Archive for ‘Governance’

January Blog

New year seems so long ago. First engagement as Hawarden community council chair was the celebration of 10 years of the “Hawarden Walks” on 9th January. Walkers have met regularly in Hawarden Institute, their HQ, for 10 years. The walks; ” 60 minutes rapid or slow, or 90 minutes brisk. Something for everyone. The original pioneers of this remarkable success story, including Colin Herbert, were introduced along with Walk Leaders, sporting Day Glow jackets depicting their names. Colin, the chief Hawarden Walker Supremo & Heather, Institute manager produced a cake. We enjoyed a joint blowing out of the 10 birthday candles. Over the years, thousands of walks have been enjoyed. No one is too old, dogs are welcome & the spirit of friendship of the walking fraternity is strong.mI recommend anyone who feels lonely, to give them a try. You’ll be impressed. BLUE BADGE BLUES. A stressed Mrs S rang just before Christmas. Her very immobile husband learnt, out of the blue, that his Blue Badge,(BB), was to be withdrawn in January. Her attempts to get some sensible response from Flintshire officers failed & she was being bounced from one department to another. Hubby was completely grounded without the badge. …..

Welsh Government’s Creditability incinerated And Goals Galore!

Hawarden High School’s Annual Service of remembrance is always moving. The standard for the 7th November event was as high as ever. The most prolific contribution for reading & singing came from a pupil I had interviewed for a Rotary Outward Bound course. This was the icing on the cake to help her goal of becoming Head Girl. Goal achieved. She & the Head Boy read out the list of the fallen. Last Post sounded & a deep silence descended. Clapping was reserved to the end of the service and it was well deserved. MY GOAL. My goal as Chair of the Community Council was to march in parade from Gladstone Playing Fields, climb the steps of Hawarden Cenotaph & lay a wreath without falling base over apex in front of a large crowd. No big deal surely? It’s less then a mile & 5 steps up and 5 steps down! Marching had been off limits because of dodgy legs; plate in ankle, full knee replacements, two previously ruptured Achilles’ tendons & worn back discs. Infuriated when a weighty Cllr bellowed across the room at a Civic Service a few months ago, “you seem to be less mobile than you …..

BUDGET BLOG. (The usual smoke and mirrors annual event)

The chamber was full for Friday afternoon budget meeting at County hall on St David’s Day. Even a sick member had been dragged from his bed to bring out the vote. Setting a budget is a legal requirement and hard choices are inevitable. But the Lib Dems had located a pot of money available to be spent and my group, as part of the Opposition tabled an amendment that offered innovative ways of helping the community. Four really good schemes were outlined by Robin Guest the Lib Dem leader, buoyant from the Eastleigh election result. He had to demand that our amendment was handed out for members to read and he was cross that Labour had already quickly circulated amazing changes to their own budget proposals. These late submissions made a mockery of the official budget proposal we had received within the proper committee time frame. Our proposals would enable play schemes to continue as before with help from Town and Community councils as grants had been slashed. We would give a swimming subsidy of £23K to help Flintshire compete at all levels, spend £17K on keeping open public loos in Caerwys and Cilcain and give £96K for a one …..

Police Commissioners! The Pros & Cons.

Having had a torrid time from 1995 to 99, as an elected member of the North Wales Police Authority, I accept the system as I saw it just did not work. All those years ago, the Merseyside Police Authority was probably as bad as the North Wales Authority and I doubt that much has changed for the better. In that Authority, the Chair and another Cllr, both senior Labour politicians were so extremely hostile towards my police equality case that I won in the High Court for being unlawfully suspended. “Lord Justice McPherson gave that telling statement,” There’s a smell of unfairness about this case”. Having served Merseyside diligently for 8 years as an ACC, as soon as I mounted a discrimination action against the force in 1990, I was ditched and humiliated by the body that employed me. They unswervingly took the Chief Constable’s side & I had to fight two enemies, the police and its Authority. It was going to be fiendishly difficult for my barrister to present the facts that I had been unlawfully suspended. The arguments were like dealing with smoke and mirrors as Police Authority rules were complex and unclear. I was given help by …..

That Other Burning Issue

Guess what?  It seems official and yet a County Council of 70 elected members have not been given the chance of debating if Deeside should be awarded the wooden spoon of waste incineration scheme in its midst.  The Chester Chronicle reported that the decision had been made but- don’t laugh: a public consultation will take place in September and October.  A bit late surely if the decision has already been made? A quick call to the former Chair of Environment confirmed that the committee had been briefed regularly on the progress of the North Wales Joint Waste Management scheme but only when members were told that a rail link had been opened (all vague) warning bells sounded in the former chair’s brain. A Scrutiny Committee does not have the function of the full Authority which is why we attend Council meetings and vote on Council proposals. The cost of the consultation fees for the joint partnership has already been given to the Audit committee.  When I queried these eye watering sums, even though shared between Authorities I was sharply rebuffed,  ‘They were worth every penny as the scheme was vital to the region and was of ground breaking proportions,’ according …..

