31 March 2015

Dishonest Former Town Clerk Loses Tribunal Claim: Sacking Upheld

The New Mills Town Council has comprehensively won the legal claim brought against it by the dishonest former town clerk.

Ex-town clerk Mrs Susan Stevens had claimed wrongful dismissal and/or unfair dismissal.  In addition, she was looking for a large sum in financial compensation and costs etc to be paid to her by the council as her former employer.

All her claims have been rejected in a sensational judgment following a week-long hearing at the Employment Tribunal sitting in Manchester in early March.

It can now be revealed that the leaders of High Peak Conservatives, Borough Council Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tony Ashton and Association Chairman Mr Jeff Lawton, supported the dishonest former town clerk at the Tribunal.  Cllr Ashton appeared as a witness in person for Mrs Stevens.

Some local New Mills conservatives left the High Peak Conservative Association in protest at the line the High Peak conservative leadership was taking by supporting dishonesty and misconduct in public office in this case.

This whole expensive and devastating chain of events, culminating in today's dramatic court judgment, started when Dishonest Ian Huddlestone, who was the chair of New Mills town council, instructed the then town clerk Mrs Stevens to fabricate some town council minutes.

Dishonest Ian Huddlestone told Mrs Stevens to conceal an item about a fake 'village green' claim in New Mills from the published minutes of a council meeting, and then to reinstate the item in the minutes after friends of a Labour councillor failed in their attempts to buy the land.  A substantial sum of money was involved in this fraud.

Dishonest Ian Huddlestone is a Labour Party member of High Peak Borough Council.

24 March 2015

Challenge to local Conservative Party candidate Jeff Lawton about his Heritage Centre claims

It is totally clear from New Mills Town Council meetings minutes, and from the council Budget that has recently been set, that Conservative candidate Jeff Lawton is telling deliberate lies about the Heritage Centre in the town.

Mr Lawton is putting it about that the Heritage Centre is going to be closed by the town council.

It would seem that he is telling deliberate lies about the New Mills Heritage Centre to promote his personal ambition to be a local councillor.

At Borough Council level, there are personal financial allowances paid to councillors.

Mr Jeff Lawton is using the good name of the national Conservative Party, and that Party's literature, to spread false rumours on the subject of the Heritage Centre.

The Conservative Party has been brought into disrepute by Mr Lawton's claims about this subject, which is dear to the hearts of quite a few people in New Mills.

Some people would perhaps understandably conclude that if Mr Jeff Lawton will tell deliberate lies about this, then there are other things he would lie about as well.

Therefore, Conservative Party candidate and chairman of the High Peak Conservative Association Mr Jeff Lawton, here is an open challenge to you:

Deliver your evidence, ANY evidence, that the New Mills Heritage Centre is going to be shut down.

This site will publish your written response in full, verbatim, in its own prominent standalone article, to this demand for your evidence regarding the Heritage Centre.  If you actually do have any evidence for your claims, that is.

So, Mr Jeff Lawton, on the subject of your false statements about the New Mills Heritage Centre being under threat of closure, it is now over to you.  Don't bother posting any more of your anonymous comments on here: send in any evidence that supports your claims about the New Mills Heritage Centre, and attach your name to it.

Our email address is highpeaktransparency@btconnect.com

12 March 2015

Despatches From The Tribunal Front Line

At the time of all the excitement over the dishonest and incompetent ex-town clerk of New Mills (Mrs Susan Stevens) getting sacked from that job, and then lodging a claim against the town council for wrongful and/or unfair dismissal, it was HPT Editor's intention to attend the Employment Tribunal.

However, it has become clear that the Tribunal's definitive judgment in the case of Marie Dudley and Susan Stevens v New Mills Town Council will probably be issued fairly shortly after the hearings.

Therefore, it is the Tribunal's judgment that will be published here, not the hearings.

Entertaining though it might be, there is no point detailing the daily ups and downs at Tribunal hearings when in fact it is only the independent judgment that is definitive and has effect.

That has not stopped former town clerk Mrs Stevens et al sending in anonymous comments to this site purporting to be about what has happened at the Tribunal.

Readers can come to their own conclusions on these comments.

