Police poised to act on ‘Double-Dippers’?

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Police poised to act on ‘Double-Dippers’?

Police poised to act on ‘Double-Dippers’?

An ‘In My View’ article – by Nigel Ward

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Regular readers have been asking me to explain just what it is about ‘double-dipping’ that is such a big deal.

Nothing could be simpler.

The detailed allegations are contained in Tim Hicks’ article “N Yorks Corruption Round-Up”,

In a nutshell, Certain Councillors have accepted money, from two Councils – profiteering by banking up to THREE TIMES the actual cost that they have paid out for their Broadband connections.

Each year, they have been making a profit of around £500. It is as though they have bought a Broadband facility for £250 and ‘sold it on’ to Local Government for £750 – year after year.

Some Councillors have denied ‘claiming’ for Broadband at all. They claim that they were given the money without ever having asked for it. They claim that they were “unaware” that they did not have to accept it, and, indeed, ignore the fact that they had specifically been given the opportunity not to accept it.

Some of them have claimed this even though they were actually present at the Council Meeting when it was decided – in fact, some actually voted in favour of including the opportunity not to receive it.

The allegations did not suggest that Councillors had ‘claimed’ Broadband money.

The allegations were, and always has been, only that they “received” the excess payments.The allegation is that ten Councillors received multiple payments for Broadband from two (or even  three)  different Councils, over several years, and have declined to refund the excess, thereby corruptly making a profit at the expense of the taxpayer.

Two pairs of Councillors who were married to each other received multiple payments for Broadband each, when they were using the same Broadband connections for one household, because they were married couples.

Councillor Jane Kenyon is additionally accused of submitting fraudulent expense claims to the North Yorkshire Police Authority for telephone calls that had already been paid for by her Basic Allowance from NYCC.

In fact, these are not a matters of ‘allegation’ at all – they are matters of undeniable fact, entirely confirmed by the Public Record of both Councils (NYCC and SBC). There is no possibility of denial.

The Councillors concerned have not availed themselves of the opportunity that is built into the system, with their knowledge and approval, to pass up the payments – payments that have enabled them to make a profit of £500 per year, year after year. NYCC’s Head of Legal Carole Dunn has expressed the pre-determined view that Councillors have an ‘entitlement’ to indulge in profiteering from the public purse. Nor have they denied the allegations – they have denied allegations that have never been made!

None of the foregoing explains why SBC Leader Councillor Tom FOX stated ‘live’ on Radio York that the money that both he and his wife (former Councillor Ros FOX) received as Broadband Allowance was also for ink-cartridges, stationery, computer ancilliaries and telephone calls as well as Broadband. That is utterly untrue. Councillor Tom FOX has conceded that he and his wife shared, via a wireless router, one and the same Broadband connection, yet received money for two (ie one each). Further, other Councillors have confirmed that ink-cartridges and stationery are provided free to Councillors.

So this, too, was profiteering at the expense of the public purse.

Following publication last Thursday (20th September 2012) of Tim Hicks’ article “N Yorks Corruption Round-Up”, I was copied into an email from Tim Hicks, to the Councillors, in which he suggested that, rather than face charges under the Fraud Act 2006 (as has been suggested publicly by former WYP Detective Inspector Cedric Christie), Councillors may wish to consider the wisdom of paying back to the Councils any monies that constituted profiteering on their Broadband Allowances at the taxpayers expense.

Only one of the Councillors, as far as I know, has seen fit to reply to Tim Hick’s suggestion (email reproduced below).

But first, let me remind readers of the furore over the weekend concerning the arrogant and high-handed remarks doled out to a Police Officer on security duty at Downing Street last Friday by Cabinet Minister Keith MITCHELL. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette COOPER MP has accused the Prime Minister David CAMERON of presiding over a ‘cover-up’.

Chief Whip Keith MITCHELL has come within a hairs’ breadth of losing his place in Government (and may yet do so) even though he denies (no-one seems to know if he really did) calling the Police Officer a “f**king pleb” and a “moron”, though the Police Officer’s contemporaneous notes of the exchange have since been published in the national press.

