Rambling Post

Rambling Post

Hectic times right now as it’s election season all over.  We’re also beginning to see – both locally and nationally – the campaigns begin to take shape from different areas.  Labour and the Greens desperately trying to pretend the NHS is about to be sold off as they always do.  UKIP still pretending they are Left-Wing to left-wingers and Right-Wing to right-wingers.  Nobody really listening to the Lib Dems anymore.

Locally the Wisbech Conservatives have organised well.  We have a good team out every Saturday in the market place, literature going out in most parts of Wisbech, candidates selected for every seat in every ward who are all champing at the bit to get out there.  In my opinion we have some of the best teams we have ever had and I’m looking forward to following their efforts as the election season commences.  They are certainly going to put the fear of God into lazy opposition Councillors who think they can just swan into re-election without doing anything.

I’ve had a really busy week with Overview & Scrutiny on Monday, Wisbech Conservatives Branch meeting on Wednesday, FDC Full Council today followed by a North-East Cambs Conservatives A.G.M. this evening.  Tomorrow I’m meeting residents in the morning to try and help resolve a thorny issue and then in the afternoon I’m working with Waterlees Conservatives to get the message out that doom and gloom is no sort of solution and photo opportunities don’t represent success.

On Saturday I’m out with the wider Conservative team in the morning and then on to my Councillor Surgery in the afternoon.  For any Medworth residents who would like to come visit me, report problems, make suggestions or just have a natter I will be at The Angel Pub on Alexandra Road from Midday until 2PM in the lower bar area (suitable for families.)  There will be coffee and cake.

I was pleased to be able to vote for a Council Tax Freeze again today.  Which means that both the Councils I am involved with – Wisbech Town Council and Fenland District Council have delivered a freeze for the second year on the trot.  I was the only person on the Scrutiny Committee to vote against a rise and at that time I was mocked by a number of individuals for that.  It appears that my position, lonely though it was at the time, has won out, since FDC voted unanimously for a freeze today.  I promised when I stood for election that I would fight for a freeze and I have kept my promise.  I argued for it, I voted for it, and it was been delivered.  It is thanks, once again, to good financial management and hard work by Officers and staff on this Conservative-run Council that it has been possible to protect and improve services for people, while keeping the cost of doing so down.

One interesting thing at Full Council today.  Virginia Bucknor has become “Leader of the Biggest Opposition Group.”  Previously, the leader of the Biggest Opposition Group (three of them) was Cllr Gavin Booth, a Liberal Democrat who led the Liberal Democrat Alliance; himself, Cllr David Patrick (was Lib Dem then Independent) and Mark Archer (Independent.)  But Dave “Taxi” Patrick went off to join UKIP and Mark Archer went off to find himself on the other side of the world, leaving poor Gavin Booth all alone.  Which means that the new Biggest Opposition Group (two of them, married) is now the Bucknors’ Really Really Really Truly Independents.  I wonder what it’s like being the leader of the Biggest Group which comprises of you and your husband?  Group meetings must be a blast.  I notice that the local press never really mentioned the way the people of Manea were left in the lurch with no representation for a year, nor the interesting idea of claiming a Special Responsibility Allowance for being the “leader” of a tiny little two-person group.  Nice work if you can get it.  :)

Having resigned from the Executive Officers Committee of North-East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association a couple of weeks ago on a point of principle, at the A.G.M. tonight I was nominated to stand for election in a more senior role.  I was previously an “additional officer” but tonight I was nominated to stand as Deputy Chair Political.  I accepted the nomination.  I am proud that I was elected by N.E.C.C.A. members to take on that role.  With many of the old Officers standing down there was a lot of competition for the empty posts – the most competition for those positions that I have ever seen.  With only a limited number of positions available there was going to be some disappointment and that meant some really good people didn’t manage to get elected this time.  But it was great to see such interest and competition and I am looking forward to working with the brand new team going forwards.  We have a lot of work to do helping the Association to grow and prosper in order that we can continue to carry the Conservative message far and wide in Fenland, to work hard for our communities across the area, and to help sound hard-working Conservatives get elected in as many places as possible.

As an aside, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw UKIP making claims that they “support the Wisbech Rail Link” in their newspaper advert last week.  As far as I am aware, none of the local UKIP County Councillors have ever done so.  I don’t know what Lagoda thought, since he left UKIP under the cloud of being a benefits cheat before we could find out.  But the others have long been vocal critics.  Even at the most recent full Council meeting one of our Wisbech ‘Kippers reportedly referred to the rail link as: “a train set for boys who have never grown up.”  I wonder, is there anything that UKIP wont suddenly do a U-Turn on and make dodgy claims about as they grubbily clutch for votes?  Anything at all?

