Saturday, 28 January 2012

Suspension for “petty in the extreme” Flintshire councillor

A COUNCILLOR whose behaviour was branded “petty in the extreme” by a tribunal has been suspended until election time.

Former Saltney mayor Klaus Armstrong-Braun will not be able to practise as a town councillor for four months, but will be able to continue his duties as a county councillor for Saltney Mold Junction.

The ban comes after a four-day Adjudication Panel for Wales hearing ruled he had breached a code of conduct for community leaders on several occasions in his time as mayor in 2008.

Adjudication panel chairman Kate Berry said: “It is of great concern to us that you breached so many requirements of the code of conduct repeatedly and over a substantial period of time.

My comment: Another not fit for purpose councillor.

Read the full story from the source Daily Post

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Former West Yorkshire police officer charged

A FORMER police officer has been charged in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of pounds from crime scenes.

James Hughes, who has resigned his position with West Yorkshire Police, is also charged in relation to alleged misuse of personal data held on police files.

After receiving advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, Mr Hughes was charged with one count of theft – understood to be around £3,000 – and one count of misconduct in public office. He is due to make his first appearance before magistrates in the first week of February.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “A 31-year-old man has been charged with misconduct in a public office and theft and is due to appear at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on February 3.

My comment: Another wait and see what the outcome of the court case will be.

Read the full story from the source Yorkshire Post

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bradford NHS official kept £146,000 of public money

A senior NHS finance manager admitted he wrongly kept £146,000 of public money in his own bank account.

Sajid Khan, of Walmer Villas, Bradford, pleaded guilty to dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit, officials at Bradford Crown Court confirmed.

The 34-year-old, who worked for NHS Bradford and Airedale, held the money in bank accounts between September 2005 and last February.

Khan will be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court in May.

My comment: 'Dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit' What, the money just magically appeared in his bank account?  It does happen on occasions but normally the recipient of a banking mistake is unknown to the other parties. 

Read the full story from the source BBC News

Councillor suspended for securing an advantage for himself

UPDATED 21st June 2012: Councillor Pollard loses his appeal against the findings of the Standards Committee. Details below original post.

A councillor has been suspended after he persuaded the local authority to buy his lawnmower off him and then charged it more than £1,300 storage.

Matthew Pollard, vice chairman of Ellistown and Battleflat parish council, had taken the decision for it to buy his device for £850 at a meeting led by himself.

But Mr Pollard then refused to hand it over until the council, based in Leicestershire, paid him additional cash – at a rate of £1 a day – for storing it. By the end he had held the grass cutter "hostage" for more than three years and demanded £1,323 in compensation.

An investigation followed and Mr Pollard was eventually suspended after he was said to have secured an advantage for himself and brought the parish council into disrepute.

My comments: 'Secured an advantage for himself' I thought that's exactly why many become councillors.

Read the full story from the source Telegraph

UPDATED 21st June 2012: Tribunal Decision published Download the full decision here (PDF).

Appellant: Councillor Matthew Pollard of Ellistown and Battleflat Parish Council

Respondent: North West Leicestershire District Council Standards Committee

Date of hearing: 1 June 2012

Subject matter: Appeal by a member of a local authority against a Standards Committee decision

DECISION OF THE FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL

The appeal has been refused, the decision of the Standards Committee has been upheld and the sanction varied.

My comment: What a wast of time and money trying to appeal against something indefensible. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Wandsworth Council finance officer jailed for £100k fraud

A Wandsworth Council finance officer has been jailed for two years after plundering more than £100,000 of public funds from the local authority's housing account.

Colin Hadfield, from Caterham, stole £102,380 between May 2009 until July 2011 by abusing his position in the council's housing team.

Hadfield, who pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of postion, deliberately used the details of landlords known to the council, in order to avoid detection, but swapped their bank details for his on the transfer forms.

My comment: Looks like weak fraud protection within Wandsworth Council if you can just copy and paste signatures and change bank account details. 

Read he full story from the source Croydon Guardian

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

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Essex council has paid damages of almost £1m

Essex council has paid damages of almost £1m to four siblings it failed to protect from years of parental abuse, Community Care has learned.

The landmark settlement – thought to be one of the largest of its kind – was agreed in 2011 following almost a decade of work by lawyers.

View time line of events here

The "shocking" case involved a catalogue of errors by Essex council, which failed to protect the siblings after learning their father had a previous conviction for sexually abusing his two young children from an earlier marriage.

My comment: Where are the resignations and sackings?

Read the full story from the source Community Care

Read all articles about Essex County Council on this blog

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Will the cabal in Swansea Council be charged?

