Budget Opportunity & Flytippers

seagullHappy New Year to all my readers.
The new year starts with me being like Private Frazer insofar as it seems that “we are all doomed”. I saw the news yesterday (Daily Mirror and Daily Mail) that councils will be using powers to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 and seize and destroy vehicles used by offenders as part of a “zero-tolerance” nationwide initiative on fly-tipping.
How long before a simple case of littering or perhaps a poorly closed dustbin will attract these new powers?
The cost of clearing up fly-tipping in England has reached almost £50m, with councils having to deal with almost 900,000 incidents a year Authorities indicate that, to date, only 40% have made use of powers given by the Government in May to issue on-the-spot fines.
So expect more fines and perhaps more draconian attitudes because fines can fill the holes in the budget. In 2007 Ipswich Borough Council fined a fourteen year old £50 for throwing a chip to a seagull. Despite the gull eating the evidence, the Council insisted upon its powers and even (I recall) pursued the child into his school in order to obtain his identity.

Peterborough Evictions

Foto: SMK Foto Statens Museum for Kunst Sølvgade 48-50 1307 København K  DANMARK e-mail: foto@smk.dk www.smk.dkOnce again local government proves that you do not need to be an imaginative writer to make up true but unbelievable stories.
Last month it was reported that Stef & Philips (a leading provider of social housing solutions in London and the Home Counties) had recently won a contract to provide  Peterborough Council with accommodation for people in need.
In order to create the space needed Stef & Philips are evicting 74 families so it can accommodate the homeless.
Six months down the road I can see a situation whereby a Council spokesperson will tell us that the strategy was successful but in the meantime the homeless numbers have increased and Stef & Philips’ contract will be renewed and extended because they have done such a good job!

Not only could you not make it up – but you don’t have to!

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh – Job Losses Loom

Park and RideThe EADT recently carried a report that Headlam Flooring planned to build a distribution centre on land adjacent to the Anglia Retail Park (on the A14 opposite Asda). Headlam are investing £15million and the new facility will include a 125,000 sq ft warehouse with loading and customer collection areas, offices and out-buildings.  The construction and fit-out period is expected to take around a year and the new facility should be up and running by 2018. The building be built on green space adjacent to the former Park and Ride site. The new facility will support the development of Headlam’s regional floorcovering business which includes the Hadleigh-based Faithfull’s Flooring. The existing  80 employees in Hadleigh will be relocated to the new premises. For  Headlam Flooring it all makes good sense – a purpose built facility with access to the A14. For Babergh it is a potential disaster. A significant business and 80 jobs move out of Hadleigh. Headlam had previously sought to build in Hadleigh on land alongside the Persimmon housing development off of Lady Lane. The problem with that proposal was that it was cheek by jowl with housing and the 24/7 operation was unsuitable for that location – on sloping ground with noise that could have been heard across half of Hadleigh. The question we must ask is how have Babergh allowed this development to slip through its fingers. There are plenty of former airfield sites ripe for development. There is even one in Raydon almost within sight of the A12. Ipswich has its own questions to ask. Why are there no existing sites (like the former Park and Rides) which might be suitable? Why isn’t Headlam taking space on the Ransome’s Europark? Once again, I fear Hadleigh is being let down by the people who should be serving it. If local government is not looking after the people it serves and those who pay their wages, who are they looking after?

http://www.eadt.co.uk/business/have_your_say_on_plans_to_build_a_distribution_centre_for_headlam_flooring_company_in_land_next_to_anglia_retail_park_1_4607239
http://www.headlam.com/investor-relations/investor-information/investment-proposition

					

Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics

GymnasticsToday amidst all the doom and gloom about the Brexit aftermath I received the following e-mail from Kelly Mires, Head Coach at Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics:

Dear Mr Riley
I’m writing  to say thank you so very much for the news I received today that you have awarded Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics a grant of £1000.
This is a huge amount of money for the club and it means we can now look to purchase the safety mats we have been fundraising hard to buy .
Thank you once again from myself and all 285 Children in Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics.
Kelly Mires
Head Coach
The locality monies will help fund the purchase of a tumble run and two safety landing mats.
The Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics are holding a club competition on Saturday 23rd July at the Hadleigh Leisure Centre. This is their biggest annual fundraiser and they will be serving refreshments and holding a raffle. All the coaches volunteer their time so that every penny raised goes into the fundraising pot to buy equipment. So if you have a free moment on the 23rd, please drop in on the Leisure Centre and support the Hadleigh Stars Gymnastics.
The monies came from my County Councillor’s Locality Budget. As readers of this blog may know the Locality Budget amounts to £12,000 a year and is distributed in Hadleigh to promote ways in which Suffolk County Council can make life better for its residents. I like to direct the monies to game changers. So in the past I have given support to (among others)  Hadleigh Diamond Lites (Drum Majorettes), an ecotherapy allotment project for Suffolk Mind and Surviving Winter in Hadleigh whose funding was to cover the initial expenses in establishing the charity and to provide such ongoing support as necessary.