It is the local Conservatives who have worked hard to repair our dilapidated buildings.  Local Conservatives who have overseen a period of expansion and growth in the Town.  Local Conservatives who have worked hard with the Wisbech Society and others to secure grant funding to improve our Town Centre.  Local Conservatives who have led on Festivals and events for our town.  Local Conservatives who have helped deliver thousands of pounds of arts funding for the area.  I know that not all readers of my blog are Conservatives.  However, I hope you will appreciate that the Tories of Fenland want only the best for the people who live here.  Difficult choices must be made and nothing is easy anymore, for sure.  But you can count on your local Conservatives to fight for all the things the area needs, while making sure that you don’t get stung with gigantic council tax rises.  it is not by accident that the only Council to increase it’s Council Taxes this year is the one which is not controlled by the Conservatives, but by a hotch-potch kind of unofficial Rainbow Alliance under the sclerotic, paralysed Committee System.  I hate to say I Told You So.  But I did.

Stop Hitting Yourself

Stop Hitting Yourself

I don’t know if this is a common thing or not, but it certainly goes back a few generations in my family – the game that adults play with kids where you (very gently) pretend they are punching themselves in the face while you say: “Stop hitting yourself!” and they squeal with laughter*.  Well, I think I saw the same game played with an adult today!  I shall endeavor to explain.

For the last few Saturdays the local Conservatives have been visiting Wisbech Marketplace handing out leaflets, talking to local people and generally being “out and about” when the market is at its busiest.  The first time we went we saw UKIP, briefly, promoting their End Of The World Is Nigh Message to a handful of angry-looking people.  Another time we saw an Anti-UKIP group handing out leaflets to “Stop the fascist racist UKIP” or whatever, which was nothing to do with us, but which he heartily applauded.

Other than that it’s just been us each week.

This week, guess what, the Bucknors (Independent Councillors for Waterlees) were there.  Well, as you might imagine, we were gobsmacked.  We rarely see them at anything they don’t absolutely have to go to and it’s become something of a running joke that any time they turn up it’s usually just before the cameras arrive and then they tend to disappear just after the cameras leave.   (It’s not a joke they approve of, but then they don’t seem to approve of many things.)  To cap it all they seemed to be in a “team” with the local Green Party lady and Cllr Alan Lay (UKIP).  What a strange collection of politicians!  Well, we thought, if the Bucknors are going to be out campaigning on the Marketplace then this election is going to be a whole lot more interesting.

However, not too long after the Bucknors and their team arrived – a photographer from the Wisbech Standard appeared, as if by magic!  Quelle surprise, as they say in the French.  Some lovely photos were taken and then not an immensely long time after the press left … guess what happened?  You’ll never guess.  Go on try.  Yep, the Bucknors moved on too.  Who’d a thunk it?  Something of a sigh of relief.  The sort of sigh that comes from realising that all is right with the world once more.

A couple of funny things did happen during the morning.  The first was that the Wisbech Standard photographer noticed there were rather a lot of Conservatives in the Market and asked if he could take our picture also.  Imagine how you’d feel if you’d planned a special photo shoot to make it look like you were really hard on the campaign trail, only to have your opposition also get the photo shoot.  It was quite funny.  Of course, this is the Wisbech Standard, so I doubt our picture will be used.  Or maybe it’ll be used under some misleading headline?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The other funny thing was what happened to poor Cllr Alan Lay (UKIP).  I rarely feel sorry for Alan, but today I did.  He was out in a team with the Bucknors and the lady from the Green Party.  Which is odd enough in itself, if you think about it.  They were all handing out the same leaflet.  Imagine our surprised when we were handed a copy of the leaflet and saw that it was the dramatic: “Save our NHS” and that it was an attack on both the Conservative Party … and UKIP!  Alan Lay was handing out leaflets that damned his own party.  Did he know?  Did they say: “Look, Alan, this leaflet isn’t very nice about UKIP I hope you don’t mind?”  Or did they just hand them to him and be like: “Give these out, no need to read what they say.”  No idea.  I hope it was the latter though, because that would be a somewhat audacious con.  Very much the adult equivalent of the “Stop Hitting Yourself!” game.   Don’t you think?

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*Thank you Garry Tibbs for the metaphor suggestion

Insurance Void?

Insurance Void?

http://www.wisbechstandard.co.uk/…/wisbech_councillor_break…

Let me get this straight. UKIP Councillor Dave Patrick, a professional Taxi Driver, decided that the best thing to do was drive to the local Hospital on a broken foot? A foot that he describes as “extremely painful” and that he could “barely hobble” on.  That didn’t seem at all dangerous or careless?

What if he had to make an emergency maneuver?

What if his inability to control the car had caused a serious accident?

Was his insurance valid while driving with a broken ankle?

Hardly a surprise really. Invalid insurance wouldn’t be a lot different to “no tax.” http://www.cambstimes.co.uk/…/no_tax_councillor_and…

I don’t expect Dave Patrick meant any harm, and perhaps his mind was clouded by pain.  In this instance no harm came of it and all is well.  But I still don’t think it’s anything to crow about.

