Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Dirty tricks

The old parties in Hartlepool are getting more and more frantic in their attempts to hang onto power and the tricks are getting dirtier and dirtier!

The Labour Party have become desperate enough to chose as their as candidate someone from the other side of town who just happens to be called “John Marshall” This is not the same John Marshall who is already an Independent St.Hilda Councillor. The real John Marshall is not due for re-election for another two years.

Independent Candidates are becoming more popular but the Independent in St.Hilda Ward is an open supporter of the Labour Party. St.Hilda voters got rid of him four ago after he went on a Councillor’s freebie trip to the USA just a few weeks before seeking re-election. Since then he has tried twice, unsuccessfully, to get the seat back.

As a Councillor I have never shirked from speaking out and I have never taken the path that was popular rather than the path I thought was right. The Mayor, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems cannot stand me because I will not be silenced and keep asking questions the political class and senior council officers do not want to have to answer.

The only way to guarantee having a Councillor who is not just a Lib/Lab/Con or an Independent under possible false colours is to vote UKIP!

Councillors should make a decision based on conscience, principles and beliefs. In actual fact most are just told by their party how to vote and discipline is enforced by the “Party Whip"

UKIP does NOT have a whip AND has a policy of NEVER having a whip. True independents don't have a whip but the Lib/Lab/Con Party is not above using false independents as Trojan Horses to fool the voters and capture seats that they can't win under their own party colours.


The last time I was elected I promised three things;

to work hard on behalf of the ward and its residents;

keep residents and businesses informed about what was going on in the Civic Centre; and

listen to the views of residents and businesses.

I have kept all three of these promises!

I have worked hard for the residents of St.Hilda Ward. My opponents have critisied my attendance at meetings but I have always said it is not how many meetings you go to that count, it is what you do when you are there that matters. A Lib/Lab/Con Whipped Councillor might attend 100’s of meetings but all they do is vote with the party whip. They are not there representing the people who elected them! They are there to work for their party first, second and third.

I have published regular newsletters and residents surveys. These are printed and distributed at my cost. I have not had any money from the Council to pay for these newsletters or surveys. How many other Candidates have been willing to spend their own money outside election time to keep you informed and ask for your opinions?

I write regularly in the Hartlepool Mail; publish a blog about Council matters; and recently I have started to “Twitter” How many of the other candidates even try to communicate with anyone on anything like a regular basis?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tall Ships Parking Zones

Abandon hope all who enter the Tall Ships RED Zone

Sunday, 18 April 2010

START EACH DAY WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK

1. Open a new file in your computer.

2. Name it "Gordon Brown"

3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.

4. Empty the Recycle Bin.

5. Your PC will ask you: Do you really want to get rid of “Gordon Brown”?

6. Firmly Click "Yes"

Feel better?

GOOD - Tomorrow do "Peter Mandelson"

Friday, 16 April 2010

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Rumours!

You can tell there is an election coming up! The rumours that start to fly! I sometimes wish I'd slept with half the women I've heard that I've had! Of course most of the women in question would probably be less pleased to hear they have apparently succumbed to my silver tongue.....lol....

Usually about now the whisper will start that I don't even live in the ward! Actually I don't, that's true but I do have a permanent address in Beaconsfield Square where I have been based since 1986 when I came back from London. Of course the Labour party might have to be careful this time since THEIR John Marshall doesn't live in the ward either!

However, the best two rumours I've heard so far involve a senior member of another party who allegedly now lives in Harrogate but uses their sister's address for correspondence. I don't know if it's true and must stress that but I do hope it won't risk their elevation to the Chair Of Hartlepool Council in May? It could be embarrassing having the ceremonial representative of Hartlepool not even living within 50 miles of the town! I mean I get enough bitching and back biting over less than a mile!

The other rumour is a senior member of the council who allegedly commutes every week from a pied-à-terre in Wynyard to an estate in Ireland! I suppose with cheap flights and the type of wages paid at the top in Hartlepool Council it could be possible! One thing is for sure, no-one will ever find out using the Freedom of Information Act, Hartlepool Council have their own unique interpretation of "freedom" in these cases.

Why do Hartlepool Wards have 3 Councillors?

Why do Hartlepool Wards have 3 Councillors? This was a question recently asked by a Hartlepool resident and which is obviously of interests during the local elections.

All of Hartlepool's council wards, (with the exception of Greatham and Elwick which only have one each), have three Councillors. This is the number set by the government (or electoral commission? which is effectively the same thing .... lol ... ) as providing the correct level of representation for the Hartlepool electorate.

