Thursday, 19 May 2011

VAT on Fuel for Air Ambulance

I WONDER how many people heard the response that the Prime Minister gave in Parliament, when an MP asked why the Air Ambulance has to pay VAT on its fuel but the lifeboats don't?

David Cameron merely said that it was because of a European Union ruling. If our MPs had any nous, there should have been uproar in the House about how the British government meekly kowtows to Brussels. How woefully pathetic I feel our Westminster parliament has now become, if it is powerless to let the vital Air Ambulance service off paying VAT on its fuel. Shame on all MPs.

But in my view, our MPs are now seemingly automatons so conditioned by the system that they fail to spot the outrageous injustice in all of this. They are meant to represent us, the voters who put them there, but, instead, they do what they are told by the likes of Blair, Brown and Cameron In my opinion, they gave up representing the wishes of the British people in 1972.

That is why UKIP fights the three main parties. We will keep fighting them until we get our national sovereignty returned so that we can, once again, be ruled by a properly accountable Parliament in Westminster – and let the Air Ambulance off VAT on its fuel.

(Thanks to Hugh Williams UKIP Treasurer)

Options for re-structuring

From a blog I follow.

May is here and many local authorities will have just gone through the first of what is sure to be a number of major restructures to take place over the next three or four years.

At the end of it almost 140,000 local government jobs that once existed no longer exist and a large number of local government employees find themselves redundant and forcibly retired.

However, there are many ways to skin a cat and this set of restructures has demonstrated significantly different approaches from different councils.

In fear of generalising (but doing it anyway) broadly speaking there were two approaches:

1) The ‘protect our staff’ model

In this model every effort is made by the local authority to find their staff a job. Although the new service structures and job descriptions will be significantly different to what was being done by the current staff lower thresholds will be set to ensure staff are able to transition into the new structure.

Under this model there is no attempt to ensure the removal of ‘deadwood’, by which we mean staff that are not performing up to the level they should be. Nor is there any effort to bring new blood into the organisation through the creation of new posts. The primary aim is to limit, at all costs, the number of redundancies.

In one example I heard about the primary determinant of whether or not a member of staff would receive a job in the new structure was their salary. So, if you were ‘overpaid’ in the old structure that would continue and if you were ‘underpaid’ then tough. This disadvantages those on short term secondments or who are acting up into managerial roles (who tend to be newer in the organisation and keener to get on) and advantaged those who’d got high salaries by dint of spending a long time in the organisation.

This model reassures staff in the organisation during the transition and keeps as many people as possible in post. It assumes that the authority has consistently worked to develop talent and performance managed those staff who are not performing up to standard and that development programmes are in place for all staff going forward.

2) The ‘we’ll design a structure and then try to get the best staff we can model’

In this model the council designs a structure that they feel will meet the authority’s needs going forward. All staff are told they are at risk of redundancy and have to apply for the jobs in the new structure. If the staff are good enough for the new roles they are appointed but if not the council is comfortable about going out to external recruitment.

In this model ‘deadwood’ is definitely gone and ‘slightly ok wood’ have to prove their worth in interviews.

I know of one council where a team of 15 was reduced to 10 and yet only 7 of them got a job with three posts being advertised externally.

The disadvantages of this model are that it is expensive; making a lot of people redundant is very costly, as is recruitment. It is also very destabilising for the local authority; staff feel under threat for most of the consultation period and subsequently you need to bed in a whole load of new employees.

It is also largely a one off trick; if the local authority has to do it too often then it is evidence of them failing in many other ways.

I don’t know which model is best but here’s my guess:

In one or two year’s time the authorities in model 2 will be far better off than those in model 1. Carrying staff who aren’t quite up to it might seem like a sensible option in the midst of a horrible series of redundancies but long term having exactly the right staff in post can only be of benefit to the authority and local people.

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at:

Sack the Chief Executive

Well it's not often I find myself in agreement with an Elected Mayor, but this time I think he's got it exactly right.

According to the Mayor; "The chief executive has a very wide range of responsibilities, some at least of which I believe overlap with the newly elected mayor, particularly providing strategic direction.

"It's for that reason that I've come to the conclusion, partly to save money but also because of this overlap of roles, that the chief executive's role can be removed from the organisation and that's the proposal that I'm making."

