29 December 2011

Peace In Our Time. And Bins Collected As Well

We can all finally sleep safely in our beds.  Some High Peak Borough councillors have won a vote in favour of world peace.

At Chapel-en-le-Frith town hall, Cllrs Bob Mckeown and Graham Oakley tried to persuade councillors that war is bad.

Their grasp of physics was very poor however.  Cllr Oakley told the assembled councillors that he was born in the 1950s and could 'recall heightened tension - when a loud bang would go off in the neighbourhood.  We'd gaze anxiously in the direction of Manchester looking for a mushroom cloud.'

The reality of a distant nuclear bomb explosion is that the sudden flash of light brighter than the sun reaches you far quicker than any sound waves.  So any worrying bangs in the youthful Cllr Oakley's neighbourhood had some other cause.

'World Peace' was defined in rather a strange way.  It is abolition of nuclear weapons that causes world peace, according to the the promoters of this motion.  By that logic, there have been no wars in mankind's history up to 1944, and then there's been no end of nuclear wars since the atom bomb was created in 1945. 

Common sense at the meeting was in vain however.  Conservative Cllr John Haken's wacky, wild, off the wall suggestion - that the Council's priorities should be to ensure that residents' bins are emptied on time, planning matters should be handled efficiently, the streets should be properly cleaned etc etc - failed at the vote.

High Peak Borough Council's motion calling for no nuclear weapons - and certainly none in Chapel-en-le-Frith - was carried by 24 to 14, with 2 abstentions.

01 December 2011

Andy and Dave, Part Two!

For the second week in succession, our MP attracted the attention in parliament of either Conservative party managers or the Speaker.  This week's perfectly proper and correct question to the Prime Minister, asked on 30 November:

Andrew Bingham MP:
The Prime Minister will know that I recently held a small businesses event in my constituency, and many of the businesses that attended complained bitterly about the red tape and bureaucracy that they have to jump through to deal with public bodies. What message can he send to these businesses, as we look to them to help rebuild the economy, about getting rid of some of this obstructive bureaucratic nonsense?

The Prime Minister:
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this subject. It is why we have introduced the red tape challenge, so that all these rules are published on line and businesses and individuals can tell us which ones can be scrapped without harming public safety. At the same time, we have the one-in, one-out rule so that Ministers cannot introduce a new regulation until they have scrapped an existing one. This Government are determined to scrap unnecessary regulation and to help small businesses to employ more people in our country.

Andrew Bingham and David Cameron have their work cut out: the last Labour government put in thirteen years of pointless interference and needlessly adding to the red tape burden and costs on families and business.

During that time the European Union (Hang on, when did we say we wanted to be in a Union rather than a community?) also issued Directive after pointless Directive to the people of this country.

it's not possible to clean all that up in a short time.

25 November 2011

Andy and Dave

Prime Minister's Questions provided a sign of Andrew Bingham's current rising star status in Parliament.

This week, the honour of asking the question that always kicks off proceedings fell to Mr Bingham.

For nonsensical ancient reasons, the first question from an MP is always required to be 'Will the Prime Minister list his official engagements for the day?'

After the Prime Minister has wasted time reading out a bland listing that has already been published , the tradition is that the MP then gets to ask a 'supplementary question'.  It is this supplementary question that is the real one.

In this case, the question was urgent and topical, about local government workers going on strike at a time of high unemployment elsewhere in the economy and when only a small minority had voted in the pre-strike ballot.

"I think my honourable friend makes a very important point," said Dave, the Prime Minister.

Of course you do.  That's why your party managers planted the question!

27 September 2011

Local Hospice Charity Wants Your Vote

PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE (registration only takes 30 seconds!!)

Blythe House Hospice has been accepted into the Natwest Community Force scheme with the opportunity to win £6000 towards one of their new or ongoing projects. Their choice would be to invest any winnings into a much needed van to transport stock to their five charity shops in the High Peak area.

This investment would potentially result in a large increase in the shops' profit which would directly benefit the Hospice and all those within our community who use the services when at their most vulnerable.
Voting opens 26th September through to 23rd October.

Or ring 0800 2100 246 (free phone from landlines) to cast your vote.

Please pass this information on to all friends, family, colleagues, long-lost relatives, professional footballers, politicians etc etc.  Share it on facebook or tweet it on twitter – the more votes Blythe House Hospice gets, the more chance of winning!

17 May 2011

Flouting The Law: Business As Usual For Dysfunctional Council

The first statutory Annual Meeting of the newly elected town councillors in New Mills was held on the 16th of  May 2011.  The local elections had taken place on the 5th of May.  

At this meeting it was shocking to see the local town clerk’s persistent attitude to law breaking.  The town clerk here has access to large amounts of public money, as well as effectively having care and custody of local councillors’ public reputation.

Here is how the law was flouted in this latest of a long series of law-breaking activities inside this town hall:

The legal structure

A Local Council comprises a Chairman and Councillors.  It is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a name.  A local council exists in the above form, and only in the above form, until permanently dissolved by one or other statutory mechanism.

The above legal structure applies to all town and parish councils in England.  There are no exceptions.

No person can be a member of the council and also a paid clerk to the council at the same time (Local Government Act 1972, s116).

The roles of individuals under the relevant statutes

There permanently must be an elected Chairman or woman (‘Chair’).  The duties of the Chair of the council are set out in law.  To cover death or incapacity of the Chair, a vice-chair is elected at the same time.

The Chair must be a member of the Council (Local Government Act 1972, s15(1)).

The Chair of the council continues in office until succeeded in that office by another lawfully appointed councillor.  This legal requirement applies even when the outgoing chair has not stood at the last local election.

If council proceedings at a first annual meeting after an election are opened with the paid clerk in the chair, that is illegal.

The latest activity in New Mills

So, in the case of the 2011 Annual Meeting of New Mills Town Council, who was the person specified in law to chair the meeting’s first business?  Chantal Hannell, the outgoing Chair of the council.

Did the town clerk send the legally required written summons to the 16 May 2011 council meeting to Ms Hannell?  No.

Did the town clerk invite Ms Hannell to the council’s statutory annual meeting in any other way?  No.

Was Ms Hannell - who was there at the meeting in the public gallery - allowed by the town clerk to perform the duties that the law requires her to do?  No.

Did the town clerk, Mrs Susan Stevens, take the role of Chair for the first business of the meeting?  Yes.  Completely unlawful.

Previous Form

See previous entries in High Peak Transparency for guidance to some of the other law-breaking and consistent past dishonesty behind closed doors inside this particular town hall.

Can vindictiveness or malicious intent be considered a reason for breaking the law whilst holding public office?  More than one third party has reported that Cllr Alistair Stevens (the town clerk's husband) and Cllr Hannell had fallen out before this incident.

Councillors: who did what

In fairness to the newly appointed councillors, for whom the above was the first meeting they attended in their new role, these are: Alan Barrow (Labour); Andy Bowers, Gwyn Bowers, David Lamb(Conservative).

The returning councillors who took part in this meeting are Ian Huddlestone; Alistair Stevens; Lancelot Dowson; Janet Carter; Mark Gadd; Ray Atkins.

Cllr Tony Ashton did not attend, sending his apologies to the meeting.