Thursday, 25 October 2007

Q and A

Loads of people ask me who can be a Councillor and how do they go about it. Below are some common Questions I've been asked.

Q. Am I eligible to stand for Council?
A. You must be a 18 years of age or more (there is no maximum), UK, EU or Commonwealth citizen and either live, work or in some cases own property in the local authority area where you want to stand.

Q. How much time does it take up?
A. As with everything else that depends upon how much time you want to give it. The legal minimum is one meeting every six months, if you don't attend then you loose your seat. The maximum is every waking hour! New Councillors often try to do far too much. Constituency work should be a few hours a week, committee work then depends on which committees you sit on, the more committees the more hours. Six to ten hours a week, sometimes in the evenings, but often during the working day is typical. By the time I've read all the papers, attended meetings and committees and sorted out ward matters I usually do about 15 hours a week in total. Sometimes less but often more.

Q. Do I get paid?
A. No. BUT you do get an allowance and expenses. These vary from Council to Council and the work you do. All Councillors get a basic allowance (typically £5,000 a year) but cabinet members and committee chairmen get more. Councillors on £15,000 to £20,000 a year are not uncommon and of course an Elected Mayor is on much, much more than that. Allowances are subject to tax.

Q. I work in local Government. Can I stand?
A. You cannot be an elected member of a local authority where you work. BUT if you live in one local authority area but work in a different area then you can stand for the area where you live unless you are in a post that is bared from political involvement.

Q. How much does it cost?
A. It costs nothing to stand for local Council. There is no deposit like there is for Parliamentary seats. Where you will incur costs are those associated with the campaign, for example leaflet printing, copying, stamps etc. BUT how much you spend on this is mainly up to you. Typical around £100 will be enough.

Q. Is there a maximum I can spend?
A. Yes. Different elections have different amounts made up of a lump sum plus so much per elector on the electoral register. Typically £500 to £600 will be the maximum amount you can spend.

Q. How do I get on the ballot paper?
A. You must submit a Nominations paper signed by a proposer and a seconder plus eight others (called assenters) who are on the electoral register for the ward you wish to contest.

Q. Where do I get a Nomination Paper?
A. Nomination Papers are issued by the local Council elections office. You should contact them as soon as you decide to stand so that they can prepare the Nomination pack (includes a copy of the electoral register, a candidates guide and a statement of the maximum you can spend in the campaign in that ward). Nominations will open late March and remain open for about a week. The nomination period varies slightly from Local authority to local authority.

Q. How do I get to be a UKIP Candidate?
A. In order to be a UKIP Candidate you must submit with your Nomination Paper a Certificate from the Party authorising you to be a Party Candidate. These certificates are issued by Party Deputy Nominating Officers, usually the Branch Chairman or Regional Organiser.

Q. Do I need an Agent?
A. The agent is responsible for all spending and legal aspects of the campaign. Such as completing a declaration of expenses (usually 35 days after polling day) and ensuring all campaign items have the imprint on them. Most local election candidates are their own agent although some Branches will have someone as the Branch Agent who acts as Agent for all the candidates from that Branch.

Q. What's an “Imprint?”
A. All election material must show the name and address of the publisher/promoter (usually the Candidate or the Agent) and the name and address of the printer. This is a legal requirement.

Q. Is there any Training available?
A. Most regions run Candidate training days. Contact your Regional Office for details.

Q. How do I campaign?
A. There are many ways of campaigning. Usually candidates produce a leaflet and distribute it door to door. Some Candidates do multiple leaflets but of course that costs more money.

Q. What about Door to Door Canvassing?
A. This is the best way to campaign but very time consuming. A door to door canvas campaign typically starts a year before the election.

Q. Can I put adverts in the press or posters on lamp posts?
A. Press Adverts are OK, but don’t exceed your maximum spending limit. Posters on lamp posts are allowed by some local authorities and not by others. You local Council elections office will tell you the local rules

Q. Are Postal votes important?
A. Typically 80% of registered postal voters will vote so reaching them is important. Postal voting starts up to 2 weeks before polling day so the date postal voting starts is a key one in your campaign plan.

Q. You mentioned a Campaign Plan. What’s that?
A. Getting elected is like a military operation. You need a plan. There are key dates you need to know (such as when Nomination Packs are available for collection, when completed Nomination Papers must be submitted, postal voting starts, etc) and key events that you need to attend (for example local resident association may ask all the candidates to address them). These items for a basic campaign plan. You should then plan leaflet delivery, door to door canvassing, meet the people opportunities (pension day at the local post office, Market day in the High Street, etc). All these activities need to be planned and of course fit in around your day job. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.

