Tell Your Councillor The Whole Story

Tell Your Councillor The Whole Story

If you are contacting your local Councillor for help with an issue – TELL THEM THE WHOLE THING. Don’t tell them a bit of the thing and leave a huge chunk out. Don’t tell them the thing with a heavy slant to make you look 100% right. Just tell them the whole thing. They will help you, regardless.

It is very difficult when you go to bat for a person who has asked for help, furious at the injustice done to them, only to find that as you fight their corner things keep being revealed which were never mentioned. When a Councillor is all fire and brimstone fighting on your behalf and some damning piece of information is revealed that changes the whole look of the situation, it becomes much more difficult to champion your case.

Just tell them all of it from the outset. Armed with the FULL information they can still help you, but wont be blindsided along the way. Sure, it might make you look a little less angelic – but nobody is perfect and that won’t stop them helping you. It might be the difference between a good outcome and a bad one

Hired By

Hired By

In last week’s newspaper my old mate Dave Patrick suggests, in vague reference to the previous week’s newspaper, that I “should declare an interest” before speaking about Landlord Licensing because I have “worked for” Cllr. Balsevics.  Even if it were true that I had worked for Cllr. Balsevics, which it is not, this would not be considered an interest under current legislation.  Dave knows this because he has been a Councillor long enough to know what the law is in regards to declaration of interests, but for him it would appear to be of more interest to whisper deceit than state truths.

I suspect he is referring to the fact that I have been hired by Cllr Balsevics as a mobile DJ.  There is, of course, a distinct difference to “working for” and being “hired by” somebody.  When you “work for” somebody you are on their payroll as a staff member.  When you are hired by somebody you are contracted to perform a specific task for them as a private business.  Dave Patrick is a taxi driver.  When somebody books his cab he is hired by them, in the same way that when somebody books my mobile disco they are hiring me.

So if Dave wants to keep playing silly buggers then we can go with his suggestion that hiring somebody is the same as working for somebody, in which case he has “worked for” every single person he has ever driven in his cab.  I suspect many of them will be Landlords, in which case – by his own rules – he needs to declare an interest before spouting off.

Truth is – Dave clearly hasn’t read the Policy or done any research.  If he had he would be aware that the Policy  doesn’t resolve any of the issues it claims to resolve.  I might be forgiven for suggesting that he is just spouting off points because he appears to still have that same chip on his shoulder.

It’s a shame that he hasn’t taken the time to study the policy detail before taking an “we license loads of things so it must be okay to license loads more things” line of argument.  Aside from the fact that this point is ridiculous and illogical it ignores the immense damage that will be done to tenants by this policies ramifications and consequences.  I guess, for some people, increasing control is more important than fair outcomes.

Dave probably should have spoken to his fellow UKIP Councillor Alan Lay, who is also opposed to Landlord Licensing.  He might remember the guy he was campaigning for just last year, Andrew Charalambous*, whose position in regards to Housing Regulation is in opposition to most of the Landlord Licensing conditions.  Not that I expect consistency with his colleagues or his party, and that’s fine.  But maybe if he’d read the paperwork he could have been part of the debate, rather than just a talking head spouting propaganda.

On the plus side, while somebody is writing letters to the newspaper, they are not bullying vulnerable people.  Which is good.

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  • Dave Patrick’s Party’s Position:
    UKIP feels that there is sufficient regulation already.

    UKIP does not believe in rental controls apart from legislating to create an option for medium hold tenancies (3-10 years).
    UKIP will scrap the energy ratings on housing: this originated from the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2002/91/EC) transposed as the Housing Act 2004, to
    (source: Andrew Charalambous, Housing and Environment Spokesman for UKIP, 25th April 2015 and UKIP Manifesto 2015)

Citizens’ Patrol – Strength To Strength

Citizens’ Patrol – Strength To Strength

There is always a danger that any new project or idea will fizzle out due to changing situations or general apathy.  It’s too early to say whether Citizens’ Patrol has staying power, but I have been very encouraged in the first month.  New volunteers continue to come forwards and most have joined the team and brought something new.  We have people of all different ages, we have a good mix of men and women and we have been able to increase our coverage; both of numbers of patrols out each time and the number of times we go out each week.

We are still some way off being able to go out most days, which would be great.  But we do get out every week during the day and either once or twice at night, on the busier nights.  Most nights the town is deserted but we do occasionally run into small pockets of people.  Daytimes are busier, of course, particularly if the sun is shining.

We want to continue to expand and would still welcome more volunteers.  Please get in touch!

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Landlord Licensing

Landlord Licensing

Dear Reader, you know me.  I speak plainly.

I am opposed to the FDC Landlord Licensing Scheme.  I have been opposed to it from the outset.  I would like to tell you why, but I don’t have ten hours or so to write the zillion reasons why this is the most ill-considered policy FDC have ever come up with.

Instead I will keep it simple.

(1)  It’s Weak.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Policy Paper is the weakest and most poorly written of any policy paper I have ever seen.  I do not say this lightly, I’ve seen poor ones before.  But this is so very poor that I don’t know where to begin.  When I first read it I did genuinely wonder if I was reading a spoof.

