27 March 2017

Political Football Scores: A Point Of View From An Ollersett Resident




The following has been received as a comment to add to the bottom of the previous article 'Million Pound Cat Among the Nimby Pigeons'.

The name provided with the comment was 'Ollersett Resident'.  However, the text is pretty long for a 'comment box' and contains detailed comment and argument, so it's being given its own article rather just just being added as a comment box.

Editor's Note:  the headline to the previous article 'Million Pound Cat Among The Nimby Pigeons' was solely the creation of  HPT Editor.

We are happy to make it 100% clear that the headline was not the idea or suggestion of Colin Ramwell nor of anybody connected with the football club.

The headline to this article is likewise solely HPT's creation 

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"Perhaps I might suggest that, if Mr Ramwell is so keen to: 'build bridges, not burn them' as his article suggest, a good place to start might be by not referring to local residents with valid concerns about a proposed major development on their doorstep as 'nimbie's' (especially in the title of the article). Again,, just a thought..

"Having attended most of the NMTC meetings where this proposal was discussed, including the meeting on the 13th February when the council voted unanimously by 6 to 0 (not '3.5' as Mr Ramwell suggests) to reject the proposal, I do feel able to offer some observations about that process. It’s also worth considering that AFC New Mills and Morbaine were in negotiation with DCC regarding the proposed development of Quarry Bank before the council threw it out. If this is such a good outcome for the town, perhaps someone could enlighten me as to why that initial proposal was rejected?

"I unashamedly mark myself as one of the 'pre-arranged' group of local residents who attended the meeting. That so many local residents felt compelled to go out of their way to attend a Town Hall meeting on a Monday night in February (after a 10 hour shift and straight after putting the kids to bed in my case) should tell you about the strength of feeling against this project and also, the significant annoyance that local residents had to find out about this proposal by word of mouth, rather than by any consultation from the football club. However, the tone and content of articles such as this are instructive of the amount of care and considerations that the football club have for local residents.

"During the meeting, NMTC quite rightly deduced that they were, in effect being asked to consider 2 proposals: the proposal to develop Ollersett Field, and the development of the Church Lane site (where Morbaine’s financial interest lies).

"Given that the former cannot proceed without the latter (there wouldn’t be any money), I find it more than slightly confusing that neither the football club of the developer have expanded on what is proposed for the Church Lane site. Is it a supermarket? is it housing? Is it both? If so, what are the implications to the rest of the town? These are the things that were considered at the meeting(s).

"£1,000,000 might sound like a lot of money on paper, however if it leads to a retail development that puts any number of local firms out of business, what are the financial effects on the town? The council rightly acknowledges that it has a duty to the 10,000 or so residents of the town, not a few hundred people directly associated with the local football club.

"Finally, if we can address myth that this proposal will somehow improve community sports facilities in the area. The definition of a ‘community’ resource is one which is freely available for use by the community. We have one of those; it’s called Ollersett Field (regularly and enthusiastically used by the local community, despite some comments on here). What this proposal does, is to transfer that community facility into private hands and make it available to them at certain times (subject to availability) on a hire basis for the private financial gain of the football club. This was confirmed to me when I spoke with Club Design to get more information (in the absence of any from the football club). I would therefore be grateful if you could make this distinction in future comment.

"Those of us who have followed this project for several months (and bothered to actually turn up and discuss it at meetings) were delighted that the council had the foresight to see through the private financial gains of a local sports clubs and a private developer and look at the wider interests of the townspeople of New Mills, the vast, vast majority of which have no interest whatsoever in the local football club.

A resident of Watburn Rd, New Mills."



23 March 2017

Million Pound Cat Among The Nimby Pigeons





Note:  the headline to this article 'Million Pound Cat Among The Nimby Pigeons' is solely the creation of  HPT Editor.

We are happy to make it 100% clear that the headline was not the idea or suggestion of Colin Ramwell nor of anybody connected with the football club.

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The following communication has been received by email from Colin Ramwell at 8:43 on 22 March 2017, and it is printed here verbatim:

"Hello again HPT community: Let’s get something straight about this myth of the peppercorn rent and financial discussions.

"As I have previously stated I truly believe we have not been properly heard, neither the clubs or developer has ever been asked to formally put forward financial terms for the proposal. What I would expect is that at least a decision would be looked at and appraised by professional agents/solicitors before it was put to a full council for a decision, not on the basis of two farcical meetings the EGM (which only 3.5 Cllrs bothered to turn up for) and the pre-organised assembly of some local Ollersett people with no personal invite to the clubs or developer that a decision would be made that evening (Feb 13th meeting)

"The reality of the situation was that at no time have we put any financial offer to NMTC. The idea always was and always has been for the Council to indicate a willingness to discuss the proposal seriously when we would have then discussed detailed terms with the councils legal people.

"I can reveal the offer the developer would be prepared to make to the council is the sum of £1,000,000.00 as a premium to enter a long term ground lease and in addition the club would then pay an annual rent of £800.00. (perhaps this is where the peppercorn rent thing came from) – however £1 million is hardly peppercorn

"I have spoken with the developer and he is happy for me to reveal this proposal, the council have this offer in writing.

