council members working party’

The erroneous claim by Cllr Foulkes himself that “the Martin Morton affair had proved that anyone within the council with a complaint – ‘or a whistleblower, as the term has been used in this case’ – would have their grievances properly investigated and acted upon.” Leading Martin Morton himself to give the withering response that “This reinforced the experience repeated over the last few years of living in a parallel universe where wrong is right, bad is good and lies are truth”.

The warnings from Council members following the SAR Libraries debacle of the damage his macho approach to leadership was doing to Wirral and that and that its culture, under his leadership, had become one of secrecy, fear and intimidation.

That in Cllr Foulkes’ current role as Cabinet member for Finance he has refused to share any ideas or plans to meet the Council’s reported £25 million budget shortfall with the public or the Council’s Scrutiny Committees

2) Council believes the published elements of the AKA report highlight

The leadership failings of Councillor Foulkes who by refusing members calls to order an independent inquiry himself into the Martin Morton affair attempted to sweep aside Council members genuine concerns.

Cllr Foulkes’ assertion that Mr Morton’s grievance (generated from his concerns for some of the most the most vulnerable people in Wirral) had been properly investigated and acted upon were nothing short of appalling and have now been shown to be, as members said at the time, breathtaking in their complacency, cruelty and incompetence.

He presided over a corrosive culture leading to back covering, secrecy, intimidation and machination

3) Council further believes:

n A one party Labour Party Cabinet Committee to refresh and renew the Council’s Governance is an inadequate response to what are extraordinary failings

n The AKA report is shaming and means we cannot go on as we are and an extraordinary response is required from the Council to respond to the failings highlighted

n The lack of action on the Council Notice of Motion recommendations calling for the reintroduction of an all party Committee system of governance demonstrates Cllr Foulkes unwillingness to adopt the inclusive approach to leadership now demanded

n That accountability starts at the top

4) Council resolves

i) That Cllr Foulkes be removed from the office of leader of the Council with immediate effect.

ii) That Council elect a new Leader in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 5B

iii) To take all necessary steps to establish and convene an all party Council Advisory Committee of 11 members (4.5.2) to oversee and guide the long term process of refreshing and renewing the Council’s governance arrangements. The terms of reference for this Advisory Committee to be initially determined by the Director of Law

iv) That with effect from the 1st November 2011 increase the size of the Employment and Appointments Committee by one to nine places (4.4.1) and decrease the size of the Planning Committee by one to 11 (4.5.2)

5) That the next Leader of the Council is recommended to

1. Adopt an inclusive approach to decision making, taking account of different points of view from across the Council and seeking all party engagement through an all party Cabinet/Executive Board.

2. Take immediate action, working with all political groups, to develop a committee system and supporting scheme of delegation to be completed by December 2011 and submitted to Council for adoption as soon as practicable.

3. Take immediate action, working with all political groups, to reconfigure the existing Scrutiny arrangements to allow a shadow committee system to be implemented to advise the new Leader and, using current strong leader powers of delegation to facilitate this as necessary, to be in place and in use by January 2012 at the latest with reference to extraordinary meetings of the council, if required, prior to implementation.

4. Review and, where necessary, remove or amend current officer delegations given by the Leader of the Council (including those relating to the Strategic Change Programme) to ensure transparency, effective democratic oversight and good governance.

From the original source Councillor Jeff Green

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Inquiry into eighth death at baby unit as child dies

An eight death is being investigated at a controversial maternity unit where two mothers and five babies have already died.

News of the latest tragedy was reported to the Care Quality Commission, which issued a damning report on the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria, last month.

Last week, a baby was understood to have been delivered stillborn after midwives refused the mother a caesarean.

The CQC investigation at Barrow was prompted by the inquest in June into the 2008 death of Joshua Titcombe, caused by a delay in treating a post-birth infection. The coroner accused midwives of concealing the truth.

In a separate case, Prabas Misra, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the hospital, wrote a damning letter to her bosses after the death, also in 2008, of baby Alex Brady, who was asphyxiated at birth amid claims that midwives delayed his delivery. Mr Misra wrote that midwives appeared to be rejecting doctors’ advice.

My comment: When will this madness end? A reactive watchdog who only takes action after the event, whistle-blowers who are ignored and authorities who never learn lessons.

Read the full story from the source Mail

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

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Birmingham social services still letting down vulnerable children

THE troubleshooter hired to sort out Birmingham children’s social services has admitted that vulnerable youngsters are still being let down.

Eleanor Brazil said extensive management changes at the city council department and new methods of working were starting to make a difference.

But the performance of social workers remains inconsistent and not all children at risk of sexual or physical abuse are receiving adequate help, she added.

Mrs Brazil won national praise for transforming Haringey social services following the scandal over the death of 17-month-old Peter Connolly after social workers failed to spot that he was being abused by his mother’s boyfriend.

She was appointed last year as Birmingham’s Interim Children’s Director.

My comment: Why pay someone to go round and sort the council out after the event? Proactive and effective watchdogs should have stopped it happening in the first place. Just what is the point of watchdogs if all they do is watch! Get rid of all of them and replace them with bodies that can do a proper job.

Read the full story from the source Birmingham Mail

Read all articles about Birmingham City Council or all articles about our failing Watchdogs on this blog.