Leader Chris Holley, deputy leader John Hague and acting Conservative group leader Paxton Hood-Williams were reported to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales for allegedly breaching the code of conduct.

It is claimed, the Evening Post understands, spending in certain Tory wards was offered in exchange for support of the administration.

The ombudsman investigation was put on hold while police officers decided whether a criminal investigation should be brought against the three members.

My comment: As I understand it the Police have submitted evidence to support potential corruption & conspiracy charges against Leader of Swansea Council & his Deputy to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Read the full story from the source This is South Wales

Read all articles about Swansea Council on this blog

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tower Hamlets Councillor makes fraudulent claim for housing benefits for a second time

Shelina Akhtar, an independent councillor, pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly claiming housing and council tax benefits for a property in Poplar at Snaresbrook crown court on Monday.

Despite committing benefit fraud for a second time she has been allowed to keep her council seat.

Tower Hamlets Labour group leader Joshua Peck said: "In most local authorities, it would be inconceivable that she didn't resign on the first occasion."

My comment: I agree, no fraudster should be allowed to remain a councillor. Let alone a second time offender. 

Read the full story from the source London Evening Standard

Read all articles about Tower Hamlets (LB) Council on this blog

Gloucestershire policeman sacked for illegal computer use

A POLICEMAN was sacked after the constabulary held a major undercover operation into the illegal use of the Force Intelligence Computer, a tribunal heard.

Former police officer Robert Wheatman, 37, was dismissed from Gloucestershire Constabulary after an eight-month covert internal operation into breaches of the Data Protection Act on the Unity computer system, an employment tribunal at Bristol was told.

The tribunal yesterday heard that the former officer was "obsessed" with researching information held on the computer about neighbours, friends and family members. His home was searched and a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings relating the criminal activities was seized.

Mr Wheatman, of Longlevens, is claiming wrongful dismissal while the constabulary stresses that he accepted a formal police caution for 14 criminal offences involving numerous breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Proceeding

My comment: Would have been better to keep his head down because all this will do is re publicise his earlier wrongdoings.

Read the full story from the source This is Gloucestershire

To be updated when further news becomes available.

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Wirral Council: Heads are rolling at last

Further to my earlier post on Saturday 29th October 2011 Wirral Council admit guilt but why no sackings or resignations?

Recent news on Twitter suggests that a number of heads have now rolled following a full council meeting in which the report into the allegations was discussed.

UPDATE (1) TWO senior officers who were suspended after a Globe report into whistle-blowing allegations have this week left the employment of Wirral Council.

The six-month investigation led by independent consultant Anna Klonowski cost Wirral taxpayers £250,000.

An earlier preliminary report produced by the firm sent shockwaves through the council, which it revealed was in the grip of a "corrosive and insular" culture that had all-but overwhelmed the authority.

My comment: Not before time, read a summary of the problems within Wirral Council. I would like to know how the leader and many others have managed to survive.

Read the full story from the source Wirral Globe

UPDATE (2) I noticed one of the comments under the article sums up the problems in Wirral Council quite well.

Cheesy Peas says... 5:18pm Tue 10 Jan 12 "The tip of a massive iceberg..."

UPDATE (3) Special council meeting called as Wirral Council braced for another whistleblowers report. YES ANOTHER ONE!

Mr Field (MP) called in the SFO over concerns about the handling of a major contract for highways maintenance, after he was approached by the group of whistleblowers.

He said he had been “shocked” by issues within the authority and concerned that councillors had been “poorly served” by officers as well as worries there were poor procedures for dealing with whistleblowers.

Last September, district auditor Michael Thomas said he had “concerns” about the council securing “value for money”.

My comment: Looks like Wirral Council made a habit out of burying it's head in the sand. Will charges be brought against the people responsible or will those guilty be allowed to walk into the sunset with a big fat pay off for signing a compromise agreement like those involved in the other whistle blowing scandal?

Read the full story from the source Wirral News

To be updated as further news comes in.

Read all articles about Wirral Council on this blog

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Jamie Reed MP and Jedi: Harder to buy Calpol than Bullets

The Whitehaven News Published a news item at 15:18, Thursday, 05 January 2012 which included the following statement from Copeland MP & self confessed Jedi Jamie Reed.

“It is still harder to buy Calpol for a poorly child than it is to buy bullets."

Read the full story from the source Whitehaven News

It wasn't long before people started to leave comments ridiculing his assertions. You can read them below the article in question.

A short while after an article supporting Jamie Read's statement was published which eventually resulted in a comment from the author suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that the statement was just a joke. Unfortunately that excuse doesn't hold water for a number of reasons.
 
