Principles in Rotherham Public Life?

– a local guide for the Rotherham Politics reader …

Readers of “Rotherham Politics” are always a canny bunch of citizens with an acute political awareness and deep sense of what’s right and what should be right among those in public life who supposedly serve us and not themselves.

The Seven Nolan Principles were established to govern standards of behaviour of those in public life –

  • Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
  • Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  • Objectivity – In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  • Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  • Openness – Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
  • Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
  • Leadership – Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Reference: Wikipedia

You are  now invited to read on and check how many of those simple standards have been observed or simply ignored by local politicians … good luck counting …

Kindly supplied by a reader of this blog. Too good to leave just an introduction to the Leader Files – Roger Stone.

Rob Foulds writes again on woeful RMBC website – FOI 372

Rob Foulds has enquired further when the promised improvements still do not work!

“Dear Mr Waller
For your advice the records of the Standards Committee Review Panel are still not appearing under the Council’s website page ‘Meetings, agendas and minutes’ in spite of your acceptance of the need for this to be the case.
It is noticeable however that the references on that web page, to the Standards Committee, have been altered since our previous correspondence and whilst links are offered to a would-be enquirer, these have been devised to result in the production of no useful information whatsoever.
This is the link to the page where I’m supposed to be able to find the records > http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=919&Year=2011 and you will see for yourself that there is nothing there of relevance to the Review Panel Hearings. In fact, why that page should offer me a link to Declarations of Interests, I really don’t know; furthermore it offers to provide me with the Interests of Cllr Cutts, for instance, and as you will know that should be (emphatically) “Mr Cutts”.
Yours sincerely
Robert Foulds”

Thanks to Rob Foulds, for keeping us updated on this particular saga. Anyone with a tale to tell on this issue, please tell us with a comment. Alternatively contact RikiLeaks  in confidence.

An appeal for information? From RMBC

Been thinking about the situation in Rotherham regarding Freedom of Information requests, given that Rob’s FOI 372 is the 372nd request for information in 2011, I assume.

There is the very real chance of unnecessary duplication. especially for the more contentious areas of public policy.

How about RMBC making all FOI requests and appropriate responses available on the, all singing, all dancing, website of theirs?

Talking of which, the website search is not improving, documents are not properly indexed, missing or so out of date as to render them useless. Resorting to FOI’s because publicly available information cannot be found, will only make things worse! My advice to who ever is responsible for this woeful website should, get a grip, pronto!

Friend of Old Rotherham brings us these two stories that will amuse you!

Firstly this very revealing story, in Yorkshire’s national daily, the Yorkshire Post, from 2003:

Fresh blow for council rocked by scandal

Published on Sunday 26 October 2003

THE new leader of a council tainted by a major sleaze scandal has admitted making a false expenses claim over a trip to Scotland – but insists it was a genuine mistake.

The claim, by Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone, was discovered during a police inquiry into an anti-poverty organisation run by Garvin Reed, the disgraced former deputy leader of the authority who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for his part in stealing 172,000 of public money. Read on….

And this link to a piece of the jigsaw of the history of Rotherham from the same time:

ROTHERHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL
REPORT TO CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE

Available as a pdf, here.

A timely reminder of the tendency to corruption, fraud and worse that seems to occur wherever  Labour rule without effective opposition!

Thanks to ‘A Friend of Old Rotherham‘, for bringing these links to our attention.

A selection of stories featuring Roger Stone from the Yorkshire Post can now be found in:

The Leader’s Files – Roger Stone

Rob Foulds probes further? FOI 372 – update on developments

Rob Foulds, has received a response from Richard Waller, I reproduce it below:

“On 27 September 2011 12:26, Waller, Richard <Richard.Waller@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr Foulds

I am writing in reply to your e-mail dated 15 September in which you state that you wish to make a formal complaint about the Council’s failure to make information about Standard Committee review panels freely and clearly available to the public.  You suggest that the Council has hidden this information from the public.  The reason is rather more mundane. 

 Save for written summaries, documentation in connection with meetings of the Standard Committee’s assessment and review panels is not available to the public by virtue of regulation 8 (application of the Local Government Act 1972) of the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008.  Regulation 8 (5) (a) of the 2008 Regulations disapplies Part VA (access to meetings and documents of certain authorities, committees and sub-committees) of the Local Government Act 1972 in relation to access to meetings and documents of the Standards Committee’s assessment and review panels.  Statutory guidance published by Standards for England explains why:  “Such meetings may have to consider unfounded and potentially damaging complaints about members, which it would not be appropriate to make public”.

However, in accordance with regulation 8 (5) (b) & (c) of the 2008 Regulations, a written summary of the hearing is published and can be found in the Standards Committee pages of the Council’s website in the Council and Democracy section under Standards Committee.  If you had clicked on that page you would have been able to access written summaries of assessment and review panel meetings (see the bottom of that page: Code of conduct complaints process – written summaries). 

 I agree however that the relevant page of the  Agenda, Reports, Minutes pages of the Council and Democracy section of the website should be cross-referenced to the Standards Committee page and shall arrange for this to be done.  I apologise for any inconvenience caused.    

If you are not satisfied with this internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.  Telephone 01625 545700.  Alternatively go to www.ico.gov.org.

Kind regards

Richard Waller”

Clearly not content with this as an adequate response to his enquiry and replied in the following terms:

“Dear Mr Waller
The second-last paragraph of your response therefore agrees that my formal complaint is justified and you confirm that you will arrange to rectify the failings of Rotherham Council.
The analogy is simple: if I call in at Rotherham Library and seek a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I think it would be reasonable to find it in the classic fiction section thereof. And I would certainly not expect a librarian to ultimately advise me that it was “publicly available”  in the geography section, under Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, and thereafter provide me with an abstract explanation of why it was so filed.