Freely to breathe again!

Jenny Antill (a fellow blogger) posted this on Friday morning.
View from the window 160624View from the window. 24th June 2016 6.15 a.m.

Oh what joy, in the open air
Freely to breathe again!
Up here alone is life!
The dungeon is a grave.
FIRST PRISONER
We shall with all our faith
Trust in the help of God!
Hope whispers softly in my ears!
We shall be free, we shall find peace.
ALL THE OTHERS
Oh Heaven! Salvation! Happiness!
Oh Freedom! Will you be given us?

CHOR DER GEFANGENEN (Prisoners Chorus, Fidelio)

Brexit in Ipswich

bojesen_brexitThe E.A.D.T., last week featured visits to Ipswich by the great, the good and the not so good, when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove visited on Tuesday to promote their Brexit campaign and Hilary Benn came on Wednesday as a Bremainder. Wednesday’s photo showed at least one of my Labour Councillor friends in a supporting role. This is interesting because Hilary Benn is a champagne Corbynista, educated at Holland Park School also known as the Socialist Eton. Benn is a member of the Stansgate Clan and an adept of telling lesser mortals what’s good for them. Whilst the Corbyn line is to remain in Europe, there are a number of Labour M.P. dissenters including Dennis Skinner, the M.P. for Bolsover, and Frank Field, M.P. for Birkenhead.
Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were greeted by Bremainders in the form of students demonstrating against the visit and thus exercising their rights to free speech whilst denying their responsibility to allow others to campaign for their views.
Mixed into this motley crowd was the university Provost and Chief Executive Richard Lister who joined the anti Brexit demonstrators. He is quoted as saying that academics were concerned about breaking ties with European colleges and universities. Yet, these ties are political not cultural. Academics will be able to participate in joint research (if their skills are up to it). Who is Richard Lister who thinks he is still an adolescent student at heart and who thinks that he does not have enough influence as a member of the Ipswich Vision Group, Chair of the Greater Ipswich Partnership and a member of the New Anglia LEP Skills Board that he has to behave like a hooligan?
Brazenly, like Basildon Man, he parades his self interest. He is short on specifics but the University depends on Government grants and subsidies (i.e. tax payers’ monies). He knows on which side his bread is buttered. But do we need him to take time off from provosting about in order to behave like a student?
He reports to the Board of UCS. It is time they asked him what’s going on!
For more information please see:

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/boris_johnson_and_michael_gove_mobbed_in_ipswich_as_they_bring_brexit_campaign_to_suffolk_1_4566446 http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/hilary_benn_brings_remain_message_to_ipswich_1_4568799 http://www.eadt.co.uk/ea-life/do_politicians_visits_make_any_difference_to_the_way_we_vote_asks_paul_geater_1_4570745

 

Forward to the Twentieth Century

Endeavour House 140506 bThe scheduled Suffolk County Council meeting scheduled for Thursday 26th did not take place but was deferred due to the sudden death of the Council Leader’s father. One of the items of business carried forward  was a motion proposed by Councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer (Leader of the Green and Independent Group on Suffolk County Council) and seconded by Councillor Bill Mountford (Leader of the UKIP Group) requiring the Council to improve its governance arrangements and start to operate a more inclusive and engaging committee system of governance. Currently the Council operates a Cabinet system of Governance.
Why are motion proposers trying to drag us back into the twentieth century? I’ve been privileged to experience governance by committee and governance by Cabinet.
Local Government Governance by Committee tends to be the fig leaf by which democratic legitimacy is granted to the wishes, intentions and decisions of the executive. Power in committees more often does not lie with chairmen nor with members but with the Secretariat who decide
what goes on the agendas,
how it is presented and
when it comes forward.
Documents are prepared so as to lead the way and make the Committee approval virtually a foregone conclusion.
By way of example, the executive in Babergh decided that Hadleigh should be incorporated into the Ipswich/Felixstowe proposed unitary Council. There was no mention that the people of Hadleigh were against the idea and there was no reference to  the democratic inconsistencies in the motion. Yet, the motion was overwhelmingly passed  with only three members dissenting.
Why are we being asked to return to the twentieth century?
Do the proposers seriously think that the Committee system of local governance is more efficient and more democratic?
It’s certainly more bureaucratic and is less responsive to the needs of the residents.
Committees tend to be mere talking shops.
Members like the sound of their own voices.
Members can be cloaked in the misbelief that they are taking decisions and are participating fully in the well running of their Council, whereas, in fact, they are glorified seat warmers. Decisions are made elsewhere and the function of Councillors is then not

  • to guide,
  • decide and
  • hold to account

but to be legal bystanders in a process which they do not control and in which the Sir Humphreys of this world flourish.

