21 December 2014

Tapegate: Excerpt from The Original Soundtrack


Following on from the series of transcripts published so far, we now arrive at a part of the Tapegate recording where the written word cannot do justice to the acting ability suddenly demonstrated in the Town Clerk's office of New Mills.  This occurs when the telephone rings and it is Ian Huddlestone at the other end of the line:

Warning:  The recording below contains explicit language that some may find offensive.

If you are offended by swearing and explicit language then do NOT listen to this part of the recording.

video


19 December 2014

Tapegate. Part Four: In The Town Clerk's Office, Let Us Talk Of The One World Festival And Other Things




Dramatis personae for Part Four:

Mrs Susan Stevens (Town Clerk of New Mills and Responsible Financial Officer to New Mills Town Council  2002-2013)

Stephen Lewis (Parks Manager employed by New Mills town council)

Mrs Marie Dudley (Office worker at New Mills town hall)


Continued from Part Three (previous article)

SS:  So he came in, yester… He came in the meeting and he’s like… he says to Janet something: (whispers) “I need to speak to you”.  So they scuttle out, came back in and when the grant thing was being discussed, he walked out.

MD:  Did he.  So he’s going to bring that against you now…

SS:  I don’t know.

MD:  … ‘cos you didn't give him information.

SS:  Well I did.  And then they didn't read it.  He said something like erm…’The Clerk sent a report about the grant but erm… other things er… meant that I couldn't digest it.’  FUCK OFF!

(MD gasps: sounds like being delighted and shocked at the same time)

MD:  Did he come back?

SL:  Yeah he did say that, and I thought what’s he on about…

MD:  Did he come back or did he stay out?

SS:  yeah, he came back as soon as it had finished being talked about.

MD:  Fingerposts.  Does he not realise what a tit he looks when he walks out on some…  He looks a tit on all things when he keeps abstaining from votes.

SS:  Yeah…  I mean, they had a go at me minutes again, didn't they?

SL:  Yeah.  I'm not very happy about that piece that’s gone in about that battery either.  I didn't realise that had gone in.

SS:  Oh, well they made me do it Stephen.

SL:  Well they should have asked for a full explanation from you why.  Shouldn't they?

SS:  I tried.

SL:  Instead of fucking putting……

SS  And then they like…

SL:  … (incomprehensible) wasted fucking money.

SS:  Marie’s…  me and Marie are in there because we've had a fucking disabled entrance done, and… and… we've… we've benefited from it.  (i.e. that’s what SS is asserting some councillors were saying in last night’s council meeting)  In some god forsaken way.

MD:  (laughs) Yeah. I'm going to Disneyland Paris on the profits from it I fucking wish. (laughs)

SL:  I bet the only knob that weren't there were Sheila Brown.

SS:  Eh?

SL:  I bet the only knob that weren't there were Sheila Brown.

SS:  Yeah, yeah

SL:  I'm really pleased that they didn't give her… that they only give her fucking whatsit…  250 quid.  (nasty tone of voice)

SS:  I am, yeah.  One World Festival, (only) 250 quid.  I can’t wait to tell ‘em…  (Gleeful  tone of voice, and laughing)


To be continued...

17 December 2014

Tapegate. Part Three: We're Taking The Public's Money And This Is What We Do For It





Continued from previous article...

Dramatis personae for Tapegate Part Three:

Mrs Susan Stevens (Town Clerk of New Mills and Responsible Financial Officer to New Mills Town Council  2002-2013)

Stephen Lewis (Parks Manager employed by New Mills town council)

Mrs Marie Dudley (Office worker at New Mills town hall)

Paul Miller (Caretaker at New Mills town hall)


The working day began some time ago, but in the New Mills Town Council offices, three of the paid staff don't seem to have noticed...


SS:  Personnel sub-committee it’ll be.  ‘This has got to go to the Pers… this has got to be investigated by Personnel Sub-committee.’

MD:  Why?

SL:  I can’t be arsed with it. (laughs)

(Indecipherable muttering, PM laughing.  Stirring of more hot drinks)

(PM leaves, and three are left in the office)

SS:  ‘This looks very bad.  That,,, that somebody’s related.’  And I thought you really do… you really do want to start becoming councillors.

MD:  It’s only them that’s making it bloody public knowledge, jumping up and down.

SL:  Yeah

(Pause)

SL  Twatface come didn't he

SS  Eh?  yeah… yeah…

SL:  McAllister

SS:  McAllister came.