[The definition of a joke is a phrase or a paragraph with a humorous twist. It can be in many different forms, such as a question or short story. To achieve this end, jokes may employ irony, sarcasm, word play and other devices. Jokes may have a punchline that will end the sentence to make it humorous.]

1) His statement wasn't humorous. False yes, stupid yes,  humorous no.

2) There doesn't appear to be a punchline to turn his statement into a joke.

3) A joke shouldn't need an explanation, especially one preceded by an fallacious attempt to prove that it is indeed harder to buy Calpol than bullets.

4) If the statement was true there would have been no reason to try and excuse it as a joke.

5) In any event how did the author know it was even intended as a joke.

So whilst Jamie Reed MP may have been trying to stimulate discussion no one should try and argue that his statement was a joke and personally attack those who don't agree with his views in an attempt to invalidate their arguments. [See the reply from the author of the Jamie Reed supporting article below. (Screen shot taken at 00.14.42 AM 7th January 2012)  UPDATE (6) and the later attempts to personally attack me in his comments below and, as I have recently just discovered, also on his Facebook page, on his websites & forum and on his twitter stream. (Thanks to a Copeland resident for sending me a copy of all these additional personal attacks/insults on the 13th January 2012.)]

I also checked the statement by anonymous and found, with a simple Google search, that you can buy more than two bottles of Calpol from many sources.

What the article supporting Jamie Reed's statement does is use an inconsistent comparison by comparing buying Calpol from a UK source against bullets from a none UK source so they could fallaciously conclude it is harder to buy Calpol.
Footnote: Thanks to the Copeland resident who sent me the links.

PS: Before anyone wastes their time trying to suggest I wrote this blog post because I am pro firearm I am not. I hate firearms, don't own a firearm and have never owned a firearm. Neither is my blog politically motivated, check out my blogs and you will see that I post articles about elected representatives from all political parties.

Update (1) I noticed from twitter and the follow up article that Jamie Reed is now trying to introduce bulk quantity into the equation. No doubt in an attempt to excuse his “It is still harder to buy Calpol for a poorly child than it is to buy bullets." statement.


I don't know the answer to that question (nor what the tweet was in response to) but whatever it is it's irrelevant because it doesn't change the fact that "it is harder to buy Calpol for a poorly child than it is to buy bullets." was a stupid thing for an MP to say.

UPDATE (2) It has just been brought to my attention that the MP (like the defender of his statement) appears to resort to personal attacks when challanged.

Rather a crass response from an MP and one that easily could offend someone who has a blind relative of friend but obviously used to imply that the recipient is a w*nk*r.

With Calpolgate coming so soon after Abbotgate and Blackbustersgate I could well imagine that many of his colleagues will have their heads in their hands in despair. Especially since, unlike his two colleagues, he doesn't appear to have made any attempt to defuse the situation with an apology.

UPDATE (3) For some reason he is still trying to argue that what he said was a fact.



FACT? If I was a resident of Copeland I would be very worried that my MP thought that "it is harder to buy Calpol for a poorly child than it is to buy bullets." was a fact [A thing that is indisputably the case]. Especially since I can walk into any chemist and buy Calpol but don't even have a clue as to where to buy bullets and even if I did I would still have to undergo a stringent vetting process and obtain a license first.

UPDATE (4) The UK’s largest shooting organisation has slammed a Cumbrian MP who claimed it was tougher to buy children’s medicine than bullets. Read the full article here. The article ends with the following A number of commenters have pointed out that a valid certificate is essential.

One poster – Ashley – said the MP had ‘devalued’ the gun laws debate with his “ridiculous soundbite” and added that legitimate gun owners have nothing to fear from increased protection from the public. 

UPDATE (5) It has been brought to my attention that the number of comments on the original Whitehaven News article has increased. I noticed that in addition to the person I quoted above, a recent commenter on the Whitehaven News article is also now trying to defend Jamie Reed's sound bite with a similar fallacious viewpoint.

More when anything further develops. I am sure it will whilst people continue to try and defend the indefensible.

As an aside this is why most politicians apologise or correct immediately when they have said or done something silly. Two recent examples are Abbot and her 'white people like to divide and rule' remark  and Cameron and his 'Tourette's' joke.

They know that whilst the majority of the public will disagree with what they said there will always be a small minority who, for whatever reason, try and support them by arguing they were right.

Experienced politicians knows only too well that delay allows such people to keep the issue alive and do more damage than good by keeping their gaffe in the news, which is not helpful to the politician in question, hence the usual immediate apology or correction.