Q. After I’m elected then what?
A. You local Authority should have an induction program for new councillors. However, you should contact UKIP immediately after your election so that UKIP can offer you on-going support

Q. If I don’t get elected when should I start my next campaign?
A. Immediately. The best time to campaign is actually when there is no election due. People appreciate that you are not only around when your are chasing their vote. Also during a campaign all the parties are out so you are just one voice amongst many.

Q. I have loads more questions. Who should I contact?
A. Steve Allison, he is a UKIP Councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council.
E-mail drop him a line anytime.

You can't do right for doing wrong

As a Councillor there is one thing I can guarantee. No matter what I do or say it will please some people while at the same time causing others to curse my name and tell me they will never vote for me again. You can't do right for doing wrong is a common phrase in my home.
It therefore made me smile to read some recent advice regarding home security. I have only just got the hang of going round turning everything off, unplugging the TV and anything else that could be left on standby, switching off unnecessary lights and ensuring I conserve as much energy as possible. My carbon footprint has been getting smaller ever day. However, I am now being urged to leave lights on when I go out to fool burglars into thinking someone is at home. It's not so long ago that a radio playing was also considered a good idea, although the Fire Brigade were not too keen on electrical appliances being left switched on in empty homes.
So do I switch off, stop wasting electricity and reduce my carbon footprint or do I light up, switch on and try to deter burglars (who are very unlikely to be fooled anyway). Its a dilemma! How do I do right without doing wrong?

Monday, 22 October 2007


According to recent reports the public are going to be allowed to choose site for the new North Tees Hospital. The government no doubt hope everyone will be so grateful they will forget about assurances the existing Hospitals were safe and wouldn’t be closing.

The promise of choice reminded me of discussions with my partner about our holiday destination. “I don’t mind” she said “You chose” I chose the Greek Islands. The response of my better half ”Greek Islands, I’ve heard some dodgy things about them BUT if you are REALLY SURE then it’s your choice.”

I took the hint. Next choice Bulgaria; went there a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. The response, “Bulgaria, AGAIN! Wouldn’t you rather try somewhere different, but it’s your choice.”

Third “Choice” Dominican Republic, somewhere new and a bit more exotic than usual. The response” The Dominican Republic, it’s a long flight and you know airline seats hurt my back, but if you don’t mind me being in agony 12 hours each way then go ahead. It’s your choice”

At this point I asked if she had anywhere in mind. “How about Malta” she said, “I’ve always wanted to go there”. So we’re off to Malta, it was my choice!

I suspect the public’s choice of new hospital site will be something similar. The government finding reasons why sites suggested are unsuitable until the public choose the one the government had already decided upon before any of the consultation started. However, the public will then be told “It was your choice!”

Sunday, 21 October 2007

UKIP Hartlepool Branch Meeting

The next meeting of the UKIP Hartlepool Branch is on Wednesday 7th. November in the Woodcutter Hotel, 7.30 pm start. All welcome to come along.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

All you footsore UKIPers out there in need of foot care just look at in fact all parties welcome at this equal opportunities chiropodist

Monday, 15 October 2007

Referendum Debate

UKIP Councillor Stephen Allison has used Hartlepool Council’s Rules and procedures to force a debate calling for the Prime Minister to let the British people decide via a referendum on whether our country should remain within the European Union.

The local Council Chamber of Peter Mandelson’s former constituency will hold the debate on Thursday 26th October.

Councillor Allison said “Although the Labour Party dominates Hartlepool Council Chamber they have to allow this debate to take place. I know of many local Labour Party Members who behind close doors will admit they are in fact Euro-sceptics. It will be interesting to see if they toe the Party line or if they will vote with their consciences and follow their beliefs”

The debate has been called under Council Procedure Rule 12.1 in Part 4 of the Constitution and the full text of the motion is given below.

“As much of the growing legislative burden placed on Hartlepool Council originates from the European Union Government then Hartlepool Council call upon Gordon Brown as the British Prime Minister to let the British people decide via a referendum on whether our country should remain within the European Union. Hartlepool Council also calls upon Ian Wright as the Member of Parliament for Hartlepool to do all in his power to promote the holding of such a referendum.”

Stephen Allison admitted that the call on the local MP was a bit tongue in cheek. Councillor Allison said “Ian Wright has proved himself a reliable New Labour MP in that he will usually vote however he is told to vote by the Party Whips.” Councillor Allison continued “As far as many of Hartlepool's Councillors and the Hartlepool MP are concerned it appears to me that it is New Labour and political careers well ahead of anything their constituents may say”

Recent opinion polls have identified huge and growing support for a referendum. “Of course” said UKIP Councillor Stephen Allison, “the last Referendum held in the North East rejected by 4 to 1 the New Labour Proposals for an elected Regional Assembly, maybe that is why Gordon Brown and New Labour are so scared of giving the people a voice. The people might not give the politicians the answer they want.”