MD:  Did he?   (tone of voice both surprised and knowing at the same time, as if she’s just been told that someone she doesn't like has given birth to a baby with two heads)

SS:  But he left as soon as they’d discussed the… err…

SL:  He got up to go and then he sat down again.

SS:  Yeah

SL:  At one point.

SS:  I don’t know… and then he left after the parish council meeting had been discussed.

SL:  He went past… he went past and I thought, ‘Why don’t you die.’ (nasty tone of voice)

SS:  Yeah…

(SL gives out an incoherent Mr Gumby noise)

SS:  Well, there’s about four in there I want to die.  I really do.

MD:  You leaking?

SL:  No

(SL makes another incoherent noise.  MD laughs)

SS:  Lance phoned me up yesterday and he’s saying ‘I need to speak to you about this grant…  I need information on this grant… I said right OK… blah blah blah blah.  I tried to explain it to him… He’s err…‘Oh, oh, these finger-posts’.

I said, I said look, Lance.  I said, I know what’s being fucking said about me behind me back about these fucking finger posts.  Mark Gadd thinks that I can’t be bothered doing my job.  I said, but I'm telling you now that the brown signs are highway signs and I cannot… we, they, don’t qualify for it. And I said and I can’t do anything about the finger posts ‘cause the finger posts are already full,

So he’s going (incoherent noise).  I said I've had enough of you Lance, and I've had enough of this council.  I said and I don’t think you realise how bad it’s become.

And I said… And he’s like, trying to ‘but’ me and I said no, no I'm not speaking to you about it any more.  I'm not speaking to you about...

‘Aaahhhrrrr…’ (makes incoherent noise again, trying to give her impression of Cllr Dowson talking about trying to obtain a grant for the benefit of the town's residents).  I'm not speaking to you about it any more.  And I put the phone down on him.

MD:  Good.  About time you told him to fuck off.



To be continued...

16 December 2014

Tapegate. Part Two: In The Town Clerk’s Office In The Town Of New Mills, The Working Day Starts




Continued from Tapegate Part One:

The council’s sound recorder used for the town council meeting on the evening of 15 April 2013 has not been switched off.  It has recorded all the way through the night, and is still recording.

The following morning at about 09:00 hours, the town hall office door can be heard being unlocked, the chimes of the town hall clock can be heard, and the office computer is switched on etc.

Dramatis personae for Part Two:

Mrs Susan Stevens (Town Clerk of New Mills and Responsible Financial Officer to New Mills Town Council  2002-2013)

Stephen Lewis (The Parks Manager employed by New Mills town council)

Mrs Marie Dudley (Office worker at New Mills town hall)

Paul Miller (Caretaker at New Mills town hall)


At 13 hours 34 mins 36 seconds into the recording, which is just gone nine o'clock in the morning in real time, the new day's conversations start.

SL:  That picnic table thing.

SS: Mmmm

SL:  I've spoken to Ray.  It’ll be thirty pound over.

SS:  (noise)

SL:  So, he says can you email him or…  I presume you didn’t speak to him.

SS:  No

SL:  No.  ‘Cos he’s thick as fuck.  He said… would you email ‘em.

SS:  Yeah.

(Keyboard tapping and mouse clicking)

SL:  What’s this, this climbing thing.

SS:  What’s that?  Where?

SL:  Here.

SS:  On email…

(Pause)

SL:  Right bunch of Nazis last night, weren't they.

SS:  Yeah.  Oh and yeah I've got a union rep coming this aft…  this morning.

SL:  Have you?

SS:  Mmmm

SL:  What, Unison?

SS:  Yeah.  (pause)  Fucking evil, Stephen.

SL:  Half the time I don’t even know what they’re on about.

SS:  I don’t think they do.  They were absolutely shocking last night.

(Paul Miller enters)

PM:  Morning.

SS:  There’s going to be…

SL:  Hiya Paul.

SS:  There’s going to be… they’re having an investigation into the disabled access.

SL:  You’re kidding me.  What, to see if it’s there.

SS:  I don’t know what they’re doing.

PM:  So who’s investigating it Susan?

SS:  Personnel sub-committee.  But I'm not calling (sic) them.  They can fucking call (sic) themselves.

(PM laughs)

SS:  See how long it takes for them to sort that out.

PM:  See if that’s still hot love.

SS:  Yeah it’s all right.  Might have sugar in it.

