Brexit Thoughts

Brexit CartoonThe results are in and with a 52/48 mixture, obviously not everyone is happy. The result is not all doom and gloom. On the plus side we will no longer paying to the EU more than we get out. We will no longer pay for the layer of bureaucracy in Brussels which has not had signed off audited accounts for over nineteen years. We will no longer pay for our MEPs since we will not need them.
I thought that the letters to the press are a good sign of desperation. In March a cluster of East Anglian council leaders joined forces to publicly back the campaign to remain in the EU. Were they lobbying the Government to bring us more grants and subsidies? Were they asking for more equity in the education funding arrangements? Were they asking for greater infrastructure support?
No, “The EU is, of course, far from perfect. But that is why Britain needs to stay, influencing the single market and protecting our interests.” If that were true why is the UK suffering the bureaucratic nonsense that we have been seeing from Brussels.
I only recognise two District Council leaders among the signatories (Mid-Suffolk leader Derrick Haley, Babergh leader Jennie Jenkins). If they were concerned for their local communities they would do more to move their Councils’ operations to Babergh’s building in Hadleigh. The saving to the communities would be £1,000,000 a year. Instead of which they have sat on their hands for two years ignoring the Consultants’ recommendation and declining to publish the recommendation as promised.
In June the Daily Telegraph published a letter from 165 Conservative District Councillors from all over England urging people to Remain and rubbishing the Brexiteers. Braintree (home to a prominent Brexiteer Pritti Patel M.P.) provided 21 of the signatories and voted 61.1%:38.9% to leave. Babergh provided only two signatories from recently elected members who seem to have little to recommend them apart from getting elected in the first place. Babergh voted 54.1%:45.8% to leave. The Babergh leadership was not in evidence on the June letter, nor was Mid Suffolk’s leadership visible. (Mid Suffolk voted 55.2%:44.8% to leave).
I think I was confirmed in my Brexit views when the Bremainders wheeled out Gordon Brown to support their case. This is the man who sold off just under 400 tons of gold from July 1999 to March 2002, at an average price of about US$275 per ounce, raising approximately US$3.5 billion. Immediately after the sale, gold entered a prolonged bull market and is currently priced at $1,315 per ounce. Why should anyone heed his advice? Currently we are in that dead zone when the battle has just been lost and won.
There are adjustments to be made and to quote Tim Passmore, Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk “Those worried about the decision should be understood – and that everyone should work together to try to ensure stability returns to the economic and political system as soon as possible. Now, though, we must all work together to make the decision work. We have to try to ensure community cohesion.”

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/eight_east_anglian_local_authority_leaders_back_the_european_union_remain_campaign_1_4447574 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/06/11/letters-remain-campaigners-decry-little-englanders–but-they-are/ http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/don_t_feel_guilty_if_you_voted_for_brexit_suffolk_s_police_and_crime_commissioner_tim_passmore_1_4592070

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.

Information is not Knowledge

BureaucracyOne of my favourite Babergh District Council committees is the Joint Audit & Standards. It last met on the 22nd January and paper JAC68 tells us of the current state of play with complaints against councillors.
We are told that since the last meeting there have been 11 new complaints. There are four complaints outstanding against District Councillors and 42 against Parish Councillors. No complaint investigation resulted in action being taken and seven complaints were deemed either not to have breached the Code of Conduct or required no action. Thirty-nine complaints were carried forward and are still outstanding.
This is just Information – not Knowledge and only hides what should be known. There was no update in October to the August 2015 report (JAC 59) which told us about three Mid-Suffolk District Councillors and various Parish Councillors in Stoke by Nayland, Felsham, Elmswell, Beyton (& Tostock), Bentley, Stradbroke and Long Melford who were the subject of complaints.
Why does it matter – well for one thing the disinfectant of transparency is a powerful boost for government to be answerable to and controlled by the people.
I would like to know whether the complaints against the three Mid- Suffolk Councillors were resolved. Have there have been four new complaints and if the three Mid Suffolk Councillors are still hanging around awaiting findings, what is holding matters up?  Who is the fourth Councillor to be the subject of a current complaint and what have they done?
Hopefully we might find out about all these things at the next meeting of the next Joint & Audit & Standards Committee.

Going Native

Henry_M_Stanley_-I often hesitate to pick on another politician based upon a single article in a newspaper, but the Daily Telegraph of 20th November reported on an interview given by Lord Porter of Spalding wherein he stated that whilst he is not happy with the six figure salaries enjoyed by council chief executives there is little that can be done…because that is the way the world is! Gary Porter is Baron Porter of Spalding CBE, a British Conservative politician, local government leader and member of the House of Lords.
He is also a South Holland District Councillor and most importantly Chairman of the Local Government Association. He was created Baron Porter of Spalding, of Spalding in the County of Lincolnshire on 15th October 2015.
In the article he draws the comparison with top footballers with whom he is also “not happy” about their being paid a lot of money. But as a person in a leadership position he does have choices. He can choose not to support a football team if he thinks they are over promising and under delivering. A top footballer is expected to thrill millions across the globe and has a limited performing lifetime. And for many people the purpose of top footballers is to be the recipient of gratuitous abuse whether it is appropriate or otherwise. A top footballer is always at risk of career terminating injury. I have yet to see a Council Executive whose brain was overworked in the performance of their duties.
The real test of a Council Executive’s pay is whether the recipient provides added value. I have known a few Council Executives directly and I have yet to discern added value. For the most part they are administrators who do not provide leadership but manage to convince senior elected officials that they have to pay the most to get the best. But we do not always need the best. I would like a Rolls or a Bentley but I happily settle for a VW.
When Babergh was enjoying its executive leadership challenges I suggested that we could emulate the Roman Empire and split the job between the three (at most) next senior executives. They would have to work together towards common goals. They would not need a fourth person to coordinate their actions and give them direction as if they were teenagers. They would however need political direction.
Equally I suggested that they should advertise the post at £80,000 instead of  £100,000+ and see what they got. They might have got ambitious candidates with acceptable capabilities, qualifications, experience and vision. Instead the senior councillors (i.e. the political leadership) outsourced their problems to an Executive Search Consultant and the rest is history. There was no challenge and consequently I feel that they ended up overpaying.
And what of Lord Porter? Where is his challenge and leadership? What happened to the man I once met and admired? Has he succumbed to the Sir Humphreys of the Local Government Association?
The evidence is clear enough. One does not need to be in the Third World in order to go native!

Old Models – Poor Directions

Yesterday’s E.A.D.T., published the following letter:

New council H.Q. in Hadleigh will achieve the most savings

???????????????????????????????It’s all very well for the Leader of Babergh District Council to say that it is unlikely for Babergh’s and Mid Suffolk’s headquarters to be based in Hadleigh (EADT 25th October) – but this is precisely the direction indicated by the consultant’s report. Locating the main activities in Hadleigh and disposing of surplus sites and space will achieve a 50% reduction in costs. Relocating activities to the County’s building in Ipswich will achieve savings between 11% and 13%. Putting a new hub in the Ipswich fringe will only yield a 32% saving. The hub and spokes business and governance model is seductively simple but only suitable for banks, building societies and estate agents. It is recipe for senior management to distance themselves from the reality of the everyday lives in the areas they are supposed to be managing and directing. This is not a desirable way forward. Instead, both councils should focus on how value for money can be delivered to the residents because if monies are not spent wisely council taxes will rise.
Yours faithfully,
Brian Riley
District Councillor – Hadleigh North
County Councillor – Hadleigh

So far reaction has been favourable