Fantastic news. Some real changes being made!

Unfortunately for Hartlepool it's not Stuart Drummond making this announcement. It's Leicester's first elected mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, who has announced plans to scrap the position of chief executive at the city council.

After just a few weeks into the job Soulsby has come to a conclusion that Drummond has failed to reach even though he's well into his third term in office. One of the quotes from Sir Peter echoes something I said when I was a new councillor back in 2002! The mayor added: "There's no legal requirement for us to have a chief executive but we do have to have a head of paid service."

Exactly! We don't need a Chief Executive! Bring back Town Clerks I say!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The fight to save St.Hilda Ward

One of the "issues" that emerged during the local election campaign was the proposed merger of St.Hilda Ward with the existing Stranton Ward to for a new "Heritage" ward. Apparently the existing councillors are very much against it (well John Marshall and Tim Fleming, the independent two anyway) and they, along with Shane Moore, the Conservatibve Candidate in the recent elections are all going to campaign to "Save St.Hilda Ward"

It's a shame the two independents didn't start the fight a little bit earlier. At the Council Meeting of December 16th 2010 the whole council agreed a set or proposals that included the formation of Heritage Ward. Only one of the three ward councillors was present at that meeting. The Labour John Marshall, and he of course voted for the proposal. Shane also needs to check with his Conservative Group Leader, Ray Wells, since all the Conservative Councillors voted with the Labour Group (as indeed the usually seem to do) in favour of the proposals. The Tories even went as far as to send a separate e-mail to the Electoral Commission to stress how fully they supported the plans for Heritage Ward!

Tim Fleming did have his name on a letter from the "Independent Association" but this seems to be mainly a plea to retain Elwick and Greatham as separate "rural" wards. The body you would have expected to be most active in protecting the integrity of St.Hilda Ward is of course the Parish Council. This body has so far made no representations about the proposed changes.

I personally wrote to the Electoral Commission some time ago and the UK Independence Party (Hartlepool Branch) made a formal submission to the Electoral Commission back in August 2010 suggesting the existing ward boundaries be unchanged and simply reduced from three Councillors to two.

I wish the campaign by Tim, John and Shane every success. However I think they have left it a little bit late to start! Still better late than never to jump on the bandwagon!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Toys out of the pram

I've really upset the St.Hilda Ward Conservative Candidate, Shane Moore! I wonder if he was really naive enough to believe he was going to win the seat? I actually finished where I thought I would, second place, however I did think the Labour Candidate would be the one taking the seat rather than Tim Fleming. However, I'm glad it was Tim.

Anyway, I've apparently posted "blatant and shameful lies" about Mr.Moore on my blog on Election day. Well I've checked up and I only made one post on my blog on election day. I am happy to acknowledge that when Shane told blatant and shameful lies about me made a couple of "mistakes" he did change them when they were pointed out. So in the same spirit if he'd care to tell me which are the "blatant and shameful lies" in my blog then I'd be happy to correct any "mistakes" I've made. Of course I was able to point out errors of fact in Shane's postings, like Hurworth Burn is NOT in Darlington. I never complained about what he thought about me, he's entitled to his own opinion, as am I. When it was commented that Shane himself doesn't live in the ward there was a rapid rebuttal that where he lived was on every leaflet he sent out. Unfortunately for Shane this was in fact not true. That "mistake" was down to the printer apparently?

Having said all of that, congratulations to Shane Moore on polling 4th with more votes than Ruben Atkinson, I'm sure the Tories, Labour Party, the remnants of the Lib-Dems and a number of members of the Council Hierarchy are delighted with your performance and pleased to be keeping me out of the civic centre for another year.

Still can't let it go!

Even after the votes have been counted the Shane Moore still can't let it go. Why does he feel the need on his blog to refer to "the absent fringe party candidate"

It's over, Tim won, I was second. How would it have hurt him to just acknowledge my name, the fact I stood for UKIP, accept the result and move on without another dig?

Still, that's (unfortunately) politics today. Never pass up an opportunity to belittle your opponent. Now it's back to the real world!