(Pause)

SS:  Just…  just… just mental.  I don’t think… I think they've forgotten that they’re councillors and they’re supposed to be doing things for the town instead of fucking witch-hunting every other bloody person.

PM:  Right…

(Sound of hot drink being stirred vigorously)

PM:  Thanks Steve.

SS:  I shouted at Lance last… er

PM:  I heard you, I heard you, I heard you.

SL:  When?

SS:  Yesterday.

PM:  Oh yesterday?  Oh, I heard you last night.

SS:  Oh did you?

(Both laughing at once)

PM:  Erm… I can’t hear what you’re saying but I can hear your voice.

SS:  Yeah, yeah

PM:  The strangest thing that happened last night as well.  Does Lance smoke?

SS:  Yeah

PM:  Right.  All you guys left and he stood and waited, I was upstairs waiting on the thing to go.

SS:  Yeah

PM:  And all you guys… he waited and had a fag while all you guys left.

SS:  Right

PM:  And I was upstairs.  He came round the back, full beams on… at the back door.  Snooping around, having a good look.

SS:  At the disabled entrance.

SL:  Who’s that?

SS:  Lance

PM:  He didn't see me at all ‘cos I had the lights off, I was sat… I was just sat on the phone waiting for the …erm… waiting for whad’yecallit…

SS:  The Wives.

(Note:  The New Mills Wives Club)

PM:  The Wives to finish up.  So he was round… I saw… I looked down and I saw him having a fag… (unintelligible) then the next thing you know he’s there… and I was thinking ‘what the fuck… what’s he doing there…'

(SS and PM laughter)

PM:  So I didn't err…and for the life of me I couldn't think what he was doing.

(SS laughter)

(MD arrives in the clerk's office)

SS: They’re having an investigation into the disabled entrance.

MD:  You’re joking.

SS:  I've got to ask Mark Dudley of...  no, Martin Dudley, cos I never mentioned Mark… they need a full breakdown of what got done at the back.

(MD laughs)

(Sound of hot drink being stirred)

MD:  They’re mental aren't they.  Totally mental.



Continued in next article...

14 December 2014

Tapegate. Part One - The Calm Before The Storm



The Tapegate chapter in the saga of the big town hall clean-up of New Mills starts in the town council meeting held on the evening of 15 April 2013.

The dramatis personae are as follows.

Councillors present:

Tony Ashton
Ray Atkins
Andy Bowers
Gwyn Bowers
Janet Carter (in the chair)
Lance Dowson
Jacqui Gadd
Mark Gadd
David Lamb
Alistair Stevens

Other persons present:  The Town Clerk of New Mills and Responsible Financial Officer of New Mills Town Council (2002-2013), Mrs Susan Stevens.

Councillors failing to obey the summons to the council meeting:
Dishonest Ian Huddlestone (Labour Party)
Alan Barrow (Labour Party)


The action starts with Cllr Lance Dowson asking a legitimate if bland question during the previous agenda subject discussion, then Cllr Alistair Stevens says “wanker”.

Cllr Stevens said it in a low voice, but because he happened to be sitting next to the meeting recorder as well as to the town clerk, it is picked up crystal clear.

The sound quality of the recording is remarkable.

For this agenda item, the councillors have in front of them a report.  The report was written for this meeting by the New Mills Town Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer .

The report concerned the process by which an invoice from Kinder Construction has been received at the town hall and paid using public money from the town council’s bank account.

The town clerk leaves the council chamber to go to the office to get the invoice, which some councillors have just asked to see.

At 2 hrs 6 mins 40 seconds on the recording, she returns with it, hands it to Cllr Janet Carter who is chairing the council meeting, and Tapegate begins.

Cllr Carter:  “It is an invoice from Kinder Construction.  It’s dated 30th of July 2012. Repairs to rear car park £3,280 plus VAT at 20% bringing it to a total of £3,936.  And then it’s got the VAT number on the invoice, it’s also got the address, telephone, mobile and email.”

Cllr G Bowers:  “Is there no breakdown of what they've done to…”

Cllr Carter:  “No, just got repairs to car park.  Code CAR P”

Cllr Dowson:  “Repairs to car park?”

Cllr Carter:  “Repairs to rear car park.”

Cllr G Bowers:  “I thought it was disabled access?”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Dowson:  “It’s probably the same thing, it’s just that…”

Cllr Stevens:  “Can I propose that we ask Kinder Construction for a full breakdown of the work that was done?”