I nevertheless wish him a speedy recovery and hope he feels better soon.

UPDATE:

Dave Patrick feels that he has a case against me for defamation, both for the comments I have made and those of others. I think he will find, when he checks, that asking a series of questions is not defamatory. But in the interest of balance, I’m going to print a screen shot of his message to me, as I promised him I would.

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The point remains that driving on an injured ankle runs the risk of invalidating your insurance. It doesn’t take much Googling to find this out. Dave says his insurance company have told him that he has done nothing wrong. Cool – maybe so, if he has really asked them. But did he ask them *before* he drove? No mention of him doing so anywhere. So how did he know until after the fact? Also, any driver must surely know that if your foot is in agony and you can only “hobble”, which he has said was his circumstances, then it must SURELY be dangerous to drive unless you have to make an emergency maneuver. Dave feels I’m being rotten to him – I think if I’d wanted to be rotten I could have done a lot more than a vague few questions on Facebook. And I don’t think I’ve said anything untrue, have I? So how is it defamatory? Answer = I don’t believe it is.

It surprises me that Taxi Dave feels he can say anything he likes about other people: For instance when he was telling everybody my businesses have failed (when they are doing fine, thanks) – but that when somebody points out actual facts about things he says and does he starts making threats to silence them.   I don’t believe I’ve done anything other than tell the truth and discuss issues he made public by giving an interview to the newspaper about them.   In the same way that he failed to silence me with the bogus Standards Board report a year ago, he wont silence me now.  I was happy to let this sorry story quietly blur away, but he seems intent on keeping it in focus.   That’s his call, I guess.

Wheels Come Off The UKIP Bus?

Wheels Come Off The UKIP Bus?

Ouch.  Labour will have winced when they saw this week’s ICM poll which has the Conservatives up six points and now a clear four ahead of Labour territory.  That’s very close to being “majority” numbers.  But within usual polling “margin of error” it’s not as exciting as all that.  Could easily be a blip which corrects next week.

Much more interesting is the long-term fall in UKIP polling.  Many have said that as the General Election looms the Purple People Eater would lose it’s mojo as voters begin focusing on who will run the country and who are just a sorry mess of a party apparently dominated by bigots, racists and conspiracy theorists.

In this poll UKIP drop to 9% – their lowest rating in over a year.  When you factor in the first-past-the-post system and the natural squeeze by the serious parties it all suggests a pretty grim outcome for Farage’s “pint of beer and a fag” collective.  People’s Army begins to look a bit like “Crazy People’s Damp Squib.”

UKIP will respond by ramping up their usual arrogance, shout factor and obligatory fury.  More and more people will be called “bien pensant” and “liblabcon.”  Wider and wider swathes will be castigated as “the establishment.”  Until it’s just Farage, Carswell and some blokes in black leather uniforms proclaiming: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer” to an audience of six angry white men and a cat.

With a bit of luck.

Evolving Into A New Paradigm. Or Something.

Evolving Into A New Paradigm.  Or Something.

Andrew Charalambous, aka the sinister Dr. Earth*, has been announced as the UKIP candidate for NE Cambs.  We all knew this months ago, of course.  But they’ve waited until now to announce it, presumably to allow time for the construction of a suitable underground lair.

Andrew-Charalambous

The text quoted below is lifted wholesale from the Cambs Times, so hat tip to those worthy fellows.  It’s a reciprocal arrangement – I lift stuff from them, they lift stuff from me.  it’s fun.  Anyhow.

The multi millionaire buy-to-let property magnate (he is said to own 1,000 homes in and around London) has been a UKIP member for five years.

So first of all – good for him being a multi-millionaire.  We on my side of politics don’t begrudge anybody doing well for themselves through hard work and the like.  But I do hope we aren’t going to hear any of this “99%” nonsense that some ‘Kippers echo from the Left in a campaign where he can clearly out-spend us at every corner by using cash from his property empire.  I also trust he wont be playing their usual migrant-bashing game, given the fact they are reportedly a large part of the reason why he is a multi-millionaire.

On his website he reveals his “commitment to tackling homelessness” and says in his property business he “never charges tenants deposits or admin fees.” Neither, he says, does he ask tenants for references “believing that it should be easier for people to not only buy properties but rent them if they choose.”

It’s interesting that he doesn’t charge deposits or admin fees and that he doesn’t ask for references.  I expect that’s refreshing for hopeful tenants, but somewhat infuriating for the neighbours of at least some of those tenants.  I presume he does charge rent and that he still manages to make a profit, hence the multi-millions, so let’s not pretend he’s in the housing business for philanthropic reasons alone.

He said the Daily Telegraph once poked fun at him for picking up homeless people from the streets of central London and putting them in his properties.

Well that sounds nice, as long as they wanted to go.  Otherwise, it’s sort of kidnap, isn’t it?  :)

He says he is passionate about saving the countryside and green spaces and one of his early forays in the Fens was during the recent campaign to “save Estover from development from the local Tory council”.