Stephen Allison
07900 803052

Sunday, 14 October 2007

thick Irish sausages

Brilliant Website, please look at it....

It's the website for the campaign against political correctness and includes a section on Politically Correct Awards. One of the imagural awards went to a woman who had called Asda insisting that they were racist for selling thick Irish sausages - not grasping that the thick related to the sausages and not the Irish

You just can't make this stuff up.....

Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Green Eyed Monster

Jealousy is a terrible thing but I'm afraid I succumbed to it today. As a regular reader of Private Eye I often think "Rotten Boroughs" should feature Hartlepool occasionally. My wish was granted this issue (No:1195) when Geoff Lilley managed to get himself a favourable mention over his expose of Councilors attendances. Reading on I did wonder if my own name would then feature, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) the Eye reserved is scorn for Councilor Hargreaves, who's solution to low levels of Councillor attendance is to stop publishing the figures.

But back to jealousy! Councillor Lilley and I had a good nature competition last year over who could acquire the most BBC Radio Cleveland Breakfast bowls. A competition manged to win by 4 bowls to 2. However, I admit Councillor Lilley is obviously a better man than I, mentioned FAVOURABLY in Private Eye, how can I possibly ever top that!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Lying in taters on the steps of the Civic Centre

My “favourite” web site is once again complaining about its Local Councilors and once again demonstrating its complete lack of understanding of the realities of Town Hall life. Under the Mayoral System the power is concentrated into the hands of the Mayor and his chosen Cabinet. The Constitution of Hartlepool Council mandates that the Mayor can create a minimum of two and a maximum of nine cabinet portfolios. All Executive power then rests with these posts, the ordinary back bench Councilor is left as a representative of his or her wards and with overview/scrutiny functions. Unfortunately for High-Tax-Hartlepool the “assumption that each councillor is also putting the same effort into the invisible part of the role - namely by regularly attending those meetings which play a large part in the general governance of the town” is completely false because the ordinary back bench councillor is expressly excluded by the Mayoral System from having any part in the general governance of the town.

If the assumption that they do is now lying in taters on the steps of the Civic Centre then its has not been destroyed by the failure of Councilors to attend meetings, it was destroyed when the people of Hartlepool
placed the powers into the hands of a Mayor. Unfortunately, like most people In Hartlepool the authors of the High-Tax-Hartlepool website have no idea what the Mayoral System means. As I’ve said before, they really should do a bit more homework before they start pontificating about things, maybe then they could focus their attacks on what really maters, the destruction of representative democracy in Hartlepool and other towns where an elected mayor is now in control.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Pay peanuts.....get monkeys

The standard Councillor's allowance for Hartlepool is just under £5,000 a year, of course Cabinet Members get double that and the Mayor gets over 10 times more but the average back bench Councillor gets about £90 a week. From this any Councilor with earnings from a real job has to pay the appropriate level of Income Tax. Councillor's Allowances do not count for Pension.

There is considerable debate on whether Councillors are good value for money. My answer is that people get what they deserve. If you vote in the same old faces then that's called democracy. If you vote in the same old Party Political Hacks then that again is called democracy. It applies to any elected post. Do you think the people of Hartlepool choose their MP? Not so, the Labour Party Choose Hartlepool's MP. Thousands of residents of Hartlepool didn't vote for Ian Wright (In fact 51% of a 51% turnout actually voted Labour in the 2005 General Election, making it just over 1 in 4 of those entitled to vote actually voted for Labour in Hartlepool in 2005).

As regards Councillors then if you pay peanuts you get monkeys (Apart from the Mayor of course, there you got a Monkey who is paid very very well indeed). This is why Councillors are mainly pensioners, on social security or in public sector job which allows them unlimited paid time off to attend meetings. Very, very few Councillors actually have to work for a living and those that do have to very carefully prioritise which meetings they attend so as to minimise lost earnings or to avoid ending up without any holiday time left. If the public want full time Councillors then they should pay them full time wages. The only full time Councillor in Hartlepool is the Mayor and he receives over 12 times my annual allowance, my attendance at meetings is much higher than the Mayors in proportion to what our respective allowances are. If I was being paid over £1,000 a week then I'm sure I could attend more meetings. As it is I'll continue to use my best judgement on what meetings I need to attend and which are a waste of my time and hence the public's money.