Cllr Carter:  “I was just going to suggest that.  So can we have a seconder for that please?  All those in favour?”

Cllr Tony Ashton:  “You can ask for that, but what concerns me is the process.  That we waited a few months, it’s got a cone on it, and it suddenly becomes an urgent repair.

“And then, by whatever means, we finish up engaging somebody who’s a relative of a member of staff, to do the job.  Which then escalates into a three thousand pounds plus job.

“None of the members of the council knew anything about it.  And when we came to the last meeting, Welfare and Admin, when it was discussed, I certainly left here under the impression that we’d had three quotes and this has been the cheapest.

“I knew nothing about it escalating and whatever.  And I'm sorry, I just don’t think it’s a satisfactory state of affairs.

“I therefore propose that the matter is referred to the personnel committee.”

Cllr Mark Gadd:  “I’ll second that.”

Cllr Dowson:  “For what?  Investigation?”

Cllr Ashton:  “Discussion.”

“Cllr A Bowers:  “Can I just reiterate what I said before.  That’s why I'm completely and utterly nonplussed.  Because what was said, it’s not been… and I don’t know how we've got where we are.  Going from something that was there for a long time, to being urgent, and obviously, as you know, we've got to be whiter than white.

“One question I've got, who was the two companies who refused to come and give a price?”

Cllr Dowson:  “Well it just says a number of companies, none of them turned up.”

Cllr A Bowers:  “Do we know, through the Chair, who they were?”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “I haven’t got that information to hand.”

Cllr A Bowers:  “Simply, we've got a builder who was on the committee, he never asked.”

Cllr Dowson:  “Can I just point out, Mark’s just seconded that proposal.”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Carter:  “Okay, I've got a proposal (that) it’s going to the personnel committee.”

(People talking at once)

Mark, I've got a proposal, it’s been seconded, could I have a vote, all those in favour please?”

Cllr A Bowers:  “Sorry, I don’t know what the proposal is, Chair.”

(People talking at once)

Unknown male voice:  “To go to personnel.”

Cllr A Bowers:  “To do what?”

Cllr Carter:  “For discussion.”

Cllr Dowson:  “Investigation.”

Cllr Ashton:  “To discuss it and decide what they want to do with it.”

Cllr Dowson:  “Before you go, can I say that my concern about this (inaudible, due to paper shuffling near the recorder) I started reading this:  ‘The caretaker… demanded…’  Now I'm not funny, and I'm not going to go in (inaudible) whatever, but I didn't know that we had a caretaker who was in a position where he could act like a (clerk) of works…”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “Lance, LancePeter was very, very unreasonable while I was, while we were, advertising the caretaker job… and the applications were coming in.  I actually did go on holiday while this was going on as well… so…”

Cllr Dowson:  “The caretaker, to me, has not got the authority to shut (inaudible) property.  He demanded…  And he threatened to cancel bookings.”

Cllr Stevens:  “I wouldn't disagree.”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “Quite rightly, quite rightly.  A lady had fallen and…”

Cllr Carter:  “I think…I think… this is a matter then that’s going to the personnel…"

Cllr Dowson:  “But I'm hearing now that this had been in that state for months.  All I'm saying is I would think that should be…”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “I wasn't aware of it being in that state for months…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Carter:  “Okay, right, we've got a proposal to go to the…”

Cllr Dowson:  “I want it recorded, that my opinion as a councillor, is that this was very unwise.  Now I use that terminology, because of things that happened the government came out with the Nolan ten principles of the way that councillors should behave, and one of them is this is unwise, and the reason why is (that) this is too close to town council staff.

“The government’s council rules have to be looked at as ‘how would the public see it?’  And my concern is, it was wrong to do it; it was too close to council staff by using a relative of a member of staff.

“A member of the public looking at it could easily say well that looks a little bit underhand, rightly or wrongly, I'm just saying that, and that’s the Nolan recommendations and we’re supposed to be within those and they’re in the back of your Code of Conduct, they’re all there.

“We should be looking at how the public would see it, proper transparency, and standards in public office.

“And I want it recorded (that) in my opinion, this report does not satisfy that criteria.”

(People talking at once)

Cllr A Bowers:  “Chair, one final point.  Sorry about this, but it is important.  We've been accused, by two members of the public, of non-transparency.  If somebody’s to ask us what’s gone on, before that Welfare and Admin I wouldn't have had a clue what’s been going on.