In the interest of transparency, if not factual accuracy, here are all the comments received about the Tribunal so far (latest first):

"So now your deleting all the mesages that tell us how well mrs stevens is doing .
Typical what do they say - don't let the truth get in the way of a good story!. "  (Note:  the pro-Susan Stevens comments have been deleted from their scattered positions under unrelated articles so that they can be given the prominence of this standalone relevant article - HPT Ed)

"The Great and Powerful, Oz, aks HPT editor, promised to keep the town informed about the tribunal. We have heard f**k all. Only fantasy conversations heard in mindless heads. I.e Jeff and Josh stories. What's that all about? Give it a rest. It's not cute and it's not clever. "    (1.  I agree about the Jeff and Josh comments and they will shortly be stopped.  2.  'Oz'?  How is that relevant in this context?  - HPT Editor)

"Calm down Calm down - go and take another pill! "

"You've been going on for months about how you were going to be on top of it when the tribunal started and yet now it's not going against mrs stevens the way that you've been saying it would you've stopped mentioning it.
Has your persona as the font of ALL knowledge suddenly dried up then? "

"I believe that Mrs Stevens has had good days at the Tribunal.
Not so cocky now then eh.
No doubt you'll start changing sides not it looks as though Mrs S is doing well. "

"Another day and still no news from the Employment Tribunal, what's wrong, not going you way, Mr. Ed? "   (Note:  I am not involved in the tribunal.  It was not me who fabricated documents about, concealed information from, and told deliberate lies to my employer New Mills Town Council  - HPT Editor)

"Admiral Lamb is a silly man. He was very lonely yesterday could of done with the captain to save the day! "   (Note:  this comment is about the second day of the Tribunal, with no Captain Dowson present to teach the barristers and the judge about employment law - HPT Edtor)

"No updates for us yet Mr Ed? "

"Dear Mr. Ed, Where is our hourly report of the Employment Tribunal? We are all waiting. "

11 March 2015

Property Notes 1: The Urgent New Safety Fence

At the New Mills Town Council meeting held on 9 March 2015, the issue of an expensive but necessary new fence was discussed.


The properties concerned here are adjoining areas at the south-west corner of High Lee Park in New Mills.

Both areas were vested in High Peak Borough Council pursuant to the Local Government Act 1974.

Subsequently, New Mills town council claimed all sorts of valuable property from High Peak Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council.

No questions asked

Conveyances have either been carried out or attempted on every property that has been informally asked for by New Mills councillors.

Up to this point , the necessary serious enquiries in respect of valuable property assets lost - or at risk of being lost where the conveyance has not happened yet - have not been asked by High Peak Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.

This is a serious and negligent financial failure by those two councils.

The fence issue: necessity for a suitable, adequate fence at this dangerous site

There is no disputing that a good and appropriate strong, tall fence is urgently needed here. The location is at the top of the sheer, high quarry face adjoining High Lee Park.

There is no law about who owns the boundaries around a property, e.g. which side of the fence, walls or hedges the property owner is responsible for.

The matter that came before New Mills town council on 9 March 2015 is: who pays for the expensive new tall palisade fencing that must now be erected to protect people, including children, from falling into the quarry.

No-one has yet been killed or injured as a result of the current inadequate floppy hole-intensive fence 'protecting' park users from the sheer fall down the quarry face.

Given the geography and the height involved were someone to fall off the edge, this current fortunate situation is unlikely to stay a permanent one unless the new solid fence is erected to protect the quarry edge.

The fence issue: responsibility

The general principle on party walls and fencing between neighbours is that both parties are equally responsible.

If a conveyance, covenant, contract or property deed specifies that one party only is responsible for a particular fence, then provided it is validly drawn and executed that would supersede the general arrangement.

Next steps

Firstly, all of the relevant legal documentation (i.e. not informal letters) needs to be scrutinised by a property law specialist appointed by the town council, to definitively establish the fence responsibility situation from the town council’s perspective.

Then urgent action can be taken in respect of getting the fence erected promptly, paid for by the appropriate council (or having the costs shared), and maintained in the future by the appropriate council.

The initial erection of the new palisade fence, the responsibility for its subsequent maintenance, and the exact line of the fence are three separate issues.

Once all the matters are agreed, the relevant documentation must be recorded at Land Registry so that future councillors aren't placed in this difficult position again.

If difficulties arise in making an agreement that is acceptable to both sides, then the matter may have to be dealt with by a joint committee from both councils rather than by officers.

10 March 2015

Property Notes 2: Terms of Property Transactions

At the New Mills Town Council meeting held on 9 March 2015, some property-related matters came up for discussion and/or decision.


The property concerned here is a piece of land that a member of the public wants to rent from the council long-term, in order to erect a lock-up garage that he will pay for.

The council would appear to have been dropped into financial trouble in this transaction by the former town clerk, Mrs Susan Stevens.

It was stated during the council meeting that Mrs Stevens omitted some essential terms, which are in favour of the council as landowner, in a letter that she sent to a member of public about the matter.