With all of that in mind, please look at the email response to Tim Hicks, and copied to every Scarborough Borough Councillor (including the Leader, Councillor Tom FOX), by one of the ‘double-dippers’ – a Borough & County Councillor of many years experience, and in fact hand-picked by Leader Councillor Tom FOX as a Cabinet Portfolio-Holder (Spelling, punctuation and grammar as per original):

From: Cllr.XXX XXXXX [name redacted]

Sent: Friday 21st September 2012 13:36

To: Tim Hicks

Cc: Cllr.Tom Fox and all elected members of  Scarborough Borough Council

Subject: Re: Double dipping scandal. Former police officer alleges fraud

If you feel right is on your side,and I am sure I have not claimed twice for any thing why don’t you and your troll friends do it ,or that’s right the Internet is you only medium,and real life is something you will never understand, if you all worked to support the wonderfully town of whitby in what they do for the people then I am sure things would get better for everybody , I am being judged by standards and when that is over I will stand by their decision,

WILL YOU LOT 

I do no wish you to make contact with myself anymore and I this continues I will consider this harassment and will have no option but to seek advice from the police ,

Please stay with your troll friends and leave decent people who work for the better of the borough alone,

I have waited to responded to somebody for a long time I would ask was it breast feeding that was the problem when you were a child?

Was it that you was the kid with glasses on at school who every body picked on,

Did you not have a Lego set 

I hate bully’s who pick, and pick. in my life in my circles people don’t make life difficult because they can,life is hard enough with out Internet trolls 

Private eye they never get it wrong they have never been sued for the wrong story

So what do you say shall we be adult about this or will you need breast feeding soon

Kindest regard 

A very pissed of and sick of it 

[name redacted]
This email is my own personal views and not the views of Scarborough borough council

[name redacted]

The Cabinet Portfolio-Holder who wrote the above email is known to me personally. In my view, there are very few Councillors at Scarborough Borough Council who serve the electors of their Wards more diligently and effectively. That is commendable. And appreciated.

But this email is a disgrace in a number of ways.

The denial of ‘claiming’ is utterly disingenuous. The precise nature of the way in which payments have been made (and received) has been fully documented by both Councils and it is on the basis of that Public Record documentation – and that documentation alone – that a detailed explanation of the ‘double-dipping’ profiteering has been reported here on Real Whitby. The facts are not in question. Certain Councillors have received THREEFOLD what they actually paid out for their Broadband connections. Year after year. Fact.

Think about the services that this money could otherwise have provided . . .

I do not need to dwell upon the rudeness, personal invective and abuse of position – or the fact that such conduct is strictly prohibited by the Code of Conduct – other than to say it is indicative of the attitude of contempt towards normal financial probity (and to the electorate) maintained by the ‘double-dippers’:

NYCC’a FAQ on Councillors’ conduct states:

Q: My local Council Member was brusque and unpleasant to me. Is that allowed? 

A: Members’ behaviour can be a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct if it if fails to treat others with respect, amounts to bullying, or brings the Council into disrepute.

That any Councillor – let alone a Cabinet Portfolio-Holder – when confronted by the clear, concise and clear explanation offered by Tim Hicks of the true circumstances surrounding the ‘double-dipping’, and his rational and courteous suggestion of an reasonable and honourable resolution to the affair –  should respond in such offensively abusive and intimidating terms, in writing, and having had overnight to consider not only his choice of words, but to whom he wished to communicate them, goes a long way beyond the rude remarks (whatever they actually were) made by Cabinet Minister Keith MITCHELL in the heat of the moment, at the end of an intense working day.

And what of SBC Leader Councillor Tom FOX’s dishonest claims on Radio York? Surely the same applies.

There was a time in this country when disgraceful conduct of this sort, once made public, did not advance to the point of open calls for ‘heads to roll’.

It was commonly accepted that even the ignorant and the semi-literate were capable of writing a contrite and sincere apology – and a coherent letter of resignation.

So why are we waiting?

As Enoch Powell so wisely said, “All political careers end in tears”.


Related reading:

N. Yorks, Corruption Round-Up – by Tim Hicks

Tom Fox on Radio York


 


About the Author:

Website Admin for the Real Whitby Website. All authors of the Real Whitby Website have access to publish on the website. Individual authors will usually sign off their articles with their own names.

54 Comments

  1. Jan Lawther September 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    I personally am appalled that a person who is obviously holding down a senior position where decisions are made concerning the expenditure of taxpayers money can be so downright rude and illiterate.

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      Sorry Jan, but there is nothing illiterate about that e-mail.

      • Joan McTigue January 1, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

        If you cannot see the errors in the e-mail then I suggest you go back to school.

  2. Ron L September 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    That e-mail from Cllr. XXX XXXXX is a cracker!
    I’m just going to go and change my undies because i’ve peed myself laughing!
    Classic !!!!!

  3. Ron L September 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Great bit of detective work from me here folks, Mr Nigel Ward eat your heart out !

    If you take the amount of X’s in the opening line of the e-mail where it says (name redacted), then relate the amount of X’s to the amount of letters in the Councillors names who are alledged to have been ‘Double Dipping’, there is only one name with that amount of X’s in it.

