26 November 2010

The Public Cost Of A Politician's Vanity

Postman and Labour Borough Councillor Ian Huddlestone has just cost local taxpayers £2,500.

Following the sad and untimely death of LibDem councillor Glynn Jennings, there was a vacancy on New Mills town council in the East ward.

The usual way of selecting a new parish or town councillor in the event of death or resignation of a member, especially where there are full local elections coming up shortly as at present, is to put oneself forward to be co-opted as a new councillor.  There is no cost when this method is used, and it is how Hazel Body and Julian Ashworth (among others) came to be town and parish councillors.

However Huddlestone, known as 'Postman Pat' by other councillors, insisted that a public ballot be held, with his name on it.  The ballot took place yesterday.  There was a tiny little turnout.

Despite the exorbitant cost of getting him on to the town council (again), in fact there are only three meetings of the full council from now to the next local elections, which take place next May.

Given the facts of Huddlestone's poor attendance record at the Borough Council, and his previous forced removal from office for non-attendance at that council's meetings, it is quite conceivable that the cost of Huddlestone's vanity will net out at a £2,500 cost per his attendance at council meetings in New Mills.

25 November 2010

First Guilty Councillor Named In 'Dysfunctional Council' Scandal

Local councillor Alistair Stevens has accused the Buxton Advertiser of 'lazy journalism' in the letters page of today's paper.  One reason for this is that the BuxAd did not name and shame the dysfunctional councillors in the previous week's newspaper report.

The minority of dysfunctional councillors - plus a town council employee, Stephen Lewis - have used spurious and/or malicious complaints to the Standards Board as a way of causing problems for other councillors.  The public money wasted by this is £6,250 so far in 2010 alone.

Not So Lazy Journalism

The first of the dysfunctional New Mills councillors to be named and shamed is Lancelot Edgar Dowson (pictured above as a tramp eating or possibly fondling a sandwich).  The ridiculous nature of his activities can be shown by summarising just a few of his many malicious complaints:

Cllr Lancelot complained to the Standards Board about a LibDem councillor having a disabled concession on his car tax.  The subsequent investigation (at public expense) established that the councillor was disabled and fully entitled to the concession.

Cllr Lancelot complained to the Standards Board about another LibDem councillor, who Cllr Lancelot stated knew about the 'fake' disabled concession.  This complaint was also thrown out, but only after public money had been wasted as a result of Lancelot's activities.

Politician Cllr Lancelot also busily makes complaints about people who aren't councillors.

After Steve Sharp resigned from High Peak Borough Council and New Mills Town Council and no longer had anything to do with either body, HPBC's Monitoring Officer received a 'Standards' complaint about him from Cllr Lancelot.

Cllr Lancelot wrote and widely circulated an abusive email about High Peak Transparency's editor.  He circulated the abusive email to his fellow councillors.  When HPT's editor exercised his right of reply to the email, pointing out facts about Cllr Lancelot's past, Cllr Lancelot called the local police and falsely purported to them that he was being 'harrassed'.  He had HPT's editor arrested and held in a police cell.

Cllr Lancelot was very careful to keep the existence of his abusive email secret from the police.  When a printed copy of Cllr Lancelot's abusive email was taken to Buxton police station, the editor was released from custody immediately.

20 November 2010

Town's Council Slammed By Ethics Watchdog

A new and rare distinction has been bestowed on the small town of New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire.

The occupants of its town hall have been branded 'dysfunctional' by an official report, published this week.

Of all the 18 town and parish councils in the High Peak area, none apart from New Mills has been the subject of a single complaint during the current year.

However, New Mills town council was the subject of 10 complaints about councillors' behaviour during the period.

In 2008 it was a similar story.  There was a total of 4 complaints in High Peak's area, however 3 of these were against New Mills councillors.

As well as finally being officially named and shamed as dysfunctional, the report, compiled by High Peak's Head of Legal Services, found that in New Mills town hall there was an inability to set aside differences, or to debate out those differences, or to arrive at a common purpose of working together to further the business of the council.

A telling extract from the official report:
"The Standards Committee has been concerned at the apparent factionalisation of the council members and the consequent tit-for-tat nature of the complaints"

The report calculates that the taxpayer is estimated to have lost at least £6,250 in 2010, simply as a result of the cost of these complaints.  High Peak Borough Council should deduct this money from the substantial grant money that it hands over to New Mills town council every year.

It is possibly relevant to note that the most prolific makers of spurious - and often malicious - complaints about councillors in New Mills, Stephen Lewis and Lance Dowson, have been in the habit of getting together in the Royal Oak pub with Conservative councillor Mark Gadd after Monday night's council and committee meetings have taken place.

So far as can be established at the time of writing, the following town councillors have acted broadly decently in this respect and have not taken part in the childish making of serial spurious complaints from New Mills town hall.

Therefore, the consequent damage to reputation and waste of public money cannot be laid at the door of these councillors:

ASHTON, Tony (Conservative)

ATKINS, Elizabeth (LibDem)

ATKINS, Ray (LibDem)

BODY, Hazel (Green)

CARTER, Janet (LibDem)

HANNELL, Chantal (LibDem)

HAWLEY, Kevin 'Huggy' (LibDem)

STEVENS, Alistair  (LibDem) as is known, the following .
Links to the report referred to in this article:

A copy of the report is available by going to this page of High Peak Borough Council's website.  Once you are on the correct Borough Council page, click once on Item 5 in the 'Agenda Items' box on the right of the page.  The report is then available for reading on-screen or for download to your computer.

In the event of any difficulties, email this site and a copy of the report will be sent as an email attachment.