And the meetings keep on coming.

On Sunday I made a couple of visits to my patch. Level Lane Play area was first and as I suspected from heavy silence from the dog poo bin overseer/manager that only two of the three assigned three bins had been installed. As council staff were erecting them in December, a nameless man passed by threatened to wreck it as he had objected to its position. I was cross. I had the agreement of the nearest resident who did not object and thus the choice of position should not have caused any problem. So having installed one, the men left and no more was heard. This battle for the bins has dragged on since August. I had meantime identified another site close to the cut through leading to Green Meadows and yet again, my quest for information fell on stony ground.

Now, I ‘ve asked Executive Member Nancy Matthews if she can wave a magic wand and get her staff to finish the job. Nancy as been under huge pressure from waste collection complaints but answered at once that she would see what she could do. The one complaint I received regarding brown bin collection was dealt with promptly and the resident was most pleased. The Authority faces crippling land fill charges and it is the responsibility of us all to help figure out a way of solving the problems.

Much of the Council Council meeting on 31st January was devoted to the waste collection problem and a rapid review of what is going wrong will now commence as a matter of urgency. Nancy and her hard pressed officers won’t give up and we will get there in the end. My poo bins pale into into insignificance compared with the travails of waste collection across the county.

AUDIT committee 30-1-12 was lively to say the least. Members had another attempt to learn all the facts that allowed officers to move a very popular Telecare Help Line service in the Flint flats and move it out of county with a wider remit but with none of the local expertise needed to help residents in an emergency. Officers had already attended the December meeting and after a push, admitted more openness and fuller consultation should have happened.

Cllr Carolyn Thomas had raised concerns over the lack of information at the previous audit meeting and despite having a month to dig deeper for who did what etc., she had been thwarted by secrecy and black holes. We finally confirmed that although the item had been placed on the Forward Work Programme of the Community & Housing Scrutiny committee it vanished from the list and therefore missed out that important scrutiny role that would have given us some input and ensured the best service for our communities. The excuse for failing to give scrutiny committee a chance to do just that was blamed on a workshop, where it had apparently been decided that we did not want to review the proposals for this service which has been renamed Galw Gofloofah. Sheer rubbish I thought.

Our protests that a workshop was not the right forum to close down our right to scrutinise as a work shop has no policy making powers our complaints were largely fobbed off! Our legal officer assured us that everything had been done properly and the service would be scrutinised at a later date. I wonder what the Welsh Audit Office watchers thought of this officer- member spat. Chairman Cllr Ian Roberts gave us every chance to raise our concerns but at times, I felt we were fighting a blob of greased mercury; a substance that has a nasty habit of slipping away from grasp!

The first meeting of February found us back on Community & Housing scrutiny issues. The Executive member for housing just happened to be present and more questions were asked about the demolition of the Flint maisonettes that has also caused a stir in the press. I was told demolition started when the Call In that queried the Flintshire Maisonettes decision had been lost. The knocking down had started and old folks were already been decanted to —not told where.

Under Planning law, a demolition order is needed and the decision should probably be made by full committee particularity as it is an LA application and it is important that we are seen to be fully lawful and transparent.

Perhaps Flint, being a historic place has been excluded from the planning law that affects the rest of Flintshire or maybe we have very special representatives who can commission the “Ways and Means Act” and know how to pull strings!. All very odd!

After months of receiving good reports, C & H committee hit a bad patch as the old chestnut of spiralling rent arrears continues to dog this Authority despite setting up a special team to address this worrying problem several months ago..

Compared with the same week last year, the arrears have increased to £1,188,927.75, which is dreadful. Our judges in our local courts are beginning to understand they must act more firmly against that small class of tenants who have no intention of paying anything but the repayments agreed as so small as to be derisory. Shock horror; the overall arrears figure was not just failure to pay rent but included other debts such as water and sewage. It got worse. Tenants water and sewage costs is divvied out on the rateable value of their properties and the council pays the overall bill forwarded by the water company which should then be reclaimed from tenants. BY US??? The Authority has no power to take action if a tenant choses not to pay and the amount of water used by each household is never calculated. An unbelievable situation and I presume one that is not unique in Flintshire.

The water bills cost to the council was not known by officers but it was clear the total cost would certainly be in the millions. My own water bill arrived recently that showed the number of gallons I had sloshed down the drain. A frighting amount and yet I try to be frugal. I was shocked to have it confirmed by a fellow Tory cllr that in her area she has pensioners on hefty benefit. £350 was mentioned and are free to use any amount of water, baths, hose pipes etc. and pays the minimal amount. These same benefits claimants also book their cruises and buy themselves new cars. The cost to the Council and to all of us as someone has to pay but water is a precious commodity and tenants must be made responsible for what they use. Officers thought that a water meter was a personal choice. Members thought not and we have called for an urgent report giving us much more detail to stop what is money down the drain.

Think what the Authority could do with the almost £2 million outstanding on rent arrears. I am tiring of the constant whinge that we are hitting the most vulnerable and hard choices have to be made between eating and heating. . Spare a thought for those who are not on benefits who also face the same hard choice. The generation of no work and live on benefits has been as pernicious as bringing this country almost to the state of bankruptcy under Labour rule. Stop moaning and start looking in the mirror. All my party has inherited in feckless unsustainable spending and its us that have to clear up the mess.

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