Council Still Quibbling Over Information!

Details of every payment made by Rotherham Borough Council, over £500, will soon be available to the public after the introduction of new rules on transparency and accountability.

The rules require RMBC to publish information on its website of  these  payments from January.

Rotherham’s secretive Council and controlling Labour Group are already cavilling at these modest proposals towards openness it would seem, when Ken Wyatt, the council’s Cabinet member for resources, is on record with these attitudes displayed in his own words:

“There is a huge amount of work involved with this and in my opinion £500 is too low.

“It’s a logical idea but the amount is far too low for an authority of this size, but the council is not only seeking to comply with that, but to get started early.”

Cllr Wyatt is being less than honest, £500 is perhaps a little low but to claim they are getting started early simply beggars belief! And his claims of enormous complexity in their preparation are preposterous!

I can only conclude that no one has properly studied the situation as all the information currently exists on the councils servers and simply requires someone to do the required query and the details will all appear as if by magic! Why all the talk of needing to employ someone to do it and as for redaction it becomes unnecessary and redundant.

It’s not really surprising that our council is so poorly run when even the more able fall for this kind of stupidity. Donkeys, led by donkeys, it would appear!

Many Councils have already complied with this measure in full, they can be viewed here, near bottom of page.

There has been no drama for these authorities in complying and they incurred modest costs in so doing .

The reason that Rotherham Councillors are concerned about it, is that they wish to restrict as much information as possible, in short this whole organisation proposed by RMBC is a system to keep information from us, not to give it to us straight, as they are obliged to do.

We have a real problem! Our councillors are simply not up to  the job. It  would appear that they are not any better at selecting senior advisers either! No wonder we are in the mess we are!

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Embarrassment, As Auditor Refuses to Sign Off Parliamentary Accounts!

The head of the National Audit Office (NAO), Amyas Morse, has found that the Commons authorities had failed to obtain receipts to justify £2.6 million in claims for the year 2009-10.

Another £11.3 million of expenditure had been incurred on items which the House could not prove was necessary for parliamentary purposes.

The National Audit Office, NAO, found that gaps in the accounts were so serious that they launched a full audit of Commons’ allowances. MPs have still failed to provide £800,000 of receipts.

In a scathing report, Mr Morse said that the Commons had failed to maintain proper accounting records concerning the £98.1 million of reimbursements to MPs in expenses.

He went on: “In respect of the lack of evidence to support entitlement for payment of £13.9 million of Members’ allowances, I have not obtained all the information and explanations that I consider necessary for the purpose of my audit, and proper accounting records have not been maintained.”

Evidence could not be provided for a further £1.8 million of claims because the MPs concerned were under investigation by the police.

The Report, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the 2009-10 House of Commons Members Resource Accounts, clearly demonstrates that MPs are still having a laugh at our expense.

Disgracefully, two out of our three local MPs are likely to be part of this.

Denis MacShane.

Denis MacShane, the Member for Rotherham, is part of the section covered by evidence not being available because it is currently with the Met Police. MacShane is currently under investigation by the police after the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner referred his case to them after their own investigation which is currently in suspension.

It is important to remember that MacShane is far from out of the woods yet, as presumably they did not refer him for nothing!

Denis MacShane claimed £125,000 in office costs for this! It's Rotherham! NOT Central London!

MacShane is also currently suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and is sitting as an Independent, although viewers of television coverage of parliament would not guess that from his behaviour! Why don’t the Labour Whips stop him from sitting on the Labour benches amongst the Labour members? They are going to look pretty stupid sometime soon!

Many of his voters in the Rotherham Constituency have little more than contempt for their less than open Member of Parliament. Real anger is still present amongst his constituents and the future looks far from certain as the required power of  his constituents ‘to recall’ him becomes available. If I were Denis I would have already applied to join the ‘Chiltern Hundreds’!

Eight of these! In just two years!

MacShane could do well demonstrating some humility in his current predicament. Not carrying on as though nothing has happened! MacShane must be the most arrogant MP I have ever met! His ego boundless and is unwilling in the extreme to render accountability to his own constituents. The world of politics has changed for ever and constituents will no longer settle for untruthful politicians lies and half truths. The people of Rotherham are on his case and they want the truth, all of it!

Even if no prosecution results, clearly MacShane has some explaining to do to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Parliament and then, most important of all, us!

Kevin Barron, the Member for Rother Valley, is not one to provide receipts or evidence to back up his claims and famously is on record as having the philosophy “I submitted bills that took me up to the limit for what I could get”. Kevin has his own admirer who runs the Rother Valley Blog.