    Cllr. XXX XXXXX
    Cllr. JOE PLANT

    If you are the Councillor behind that e-mail Cllr. Plant, I salute you !
    PRICELESS !!!!!!

    • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 7:40 am - Reply

      “Great bit of detective work from me here folks”

      Er, Plant isn’t a member of the Cabinet. I think your detective skills are on a par with Clouseau.

      • Ron L September 27, 2012 at 7:59 am - Reply

        Sorry Tim.
        Just going from the information contained on this site.
        Have a check yourself and you will see.

      • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

        If you read more carefully you’d have seen:

        “The Cabinet Portfolio-Holder who wrote the above email is known to me”

        To add to your Inspector Clouseau-like detective skills it seems you have the reading ability of Forrest Gump. Not a good combination.

        • Sarraceniac September 27, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

          Forrest Gump? Tim don’t be insulting. Mr. Gump would be most offended.

        • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 11:55 am - Reply

          Smarter than you, Ron. You’ve got a few reading issues there. Try harder next time.

          • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm - Reply

            “A number of people on here, yourself included, think they are a lot smarter than everyone else.” You’re just not keen on the content, Ron. Far too much criticism of the local Councillors and Council Officers, right? Perhaps you’d be better off reading something a little more palatable?

  4. Carole Gerada September 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Nigel, you know that Borough officers work only for Borough Councillors, not residents or Parish Councillors. The endorse any behaviour of councillors if they are in the majority, i.e. if 26 out of 50 councillors breach codes of conduct, standards, etc. then they support them because that is the democratic way.

    I was proved right in a tribunal against the Borough and parish council of Eastfield, but yet, both councils still refuse to speak to me, meet with me and instead ignore me, ostracise me and will not reply to the outcome in February 2012 that they made a mistake as I was accused with no evidence. They continue to support councillors bullying me, disrespecting me and writing the most appalling emails lying about me, belittling me, excluding me and treating me unequally because they only work for Borough Councillors. The 3 Borough councillors are on the Eastfield Parish council and all disrespect me – so therefore they are right and I am wrong.

    At a recent seminar hosted by NALC (National Assoc of local Councils) 3 of my fellow councillors got up and walked to a different table when I joined it. Gill Wilkinson, Borough Council Officer said that it was not disrespectful and if people chose not to speak to me or sit with me that i their prerogative.

  5. admin September 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Ive managed to scan through the article as I often loose track on the long ones. Can someone explain to me the situation regarding the impending police action of which the article title implies ?

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      admin – Paragraph 16 refers to former WYP Chief Inspector Cedric Christie having publicly suggested something.
      Yes, former WYP Chief Inspector Cedric Christie.

    • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 8:11 am - Reply

      I hear that a complaint to the Police for fraud is forthcoming. Writing off such complaints to the various standards committees as ‘trolling’ and ‘bullying’ is just beyond the pale. They obviously have no interest in correcting the error with their expenses received. It is time they stood out from the crowd, acknowledged the mistake and made reparations.

      • Joan McTigue January 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm - Reply

        Are you saying “writing off” the complaint, meaning forgetting about it or “writing of it” meaning writing about it?

    • Sarraceniac September 27, 2012 at 9:57 am - Reply

      I’ve now managed to wade through the lot and it’s true. There is no evidence or even assertion, in the article, that the ‘police are poised to act’. Is that why Nigel used that old journalistic ploy, the question mark, to imply a rhetorical question? It is one thing to run a headline ‘THE TRUTH’ and totally different to run one ‘THE TRUTH?’ It is possible that whilst you were skimming through, Admin., you missed this nuance. I know I did myself on first reading but it is there.

      I have an old university friend who was a senior QC, now retired, and we sometimes discuss this. He is of the opinion that, under current law, this form of double dipping is probably not illegal. He is also of the opinion that people that indulge in the activity are, however, extremely immoral and should not hold office. That, he thinks, is a matter for the morality and good sense of the electorate, but if they are collectively stupid enough, when everybody else is being cut-back financially, to agree to to being ripped off, then there is little that can be done in law. Sensible people can only keep pointing them out to hopefully sensible voters.

      Cllr. J.K. is clearly a different matter though who, in law should not have been given a seat on the NYPA, let alone being Chair.

      • DKP September 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

        I think the reference you missed was this…

        “I will consider this harassment and will have no option but to seek advice from the police.”

        This is not the first time investigators have been threatened with harassment charges through the police.

