‘MEWSINGS’ OF A MEMBER. 2rd – 11th November – 10.

A friend I was long overdue in contacting rang me . “They don’t like you at all, do they, she announced at once referring to the newspaper coverage that I was under investigation again. “I must take great care in what I say as I must be aware that the Ombudsman considers that the disclosure of detail of the complaint to the local press or media may itself be a breach of the Code.” How he can say this when we have a Human Rights Act that allows free speech is odd.  Best not to ask questions as when I tried the last time to find answers needed  to defend myself, they were simply ignored. Doubtless repeating my request for a breakdown of the costs of this latest farce will also be ignored. The Daily Telegraph reported on 2nd November that “Councils have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on pay-offs, free trips & private health care for senior staff across the UK.  Millions on foreign trips, nearly £3 million on private health care last year & more than £5 million  in three years on redundancies and pay offs.  These areas of waste should properly be addressed by the Audit process, but surely some impropriety should fall to the Ombudsman to investigate. After all, the £3.5 million budget to run the PSOW office is not to be sneezed at. So sad that investigation into  possible corruption and serious fiddling possibly involving cllrs may go unchallenged and be replaced by some seeming “Micky Mouse” investigations instead. Frustration boiled over at the 3rd November Audit committee when having been promised so many presentations to open up the now totally in house AD Waste operation, we were defied again as the one AD Waste  Director capable of explaining the finances, was sick.  Not one person in the FCC Finance Department could be put up as a stand in it seemed.  Words like farce, and need to use FIO bounced round the room.  It would be a sorry indictment if cllrs were forced to use this Act to obtain audit data from their own Authority.  To relieve members frustrations, the way forward could be to ask  the Waste Executive Member to address the Audit Committee to open up this unacceptable secrecy & seeming lack of accountability that hangs over the company owned by this Authority.  As the Executive Member who presided over the cake celebrations that was the culmination of the protracted ‘in house’ exercise in September, she will know where the bodies are buried, so to speak.  I have written before that continued unwillingness to share data with Audit members sets an unfortunate precedent. If our Flintshire Audit committee has had to chase and hassle for information, then a solution would be for the Executive member to come and answer questions.  If our Flintshire Audit Committee is facing so much difficulty in obtaining information, albeit in one area; who is to say that we should not also feature in another scenario of waste and and financial incompetence that has been reported in the Telegraph?  Surely not! I have no reason to doubt the integrity of any officer or member of AD Waste etc. but we must examine everything across all departments in order to save money.  Recently, I dropped off an item at my local re-cycling site.  I was pleased that one of the three young men sheltering in their hut came forward to assist. But at a quiet time are three operatives necessary? I am sure that the current Executive Member will be more willing to answer all Audit questions concerning her portfolio far more than a previously mentioned individual. “GOD WILL NOT BE OUTDONE IN GENEROSITY.” I sent a small donation to help pay for the Pantasaph Franciscan Friars newsletters & their thank you letter was headed by these words.  I was pleased & wished I had given more. I then rang my lovely Ursuline sister in Shotton and having moaned about the latest attack on my character & integrity, suggested some meat for their Sunday lunch.  I was due for the butcher’s run and the sisters provide lunch for two priests regularly. We settled on lamb chops and I discovered they were a luxury item but no matter.  Whilst collecting the chops I accepted a free raffle ticket for Steve Vaughan’s home made breakfast pack, sausages, eggs, black pudding, his delicious home cured bacon, field mushrooms and vine tomatoes neatly contained in a Steve Vaughan’s “Award Winning Butchers” of Penyffordd bag. An hour later, Steve rang.  Wife had drawn my ticket & he would deliver within the  hour.  More proof that “God will not be outdone in generosity”. Monday 8th.  Planning Bus site visits today and thankfully we only have two to inspect as the rain is lashing down & a gale was blowing.  The Planning Committee agenda scheduled for Wednesday 10th is also short and I am hopeful there will be no repeat of  business having to be extended to 7-15pm as was the case last month. The day before was a complete contrast as it was bright but cold.  I was pleased I made the effort to cover up my outside wood burner to protect it from the coming winter. It throws out a lot of heat from wood & mock sawdust logs.  Sadly this summer as usual so few evenings have been really suitable to made it worth the effort of firing it up. Turning out to Hawarden Community council was a bit of an effort on a wild night but community cllrs do so without any remuneration at all. Our police officers reported  a quieter bonfire night than the previous year and they are doing excellent work on taming the majority of anti social youngsters in the neighbourhood.  They joined a debate on whether or not a street light should be turned off as it allegedly attracted small gatherings of youths that worried the residents in that troublesome little footpath in my ward,  nicknamed“Chippy Lane”.  After further serious debate, the Community Council felt unable to support the police who felt extinguishing the light might stop gatherings.  However, it’s the Council’s job to supply lights in the community and so with some regret, the problem must be passed back to the police officers to undertake more frequent patrols.  If a serious crime occurred or some nasty injury in the dark, the police and the cllrs would be first in the firing line to explain our actions.  We are sorry for the residents who back into the lane but at times, we are ‘damned if we do & damned if we don’t’. Our search for a site suitable for allotments continues to be dogged with failure.  Harwarden Estates have exhausted all they think as suitable plots and an unwanted school ground we had hoped to lease may now be sold to bolster school coffers.  Our ever industrious Clerk wrote to all farmers in the area asking them if they could spare a bit of land and there has not been one reply. Its frustrating to live in a semi rural area and yet we cannot secure the land much needed for allotments. If any one has a suggestion, the Community Council would welcome hearing from you. On the 11th November, before the start of the Council meeting to finally determine the Authority’s Development Plans, (More in a later blog), a bundle of AD Waste yearly reports were pressed into my hands.  Chuffed that progress as finally being made to crack open the secrecy surrounding our waste collection management, I trotted to the New Independents room to seek the view of a fellow audit committee member, who was a banker in a former life. ‘Not impressed was the view.  We can get all that.  Its not the real thrust of what we need to know.’  So, its back to the beginning it seems and the Executive Member might have to make an appearance before the committee after all.

2 Comments

  1. Colin Hughes says:

    Is there not a plot of land above the Tinkersdale carpark? I remember the library gardener using it as an allotment.

  2. Colin Hughes says:

    Perhaps wrong ward………………

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