(2)  It Wont Work.
The Policy contains nothing whatsoever which will in any way solve the problems it purports to be a solution to.

(3)  It Is Wicked.
There will be three significant effects if the Policy is implemented and they are all bad.  (a)  It will force some good Landlords out of the market entirely.  (b)  It will exacerbate the housing crisis we already have in our Town.  (c)  It will raise the rents of tenants, many of whom are vulnerable, poor or hard-pressed and struggling.

(4)  It Targets The Wrong People.
It will drive the genuine bad cases further underground, penalising only those who would already have been doing their best to be good Landlords.  It fails to do anything about Housing Associations, who are immune to it, and who represent a far greater cause for concern than most private Landlords.

(5)  The Consultation Was Shockingly Biased
What was put out as a consultation was little more than propaganda.  We should be ashamed of it.

(6)  It will create other problems
Tenants will be nudged into nearby towns and villages, moving problems elsewhere.  Black Market Landlords will go deeper underground, inflicting more harm and becoming harder to catch.

One colleague of mine, who works for a letting agency and so would have useful knowledge to guide the policy has been silenced with the threat of legal action.  Even though she owns no properties, gains no bonus or additional monies from sales or lets.  Meanwhile, Councillors who are Landlords in other towns are allowed to speak and vote because they don’t have a financial interest?  Except for the obvious one of benefiting from the additional bureaucracy, expense and hamstringing of their direct competitors in the next town?  What a crock.

I simply do not have the time or the will to go through the entire Policy document and point out all the errors, misleading facts, unnecessarily emotive arguments, poor assumptions and outright spin.  Please read it yourself and see what I mean.

I have received loads of letters, calls and email from worried Landlords and Tenants.  Many think that this is a “done deal” at FDC and the Consultation is just for show.  They point to the clear bias of the consultation as evidence of this.  I have tried to assure them this is not the case, and I hope it is not.

I will continue to challenge and fight this Policy at every turn.

PCC Aftermath

PCC Aftermath

The counting is over, the winner is Conservative, Jason Ablewhite. Jason will be the new PCC for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Let the lobbying begin! :)

As an activist, I like to look over campaigns and comment on how they went. Often, this upsets a few people, but they’ll just have to deal with it. This is stuff I am interested in and like to write about. Anybody who doesn’t like it, can go read something else!

The Campaign was a three way battle between UKIP, Lab and Con; Nick, Dave and Jason. The Lib Dem was never anything more than a distraction. I don’t say this to be mean, I like him. But everybody knew he was never going to get anywhere near winning.

In the end, Nick Clarke did worse than many expected. Dave Baigent did a little better than many expected. Jason, who was probably the favourite, won comfortably.

I think Nick made a mistake by running with the 6-year-old Facebook Comment thing. Until then his style was “sensible statesman” and it was winning him admirers. When Labour started shouting about the ancient history comment he should have said: “It’s six years old and it was one word. Give the overreaction a rest.” In the past that is what he would have done, I am sure. But the lure of an easy attack was too strong and Nick couldn’t resist. I think it turned more people off than it won. And I think it damaged the reputation and image he had been cultivating. it probably wasn’t the difference between winning and losing though. He lost by quite a long way, in the end. UKIP are quite strong at this end of the County and came second, but they really aren’t very strong anywhere else. For a huge role like PCC, that makes it a tough battle for them to ever win.

Labour lost this election for themselves. They had so many things in their favour; higher turnouts in their areas, simultaneous Council elections, an incumbent Government. But they shot themselves in both feet. One shot was due to their national Leader, who is only ever going to lead them to ruin. The other shot was the standard of their candidate. Since the election is over I will make no further comments about Dave Baigent except to say: “Next time, pick somebody good.” Even the candidate they put up last time would have been better. What were they thinking?

Congratulations Jason.  Time to get to work!  We expect a lot.   Don’t let us down.

Here To Listen?

Here To Listen?

Dave Baigent assured everybody he was going to listen to what they had to say in regards to his PCC Candidacy for the Labour Party. He enjoyed mentioning how he was a Cambridge City Councillor.

Taking him at his word, people told him what they wanted.  But we aren’t a city and we aren’t called “Cambridge.” So that was that.

Wisbech Town Council, 2016 Grants

Wisbech Town Council, 2016 Grants

Grants given out for this financial year:

Special Grants:
the following groups are awarded funding to assist with their work in Wisbech.

Angles Theatre
Citizens Advice Bureau
Wisbech Information Centre
Wisbech & Fenland Museum
Wisbech Rose Fair
Vivien Fire Engine Trust
WisARD
Wisbech In Bloom
Wisbech Reads
Wisbech Christmas Fayre

Small Grants:
the following groups were succesful in their applications for funding assistance.

Wisbech Community Development Trust
The Prince’s Trust
St Augustine’s Explorer Scout Unit
Friends of Wisbech Adventure Playground
Wisbech & District Tourism Development Group
Wisbech Town Hockey Club
Wisbech & District Table Tennis Association
Wisbech Veterans
Wisbech Music Society
Wisbech Unit Girls Venture Corps Air Cadets
Cambridgeshire Hearing Help

If your group/organisation needs funding assistance, small grants application forms may be found on the website – http://www.wisbechtowncouncil.org.uk