        • Sarraceniac September 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm - Reply

          Didn’t miss it at all. But if investigators are not physically stalking, phoning you (or hacking your phone), getting into your bank account or writing obscene letters to you then it is a very difficult charge to substantiate. There was a guy in Scarborough Town in the early 1960s whom the authorities investigated for years. He was a real hater of the Labour Party and used to hound the officers of the local party non-stop. It was not until he sent the Secretary a phony bomb through the post however that the police were able to act. He was bound over for a year in magistrates court. I’m not passing any judgement on him, the magistrates did that, and I am sure he was very silly, and although the law has toughened up a little, the point is that binding over is the norm, if the charge of harassment can be proven, which is difficult and that can be by-passed when lots of other people believe you are in the right.

      • Joan McTigue January 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm - Reply

        The problem is that most of the voters are unaware of what is claimed by cllrs. In my case, I was alerted to the outrageous expense claims of my Labour Cllrs by a Labour activist who did not like them – there was, as often is, a split in the local Labour group running the council. I decided to stand as an Independent & all I needed to do was deliver one election leaflet listing their claims for the previous 12 months. One had claimed almost £30,000 when his basic was less than £3,000 & it included £4,800 for food & drink & £6,000 for his London rail tickets etc etc. I was elected in 2003, 2007 & again in 2010 & that is because I let the public know exactly where their money was being spent. Many told me they had no idea that cllrs were paid anything at all. I have no sympathy at all with the “moaners” – get out at the next elections & stand yourselves – because that is the only way anything will change. My latest leaflet being delivered (15,000 of them them)gives details of all the top claimers & the next one later in the year will be details of those cllrs who claimed thousands last year for chairing meetings – even when they are not there, in particular one who was working off-shore at the time.

  6. J.G.Harston September 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    At the root of this is a horror of local councils being seen to actually pay elected councillors. So, instead of actually paying them a proper wage they invent additional “allowances”. The problem with these allowances is that they are described as being tied to a specific purpose and inevitably rapidly diverge from the actual cost of the service they claim to fund.

    I remember more ten years ago having to go through my monthly telephone bills and using a highlighter pen to mark those calls made for council purposes, and handing in the bills for a refund. This ended up getting so administratively tedious that it was proposed to replace it with a flat “telephone allowance”. Many members complained that this would be unfair as some members made lots of council calls from home, and some made almost none, so some would be out of pocket, and some would be profiting.

    At the same time the HMRC sent a circular around councils telling them to get rid of these purpose allowances. Essentially they said “just pay your councillors a proper wage and get rid of all these additional purpose allowances”. Additionally, council-related expenses, such as travel to external locations, etc. should be bourne by the council themselves buying the train tickets, etc., not by councillors buying tickets and then trusting them to had the correct recipt in for a refund.

    What NYCC and SBC should have done was just pay councillors a standard wage and get rid of all the purpose allowances. If a councillor does use personal resources on council business it is reclaimable anyway via the end-of-year tax return, just like any other work-from-home expenses in any other job.

    NYCC and SBC have just brought this scandal upon themselves by being terrified of actually having a proper pay system for councillors and instead spawning multiple overlapping purpose allowances with no actual connection to the expenses puported to cover.

    • Ron L September 27, 2012 at 4:37 am - Reply

      J.G. Harston :- a fine comment, sir.
      I agree,if there was a proper pay system in place for councillors, it would take away the need for those with nothing better to do, to assume they are justified in ‘snapping at the heels’ of the elected councillors at every opportunity.

      • Tim Thorne September 27, 2012 at 8:13 am - Reply

        It would be much better if the Cllrs acknowledged the concerns about the expenses complaints, arranged to discuss it with concerned local people and came to a solution. Right now they are just hiding behind their monitoring officers.

        • Richard Ineson September 29, 2012 at 8:50 am - Reply

          I t would be better if we had some decent Councillors who have integrity, ideals, principles, and moral rectitude.

        • Joan McTigue January 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

          Ever thought of letting the national newspapers know of this and asking them if this is widespread throughout the country? In Mbro, often the local newspaper will not touch anything that is – shall we say a little too hot for them, but the nationals do I suggest you so I suggest you try the Sunday Sun and speak with Coreena Ford there.

    • Joan McTigue January 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm - Reply

      Why should cllrs be paid a “wage” they are not employees of any council? Cllrs are volunteers doing a civic duty so surely an allowance is all that is needed so that they are not out of pocket – that is EXACTLY what this started out as. It has now developed into a very lucrative business for many. Here in Mbro we had a Labour cllr claiming over £500 per week (£10,000 of this was his fee for sitting on the Police Authority) while at the same time holding down a job with a neighbouring authority. That cllr is now the Crime Commissioner for this area. Here in Mbro we are now paid £25 per month to cover our Broadband and ‘phone calls. However, the cabinet members also have a Blackberry, as does the chair of the OSB and they do NOT have to account for calls – private calls are obviously paid for !