Personally I'd cut it to two in all wards which would give 34 councillors plus the mayor rather than the existing 47. In fact most Councillors are just there as party fodder and are whipped to the point of being useless. If you got rid of all of them, and the Mayor as well for that matter, it wouldn't actually matter to most people in the town as my experience leads me to conclude many people don't care enough about democracy to vote and many of those who do vote don't actually do so on the basis of issues but on blind party obedience. So, while democracy dies in Hartlepool the Council Chief Executive effectively controls what goes on and he of course isn't elected by anyone!

As Peter Mandelson has said "Europe is entering a post democratic era" where decisions are taken out of the hands of elected representatives and given instead to appointed apparatchiks. Mandelson should be proud of his old constituency in leading the way in this.

Hartlepool entered a "post democratic era" the day Stuart Drummond was elected and he was immediately taken under the wing of the previous Chief Executive who explained how things really worked. Since that day the Chief Executive has run Hartlepool with a smokescreen of democratic accountability in front of him provided by the Mayor and compliant Cabinet who rubber stamp the decisions made by the Chief Executive in return for regular photo opportunities in the Hartlepool Mail and of course their "special responsibility allowances"

Actually you could expand the question to why does the UK have 646 MPs and 72 MEPs and 129 MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) and 60 members of the National Assembly for Wales (although it is not called a parliament) and 108 members of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland?

All these bodies are at best talking shops and are there to provide lucrative careers for the political classes. The real power in the UK (and Europe as a whole) in my opinion no longer resides in elected bodies! It has passed to the "appointees" the quangos and the bureaucrats.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Question to the Mayor

Question to the Mayor for Full Council on Thursday 15th April 2010. Apparently there are road closures planned? Resident only parking permits in the pipeline? My wife, who works as a chiropodist has been unofficially advised that the best thing she can do is shut up her surgery for four days and not even try to get round the town.

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Will the Mayor please describe the measures in place, or proposed, for the period of the Tall Ships race that will allow the residents of the Headland to be able to continue with their everyday lives, or in the case of Headland businesses continue trading?

Question to Chair of Scrutiny Coordinating Committee

As an elected Councillor (well until 6th May anyway) I am entitled to ask questions at full Council. The one below went to the Chair of the Scrutiny Coordinating Committee for Full Council on Thursday 15th April 2010. Of course I can't just ask about anything I like, it is down to Peter Devlin to decide if it's a valid question and so if it can be allowed!

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Will the Chair of Scrutiny Coordinating Committee please tell the Council how many exempt or confidential reports (pink papers) she has received since it was agreed in December 2009 that these would be made available to her, the subject titles of these papers, the reason they were confidential or exempt from publication and to whom, if anyone, she has passed on each of the pink papers she has received.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Heaven or Hell

While walking down the street one day a "Member of Parliament" is hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter.. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a Problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not Sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the MP.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the lift and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises....

The lift goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St.Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time to visit heaven.' So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him back to the lift and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the lift open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the rubbish and putting it in black bags as more rubbish falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the MP. Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time.. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?'

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning... ...

'Today you voted.'

Up a level

-----Original Message-----

From: Steve Allison
Sent: 02/04/2010 01:47
To: Office of the Information Commissioner
Subject: Re: Access to Information

Please find attached a completed complaint form and file containing supporting documents for a complaint I wish to make about Hartlepool Unitary Authority withholding information from an elected Member of that Local Authority

Councillor Stephen Allison
St.Hilda Ward Councillor
Hartlepool Unitary Authority

Friday, 2 April 2010

Need to Know.......

And the saga continues!
_________________________________________________________________________________

From: Peter Devlin
Sent: 30/03/2010 12:52
To: Steve Allison External; Alison Lilley External
Subject: Re: Access to Information

Hi Steve,

The 'need to know' is a common law principle, which establishes two main points;

(1) A Member is indeed entitled to access documents that are reasonably necessary to enable that Councillor to carry out their duties. However -

(2) This does not give a right to a 'roving commission' to examine documents. A 'mere curiosity or wish to see them is not sufficient' (various case law references).

I have covered the above in reports to CWG etc., and as the above applies the common law, the same has not been 'lifted' into Council constitutions, which generally follow the modular schemes under guidance issued in conjunction with the provisions of the Local Government Act, 2000. We (as a Council) have covered the same in the Member/Officer protocol, as indicated. Consequently, if a Member wants access to a particular report that is otherwise 'exempt/confidential', the above, even appreciating para 32 Part 4, comes into play.


Best Wishes,
Peter.

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Allison External
Sent: 30 March 2010 23:29
To: Peter Devlin; Alison Lilley External
Subject: Re: Access to Information

Peter,

I am aware of Part 5 of the Constitution and I am sure you are equally aware of Part 4 of this document.