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John Healey, the Member for Wentworth & Dearne, is most unlikely to be caught up in this as his approach has always been open and honest about the way he uses our money when working on our behalf and has been accounting for it publicly on his website since well before anyone thought it necessary. Something that Denis and Kevin could do with emulating. John Healey is not a saint, he made minor errors for which he immediately apologised and corrected.

Thirlwall Ejected from Council Meeting For Wanting The Truth! Labour Group – Stalin Would Be Proud!

Peter Thirlwall was unceremoniously ejected from Wednesdays Full Council Meeting.

His crime? Wanting the truth!

The question was ‘how had Councillor Sharman voted on the Local Development Framework (Incursion into the Greenbelt) at Cabinet?’.

Rotherham’s Labour Group, forewarned by Peter himself the previous month when he had asked, how Councillor Sharman, the Deputy Leader, voted on the Local Development Framework (Incursion into the Greenbelt) at a previous Cabinet meeting. The Leader had then promised a written answer that never materialised.

Unusually at the Council meeting there were laminated printouts of the disciplinary code for members reprinted from standing orders on the benches? Evidently Labour Group had prepared a plan!

Pity they didn’t provide the other procedural sections, because the meeting rapidly descended in to farce and became by all accounts increasingly bizarre as Labour Group put their previously prepared plan*** into action.

I will not burden you with the gory details, they are available below, but suffice it to say, procedurally correct it certainly was not. To read Peters own account click here.

If you would like to read the standing orders themselves click here and for the full Council Constitution click here.

The result of all this is that the ‘playground bullies’ in the Labour Group ended up with ‘egg on their faces’ and apparently guilty of concealment and obfuscation.

We know for certain that the Deputy Leader Terry Sharman has either given inaccurate information to the Council meeting or alternatively his incompetence was demonstrated if he genuinely could not remember being there or the business transacted. We also now know that Labour Group have no interest in the truth! This situation is a disgrace! Terry Sharman, remember him, the ‘Salvation Army’ councillor, clearly demonstrating that he is hypocritical enough to take part in these political games and is content at his inaccuracy! I do hope that he wont be one of Labour’s candidates in next years election, he is a Wingfield Ward councillor until next May.

Much Police time was wasted on this disgraceful little episode also, and I am left with the distinct feeling that Labour Group were acting like childish bullies more expected in a playground than in a Council Chamber conducting the peoples business!

Peter should be congratulated by all in Rotherham Borough who think that, we the people, have a simple ‘right to know’  the answer to Peter’s question and object strongly to this display of political bullying and thuggery!

I have little doubt that this matter will not be finished any time soon as, doubtless, Labour Group will have more unpleasant surprises for Peter.

Peter stood with the people of Rotherham, back in May. He bravely stood for honesty, accountability and openness, He supported us then and still does! It is now time to come together and for us to give Peter our support in return, we owe him much!  It is time for us to return a little of that support to Peter.

Note:

*** I personally have much experience of this kind of thing.

I can remember an attempt to change minutes retrospectively that would have, had the meeting occurred in the way the new minutes indicated, provided prima facie evidence of illegal actions by those present. Labour members, not wishing for reality to intrude, carried on undeterred and approved them anyway!

This of course, goes some way in explaining why I now operate this blog as well as being a proud, staunch and committed member, of the Rotherham Independents.

Rik

Breaking News! MacShane File Passed to Prosecutors?

Greedy Pig MacShane. Picture thanks to Guido

I can report to readers a breaking news story said to relate to Rotherham’s own greedy piggy of an MP, Denis MacShane.

After an investigation by the Metropolitan Police a file has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for their consideration.

This is the ninth file passed to the CPS. Of the other eight, six have resulted in prosecutions still going through the Courts system and two were not proceeded with.

This will now be considered by the special team, set up last year to consider political expenses cases, by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer and Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Former Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine have been charged with theft by false accounting. earlier this year. David Chaytor now faces jail after he pleaded guilty to stealing more than £20,000 at the Old Bailey last Friday. He will be sentenced in the new year.

Former Tory Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield, also known as Paul White, faces six charges of making dishonest claims for allowances. former Tory peer Lord Taylor, full name John David Beckett Taylor, is to face six charges of false accounting.

Eric Illsley, the sitting former Labour MP for Barnsley Central, now sitting as an Independent (as is MacShane), is currently suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and is awaiting trial and is accused of dishonestly claiming more than £20,000.