  7. Vanda Inman September 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Got to agree with Harston. But also think that Borough Council should be gotten rid of – what do they do again? Better to have Parish Councils and a larger ‘Authority’. Why are there three? Though the email from said Councillor is hilarious. Though not Joe Plant I believe, he’s not that literate!!

    • J.G.Harston September 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      “But also think that Borough Council should be gotten rid of – what do they do again?”
      Borough Councils actually do more than County Councils. Proposals to go to a unitary North Yorkshire were proposed a few years ago. The biggest problem with rural authorities like North Yorkshire is the huge distances covered. It’s already a trek from Whitby to get to a Licensing or Planning meeting in Scarborough, it would be near impossible having to trek all the way to Northallerton instead.
      Unitary Authorities work for metropolitan areas like Sheffield where it’s a 40 minute bus ride from the edge of the city to the Town Hall. Last time I tried to get from Whitby to Northallerton it was three seperate bus journeys. If I was a unitary councillor representing Whitby I’d probably be spending six or seven hours a day just getting to work.
      Proposals for a unitary North Yorkshire usually talk about having local meetings, eg Yorkshire Coast Planning Board would meet in a location on the coast. But that’s just partially recreating the pre-exisiting structure. Also, council boards aren’t made up of members from just the area it covers, a theoretical North Yorkshire Planning Coast SubCommittee would have members drawn from the whole of North Yorkshire, some councillors would potentially have to travel all the way from the border of Cumbria.
      I don’t know what the best local government structure would be for North Yorkshire, but I’m certain a unitary authority would be amongst the worst possible. Certainly, town-level authorities should have more power devolved down to them, not have power sucked upwards.

      • Pete Budd September 28, 2012 at 9:37 am - Reply

        LGA 2002;
        “The Parishes are authorised to take back the Assets and Responsibilities of Local Governance, if they wish.”

  8. Danny Crusaderrabbit Pettersen September 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Surely the broadband allowance covers the spellchecker function?

  9. Sarraceniac September 27, 2012 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I’m afraid that anybody who thinks that the email is not illiterate must be illiterate themselves.

    It is full of basic grammatical errors. Here are just a few:-

    Whitby requires a capital letter.

    ‘I am being judged….’ is a sentence in it’s own right and should be preceded by a full-stop (a period) not a comma.

    ‘WILL YOU LOT’ heading – ‘WILL YOU LOT WHAT’? It is not a sentence nor is it a heading, it is a nothing.

    ‘I do no wish you to make contact with myself….’ should be with ‘me’ not ‘myself’. Suppose the writer thinks ‘myself’ is posher, not just plain wrong. This paragraph and a few others are finished with commas, not full stops. A primary school error.

    The missing letters (‘If’ not ‘I’ and ‘not wish’ not ‘no wish’ plus others throughout) we can perhaps put down to typing errors, they occasionaly happen, we all do it, but there are an awful lot of them and indicate that the writer is so sloppy, that he has not even checked his ‘missal’.

    I could go on but if I were marking this for grammar in the first year of a secondary school it would be firmly an ‘F’.

    • Ron L September 27, 2012 at 6:30 am - Reply

      Oh dear Mr Sarraceniac, I really seem to have twisted your melons !
      Never mind. I can live with it.
      However, before accusing others of being illiterate,please have a really good look at your own post and then go and have a really good look in the mirror.
      Eeee Awww ! (A Donkey noise, if you should require clarification).

    • Ron L September 27, 2012 at 6:37 am - Reply

      Mr Sarraceniac = a pacifist troll posing as a keyboard warrior.
      Pitiful, woeful and contemptible.

      • Sarraceniac September 27, 2012 at 7:26 am - Reply

        Oh. Are you still here?

        • Ron L September 27, 2012 at 7:57 am - Reply

          Oh yes.
          Having great fun as well.

  10. Kathleen Parker September 27, 2012 at 8:41 am - Reply

    So whoever sent that email is thinking of reporting to the police an allegation of harassment?! I’d say bring it on!

  11. admin September 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Allo Allo, listen very carefully I shall say this only once. Ron L is now in the sites moderation list meaning none of his comments will go live before I see and pass them fit for the site. My reason for this is simple, he has descended to a level of making personal remarks about other contributors. His style is that of an Internet Troll. he started nice then when he thinks he isn’t being watched by the sites administrators he starts with personal comments hoping to detract from the article and drive debate way off topic. With regards to anyone who made the situation worse by responding to him, how many times do you need to be told ?? NEVER feed the moose !! My best advice if you want sensible debate is never engage with the troll and try to utilise the facebook comments system above as its far less likely for trolls to show up there.