That’s certainly convenient.  No bandwagon there.  Nope.  Particularly since the threat was not from a “local Tory Council”, but from the County Council which is run under the Committee System that UKIP helped impose and which has a majority rainbow coalition calling the shots, inasmuch as anybody calls the shots in a Committee System.

Mr Charalambous, now in his 40s, said he had been a Conservative since the age of 14 but joined UKIP for three main reasons.  He said the Conservatives closed the casualty department of a hospital which he had “campaigned tirelessly to keep open”.  He also felt that despite what he claims were Tory promises, immigration was not going down but up.  And thirdly he became angry when “the Conservatives failed to support my campaign to make our St George’s Day a national holiday”

Thinking about his three reasons for joining UKIP.  He wanted to create a new national holiday and failed.  He campaigned to keep a casualty department open and failed.  Immigration – which conveniently supplies him with many of his customers which make him all his money, just kept rising.  I can see his point though.  If I wanted to create some new national holidays and the government said “no” I’d consider throwing my toys out of the pram too.  And sulking.   Definitely sulking.  Sometimes campaigns fail, Doctor Earth.  It happens.

He also says he knows what it means to struggle in life having started his business from nothing.

To be fair, all businesses “start from nothing”.  The meaning of the verb To Start naturally assumes that you are at the beginning of the thing to which the verb applies.  If the business was already running and you just took it over then you wouldn’t be “starting” it.  Some other verb would apply.  Claim.  Buy.  Inherit.  Steal.   Something like that.  That doesn’t mean that you “know what it means to struggle in life” though.  Some people “start a business from nothing” because they’ve got a load of cash, a comfortable life and the safety net for taking risks.  Others genuinely start with barely two pennies to rub together.  I don’t know which applies to Doctor Earth, so I’ll withhold judgement until I know what “from nothing” really means in this context.  Nevertheless, a successful business is still something to admire.  Can’t take that away from him.

The UKIP candidate says: “This Conservative government has gone too far in cutting public services without regard for the consequences for the needy, the disabled and the chronically ill. Under the Tories the poor have got poorer.”  He added: “The British people are sick and tired of career politicians living in ‘ivory towers, who prefer to spend over sixty billion of your hard earned cash on the HS2 railway rather than invest the money on stopping pain and saving lives through the NHS.”

Some good dog whistle lefty anti-austerity rhetoric there, from the guy who owns one thousand houses.  I presume none of the properties Doctor Earth owns are towers made of ivory – that would just be too ironic.  I’d like to see his home though.  Just to compare it to the average home that he rents to his no-deposit, no-reference tenants.  I’d also like to be sure we understand that he is saying that there will be no further cuts to public services under a UKIP administration?  And then I’d like to know how he plans to pay the bills and the interest on the debt.  Or are we still just in the usual UKIP Policy Free Zone?  As for “sixty billion of my hard-earned money” – I have never earned that much I’m afraid.  I doubt many of us have.  Not even those of us who own one thousand houses.

In one of many articles on his website he also believes “the world’s raw materials, food, energy, scientific know how and educational facilities belong to everyone. We therefore need to share resources rather than waste energy competing for them. It is time for a new sense of globality.”

A new sense of globality.  That almost became the title of this blog post.  Until I found something better.

Your food, energy and scientific know how “belong to everybody.”  We need to share them.   This is awesome stuff – let’s have some meat on these policy bones.  Are we talking “free pies for everybody” here?  McDonalds and KFC to be nationalised?  Is this forced confiscation of private property in order to redistribute?  Or predistribute?  Or post-distribute?   I notice in his list of things that need to be “shared” he didn’t include property.  Convenient, that, for a guy who owns one thousand houses.

He also feels “humanity is at an evolutionary crossroads. As we emerge into the aftermath of this historic global recession humanity recognises the need for a different kind of politics, a different kind of economics, a different kind of thinking.

Look – I know I play the “Doctor Earth sounds a bit like a supervillain” joke a bit too often.  But come ON!  Humanity is at an evolutionary crossroads?  This stuff is pure Lex Luthor.  Tell me it isn’t!  “As we emerge into the aftermath of my doomsday machine historic global recession humanity recognises its true emperor and master the need for a different kind of politics.”  He wants a “new type of economics.”  He should call for a “new type of physics” or a “new type of mathematics” while he is at it.

“According to current estimates there are 7.5 billion people living on our planet today. On current UN projections there will be 11.5 billion global citizens by 2050.  “Clearly, if we are to survive as a species we need to evolve into a new global paradigm which will include not only planetary sustainability but the prospect of more underground residential development and space colonisation.”

Oh yes.  We definitely need to evolve into a new global paradigm.  We should start right now.  We need to get some good paradigming going. That’s my blog title, right there.