In March, Labour peer Lady Uddin was told she will not face prosecution over expenses for a flat in Kent which was apparently not occupied for long periods.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead is the second person to be told they will face no further action.

The small number of cases still under investigation by police are believed to include former Labour MP Margaret Moran, former Labour MP Harry Cohen and Labour Independent MP Denis MacShane.

Who says Christmas only comes once a year! Celebrate!

See also:

News from the Courts 1 – Greedy Pig, Chaytor Pleads Guilty! Aitken Moment?

Labour’s Greedy Pigs, David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine – Still Fighting Justice!

Supreme Court Judgement – David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine. No Parliamentary Privilege! Crown Court Looms!

Reading the Runes? or would that be Runiczny?

Democratic Outrage! Was there a ‘conspiracy of silence’ that concealed the full truth about ‘Dissembling’ Denis from the Voters of Rotherham?

Rotherham Hangs It’s Head in (Mac)Shame! Denis MacShane – Metropolitan Police Investigation! Suspended from Labour Party! More links of interest at end of this post.

Disgraced Ex-Labour MPs Hoon, Byers and Caborn – Parliamentary passes suspended!

Back in March the Sunday Times and Channel 4, in a sting operation, exposed them of trying to use their positions for money.

The punishments were part of a damning report by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.

The report, read it here, said:

Geoff Hoon, the former Labour MP for Ashfield, had committed several breaches of MPs’ conduct rules, including one which was “particularly serious”, and should apologise to the House in writing.

Stephen Byers, the former Labour MP for North Tyneside, was found to have committed a “particularly serious” breach but got a less severe punishment because he apologised in “unequivocal terms”.

Richard Caborn, the former Labour MP for Sheffield Central, was ordered to apologise to the Commons. Caborn has issued a statement in the following terms,”This is a total vindication, after a ten month inquiry, that clears my name and reputation after 31 years in public office and I thank the Commissioner and his Staff for carrying out a thorough investigation.” What planet is he on? A proposed six month ban, is for nothing then!

Commons authorities have recommended that former defence secretary Geoff Hoon be stripped of his pass for five years, former transport secretary Stephen Byers should lose his pass for two years and former sport minister Richard Caborn will lose his for six months. The vote will take place next Wednesday.

Disgrace indeed!

News from the Courts 2 – Woolas Defeated in Legal Bid! Why was John Healey there?

The second case to move forward this week concerned the Ex Shadow Immigration Minister and former Labour MP, Phil Woolas.

Phil Woolas stooped  very low in his tactics in the Oldham East and Saddleworth and was judged to have made false statements about his Lib Dem opponent, Elwyn Watkins, by an elections court. Woolas was then unceremoniously dumped on further by Harriet Harman the Labour Deputy Leader much to the chagrin of many in the commons on the Labour benches.

On Friday, the high court rejected Woolas’s attempt to contest the finding of the election court, which ruled that he should no longer sit as the MP for the Lancashire constituency and be barred from parliament for three years.

Woolas has now accepted defeat and a by-election will be held in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency on February 3rd, the writ being moved as soon as they get back from their Christmas holidays.

The public do not support Woolas but many of his fellow parliamentarians do!

One has to question the wisdom therefore of John Healey, the now Shadow Minister for Health and the MP for Wentworth and Dearne constituency, providing visible support by dignifying proceedings with his presence?

A political mistake I am sure! It remains to be established, who on earth told him to go? and why did he agree?

See also:
Read the Woolas Election Court Judgement in full CLICK HERE

News from the Courts 1 – Greedy Pig, Chaytor Pleads Guilty! Aitken Moment?

The Courts are a bit like buses, nothing for a while then several come along at once!

The surprise move by David Chaytor to suddenly change his plea to guilty has a historical precedent!

Jonathan Aitken was faced with the same dilemma when he realised that to proceed with his defence would put his daughter at risk of prosecution for a number of criminal offences.

David Chaytor has taken the same way out as Aitken and many others have done before him. The crimes of his daughter, ought not to be expunged by the  father avoiding cross-examination by pleading guilty at the last minute.

Investigations should be completed into his daughters role in this and she should be brought to justice too if she was up to no good!

What will happen next with the cases of Labour’s Greedy Pigs, Elliot Morley, Jim Devine, Eric Illsley and the Tory greedy pig, Lord Hanningfield has yet to be established as they are still wriggling and squealing! Or for that matter, the current police investigation into Denis MacShane and others or the ongoing parliamentary investigations yet to complete. Plenty more to come!