If this situation is not remedied then the town council will lose money.

Property assets and money are placed in the trust of the council as a public body.

Dowson on Agency

New Mills Councillor Lancelot Edgar Dowson, loves the sound of his own voice.  He has to have his interminable say on virtually every item, on every agenda, in every meeting, in this town hall.

In the meeting, Cllr Dowson misled the councillors yet again with his endless pontificating.

On this occasion he warned councillors that the town council is now bound by the ex-town clerk’s faulty letter on this property matter, because the ex-town clerk acted as the council’s ‘agent’.

Even by Councillor Dowson’s lamentable standards during town council meetings, this latest false pronouncement plumbed the depths of arrant nonsense by a more than usual amount.

The real (estate) situation

Where property transactions are concerned, the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 applies. The relevant paragraphs of Section 2 are as follows:

(1)  A contract for the sale or other disposition of an interest in land can only be made in writing and only by incorporating all the terms which the parties have expressly agreed in one document or, where contracts are exchanged, in each.

(3) The document incorporating the terms or, where contracts are exchanged, one of the documents incorporating them (but not necessarily the same one) must be signed by or on behalf of each party to the contract.

In plain English, this means that all of the terms of each property transaction must be both in writing in a document, and also that document must be signed by both of the parties to the transaction.

Prior to this law, a buyer, seller, lessor, lessee, or agent could accidentally create a contract for property.

Purpose and remedy

The reason this law was enacted is to avoid problems and uncertainty in exactly the sort of property situation that New Mills Town Council now finds itself, due the negligence of a former employee.

If this issue is about the council requiring all its costs in the transaction to be covered, and the ex-town clerk did not notify the proposed lessee of this requirement of the council in this transaction, then to protect the public’s money that requirement must now be incorporated in the contract by the council before signing by the parties.

08 March 2015

High Peak Labour - A Question Of Funding

The love that dare not speak its name

The mere mention of the name of Labour Party grandee Tony Blair sends shivers up the spine of Labour Party activists who are allergic to success.

Indeed, ‘Blairite’ is a code-word among current Labour Party grass roots supporters for how they don’t want the party to do things.

Fans of Mr Blair in today's Labour Party tend to keep quiet about it when talking to the public.

Where has the money come from?

So why are some local Labour Party activists now concerned at recent news of a donation to Caitlin Bisknell’s fund for the upcoming general election?

Because the money is coming direct and personal from Mr Tony Blair.

Some Labour parliamentary candidates elsewhere in the country are going public with their vehement view that Mr Blair’s personal money will not be accepted in their campaign.

Mr Blair is offering a thousand pounds of his own money to each Labour candidate in  Labour’s target seat list.

The High Peak constituency is 68th on Labour’s list of 106 target seats in the upcoming 2015 election.

This means Labour candidate Caitlin Bisknell is going to have to go public with a decision on whether this particular person's private money is welcome in her local campaign or not.

Here is a link to Labour's official target seats list:


06 March 2015

Councillor’s False HR Company Struck Off

The fake HR company* that was set up by James Stevens and New Mills councillor Alistair Stevens has been struck off by Companies House.

Regular HPT readers will recall that councillor Alistair Stevens of New Mills and his son James Stevens, who both work at Oldham estate agents Alistair Stevens and Co, told Companies House that the company was a human resources company.

The fake company used James Stevens' home address as its registered office.  This was changed last September to an address in New Mills.

James Stevens told Companies House that he is a Human Resources Consultant.  This is a false statement made to Companies House, which is a criminal offence.

Further information is awaited regarding criminal prosecutions of Cllr Alistair Stevens following his statements made in New Mills town council meetings** on a matter in which he had a financial interest.

A further prosecution may result from Cllr Stevens’ failure to declare on the council register of interests that he has a substantial interest in his spouse’s financial claim against the council of which he is a member.

* Company Number 08627021, Tall Poppies Consultants Ltd

** Latest offence being at the New Mills Town Council meeting of 9 February 2015

04 March 2015

Response From Local Headteacher To Recent Conservative Party Leaflet

The following response to the recent 'Jeff and Josh special' local Conservative electioneering leaflet has been issued by the headteacher of the New Mills School Business And Enterprise College:

"To all our wider school community

"I am writing in response to the recent Conservative Party campaign leaflet that has been sent out to New Mills residents. The ...Newsletter had a section on schools in which there was a statement about New Mills Secondary School and academisation which has caused some concern. I will outline below the context of where this statement has come from but I can assure you that we are not currently in the process of becoming academy.