And, um, “underground residential development.”  Wait.. did he really just say “underground residential development?”  This is becoming increasingly difficult to parody.  I can’t very well keep making jokes about secret underground lairs if you just admit that’s exactly what you want to do, now can I?  You are not playing fair, Doctor Earth.

And Space Colonisation.  Let’s not forget that.  Not that I have anything against space colonisation.  I hope I live to see it.  But we’re still working to re-open our rail link, Andrew.  One step at a time, huh?  First stop Bramley Line.  All change at Alpha Centauri.

His website also offers other insights into the new UKIP candidate for part of the Fens.  He believes “there is no greater privilege in life than being a free thinker. Having a mind liberated from ideology, vested interest and peer pressure”.

Well he’s right about that.  Owning one thousand houses will go a long way towards letting you spend your days dreaming about underground residential development and space colonisation.  Meanwhile, everybody else just wants to be able to pay the household bills.  I’m not sure about being “free from vested interest.”  I’d imagine, on issues of housing, somebody who owns one thousand houses might have at least a little vested interest.  Call me crazy.

He also says he is devoted to protecting indigenous tribes and spent time with the Dayak tribe in Kalimantan of Indonesian Borneo.

This is nice.  But he also claimed to have a degree which reportedly turned out to be fake, and a professorship at an unaccredited academic institution.  He said he was a qualified barrister-at-law and a Fellow of the Royal Society of arts.  Claims he later decided to remove.  He said he held a: “PhD in the parallels between Plato’s Utopia and Spartan Society.”  Which is lovely, if it’s true, but has limited use in resolving the challenges of Mid Level Drains or Market Town regeneration.  He’s certainly a fascinating and very imaginative chap, and there’s something to be said for that if you want to be a poet, or a storyteller.  But, last I saw, there were not very many members of the Dayak tribe residing in Chatteris or Manea.  Nor will there ever likely be if UKIP were elected and their rhetoric about immigration fully enforced.

Mr Charalambous says at the same time he is “fascinated by the possibilities inherent in human potential, believing that the unfolding of quantum physics, nanotechnology, robotics, environmental innovation and information technology can lead humanity to a new golden global order**”.

Quantum physics.  Nonatechnology.  Robotics.  “Environmental innovation.”  All of which, under the wise and guiding hand of Doctor Earth presumably, will lead to a “new golden global order.”  All he needs is a stainless steel facemask and a green cloak and he can dump the nickname “Doctor Earth” and “evolve into a new paradigm” himself.

doctor-doom1

 

*The use of the term “The Sinister” before Doctor Earth is my addition, for the purposes of colourful dialogue.

**  Here are some other people who also want to create a new golden global order.   Not so funny now, is it?

Tribunal

Tribunal

Of all the things I have been involved in since I became a local Councillor, the long situation involving the Town Clerk was the most unpleasant.

It was unpleasant for a number of reasons.

First of all because I frankly didn’t get into local politics to be involved in staff H.R., nor to chair Disciplinary Committees, nor to have to consider the future of people’s careers.  It was pretty darn horrible, actually.  But Town Councils must fill their committees and take these decisions with a limited number of voluntary individuals and somebody has to do the various things which need doing.

It was horrible because none of us – with the possible exception of Cllr Mrs. Bucknor – had extensive experience in how to deal with a situation like this.  We just had to do the best we could, taking advice we hoped was good advice from experts, and to try and remain fair and impartial.

Meanwhile, stories were appearing in the local newspapers which made us look terrible – but we could not respond because all the legal advice we were getting was to say nothing that might in any way lead to accusations that could be seen as skewing the ongoing investigations and, later on, the case.  All we could do was watch as council officers put out very bland press statements which did nothing to counter some of what was being said.

When the case finally made it to the Disciplinary Committee, which I Chaired, the three Councillors who heard the case all did our best to listen impartially and fairly.   We had no grudge against the Town Clerk and just wanted to try and handle the matter in an honest and straightforward way.  If we had found insufficient evidence we would indeed have thrown the whole thing out.  Indeed, we threw out two of the five issues as we felt there was not sufficient evidence.  But by the end of the Disciplinary Committee it is fair to say that we thought the case fairly cut-and-dried because the Clerk openly admitted to all three of the remaining accusations.

When it came to decide what to advise the Council to do, we did not take this decision lightly and considered a range of options, but we felt that gravity of charges sufficient to advise summary dismissal.   We put this to the meeting of Town Council that evening and it was agreed, unanimously by all Councillors.  The Clerk was summarily dismissed.

The ex-Town Clerk then appealed and the Appeals Committee, Chaired by David Wheeler, found no grounds to agree an appeal.  This was again put to Town Council and again unanimously agreed by all Councillors.