BACK TO BLOGGING. (Back events).

Since the 3rd May election, the transition from the Coalition to a Labour led administration has been smooth with Messrs Shotton & Attridge moving into Cabinet mode. They got the majority needed to govern after Tony Sharps abandoned his former albatross Leader and formed an alliance with Labour to put Aaron into the all powerful top slot. No matter! Arnold Woolley came to power when the rightful leader in waiting, Patrick Heesom was denied the job, (Blogs passim) Cllr Woolley still hung on to the leadership role in the most dubious circumstances as have been described (ad nauseous) before. Time for a welcome change! Regular readers will know that Patrick was tossed into the waiting arms of the Ombudsman on a bullying allegation. It will be known that despite the still rising legal bill of over £3million, in an enquiry that started in March 2009, Patrick’s tribunal has still not finished! Its scheduled to resume in September 2012, some three years on. Justice delayed is justice denied will not dent our Teflon Ombudsman Peter Tyndall. Patrick’s Adjudication Panel seem unable to grasp that Patrick’s tribunal should now be stopped once and for all now that a High Court decision was …..

TICKING DOWN TO COALITION CLIMAX. 27th March – 26th April 2012.

Flintshire Councillors met on the 27th March for the last Council Meeting of the 4th year of Coalition administration. Its been a mixed time for me personally. Health wobble, commitment to Flintshire Chairman as his consort plus my own heavy committee & ward workload. If that was not enough, I had to defend myself against the relentless pursuit of the Ombudsman’s investigator. Of course, that Adjudication Panel chaired by Ms Helen Cole, a specialist in non contentious legal matters going to find me guilty but that’s water under the bridge. This four years Council term has been a series of “if only!” If only the alleged misuse of a photocopier had not barred the rightful candidate for leadership of the Authority and allowed the present incumbent to take to the top slot. If only the Corporate Management Team had not alleged bullying by Patrick Heesom in March 2009, which allowed the Ombudsman’s investigation to start we would not have had to endure Arnold Woolley’s now officially criticised leadership. If only I had not volunteered a statement for Patrick Heesom as I had not witnessed any inappropriate behaviour during a housing selection panel I would not have stumped up £10.5K for …..

A VIEW FROM BOTH ENDS OF THE TELESCOPE.

The Corporate Resources Meeting was more interesting that I had expected and the Chief Executive played a major part in taking members through the complexities of the forthcoming budget proposals. As I had expected, I did not learn much more about the Early Retirement issue that was up for discussion. Both the elected chair for the meeting and another member closed any debate down, an action I accepted as the press was present. The press is frequently used to get a story out that a member wishes to have published in a round about way, but obviously my story and my concerns of a certain early retirement did not press the right buttons on this occasion. I was chuffed when the Head of Human Resources credited me with pressing officers to bring the costs etc. of early retirements to members’ regular attention. Head of HR graciously agreed that this policy had fallen by the way side and my doggedness had put it back on the agenda once more. I was happy to praise officers in return as I thought our Chief Executive, Colin Everett had displayed a masterful command of the budget brief. He answered detailed and complex questions without …..

Family

Family Fortunes Nothing matters more to the future of our country and our economy than education. Children need a proper chance to learn. But under Labour many things are going badly wrong in our schools. Almost half of ll year olds leave school unable to read, write or add up properly. The UK is failing down international league tables of educational performance. Conservatives want schools where pupils turn up and the head teacher knows their names, schools where there is proper discipline, schools where they use tried and tested teaching methods, schools where churches, voluntary bodies, and local businesses are encouraged to get involved. We will work to make our exam system rigorous and believable for the long term by bringing in business, universities and other organisations with an interest in restoring the credibility of our exams. But It is not just at school that we have to get the environment right; children need support at home and at play. We all know that the best organisation for bringing up children, giving us the right values, helping us get on with life, looking after us if we are sick or disabled, and caring for the elderly, is the family. In …..

Fair Deal for Flintshire

Is It a Fair Deal for Flintshire? Residents in Flintshire are getting a poor deal, and the current Labour majority on the council seem both unable and unwilling to do anything about it. It is time for change at County Hall! Conservative candidate for Ewloe, Alison Halford, said, ‘It is an absolute disgrace. We are now paying almost twice as much in Council tax as we were 10 years ago, but what improvements have we seen for our money?’ Last year, schools in Flintshire received less money for each pupil than schools in Cheshire, Wirral, Wrexham, Denbighshire and Conwy! What’s more, the Council did not actually spend all the money it had allocated for our schools. By contrast, Flintshire did manage to the priorities and concerns of local spend £13m on agency staff to support County Hall administration. Discussing these figures, Alison noted that, `This just proves how wrong the Council have got their priorities. Investing in our schools is a vital investment for our future. The Council is letting us down badly.’ But it’s not just education. We all know that crime is rising, and that anti-social behaviour is a problem for many local communities. However, Police in South …..