"As stated in the newsletter after being put into Special Measures the Department for Education (DfE) will look to transfer a school in special measures into an academy and remove it from Local Authority control. Last July the Governing Body was heavily pressured by representatives of the DfE into making a decision about Academy status.

"After much deliberation and research the Governing Body resolved to 'join the Cheadle Hulme Education Trust (CHET) as a sponsored academy subject to the satisfactory conclusion of all negotiations'. The Governing Body did not make this decision known to the wider school community because it was felt that until all negotiations had taken place they did not know if there would be a satisfactory conclusion. Their caution was justified when CHET made their decision not to proceed with New Mills School at this point in time given the financial issues.

"Since taking up my appointment as the new Headteacher in September I have been working with the Local Authority to drive the improvements needed at our school. Alongside working with the LA I have been working with Cheadle Hulme High School (CHHS) as part of the school to school support programme which I shared with parents at the parent forum in September, this programme is being funded by the Local Authority. Linda Magrath, the Headteacher at CHHS, came along to the parent forum meeting in September to share how we were going to work together to drive school improvement.

"I am happy that New Mills School is making the progress needed to come out of Special Measures and this has been confirmed by a recent monitoring report carried out the Local Authority.

"I hope this puts into context the statement in the campaign leaflet and I can assure you that we are not currently in the process of becoming academy.

"Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or need clarification on any points made.

D McGloin


Jeff and Josh, and the High Peak Conservative Association, it's over to you.

02 March 2015

First Labour leaflet of 2015 - the Barrow section

What follows is the unedited, verbatim text of the 'Cllr Alan Barrow section' of the local Labour Party's New Mills edition of the first election leaflet of 2015.

(Pictures and detailed scrutiny / commentary to follow):

Arden Quarry Update

Alan Barrow, who chairs the Arden Quarry Liaison
Meetings, reports:

‘Work is now going on to install an engine to generate electricity from landfill gas. Much better for the environment than flaring this potent greenhouse gas. It also gives the operator a financial incentive to collect the gas which should help to ensure no repeat of the odour problems of 2012.

There have been few complaints about odour recently. I’m told there could be temporary problems while the changeover from the flare to the engine takes place. Please do call the Environment Agency hotline 0800807060 if you are affected in order that any problems can be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Planning permission for composting 2000 tonnes per year of green waste has been approved, but cannot start until plans for controlling odour, dust etc. are also approved. There is a condition that the operation shall cease if there is demonstrable nuisance to occupiers and users of the surrounding land and property. If this works successfully and without nuisance, it will be good for the environment by diverting green waste from landfill.  We have to wait and see.

It’s good to see soils being placed over the finished parts of the landfill and we hope much of it will be grassed this year, improving the visual impact of the site from the west and north.

Measures to improve the safety of Oven Hill Road are agreed and we will monitor how effective this is, continuing to bring community concerns to the liaison meetings.’

First Labour leaflet of 2015 - the Dishonest Ian Huddlestone section

What follows is the unedited, verbatim text of the 'Cllr Huddlestone section' of the local Labour Party's New Mills edition of the first election leaflet of 2015:

(If all you are seeing is a blank page, do not adjust your browser.  Dishonest Ian Huddlestone does not feature in any of the stories put out by the local Labour Party in this election literature)

First Labour leaflet of 2015 - the Dowson section

What follows is the unedited, verbatim text of the 'Cllr Lance Dowson section' of the local Labour Party's New Mills edition of the first election leaflet of 2015.

(Pictures and detailed scrutiny / commentary to follow):

The millenium walkway is rated the 4th highest visitor attraction in Derbyshire – not bad for a little market town on the edge of the county!

The walkway is the most iconic of the town council’s projects under a Labour majority in the years up to 2007.

‘The council had been working on the project since 1996, and won grants of some £475,000 to fund it.

I was elected in 1999,’ writes Lance Dowson, who has served on the council since then. ‘So I shared in the excitement as the construction went on, then the celebrations when the walkway won six awards, featured on Royal Mail stamps and various TV shows, made New Mills famous nationally and internationally, and brought thousands of visitors to the town. It is great that it is still attracting tourists to help our local businesses.

In the following years we carried on improving access to natural spaces for local people and to attract visitors.

With further grants we established Goytside Nature Reserve and the Community Orchard
In 2006 we grasped the opportunity to enhance the Torrs further by working on plans for the innovative reverse Archimedes screw hydropower project.

We lost our majority on the council in 2007, but community groups have picked up what we started. I am proud to be chairman of the Friends of the Orchard, who have won many prestigious awards over the years, and I congratulate the other community bodies who work hard to enhance our town’s environment and economic health.’