"The Allisons"

This video was posted on a local message board. I think it was meant to be taunting me! Actually I found it very amusing. Wonderful that some people obviously have nothing better to do that their lives are brightened by my "humiliation"

The lyrics say "It's hard but I'll pull through" which is not quite right. I'd say "It's politics and I've already got over it!" I have much, much more in my life than Hartlepool Council Chamber. So Congratulations to Tim Fleming, St.Hilda Ward Councillor for another 12 months at least.

Thank you and good night!

Independent (Fleming) 360
UKIP 359
Labour 356
Tory 168
Independent (Atkinson) 45

So Tim held the seat. Congratulations to him. Now I'm going to bed.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Election Day

So the big day dawns. It's been a strange campaign. There were 5 candidates, the sitting independent defending his seat, a former Lib-Dem Councillor also now an Independent, a hard-working Labour supporter (well that what he said on his leaflet) now standing as a conservative but (again according to his leaflet) he's more of an independent really, a Labour Candidate and me.

The campaign has been a bit strange to say the least. The Independent defending his seat put out one leaflet and then sat back probably expecting the pub vote would get him back in. If he was relying on his record to speak for him then I don't think he'd have much to shout about. The second independent put out one leaflet then disappeared from view. The Labour candidate also kept his head fairly well down as I think he's hoping to win by default so the less he says the fewer people he upsets. The Tory candidate came roaring out of the starting gate and went onto the attack, against me! Not sure why I had to be his target, surely the sitting Councillor is the one to beat? Possibly Tory Central Office (the one he claims not to listen to!) were telling him it didn't matter who won as long as UKIP didn't?

Anyway, I wish good luck to all the candidates, in all the elections, all round the country. I'm sure there are some Labour, Conservative or Lib-Dem candidate who are honest, decent, hard working people, who want to make a positive difference, unfortunately I'd be very hard pushed to name any of them! Of course the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem loyalist (are there any Lib-Dem loyalists any more? Didn't they all join the Tories!) would say the same about UKIP.

UKIP have some high hopes in the Welsh Assembly Elections where PR gives us a real chance of getting seats. In the council elections around England we will get a reasonable number of votes but realistically very few seats. UKIP's support is growing and is very widespread but this of course means it is very thinly spread in most areas and that makes winning seats very difficult. Nearly 1,000,000 people voted UKIP in the last General Election in 2009 but we didn't get a single MP. That's one reason why voting reform is so badly needed, unfortunately the reform on offer, AV, won't actually make all that much difference, which of course is exactly why it has been offered.

Anyway, that's it for me. If I win then I'll spend 12 months bashing my head against a brick wall in the Civic Centre trying to make a difference. If I don't win then I'll be forced to get on with my life without the giddy pleasures of the Hartlepool Council Chamber and thereby associating with people whom I wouldn't like to have as guests in my own home!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

snide comments and supposedly clever remarks attacking me personally

Love it when people are reduced to making snide comments and supposedly clever remarks attacking me personally since it just shows they have nothing of any real substance to come at me on. Just for clarification I have leafleted the Central Estate many times in the past few years since I send newsletters out all year round, not just when there is an election due!

PS Interesting how the truth can be flexible for some people. It's ironic someone claiming they are off to their "home ground" on the Headland when they don't live in the ward either! Very funny!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Centre of the Universe

Well Central Estate was definitely the centre of the universe this afternoon. At one point I was delivering leaflets with the Labour Party just in front of me and the Tory Candidate just behind me! Given the choice I'd rather have had both of them in front of me! I never like having my back exposed unless it's really necessary! Of course last time I was on the council I was stabbed in the back so many times it was hard to find room for more knives so the attacks had to be more frontal. This reduced their ferocity quite a bit. Its easy to slip a knife into someone's back using innuendo, whispering campaigns, anonymous leaflets, etc but it takes more courage to attack someone straight on!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Clear Favourite!

It was a glorious sunny day in St.Hilda Ward today and the welcome I received on the doorsteps was equally as warm. The consensus was I should be clear favourite but some people are worried the No Hope Tory and the Also Ran Independents might block me on the rails and so allow the Labour Candidate to sneak the win again. So I suppose that makes it a two horse race!

Time to get your bet on! Just make sure you back the winner.

For a Councillor who has a proven record of fighting for St.Hilda then there is only one choice!

Put your cross against Stephen Allison on 5th May