“That’s not good.  As far as I'm concerned, on my watch I want to know what’s going on when it appertains to council business.  That’s reasonable and fair.  Do you agree?”

Cllr Ashton:  “Yeah.”

Cllr Carter:  “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  Quite.  Alistair.

Cllr Dowson:  “It’s the same vein…”

Cllr Stevens:  “Just for clarity… would you suggest that Marie is made aware of all these things?  Because this was sorted and organised, I think in the clerk’s absence.  So…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Stevens:  “Well it’s Part Two.  I don’t know if it goes outside this room.  That’s what I just want to check.”

Cllr J Gadd:  “I think it probably needs clarifying, because if Sue’s in Unison, the personnel committee are going to investigate it, and Marie is in Unison…”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “She isn't.”

Cllr J Gadd:  “She isn't… you can’t put a Unison member against another Unison member.”

Cllr Stevens:  “Against?  What do you mean?”

Cllr J Gadd:  “By talking about stuff…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Stevens:  “That’s what I want to clarify.  If… if… what you’re saying here… I'm not sure exactly what’s being said here, and who’s accusing, and it is tape recorded, so I'm very careful what I'm saying.

“If somebody is saying that Kinder Construction should not have been appointed because the person in the office is a relative of… then should that person not have the opportunity to explain why she appointed them?  And why she got the job done?  Is that what you…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Carter:  “This is all through… the discussion, the personnel committee…”

Cllr Dowson:  “And let’s be clear.  I'm not accusing anybody.  I'm just saying on the principles of public service it’s unwise…"

Cllr Carter:  “It’s unwise…”

Cllr Dowson:  “Because it’s too close.”

Cllr A Bowers:  “Nobody’s accusing anybody.  But the thing is, if the clerk weren't there, and we've got no other quotes, we've got nothing else, and the deputy appointed somebody… etc etc, to do a job, as Lance said before, from the public’s point of view, we've got to be seen to be doing right.”

Cllr Carter:  “Well I'm sure that the…”

Cllr R Atkins:  “Anyway, it’s going to be investigated…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Carter:  “It’s going to be investigated, so…”

(People talking at once)

Cllr M Gadd:  “Have we voted on this yet?  I don’t think we have, have we?”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Stevens:  “We haven’t voted, no.”

Cllr Carter:  “Okay.  We've got a proposal… I've got a seconder…”

Town Clerk of New Mills:  “The proposal is, the Personnel Committee discuss this matter.”

Cllr Carter:  “Yes.”

Cllr Dowson:  “I thought you said ‘Investigate’ "

Cllr Carter:  “No, discuss”

Cllr Dowson:  “To discuss and investigate the details…”

Cllr R Atkins:  “And report back to where, and when?”

Cllr Dowson:  “The full council”

Cllr r Atkins:  “Next full council.”

(People talking at once)

Cllr Dowson:  “To discuss, investigate, and report back to the next full council.”

Cllr Carter:  “Right, okay.  Those in favour please? (Pause)  Those against.  (Pause)  And those abstaining.  (Pause)  Thank you very much.”  (The resolution is carried).

Cllr Dowson:  “What is the relationship?  Is it cousin?  Brother?”

Cllr Carter:  “No idea”

Town clerk of New Mills:  “Father-in-law.”

(People talking at once, as the meeting concludes and councillors leave the council chamber.)

When everyone else is gone, Cllr Alistair Stevens starts unburdening himself to a lady who is cleaning up as they are both left alone in the council chamber after the meeting.

Cllr Stevens:  “Do you know what disappoints me?  Massively.”

“What’s that?”

Cllr Stevens:  “That people listen to him as though he knows what he’s talking about.”

“Yeah”

Cllr Stevens:  “Absolute garbage, half of what he says. It’s absolute garbage.”

“Yeah”

Cllr Stevens:  “Anyway, Sue’s seeing the Union rep tomorrow.  Taking the council…” (stops abruptly)

“Yeah”

Cllr Stevens:  “I tell you now.  I've had this for six years now.”

“Yeah”

Cllr Stevens:  “Six years.  Constant drip drip drip.   Can’t believe… the job she… have you seen those papers?   That she has to try and do… with zero help from in here.”

“Yeah, I can sympathise completely.  Alistair…”

Cllr Stevens:  “She had two guys here, come and check their accounts… this week.  Said it’s an absolute pleasure to come here.  Everywhere they go, the accounts are in total disarray.”