Hold the front page

If no publicity is bad publicity then I'm delighted to see that I got front page again in the Hartlepool Mail while I was in London attending the UKIP Conference. Unfortunately I was once again being criticised for not going to a meeting. Along with six other Councillors I didn't make it to a special planning meeting to discuss the Ghost Ships. Unfortunately the meeting was not scheduled in the Councilor's Diary but was an additional, special meeting. It is hard enough sometimes to juggle work and Council meetings when I know in advance that they are going to happen, its even harder to attend "special" meetings called at short notice .

The meeting itself would have been a rubber stamp in any case. As has already been revealed (so I'm breaking no confidences here) the Council has been advised by its Barrister that we cannot put up a winnable case to prevent the Ghost Ships being dismantled and should we continue the fight then we are just incurring costs (and considerable costs at that) for no reason.

The Ghost ships is a perfect example of how UKIP's policy of local referrenda could have been applied. UKIP want local people to have direct influence over significant local issues. If we had held a referrenda into the Ghost Ships then at least we would know what the real feelings of Hartlepool people were and how many felt strongly enough either way to turn out and vote. At present we are paying most attention to those who shout loudest, a common problem in our "democratic" system when fewer and fewer people bother to vote. As turn out drop those who do vote get a proportionally bigger say on what happens, giving special interest groups power well in excess of their actual size.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

and Tall Ships Expenses

The other part of my question, the one deemed unsuitable by the Chief Solicitor, was about another part of the Mayor's response to my question at last full Council. The Mayor revealed that the budget for the Tall Ships race had almost tripled from the £800,000 figure initially mentioned. However, the Mayor did not give a breakdown (as requested in my question) of the major cost areas that made up the expected spending. I therefore again asked for a list of the cost centres identified for the Tall Ships Event and the estimated total amounts for each cost centre from the start of the project until the last bill is paid after the event.

The clincher for rejecting my question was probable the PS as below.......

"I am submitting this question with over three weeks notice in the hope that you will be able to circulate the figures requested in writing to all councillors with a projected profit / loss account and balance sheet for the Tall ships race in advance of the next full council meeting. This will enable you to use your verbal answer time in the meeting to explain in detail the figures and allow all Councillors to study the figures before the Council Meeting which will therefore hopefully allow more informed debate during the meeting."

Lets face it, the last thing that they really want is Councilors in possession of some facts and figures and actually having a well informed debate. Why break the traditions of many years!

Tall Ships Income

In response to my question at last full council the Mayor implied the Tall Ships Event was expected to run a surplus and the funds generated might be used to support Council services in the years after the race. Figures of upwards of £50,000,000 have been mentioned as the potential income for the town.

I have already submitted questions for the next Council meeting in October on the Tall Ships finances. I will be asking the Mayor to share with
Hartlepool Council the main sources he has identified for this income and the approximate amounts that each source will contribute to the £50,000,000 figure being quoted.

Unfortunately the exact wording of the question was not acceptable to the Chief Solicitor so I've had to re-word and re-
submit the Question, more news will be posted as it becomes available.

Party Conference

Well it's UKIP's turn for a Party Conference, this year being held in the Troxy Centre in London. Two fun filled days of UKIPers telling each other how bad the EU is and how you can never trust the Tories! It was the Tories that first applied to join, the Tories that brought us in, the Tories that forced us in to the ERM and the Tories that signed the Maastricht Treaty.

Of course the Conservatives always go Eurosceptic when they think a General Election is near, but it never lasts long after the votes have been counted.

But back to the UKIP Party Conference. The highlight will no doubt be at 11.15 on the Saturday.....when the topic is "UKIP’s Campaigns: Chairman Steve Allison"

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Anti Social Behaviour

The Cleveland Police meeting was tonight (See my Comment from 8th September) and well over 50 people turned up (We know it was over 50 because as part of the presentation everyone got to vote on various questions using X Factor style hand held units that immediately collated the results. Unfortunately there were only 50 sets available and so they ran out before everyone could have one).

Hartlepool Borough Council were represented by the Chairman of the Council, who also chaired the question and answer session that was the conclusion of the meeting. There were also a smattering of Councilors but hardly a full turn out. The Mayor was conspicuous by his absence but then as was pointed out Pools were playing at home so lets face it he needs to get his priorities right and it is the Hartlepool United Supporters Vote that gets him elected.

Key issue the public voted on was Anti Social behaviour, no change from last year. However, despite some criticism think Neighbourhood Policing is the way to go and I hope the Government don't decide on yet another review and change of direction. Change for sake of change isn't always good!

So an interesting night with innovative use of technology but a poor turn out by Hartlepool's elected representatives. The Town's MP was there for some of the meeting but had to leave early to go onto another engagement. Important to be seen though, especially with a possible early election in the offing.