Because then, and only then, will people begin to concentrate on the real issues and not be distracted by the gaffe, in this instance the stupid attempt at a headline grabbing soundbite.

Read all articles about MPs on this blog.

Please read the comments on this post.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Met Police cut staff but spend £10million on art, gardening and cleaning

More than £10 million has been spent by the Metropolitan Police on artwork, gardening and cleaning at a time when severe cutbacks are being made to their frontline services.

The Standard can reveal that the Met spent £7.3 million on cleaning London police stations last year alone and £3.221 million on gardening over the past three years.

An artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of former Met commissioner Ian Blair to hang in New Scotland Yard at a cost of £9,626. Two prints of the Queen were bought last year at a cost of £253.

Gardening costs included the maintenance and management of sports grounds, the maintenance of soft landscaped areas and mature trees and "external cleanliness to external structures". Nearly £4,000 was spent on one gardening project which related to the relocation of a memorial garden.

This spending on non-frontline services comes as thousands of London officers and police staff are being axed after funding cutbacks. The Met says it has done all it can to protect jobs and crucial police services. 

My comment: I thought the Police were supposed to use taxpayer's money to clean up the streets not their own offices. And nearly £10,000 for a portrait of Ian Blair, WTF, couldn't they have used a mugshot camera?

Read the full story from the source London Evening Standard

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Ex head of finance at Enfield Council accused of fraud

A FORMER head of finance at Enfield Council has been accused of stealing nearly £500,000 of taxpayers money.

John Jossa, 58, appeared at City of London Magistrates on Tuesday charged with fraud by false representation and obtaining property by deception.

He retired from his role as head of finance at the council in 2009, but is alleged to have stolen the money between 2007 and 2010. 

The council, in a statement, said: “We expect the full force of the law to be directed at anyone found guilty of defrauding council taxpayers of money.

My comment: So much for council scrutiny between 2007 and 2010. Still it's only taxpayer's money so why should they be worried.

Read the full story from the source Enfield Independent
 
Read all articles about Enfield Council on this blog

Councils regularly mislead watchdog

Naughty pupils are being paid to truant as schools attempt to trick Ofsted inspectors into letting them pass, it has been claimed.

The range of underhand tactics allegedly being employed also includes weak teachers being told to stay off sick and schools bringing in experienced teachers from other establishments.

The claims were made on the Times Educational Supplement online forum after Ofsted confirmed there were 38 complaints about "a school's conduct or activities" during inspections carried out between April and November last year.

One post from a teacher on the forum describes how his last school "sent 2 coachloads of disruptive pupils to Alton Towers during the 2 days of Ofsted".

Another poster wrote about how they heard the most badly behaved children at their school had each been paid up to £100 not to attend while Ofsted was there.

Ofsted national director Sue Gregory said that schools only have two days' notice before their inspections so have little time to make changes.

My comment: How naive all our watchdogs are. Albeit not Ofsted a Local Government Ombudsman's investigator once told me that they have no reason to doubt whatever a council tells them. The above shows just how easy it is to pull the wool over a watchdogs eyes.

See number (13) of the Local Government Ombudsman's 15 pillars of injustice. The above tends to prove Ofsted also operate a similarly corrupt system. 

Read the full story from the source Sky News Read all articles about Watchdogs  or all articles about Ofsted on this blog. For more damning information about the Local Government Ombudsman either visit my LGO blog or this website.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Policeman 'had sex with prostitute in return for not arresting her

A police officer had sex with a prostitute while on duty in return for not arresting her, a court has heard.

PC Jasbir Dhanda, 52, is alleged to have regularly turned up at the woman’s house in uniform, and demanded sex in return for not executing a warrant on her.

Dhanda, who worked for Derbyshire Police,also told the 33-year-old woman to buy him crack cocaine and smoked it with her, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Neil Moore told a jury that Dhanda trawled police databases for vulnerable women to exploit over a period of seven years.

He denies misconduct in public office and misusing the police database.

My comment: The trial continues so we will have to wait and see what the outcome will be.

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Read all articles about the Police on this blog

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ex-Derbyshire County Council chairman faces theft charges

The former chairman of Derbyshire County Council is to be charged with three counts of theft following a police investigation into his expenses.
 
Robin Baldry, Conservative councillor for Buxton West, is accused of over-claiming more than £5,000 for mileage and councillor allowances.

Mr Baldry was interviewed by police in September after the matter came to light during a council audit review.

My comment: Another one bites the dust but how many Councillors have got away with fiddling their expenses?

Read the full story from the source BBC NEWS Derby

Read all articles about Derbyshire County Council on this blog