Could you please tell me where in Part 4 Paragraph 32 it requires me to establish a need to know in this case as the information I was seeking was witheld from the Public under Category 4 and hence I an ENTITLED to inspect this document.

Best regards

Steve Allison

From: Peter Devlin
Sent: 31/03/2010 12:04
To: Steve Allison External; Alison Lilley External
Subject: Re: Access to Information

Dear Stephen,

it has come to my attention your requests to Democratic Services for the provision of agendas, reports etc., in 'hard copy' format and your contentions in relation to any 'need to know' basis, for the release of 'exempt' or otherwise 'confidential' information.

The request for the provision of agendas etc, follows on from your FOIA request and the response provided by my colleague Mrs Martin, which was in essence, that such information is available and can therefore be readily accessed upon the Council's website. Clearly, and trust you will appreciate, individual officers should not be engaged in 'sifting out' what is exempt/confidential information and to notify you of the same. I am given to understand, that Democratic Services are to supply in 'hard copy' format agendas/reports, pursuant to your request. Perhaps this can be reviewed in due course, as to the level of resource expended, but more so, the overall benefit to yourself.

I have provided reports to the Constitution Working Group, as well as briefing/Guidance Notes, covering the 'need to know' situation, which you are hopefully conversant, although, this does not come across in your communication with colleagues in Democratic Services. Where a report is on 'pink papers' a Member who is not privy to that report, in that they are not a Member of that particular Committee/Sub Committee or whatever, will need to justify that they have a legitimate 'need to know' in relation to that item. I am charged with the role to consider such requests, which is covered in the 'Officer/Member' Protocol (Part 5 of the Council's Constitution refers).

I should point out that neither the writer or colleagues wish to constrain or in any way obstruct an Elected Member in discharging the duties of their position for the benefit of their constituents.

However, there are parameters which surround access to information,which I believe you are patently aware. My purpose in sending this e-mail (and I am at pains not to labour or lengthen discussions) is to bring to your attention my own concerns as to what appears to be the engagement of several Council officers in dealing with matters raised by yourself, which could possibly have avoided the circuitous route that appears to have been followed.

Best Wishes,

Peter.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

So you want to be a Councillor? ....... Obviously NOT

I was a little bit disappointed, but not really surprised, at the low turn out last Saturday at the event we organised at the Grand Hotel to try and encourage more people to stand as Councilors.

The fairly obvious allegation being made now is that it was all just a stunt. That of course is the easy charge to make. Especially if you are one of those people who prefer to sneer at anything different.

As an individual and as a member of UKIP I am committed to local democracy. UKIP’s commitment to local referenda was actually the first policy that attracted me to them; the European dimension wasn’t top of my agenda by any means. As I learned more about the EU and how it works I also learned that democracy isn’t something that the EU is very keen on and the European Parliament is just a front to provide a smokescreen of democratic accountability while the real power lies with behind the scenes.

I first entered Hartlepool Council as an Independent Member and was soon made aware of how the system penalised independents. The entire structure of local government works round political “groups” and the machinery is set up that way. If you are not in a group then you are left out of many things. I personally would prefer to see all councilors as independents, no political groups at all in Town Halls. However it is made very difficult to operate an independent because of the way the rules are written.

Personally I don’t ever read UKIP’s local Manifesto these days because the only manifesto I recognise at local level is based on what are the best decision for St.Hilda Ward and then the best decision for the town as a whole. National policies do not control my actions at local level. At national level I do believe that this country does need to get out of the European Union before we are totally bankrupted by it but at the level of Hartlepool Council Chamber that isn’t an issue we will ever decide.

I have considered standing as an Independent at local level but have thought people may accuse me of trying to hide my national political views. So I suppose the best thing is to retain my UKIP Colours ever though I think they are almost irrelevant at local level since there is no party whip and no manifesto imposed on me. Should UKIP ever attempt to impose such a whip then UKIP would lose a Hartlepool Councillor the first time the whip tried to make me take a position I didn’t feel was best for St.Hilda Ward or best for the town of Hartlepool.

United Kingdom INDEPENDENCE Party! Exactly what is says on the tin! INDEPENDENCE of the UK from the EU and INDEPENDENCE of Hartlepool from Westminster.

That doesn’t mean UKIP don’t want to cooperation! UKIP think cooperation is vital BUT cooperation needs to be a voluntary act where the individuals, parties, countries work together for mutually beneficial aims and mutually beneficial outcomes. The whip system does not produce cooperation. Whipping is a coercive system that I do not support in local council chambers and never will.