"The responsibility for the maintenance of the facility would totally lie with the club, also the club would guarantee the use of the facility to the Junior FC and for wider community to use as previously discussed.

"The club would employ someone to run this facility.

"To all other anonymous HPT contributors who continue to say the club is in “massive debt” all are very welcome to come a see me or any other AFC committee members and take a look at our accounts to dispel this myth. It’s true the club does run to a very rigid budget, like very many similar clubs and societies across the UK money is tight.

"As I say come and meet me at the club, I would be delighted to talk and discuss - we want to build bridges not burn them.

"I would ask the council to reconsider and have a public consultation – where everyone will be properly heard and if the decision remains the same then so be it, we all move on - I don’t mind losing so long as the game is played fairly.

From Colin Ramwell – Chair NM Juniors and Vice Chair NM AFC"

17 March 2017

Speech to March 2017 New Mills town council meeting by Colin Ramwell


Church Lane Pitch


Here is the speech that Colin Ramwell gave in the public speaking section before the New Mills town council meeting on 13 March 2017:


"At no time did Morbaine formally present any financial proposals to the Council so talk of peppercorn rents only were misleading.  A fair rent would have been proposed and with an understanding that the Council was seriously considering the offer a full financial plan would have been submitted.

"We were not treated reasonably especially at the last meeting.  Considering the importance of the proposal we were given no advanced personal notice that we were on the agenda that night nor that any “final” decision might be made.

"On the other hand the room was surprisingly full of objectors who, as neighbours to the files were biased in their views.

"Much emphasis seemed to have been put on the fact that this was all about the developer and his profit.  The benefits to the Community, the Clubs and the School of the new facilities was hardly considered.

"Since the meeting the Club has received much support from the Community disappointed at the decision made by the Council.

"Ironically the Council has a duty to look after the Field for the Community but is clearly not fulfilling this duty and this proposal would have taken this liability from them.

"We need to be re-heard and it would help to meet a Council representative say a Solicitor to explain in depth the whole proposal.

"The peppercorn rent is a myth.  No such offer was made.  Market rates would apply."

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The above are Colin Ramwell's words, published here so that a wider audience can see them.

There were several excellent and impassioned speeches from other people at the council meeting on the same subject of the urgent need for good football facilities for the junior, female, and wanabe footy players of the town.

If anyone wants to send in the text of their speech it will be published verbatim here, to give it wider publicity than just the town hall council chamber.

HPT


14 March 2017

December 2016 Co-option Policy Resolution Invalid. Plus, Method of Voting On Co-options





Authoritative NALC formal advice letter

A NALC (the National Association of Local Councils) formal advice letter has been received by New Mills Town Council on the subject of a "co-option policy" that was sprung without notice on the December 2016 town council meeting.

HPT obtained a copy of the advice letter under the Freedom of Information Act.  Here is the key sentence, which comes at the end of the letter written by a NALC solicitor:

"Accordingly, I think that the co-option resolution is invalid.  A new motion will be needed to adopt the co-option policy."


The public interest:  council co-options must be done in public

This December 2016 co-option policy - which now looks like it has failed - is the one that contains two major no-nos for supporters of transparency in local government:

Firstly, it proposed that co-options of new councillors should be done is secret, i.e. in Part 2 of a council meeting with the public excluded from the meeting.

Readers of recent articles on HPT on this subject will know why any such proposal would be unlawful.

The public has the legal right to be present at all meetings of councils. The very limited circumstances in which a council can exclude the public for a specific agenda item in a meeting do not include co-opting of new members onto the council.


The law:  method of voting during council meetings

Secondly, and this bad idea has not yet been aired or properly publicised, the December 2016 co-option policy proposed that voting by councillors for co-options should be by secret ballot.

Here is why that notion would raise major problems if it were attempted:

As always, let us go back to first principles: What does the law say on this subject?  The method of voting in council meetings is specified by law.  Paragraph 13 of Schedule 12 of the local Government Act 1972:

13 (1)  Unless otherwise provided by council's standing orders the manner of voting at meetings of a parish council shall be by a show of hands.

13 (2)  On the requisition of any member of the council the voting on any question shall be recorded so as to show whether each member present and voting gave his vote for or against the question. 

So that settles it: this mad, anti-transparent idea in the December 2016 co-option policy of a secret ballot manner of voting would be unlawful.

Even if standing orders attempted to subvert the law that governs the manner of voting in council meetings, the legal right of all councillors to demand a named vote at any time sees off the 'secret ballot' idea.


The Seven Principles of Public Life as they apply to the method of voting used during council meetings

Councillors' codes of conduct, based on the Nolan Principles, would also directly conflict with any scheme purporting to let councillors make any council decision by secret ballot.

The two Principles concerned with this are:

4 - Accountability 

Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this. 

5 - Openness 

Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for doing so.