    • Ron L September 28, 2012 at 4:30 am - Reply

      Sorry admin. You are wrong.
      Check my posts.
      I have only ever reacted to those who have made comments against me first.
      No more posts or even visits to the site from me.
      If you don’t want people with different views to your band of idiots, agitators and troublemakers visiting the site, so be it.
      Shove your site up your arse.
      ‘Real Whitby’ – I don’t think so.

      • admin September 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm - Reply

        I am, and always have been happy for people with diverse points of view to use the site. In fact there is nothing I would love to see more as I often believe the debate is very one sided and contributed to by the same old people who continually believe that its there way or no way. I initially liked your input and was very pleased to see someone capable of objectively putting across a different point of view to the status quo. Initially you were great but your recent comments with belittling personal remarks means you have really let yourself down. I put you in my moderation list so I could filter out your personal jibes and let your decent debate through. I was more than happy to do that so you could continue your otherwise excellent input. I guess its a shame your leaving, I will be sad to see you go.

  12. Cliff Street September 28, 2012 at 6:51 am - Reply

    It seems that Mr Hartson is one of the very few people on here who have a true insight into how a Local Authority actually works and how practises have developed over the years.

    His views on a unitary authority should be re-read and understood by all.

    • Sarraceniac September 28, 2012 at 9:46 am - Reply

      I think his comments have been read and understood by all. I reckon just about everybody must agree with them which was why there was no response. Debate is only fun when you can put a counter-argument.

  13. Carole Gerada September 28, 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Interesting comments – all of them. A great site for debate in an open forum.

    I have to pick up on the comment about having more autonomous and unaccountable Parish Councils rather than fully accountable Borough Councils. The thing is, Parish Councillors are not paid allowances, they only receive expenses for attending meetings or training courses, etc. relating to Parish Council business. Parish Councillors do not receive expenses for attending Borough Council meetings or County Council meetings which affect their Parishes.

    Unitary Councils are the way to go. This has been proved at a recent NALC conference where Shropshire is the County Council and Shrewsbury (70,000 residents; 52,750 electors; 17 Councillors; 63 staff; 17 wards). Shrewsbury councillors receive an allowance of £1,000 per annum. They are not a Borough Council, they are a Town Council i.e. Parish Council. Take a look at their website http://www.shrewsburytowncouncil.gov.uk and compare it to Scarborough’s.

    That’s it – no other Parish Councils. It is a success.

    • Sarraceniac September 28, 2012 at 11:06 am - Reply

      The only trouble is, Carole, that a Parish Council of only 17 people, or in the case of Eastfield, only 13, is just too easy for one interest group to seize control and hang on. You, of all people, know the problems we are having at Eastfield with the Lie-Dem/Tory coalition completely in control and one sole voice, you, trying to break up Mr. Simpson’s cartel. A lot of small Parish councils work perfectly well. They are non-political and have very limited powers so just confine themselves to very local issues. Eastfield is very much in the minority, as presumably, on the opposite tack, is Shrewsbury.

      I know next to nothing about the latter but know quite a lot about Eastfield and how its current problems with democracy came about. The ‘clan’ system here is historical dating back to when Grattan Lockley and Brian O’Flynn, one of them a man who had resigned from the Conservative Party because it wasn’t blue enough and the other a Lie-Dem who had been thrown of SBC at the previous election by the voters of Central Ward, got together to press for a Parish Council at Eastfield. Lockley had stood as Conservative candidate for Eastfield ward on two or three occasions but been totally unsuccessful and decided to indulge in the community politics much beloved by the Lie-Dems as a back seat to power. To this end they set up a tenants association (ETRA) and a community help (advice) group (ECHO). Once they had served their purpose both bodies were disbanded. They were joined by Alex Abiola, a Trotskyite who had left the Labour Party then in control at Eastfield and several others. Once they had succeeded in getting a Parish Council here, they decided to fight for SBC seats. Joined by Paul Reavely who admitted he knew and cared nothing about local politics, he just wanted funding for his boxing club, they stood at the next Borough election and swamped in, thanks to totally dirty and negative campaigning from them plus an absolutely ineffectual Labour campaign, run, not by the local branch but, by decree of the Constituency Party who insisted they put out a leaflet about what wonders they had done in Castle Ward. This had as much relevance to the voters of Eastfield as the Battle of Waterloo.

      Reavely was, perhaps the only Cllr. to be expelled from SBC for doing nothing for 3 years except drawing his expenses and the alliance they had forged collapsed, starting when Lockley died of an alcohol related illness. But by then O’Flynn had started to get his party colleagues onto EPC.