“Mmmm”

Cllr Stevens:  “They can’t even look at them and begin to get them.  And for ten years now… internal audit.  External audit…”

“All come fine.”

Cllr Stevens:  “And it’s constant drip, drip, drip.  From one… two… three… here.  They’re pathetic.  I know exactly what they want.  They just…treat her like a councillor that they don’t like.  Not somebody who’s trying to do a job.”

“Yeah”

Cllr Stevens:  “I tell you, she’s…”

“It’s difficult, I know…”

Cllr Stevens:  “Pathetic…”

“Yeah I know.  I'm not rocking any boats Alistair…”

Cllr Stevens:  “They’ll end up, with a clerk that won’t come into work, and do what Steven Lewis did and have twelve months off… on full pay."

Voices fade into distance as they leave the council chamber.


Next part to follow shortly.  In which the start of the working day in the town council offices of New Mills is documented in the participants' own voices.


--------------------------------



Note:  There is no suggestion that Kinder Construction have done anything wrong in coming to do this work when they were requested to, or that the standard of the finished job was of anything less than a good quality.



10 December 2014

Financial Reform




A key item at the 8 December 2014 New Mills town council meeting was an interim report to council about the important financial reforms that are being proposed.

The intention is to now improve on the previously chaotic financial situation in this town hall.

It was Cllr Mike Kirk who commenced this part of the discussion, but several other councillors were also keen to ensure this critical part of a council’s business is now being put right.


Financial Facts of Life

No council has any money of its own - it is almost all the public’s money, and councillors are merely the stewards of it.

All councillors are wise to always keep this at the front of their minds when making decisions on this subject.

One of the bigwigs at Derbyshire County Council recently boasted, in introducing that council’s self-promoting publicity rag, that “Derbyshire County Council is a billion pound organisation.”  He neglected to mention that that money is all taken by force of law from taxpayers, some of whom can ill-afford it in today’s economic climate.

None of that type of self-aggrandising puffery was in evidence at New Mills last night as most councillors took financial responsibilities seriously.


Financial Control

The arrangements in place for years in this town hall were amorphous, hard for councillors to keep track of (assuming they were interested), and prone to unauthorised spending of public money.

The main proposed improvement is that at least three separate clear headings are now being introduced to financial reports.  If implemented properly, this would make the tracking of money a lot easier.

At this stage, the financial tracking headings are:
  • Parks
  • Town Hall
  • Heritage Centre

In Sage Accounts, which is what the council now uses as its accounting software, these tracking categories are called 'Departments'.  'Departments' appear as vertical columns in the accounting reports, while standard book-keeping categories (wages, stationery, business rates, repairs etc) appear as horizontal lines in the accounting reports

A potential refinement discussed below may find favour in due course after careful consideration by councillors.


‘Other Spending’

Below are some brief examples of why creating a formal fourth heading ('Department') called ‘Other Spending’, may be wise:

There will inevitably be by-election costs payable by the council over future years.  However, one cannot predict when these will be nor the amounts.

Another example is that if new allotments were to be established, or improvements or alterations to existing ones are approved, these do not accurately fit any of the above three financial headings. Allotments are private to each user and produce rent for the council and are manifestly not 'parks',

Any contributions to informal bodies like One World Festival, Walkers are Welcome, Visit New Mills etc likewise do not accurately fit any of the initial suggested three headings.

None of these kinds of spending are big enough, or firm enough in advance, to justify a financial heading ('Department') on their own. So a fourth heading of ‘Other Spending’ would be both useful and financially accurate.

Other examples from the past of council money being spent would be things like Dishonest Ian Huddlestone going to Chafes solicitors without authority and racking up a bill there using the town council’s credit account with the firm.

The word ‘Miscellaneous’ has traditionally been a place where crimes and misdemeanours are hidden in dubious financial circles, so ‘Other Spending’ is a better, more transparent choice of heading.


In all organisations, the unexpected always happens

Call it a note of caution, or call it a word to the wise.

If a decent amount for contingencies and reserves is not included in the council’s upcoming budget for 2015-16, it will be an unnecessarily weak and risky budget.

If that means that the precept has to rise, then the circumstances of everything that has gone on leading up to the town hall crisis erupting in May 2013 mean that all reasonable people who know the facts would understand the necessary modest rise on this occasion.


Responsible Financial Officer

We understand that last night’s council meeting also decided on the proposed pay rates and the advertisements for the Responsible Financial Officer.