The ex-Clerk then appealed to a Tribunal for unfair dismissal and we had the long wait for that to reach court.  When it finally did, the Councillors involved had to give up most of a full week to attend and give evidence.  Again, we were all unpaid volunteers, but we just had to do this because it needed doing.  When it was my turn in front of the tribunal I was questioned, vigorously, for a full day.  It was, without doubt, one of the most mentally draining experiences of my life.  Anybody who doubts this should spend eight hours being cross-examined by an experienced barrister in front of an audience, an ex-Clerk and three tribunal officials (one of whom is a judge) while they try and pull apart your evidence, from a document that is several hundred pages long and from events that happened a year or more ago.

I was very glad when it was over.  We all were, I think.

The judgment took a while coming and finally arrived today.   It’s pretty damning for the ex-Clerk in my view.  Various found unwarranted, incorrect or withdrawn are the claims of racism, whistleblowing, protected disclosures, constructive dismissal and the like.

His claim that I shouldn’t have Chaired the Disciplinary Committee?  The tribunal disagreed.

His contention that his Disciplinary Committee did not handle the matter fairly?  They say: “The conclusions that the panel reached about the facts of the charges against the claimant were sustainable on the evidence they had.”

His claim that the recommendation of the Committee was not proportionate?  They say: “The Respondent identified two types of gross misconduct under their disciplinary procedure that were relevant – gross negligence or incompetence and bringing the Respondent into disrepute.  The claimant advanced little or no mitigation and was not contrite.  The dismissal was not in any way caused by the protected disclosures that the Claimant has made out.  The reason or principle reason for it was the Claimant’s misconduct.”

It is the final paragraph of the report which spells it out the most clearly and this is it:

“We turn finally  to determine the issue of wrongful dismissal.  The Claimant claims that he should not have been summarily dismissed and is entitled to at least his notice pay.  We conclude that the summary dismissal was perfectly in order.  On the basis of the evidence that we have heard and read, we have reached the conclusion that the Claimant’s misconduct was sufficiently serious to be viewed as a repudiatory breach of his contract, justifying summary dismissal.  As we have already concluded, he was in a position of trust, and he should have known what was right and what was not in so far as storage of and access to data was concerned.  We have regard to the amount and the content of the material, and the risk to the Council both in terms of cost and reputation, which is an ongoing risk.  Is it not appropriate to make any award for notice pay in the circumstances.”

In my view this was a solid decision and a just and fair result.  The decisions of the Committee I chaired, of the Appeals Committee Cllr Wheeler Chaired and of the Town Council as a whole are vindicated.  The decision to dismiss the ex-Clerk was fully supported, as was the gravity and seriousness of the charges against him.  Almost every claim made by the Clerk was thrown out, as were most of his claims for costs and damages.  The small amount he has been awarded are covered by the Town Council’s insurance and will cost the taxpayer nothing at all.

This draws a long and difficult period to a close.  I hope to never have to deal with anything quite like it again.  I wish Mr Murat all the best in whatever he decides to do next and hope that if I encounter him again, it will be under less difficult circumstances.

Letters From Mars

Letters From Mars

I notice, with an election creeping up on us, that the local newspaper “letters page”  is filling up again with propaganda and schlock from the Usual Suspects.

This week we have Cllr. David Patrick, who has scoured the depths of his vibrant and versatile mind to come up with something “attacky” to sit comfortably alongside the Editor’s comments.  The best he could manage was to talk about a Town Council tax rise from a few years ago.  A friend of mine who isn’t particularly political put it very nicely: “What has this got to do with anything?”  My answer was that it has quite a lot to do with trying to dig themselves out of their own hole because they just have so little to work with this time.  “Once, a few years ago, the Council increased Council Tax in order to save the local toilets.”  Oh yes, I remember, even though this predates my membership of the Council.  These were the same public loos that were in danger of being closed by Fenland District Council – the same Council where Dave Patrick was a Councillor.  The same public loos that were rescued thanks to Cllr. Sam Hoy and Cllr. Carol Cox pushing the Town Council into buying them.  Although Dave Patrick is correct that he voted against the increase, I’m not sure he should be proud about not wanting to support the measure which saved the public toilets in our Town Park, as vocally demanded by the Public at the time.  Notice that Taxi Dave doesn’t mention that anywhere.  Perhaps he thought: “It was a few years ago, nobody will remember.”

Then up pops somebody else, like some political Jack-in-a-box, declaring that it is vital that we get the Committee System at Fenland District Council because, um, er, um, the chaos in the marketplace when it changed to one way (that they also conveniently moan about) was delivered by exactly  that system?  That the threat to Estover field in March was delivered by exactly that system?  These Committee System advocates make me chuckle.  They waffle on about how “democratic” it will be (never using more than the most vague terms about why this might be) but it’s patently clear that the only reason they really want a Committee System is because they perceive it will somehow empower them.  Can’t get control of a Council with your Independent Group or fringe party?  Don’t like having to actually take responsibility for your decisions?  Solution: Cripple the Council with a seedy stitch-up deal, then spend the next few years promoting yourself from the ruins.

