Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Libraries or logos?

One of the first lessons I was given in civic finance was that when times get hard it is libraries, community centers, dial-a-ride and services like that which are targeted for the first cuts. These guarantee front page news and interviews with the poor, downtrodden and disadvantaged people who will be worst affected. The same level of public concern would not be generated by slashing the printer cartridge budget or moving down to 70gsm paper from 110gsm. It would hardly be front page news if heartless government was forcing Council to use thinner paper and only print in black and white.

Targeting high profile services over backroom savings also means that should the Mayor manage to “find” the money to keep the services open then this generates more headlines about how caring and sensitive he is and how hard he is working for the town. It is unlikely that the public would applaud the Mayor’s hard work in re-instating full colour printing in the civic centre!

How times have changed, just two years ago a "working group" spent months “refreshing the corporate image” of Hartlepool Council by adding a new wave under the logo. How much did all that cost and how long would it have kept a library open? Of course in those days money was no object and those in power thought the good times would continue for ever. Unfortunately the money is now all gone and the bills are coming in and it is the people of Hartlepool who have to pay them!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Politics is a dirty game!

I have been galvanised into action for my first blog post of 2011. My good friend and former council colleague Geoff Lilley called me yesterday to ask for my advise before he surrendered himself to the local police to face allegations of "cyber bullying" I told him to "Say nothing without a Solicitor present"

The Hartlepool Mail briefly covered the story here

Geoff had also been told to bring his laptop computer with him, I recommended he didn't hand it over without a warrant! His wife was told the Police just wanted a "quick look at it" and that if he brought it in then they wouldn't need to keep it. However, if the Police had to get a warrant then the lap top would need to go away and he might not get it back for months. He therefore handed it over, guess what? The police have kept it and he might not get it back for months!

So I have written to the local rag, whether they publish or not I will wait and see.....

Dear Editor,
Politics is a dirty game! The Labour tactic of standing a candidate called John Marshall in St.Hilda ward last year illustrated that. However, it got even dirtier this week when Councillor Geoff Lilley was arrested and held in custody for several hours over alleged “cyber bullying”

Some may speculate Geoff’s real crime is being an Independent Councillor in a town where the Con-Dems and Labour feel only they are entitled to sit in the Council Chamber? While I was a Councillor I was subject to numerous personal attacks on my character and integrity, all dismissed as “normal cut and thrust of local politics” However, when a complaint was about me I was hauled before the Council’s standards board and ordered to apologize. The Lib/Lab/Con Councilors on the Standards board were ready to tar and feather me and drum me out of the council. I appealed my treatment to the Standards Board for England who reviewed my case and totally exonerated me, saying my remarks were in the public interest and intended to promote debate.

Interestingly Councilor Lilley made a complaint to the Council Standards Board a year ago regarding lack of impartiality from Council Chairman Carl Richardson. I’m almost certain that no action has yet been taken to even investigate this complaint. Of course Councillor Richardson sits on the Cleveland Police Authority and is the former spouse of the Labour Councillor whose complaint lead to the arrest of Councillor Lilley. Nothing should be read into these facts of course!

Stephen Allison
Former UKIP Councillor St.Hilda Ward

Further arrests are apparently expected. The police task force will be assembling to swoop down and round up the rest of the desperate gang of internet villains. Kipperdipp, Caturine, Hier Hunter and several others can apparently expect the dawn raid "knock on the door" at any time! So be braced for the potential news that the Vice Chairman of the UK Independence Party is "helping police with their enquiries"