      Brian Simpson, who had quit the Labour Party when he failed to be elected Group Leader on SBC, and joined the Lie-Dems, took over as Lie-Dem Group Leader when O’Flynn also died. He saw who was on the up and you must give him marks for clever (or devious) politics. He has now forged an alliance with the Tories to make him the biggest fish in the small pond of Eastfield.

      So that is the (very potted) history of what you are fighting and why many of us are totally against giving parish councils more powers. At least with larger bodies like SBC you get a representative selection of views. Still get corruption, but representative corruption.

  14. Carole Gerada September 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the background info, Sarra (may I refer to you as Sarra, rather than Sarraceniac) – I don’t mind if you call me ‘Caro’:).

    Exactly my point, Parish Councils have powers but no duties. The frightening thing is that the government wants MORE Parish Councils, not less. Why? Because they are autonomous and unaccountable and unpaid. The Borough Council promote this, because there is no monitoring officer for Parish Councils….

    I would prefer to see just the Borough council and District council who do actually do work for communities and are accountable.

    By the way, there are only 11 Parish Councillors in Eastfield, unless you know something I don’t:) Unfortunately, at the bi-election earlier this year due to the resignation of one of the newly elected Parish Councillors – no residents from Eastfield put themselves forward as candidates. Yet they complain about the councils.

    Until people are willing to do things for the community, they should not just complain about what they want or attack those that are elected councillors. Just my opinion:)

    The more local people to choose from at election time, the more choice for electors to choose local people and not people who do not live in their communities.

    • Sarraceniac September 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Just a couple of points of clarification Caro. (NO I don’t mind being called Sarra, it happens on other fora quite a lot. (Just don’t anyone call me Sara. Lol.)

      Firstly, what are these powers that PCs have? Things have changed a lot since my time on EPC.

      For instance, there were 13 councillors, 6 West Ward and 7 East Ward. Didn’t realise they have cut back, probably easier for them to keep dissidents away.

      And the accepted situation was that Parishes had the right to be consulted and to advise but had no power to legislate, veto or make actual decisions on say, planning. Has that changed? I doubt it.

      The one thing that the Parish could do, within reason, was set its own precept and spend it, within the rules, how it liked. The rules nowadays seem to be changed or be very ‘liberally’ interpreted when £500 can go towards Cayton Parishes bonfire party. When I was Chair of Finance we used to dole out £50 or £100 to Eastfield causes never mind giving £500 to a neighbouring and richer parish for a party. I’d have gone spare if it were suggested. The rules used to say that all payments of this kind had to ‘benefit all or some of the people of the parish’. Can’t really see the benefit of a pea soup at the Star pub in Cayton to the people of Eastfield (unless it’s free). I suppose if some of the Councillors go to it, it will be to their benefit but I hardly think it warrants contributing to a more than doubling of the Parish precept in a time when everybody else is cutting back.

      I disagree with you about people complaining, that won’t serve themselves. There is no reason why a person can’t whinge who is having his or her money wasted by their elected representatives. I’d have a hell of a job becoming an MP even if I wanted to but I still have the right to question those that get there. So I find this argument a real no-no. I do accept people should get off their rumps every four years to vote, but I would agree that that is not a real democracy. But it is what works in our system, and I am too old to try to change the system. I just keep trying to change some of the people but I’ve done my time. P.S. I will still vote for you and any other like minded candidate.

  15. Cliff Street September 29, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Reply to Pete Budd’s post on 28 Sept.

    No they’re not!

    • pete budd October 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      That’s not very helpful Cliff, but concise!

  16. Carole Gerada October 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Well, good people, I think I will retire from debating after the weekend I have just been through. I attended, along with 5 fellow Eastfield Parish Councillors, the annual councillor conference hosted by the YLCA (Yorkshire Local Council Assoc). I met good people. They had to witness the bullying, discrimination and blatant rude treatment toward me from 5 of my fellow councillors. At a talk on councillors behaviour and conduct, Cllr Brian Simpson, the Chairman of Eastfield Parish Council, V signed me (not in a peaceful way). Because he thought that the chairman of the meeting (in that section) had possibly seen it, he quickly started scratching his face with his 2 fingers. I mentioned to the meeting what had happened and the people on my table wanted him to apologise. They also wanted to leave the room in protest. However, when the Chairman asked Brian to apologise, he denied it and said he was scratching his face! Now where have school bullies said that before in the classroom? It was most uncomfortable. Prior to that meeting, on the very first event on Saturday morning, I sat at the table allocated to me by the presenters. Brian was at that table and told me emphatically that I was not sitting at that table. He then told me I was on the wrong table – but it transpired that he was on the wrong table:) As he walked away, he spat at me, ‘don’t talk to me’. People at the table said it was bullying and blatantly disrespectful. Of course, nothing will be done about it. At Dinner, the 5 from Eastfield PC sat together on their own table, I sat with others. Throughout the event, they stuck together like glue and in their tight clique. I always thought that Chairmen had to be unbiased and demonstrate respect for all and treat everyone the same. But apparently, no. They can be discriminatory and because of fear of being ostracised alongside me – his clique remain close to him. Very hard for me. Very tiring and obviously wearing on my physical and mental health. Knowing the corruption – I may have to resign. This will mean members of the public will receive less information. So I need to seriously think about this.