The sooner this key appointment is made, and made carefully, the better for New Mills town council and therefore for the town’s council taxpayers.


This article may be modified as further and better particulars come in.










Mind the (Credibility) Gap




There has recently been some discussion on Whaley Bridge Net's forum about a current New Mills councillor.

The councillor lives in New Mills and works in Oldham.

Here is the link given by the forum:

http://www.railstaffawards.com/nominees/stephen_sharp/1853.html?award_id=102

The following is the text, which alleged councillor Alistair Stevens claimed to have written from his first-hand experience, that the Whaley Bridge locals seem to be unimpressed by:


In respect of Whaley Bridge's train station, Alistair Stevens said the following about Stephen Sharp:

Describe the situation(s) or problem(s) that the nominee faced:

“Stephen has been running our Station for nearly a year now. Before his arrival it was not a nice place to start your journey on your way to work. The Booking Office was never open on time, we had a variety of staff who served tickets and nothing else. To be honest if it had continue like this I think Whaley Bridge Station could have closed.”

How did they overcome this?

“He arrives an hour before his shift every day, no matter what the weather. He is so polite and pleasant to everyone. We all talk to each other on the platform now, which we never used to.

"He keeps the Station immaculate, the bins are always emptied he does a litter pick every day and has you can see from the photo he arranged for hanging baskets for the Station, which he waters everyday.”

What was the outcome?

“I know that everyone in the rush hour buys a ticket from him, so the takings must have least doubled in year he has been here. The Station looks fantastic. On the 15th June it was the 150th Anniversary of the line being extended from Whaley Bridge to Buxton. The Friends Group all wore Victorian costumes.

"Stephen fully participated in the day by opening an extra 3 hours but the highlight of the day he wore full Morning Dress and a Top Hat, he look super. Every one took photos of him, including the local press and it was in the following weeks paper. A great advertisement for the railway and a man is happy in his work. Hope he doesn't get moved on from Whaley Bridge.”

Here is the link to the Whaley Bridge Forum thread:

http://www.whaleybridge.net/forum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=1978

Alistair Stevens and Steve Sharp are bosom buddies and Freemasons in the same lodge.

It turns out a £1,000 prize was at stake for the winner of this rail-related competition.



09 December 2014

"We're being ripped off by the Borough"



The cost to New Mills council taxpayers of the recent local by-election goings-on was revealed during last night's New Mills town council meeting.

Controversy had recently been caused by some by-elections being called so close to the 'six-month before normal council elections' cut-off date in November 2014.  After this date has passed, by-elections do not need to be held when parish and town council vacancies arise.

In the Accounts for Payment section of last night's council meeting, some councillors were shocked by the amount of £7,632.71 being demanded by High Peak Borough Council for conducting the by-elections in New Mills.

One of the vacancies was uncontested, so cost should have been minimal. The other vacancy had two candidates come forward and therefore a by-election had to be held to determine who would be chosen.

Councillor Ray Atkins angrily said "We're being ripped off by the Borough," meaning High Peak Borough Council.

Councillors agreed to get a detailed breakdown of these costs that had been demanded by HPBC.

The three previous vacancies on the council had been filled by the co-option process, which costs the council taxpayers nothing.

On this occasion the ex-town clerk Mrs Susan Stevens and husband discredited New Mills councillor Alistair Stevens orchestrated the collection of twenty signatures to force a by-election to be held in the town.

The hypocrisy of this is that when a member of the local Labour Party did exactly the same thing some time ago, Cllr Stevens was publicly berating them for their action.

High Peak Transparency predicted before the event that the cost of this would be between £4,000 and £8,000. Our office crystal ball, that the Stevenses complain so bitterly about, is a wonderful thing.


Appeal Result 2014




This year is of course the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, the first conflict in which human beings were pitched in battle against large-scale industrial invention and destruction.

Most historians agree that the understandable errors made in the rushed armistice and botched settlement of that conflict - as well as German militarism and self-delusion - directly contributed to the outbreak of World War Two.

At last night's New Mills town council meeting, Mr Tony Lawton gave the following detailed statements on behalf of the local New Mills activists of the Royal British Legion.

There were a total of 170 official collection boxes.

130 of the collection boxes were placed in outlets in the town. These include shops, pubs etc.

At the launch of this year's appeal, £300 was collected.

Street collections came to a further £2,000.

When the boxes were opened on Monday 17 November, in the presence of eight people, the total for this year to date was £7,069.05.