I would expect the opposition to be filling the local newspaper up with letters right up until May now.  Why not?  It’s easy to get publicity while not actually having to do any work, particularly when you have an ally running the newspaper.  You get to make grandiose claims without having to face any challenge about it until after the fact – particularly useful if you are terrified of scrutiny and debate and seek to stifle those who disagree with you by calling them names and playing the victim.  As the election looms ever closer, expect to see the letters accompanied by Front Page Spreads, colourful interior photo ops and supportive Editorial “opinion” pieces.

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* Post modified, since I had thought my recent letter to the Wisbech Standard was unprinted, but the Editor assures me it was printed.  Apologies if I missed it and made incorrect assumptions.  (Notice, when I get something wrong, I retract and admit it.)  :)

Set Them Free

I’m aware many of my readers are not Christians and I seldom write about religion.  But please, non-Christians, don’t take this post as a religious rant.  Look at it from a logical standpoint and consider it as a thought experiment.

The reason Stephen Fry thinks God is “evil” (if, as he qualified, He exists) is because he doesn’t really understand the Christian faith and because he is a massive Lefty.  It’s a common enough mistake.  The argument goes something like this: “If there is a loving God then why does XXXX happen?”  Where XXXX is something horrible that happens in the world.  War, cancer, famine, earthquakes, racism, UKIP etc.

The reason I think Lefties struggle with this so hard is because they already expect somebody else to look after them from the cradle to the grave, namely The State.  So they are unable to imagine why God, in his infinite power and wisdom, would not choose to do so.

The answer is pretty straightforward though – free will.  God offered Mankind the Lefty paradise of perfection; no disease, no pain, no death, no want of any thing.  Mankind said: “No thanks, give me that apple!”  Or womankind did anyway, and mankind grinned and was like: “Party time!”

I’m not really being frivolous.  Lots of people spend a lot of time demanding that somebody else – often The State – look after their every need and get very upset when it fails to do so.  Lefties are particularly prone to this.  People on the right end of politics believe in stuff like personal responsibility, free will, individual choice, duty, hard work and the like.  Once you have these things you will sometimes make choices that lead to mistakes and problems and woes.  But you’d have to live through some period of massive state control to understand the value of that, warts and all.  The dangers and problems of freedom can be terrible, tragic and miserable.  But you still wouldn’t give that freedom away – unless you are a Left-winger or on the authoritarian right.

God isn’t “evil”, Stephen Fry, as any Christian will be quick to tell you.  God just did the same thing most parents do, He stepped back when asked to do so and let his children, and indeed his whole creation, run wild.  In the knowledge that whatever mess they made, as long as they lived their lives right they would spend eternity – which is a very, very long time, infinitely long – in paradise.  God is Love, Stephen Fry.  And if you love someone… you know what they say, right?

“Bile”

“Bile”

Relentless political activist John Elworthy (my opinion, he may feel otherwise) has popped up on Twitter railing against the “bile” that he feels is present in “some local town politics.”  He tries this a lot – apparently unaware that the game is up and most people are now aware of the political bias present in sections of our local press.  It’s not underground anymore, it’s pretty well known.

He isn’t entirely wrong though.  It sure is bitter out there.  It’s pretty unpleasant most of the time, but it gets a lot worse as elections loom.  Elworthy smiles and nods through the bile spewed by his pals, while trying to exaggerate comments made by those he appears not to approve of, or take them out of context.  Also, while casually ignoring the part he and his newspaper play in all this.

Prowling private feeds, the opposition (and, as everybody knows, I include the local Editor as one of that group) look for things to take offence to.  They get themselves mighty mixed up while doing so too.  This week, one pertpetually-offended member of the opposition got very upset about something somebody said on Facebook.  She demanded I delete it, even though I didn’t say it.  I took a look at the term used, which was “media whore”, and had a sense of deja vu.  This is because this individual got upset previously about the same term being used elsewhere and demanded it be immediately removed.  (Oddly, I was told I am “responsible” for what is said on “my blog.”  Except, it wasn’t my blog, or anybody’s blog.  It was Facebook.  And I’m certainly not responsible for what people say there if they are not me.)

Now the term “media whore” is commonly-used.  I could drop in a bunch of links of it being used in media, by judges, by journalists and in general parlance to demonstrate that it’s just a descriptor like many others which means “somebody who will do anything to get in the media.”  The complainer felt that it was “filth” – so I presume that the term was being mistaken for another use of one of the words.  Incorrectly so, I felt.  Either way, these weren’t my comments, they were those of private individuals.  The complainer has an overblown sense of paranoia where apparently everything is “set up” and leads back to me, somehow.  It couldn’t possibly be that people just don’t agree with her, could it?  Nope.  Apparently not.  It’s all some sort of diabolical plan*.

