Upon opening my print copy of the ‘Tiser this week, on page 6, there was an excellent piece under Gareth Dennison’s by-line, dealing with the Millers loan and the Titans financial arrangements re Millmoor. He was reporting the July Meeting of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council which took place on Wednesday 27th.
Although generally supportive of helping the Millers, I read the account with increasing incredulity and amazement! I couldn’t believe what I was reading, it was as if Roger Stone was talking about Monopoly money, not real Pounds and Pence of hard earned. By the evening the import of the article had reminded me of the way Layden had operated. Who always explained his actions using confusing terminology to bamboozle listeners that he actually understood what he was talking about! I’m sure he didn’t understand either, because he could never answer the most basic of questions when asked, at the many opportunities I had to see him in action! He was a master of his craft and achieved National prominence largely through guile rather than ability.
The feelings of Déjà vu became ever stronger, the more I let my mind wander to the past when Sir Jack was King of his Castle. I can remember an autumn meeting of a Labour Party Branch in Rotherham when he was explaining the reasoning behind the funding of the Anti Poverty Forum, based in Rotherham. That was Garvin Reed’s little side project, that ended in disaster and Reed spending time in one of Her Majesties prisons! Involving among others, one much younger Roger Stone! That story is for another time, perhaps? I digress.
Layden was fond of terminology such as ‘innovative’ and Roger Stone’s use of this term certainly rings alarm bells! As does the use of the Prudential Borrowing Facility, a right to borrow for investment that Councils have had since 2003. The assurances given to officers, it was stated, were ‘cast iron’, another Laydenism, that no money of ours was being put at hazard!
“Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss!” A line from Won’t get fooled again, by the Who. Released on 31 July 1971, exactly 40 years ago today, was an angry denunciation of the dashed hopes of a generation for genuine change. In the wake, of the then, recent events that demonstrated the inability to put dreams into action, the disillusionment was felt keenly by those of us who experienced these events contemporaneously. We may have been guilty back then of more than a little naivety but who would have thought this song might still have resonance in Rotherham of today, in that nothing ever changes, only the people change, in Rotherham of Layden’s day, councillors waited for the ‘grim reaper’ to remove them from office, not quite such a universal expectation these days, I’m glad to say.
Roger Stone seems to have become a reincarnation of his illustrious predecessor, it would appear, when he makes the following guarantee, “There’s no cost to us.” We will no doubt see in the passage of time, if he is right. Meanwhile, we wait and see, and perhaps ponder upon one of Roger Stone’s more ridiculous claims that, “better football will be played there,” quite on what basis he makes this claim is not clear, but perhaps it was one of those ‘cast iron’ guarantees he referred to earlier in the report?
The report also states that RMBC stands ready to take the same action in other cases and raised the possibility that the Titans might benefit in future, from a similar arrangement.
The simple sad fact of the situation is that absolutely nothing has changed in Rotherham since the 70’s, we still get council decisions, made with no one understanding the consequences of their actions, not even the officers! The officers track record in this respect has been lamentable and no reliable guide as to what is permissible. I would cite the recent case concerning Chris Read, the Bramley traffic scandal and the blue badge abuse scandal as evidence for my assertions. Déjà vu, indeed!