  • Foxes should not look after chickens,
  • goats should not be in charge of  cabbages.
  • Executive should be servants not masters.

I plan to be at the next Council meeting when I will speak against this motion.

Deborah Ross

Deborah Ross 160501Last Sunday we went to Durham (North Carolina) for a presentation to the Durham Democratic Women by Deborah Ross who is running for the U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent Richard Burr. The talk was a combination of vote for me, get your friends to vote for me and please help me to fund the campaign.
Deborah is a powerful speaker, totally on the ball and so dynamic that she makes my high level political friends in England look as though they have “slow blood”.
The good news is that she is within two points of  the incumbent Senator Burr (according to the latest poll released last week by the conservative leaning Civitas Institute).
The now toss-up race follows Ross’ strong first quarter fundraising where she out-raised Senator Burr. The neck-and-neck poll also comes as more and more voters have been learning of Senator Burr’s out-of-touch record in Washington where he voted to cut Social Security, wrote legislation to privatize Medicare, supported cuts to Pell grants and voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. The bad news is that her election pot is nowhere as large as Senator Burr’s.  He has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the impression is that is he well supported by his political friends. And this is where we get to more bad news. As Donald Trump becomes the Republican presumptive and unelectable presidential candidate, – so the Republican funding may not go him but to the lesser elected posts like Richard Burr’s and sundry others whose opponents do not have access to funding from the likes of the Koch Brothers.
It will be interesting to see where the contests go – so I can only say watch this space.
Meanwhile Tuesday’s Raleigh News and Observer notes that we have had an unfilled Federal judiciary post since 2006 and Senator Burr is refusing to approve the nomination of a qualified person. To quote the News & Observer: “in opposing the nomination, Burr said he won’t submit the “blue slip” that’s needed from the home state’s senator to get a judicial nomination moving. Burr’s opposition is unfair to the nominee and unfair to the system which is running short of federal judges.
The Senate’s job in reviewing the president’s nominees is to advise and consent, not to pout and obstruct. That behaviour is especially out of line when it comes to qualified nominees to the federal bench. It has been a long-standing custom that even when senators differ philosophically in their views from the president, they recognize his right to place his choices on the judiciary.”

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh – East House

BureaucracyThe Hadleigh Community News in April contained the report of the Meeting of Hadleigh Town Council held on the 18th February 2016 which included the following gem: “The Clerk reported that an e-mail had been received from Babergh District Council asking who owned East House. The Officer was, of course, advised that they own it.”
The history of East House is simple: According to the Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce web site of 17th June 2013 East House and the Meadows were bought by the former Hadleigh Urban Council from the Styles family in 1960 for about £15,500. It was a straightforward sale with nothing to specify the building should be used for the benefit of Hadleigh people or anyone else. When local government was reorganised in 1974, council held assets had to be reallocated to the new bodies. To begin with the new councils agreed that the town council should take on ownership of East House. It was a town asset and would stay in the hands of the town’s administrators. However, when, under the rules of reorganisation, the district auditor investigated the division of assets it was discovered that because East House had been bought by the former urban council under Housing Act powers it would therefore have to be allocated to the new district council (Babergh) which was responsible for housing. It was thus transferred to ownership of Babergh.
In 1975 Babergh offered to sell East House (though not the meadows) to Hadleigh Town Council at market value. Hadleigh Town Council unanimously decided not to buy the property as they were already financing loans relating to Hadleigh’s Guildhall and was therefore unable to take on another financial commitment of that size.
East House was leased to Suffolk County Council who (in 2006) discovered that it was the second least efficient property on its books. Not surprising then that Suffolk didn’t renew its lease and handed the building back to Babergh paying for the assessed dilapidations. I campaigned in 2007 citing the emptiness of East House and blaming the Lib Dems for their lack of action.
East House was subsequently placed with Strutt Parker for them to market the property. Depending on whom you speak to market conditions were the reason for the lack of progress with potential buyers. So, ten years on it seems that Babergh would like someone else to be responsible for East House – possibly so that the blame game can be renewed! Why is it that the words “Twinings, a tea party, couldn’t organise at” come to mind.
And for this they raise Council Taxes!

Fuller details can be found on: http://www.hadleighcommunitynews.co.uk/content_hcn/town_council.aspx http://www.hadleighchamber.co.uk/our_town/community/east_house_what_really_happened

Small Successes – Benton Street

Every now and then, there is an alignment of ambition and actuality.
One recent example of this is the provision of a disabled parking place in Benton Street, which for some time has been on Benton Streetmy list of things to be achieved. The need for the place is based upon the changed (health) circumstances of  one of the residents.
When I was in Hadleigh recently I heard that a Town Councillor (who is also a resident of Benton Street) had commented that the resident was not that disabled as he exercises a dog! What claptrap! Pure politics of envy! The dog is small and walking the dog is doubtless recommended exercise for the resident, who has good days and not so good days – hence the need for a disabled parking place.