Anyway, she has been telling people that she has “gone to the Police” about something or other said on Facebook previously.  I don’t know anybody who has been contacted by the Police, so gawd knows what she is referring to.  But it has previously seemed to be the previous use of the term “media whore” which was made by a gentleman called Simon on a Discussion Forum.  They really don’t like being challenged, these people.  Their arguments fail pretty quickly when members of the public take them on, and so they seem to prefer to try and avoid scrutiny altogether through any means available.  I’ve had reports of private messages being sent either whining about “how sad they are about what was said” or making vague threats about the Police and stuff.  I don’t know if anybody  is intimidated by them, I hope not, since its a crock.

I could sit here and paste up a bunch of nasty and unpleasant comments made by members of the opposition.  I do have quite a collection of screenshots going back some time.  I could moan about the stuff that’s been said about me (some of it on the Facebook page and online letter responses on the Wisbech Standard) which are quite a lot nastier than “media whore.”  But that’s really not my way.  In the same way that I don’t run crying to the Standard’s Board every time Dave Patrick makes a personal attack, makes (incorrect) comments about my businesses, brings my family members into arguments.  In the same way that I don’t blubber like a baby when the opposition play silly word games to try and suggest unpleasant things about me.  I don’t expect an even hand from the local press – I gave up on that years ago.  I don’t even expect the truth, also a lost cause with these people.  Nor do I write letters demanding that they delete this “bile” that they spew and nor do I try and gain my own pet editor to fight my battles for me.

The truth is pretty simple.  Some people do their best to try and improve our town, to deal with policy debates logically and to be open and transparent.  Other people snivel, whine, pull the strings of their media puppets and declare themselves “victims” when they are the instigators of almost every mean thing that happens.  This is why you can determine where the “bile” began in this town.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look back and see just when the mood changed.  It was the arrival of a certain husband and wife team on the scene which changed the mood.  A husband and wife team with years of experience in politics at national, international and local level, who have a long record of falling out with folks due to their attitude and style.

The best thing about people like this is that they can put on masks and pretend to be something they are not and it works for a while.   But it does not work forever.  And when it does finally come crashing down it does so with a boom!  I hope its sooner rather than later.  But I have faith it will happen eventually.

Who Is Afraid Of The Purple People Eater?

Who Is Afraid Of The Purple People Eater?

Over on Twitter, the Bucknors have flown into “full defensive mode” after I pointed out (on this blog) how keen they seemed to be for a significant council tax rise.  Now, to be fair, I did make a mistake on the original post.  Michael Bucknor isn’t on the Overview & Scrutiny committee.  I think I get so used to thinking of them like a single entity that I forget where one ends and the next begins, but it was my error (now corrected.)  So apologies Michael, my bad.  Nevertheless, Virginia did vote for a rise.  So did almost everybody else, sure, but I never said otherwise.  In fact, I was quite clear that I was the only person on the committee who voted against.

Just a week or two ago newspaper Editor John Elworthy referred to my comments in this blog about Wisbech Town Council freezing Council Tax by demanding to know if I was going to “challenge a Council tax rise in Fenland as recommended to Cabinet at FDC.”  It’s great to see that all these people – the Bucknors, Taxi Dave, John Elworthy, those UKIP fellows, basically the entire opposition- read my blog.  I am very glad to be of service.  The answer, John, is “Yes.”  I am reliably consistent in my opposition to Council Tax rises.  I am always open to discussion and debate about it and I try to keep an open mind, but my general feeling in the last few years has been: “Let’s try not to do it.”  Everybody knows this, it is no secret.

Of course, O & S only makes a recommendation and the final decision about what the new level of Council Tax might be will be up to Full Council.  I’ll make the best case I can.  I don’t know what the outcome will be but I have faith that whatever it is – it will be after a serious and significant debate in the proper way.

Amidst the Twitter “storm in a teacup” of bitter Bucknoresque badgering Virginia accused me of being “scared of UKIP.”  She’s right, in a sense.  I do find them scary, as should anybody with half a brain who cares about fairness, equality, community and sensible policy.  But she wasn’t referring to their policy or record in local government, she was referring (I believe) to this year’s elections.  Now I am aware that not many of the local political groups are actually able to “run the numbers” and not many have the manpower or the organisation skills to analyse election results and canvassing.  But I think the Bucknors probably do.  In which case, they must surely know that the strongest ward for UKIP in the area, both on paper and based on recent election results, is Waterlees.  So if the Purple People Eater casts a long shadow anywhere, it must surely be there.

Maybe their sudden frenetic activity and desperation to accuse others of fear is simply a carefully crafted message?  “Nothing to see here.  Not in Waterlees.  Move along.  Nothing to see.”  Now UKIP may not be the most savvy of election analysts, and they weren’t even present at the County Council election count to see those votes pour out of those boxes – but I reckon they’d have to be pretty stupid not to know where the majority of their support came from.  Which maybe explains why Michael Bucknor has gone from calling UKIP people “bigoted racist extremists” to being remarkably shy about repeating his claims.  Which maybe explains why Dave Patrick – a long-time Bucknor ally – has moved to UKIP.  It’s all a bit desperate.  I can’t see UKIP falling for it.