    How does this relate to Whitby? It happens everywhere and nothing will change unless we vote for it. We have to put up with our choices for 4 years.

    Cllr Brian Simpson is the portfolio holder for Scarborough’s Safer Communities and is a panel member on the PCC Panel. So the PCC (Police Crime Commissioner) will have to answer to him. Very scary.

  17. Yvonne Stewat-Taylor October 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    As an Retired elected Town councillor of 17 years service to my local community I find the fraud committed by these councillors to be Outragious and Dispicable, their attitude stinks as does their conduct and criminality.

    I for one never claimed one penny in expenses, not even the cost of a postage stamp, they are lower than low and should go to prison for theft and be Privately Criminaly Prosecuted at the Queens bench, no less.

  18. Cliff Street October 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Reply to Pete Budd

    Sorry for the very short reply but the true answer is very long winded and complex and I didn’t have the time.

    You are partially right. The Localism Act 2011, certainly provides the framework within which Parish Councils or even smaller representative groups can become involved in delivering services but it does not give them the power to march up to the district or county council and demand to take services over (well I suppose they could do this and risk being told to bugger off). Planning is perhaps the area that could provide the greatest impact in due course.

  19. Curious October 2, 2012 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Why has the name of the Councillor been redacted? An email sent to all other Councillors as well as to the recipient has clearly been published and so there is no worry over legal action. Surely no purpose is served by keeping the name under wraps? Equally i cannot see why other Councillors of a different political view would not have taken advantage of receiving this email to denounce the Councillor- rather as Labour did with the new Chief Whip?

  20. Nigel Ward October 10, 2012 at 11:57 am - Reply

    As a further example of the high-handed and arrogant attitude exhibited by Councillors and Officers, I have just been copied into the following email from Rochard Pearson to SBC’s Renaissance Manager Nick Taylor:

    10 October 2012, 12:32

    Dear Nick,

    I heard the recording of your conversation with Graham the busker, yesterday and I was pretty appalled by it. To threaten to smash his guitar and compare him to Adolf Hitler, is not the sort of behaviour one would expect coming from someone in your position.

    Furthermore, why is it that you seem to regard the wishes of someone who works at the Orange shop, as important enough to override agreements already made with buskers and the wishes of other town centre users? It seems you have taken the decision that corporate chains deserve far more consideration than the majority of plain, simple residents and shoppers.

    You went on at some length, about the volume of Graham’s voice. I find this completely hypocritical of those responsible for managing the town centre. Over several years, I have made numerous complaints about the volume of people using powerful PA systems, essentially just to flog their cd’s, in the area at the front of Poundland (the old Woolworth store). On one occasion I actually went to the Town Centre Manager’s office to complain, but was only met with rudeness and inappropriate comments. As recently as last week, I was having a coffee with a friend, at the tables outside Costa, which is a considerable distance from the Poundland site and the volume of the trumpeter, who was playing bland, lift-music there, was such that my friend and I could not hear each other speak.

    The people who pitch there are not even bona-fide buskers for goodness’ sake; They can frequently be found lazing in chairs, whilst their mind-numblingly loud ‘music’ plays out over the PA, without any live contribution from themselves. These people are authorised by the Town-Centre Team, despite the fact they completely destroy the town-centre experience for many. How you can complain about Graham’s volume, when you actively facilitate people who are much louder, beggars belief. I suppose it is yet another example of the double-standards which are commonly employed by the people administrating the town, supposedly on our behalf.

    I would welcome your comments.

    Kind regards

    Richard Pearson

  21. Nigel Ward October 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Interesting to note that Chief Whip Andrew MILLER has (finally) resigned – for calling a policeman a pleb.

    Where does that leave Councillors CHATT and HADDINGTON (without a paddle)?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/governments-chief-whip-andrew-mitchell-has-resigned-8218881.html

    • rahjibugha October 20, 2012 at 10:01 am - Reply

      and Horny Tonigold

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