In spite of your protestation of mundanity and voluminous quotes from various legislation, the real truth is that the records to which I refer, used to be filed under Agenda, Reports, Minutes and someone at Rotherham Council deliberately removed the records from that logical location and only after receiving a formal complaint, as usual, does your Authority decide to apply appropriate ‘standards’ of administration. By the way, there is still a major lack of information pertaining to the Standards Committee on the Agenda, Reports, Minutes web page.
Finally, it is notable that you have treated my formal complaint as an “internal review” of my original Freedom of Information request – again, the well-worn standard RMBC tactic of manipulation is employed. Surely to God, you must have realised by now that there are some members of the public who can see straight through your Authority’s manoeuvrings.
Yours sincerely

Robert Foulds”

Further developments on this FOI and others, visit The FOI Register.

Information kindly supplied by Rob Foulds, to whom we are grateful! Readers might like to have first go at highlighting the lessons this email exchange illuminates!

From RikiLeaks inbox – RMBC playing unprofessional games?

The RikiLeaks inbox contained this little missive, to none other than Martin Kimber, complaining about the thoroughly unprofessional conduct of senior members of the officer force.

I reproduce it as it was received:

Mr M Kimber   CEO
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Doncaster Gate
Rotherham S65 1DJ

24th September 2011

Dear Sir,

I wish to make a formal complaint regarding the action of Tom Sweetman, Media spokesperson for Rotherham Borough Council.

During recent consultations, Mr Sweetman has  invited himself into the homes of members of the Save Our Greenbelt Campaign Group.
He has discussed details of his private life at length with some members, this is totally unprofessional and he has used his situation to garner sympathy and manipulate Senior Member of the Group, to the point that they were asked to report activities of the group, directly to him, please read enclosed email communication.
At the consultation session at Masbrough Community Centre, Mr Sweetman was observed again approaching a different Senior Members of the Group, inviting himself to the gentleman’s home for a cup of tea, so he could discuss ‘in private’ the  plans to develop  Bassingthorpe Farm , giving his  email and telephone contact details. When I challenged him that this was inappropriate behaviour, he was belligerent and annoyed.
I rang Mr Sweetman, the following morning and asked that he refrain from approaching people who have every legal right to oppose and voice their objections regarding the Councils proposed plans and that inviting himself into people’s homes was a form of harassment and bullying.
Within minutes Mr Sweetman had emailed the two Senior Members of our group to inform them of our conversation and in fact had embellished our conversation and complained about the fact I had phoned him. The gentleman he emailed then rang our Chairperson insisting that I was rebuked for my actions. The Chairperson congratulated me for alerting him to the duplicity of Mr Sweetman’s actions and concerns we had about his involvement with these members.
At the Arts Centre consultation on the following Wednesday, Mr Sweetman approached me and asked if he could speak with me and insisted we left the room. He asked me what he could say to me to persuade me to ’come on board’ and refrain from objecting to the plans. This is totally unacceptable, it is outside of his position as a Media person for the Council, it is a form of harassment.
I and the citizens of Rotherham have every legal right to object and raise concerns. I must ask the question, is this, a consultation for the people of Rotherham, or is this, a complete sham by RMBC, who have no real intention of listening to the people as previous evidence would suggest.
I had printed off the email one of our Senior Members had sent to Mr Sweetman, within an hour of our AGM on the previous Sunday evening. I was unaware of this email until Tuesday after my phone call. I gave the email to him to read and asked him to please explain. Mr Sweetman could not answer
I informed him that I would be making a formal complaint to you, the Chief Executive, regarding his manipulative activities and went back into the meeting room.
Mr Sweetman and the couple he had, and I use this word with some irony,’ befriended’ left the Arts Centre.
I and the Save Our Greenbelt Action Groups, believe that the Strategic Planning Team and in particular Karl Battersby, have purposely infiltrated our group and we have further evidence to support this claim. We are not , at this point, prepared to divulge our evidence, until we have received further advice.
I will expect a letter of confirmation that you have received my letter of complaint, within 5 working days and expect a full written response to my complaint within 28 days.

Yours Sincerely

Thanks to our source for this.

I have actually seen most, if not all, of the correspondence referred to in this letter of complaint and it seems to me that the evidence does lead to the inevitable conclusion that the author, at the very least has a point worth making!

These two questions below would appear to be somewhat problematic for them to answer and may expose enough of their modus operandi, to ensure that future campaigns remain truly independent and are not deliberately infiltrated in the future. I quote:

‘At the Arts Centre consultation on the following Wednesday, Mr Sweetman approached me and asked if he could speak with me and insisted we left the room. He asked me what he could say to me to persuade me to ’come on board’ and refrain from objecting to the plans.’

‘I and the Save Our Greenbelt Action Groups, believe that the Strategic Planning Team and in particular Karl Battersby, have purposely infiltrated our group and we have further evidence to support this claim.’

The responses should make interesting reading, if anyone would oblige RikiLeaks , when available.

Nearly forgot, the cabinet member with responsibility for this? Why, it’s our old friend, Gerald Smith!

Rik

Top Ten Posts last week – Total 1874 page views

This weeks record total of 1874 page views is all down to our readers, contributors and commentators, a huge thank you to you all!

Home page 608
Specially for Independents thinking of standing next May! 219
Gerald Smith case goes international – Swedish ‘Kristdemokraten’ picks it up! 202
New life breathed into Scum Labour post 95
Arthur Newey still fighting 10 years on! 69
MacShane saddened – How does he think we feel? 53
Old Labour – New Labour – Scum Labour in Rotherham’s Stone Age! 49
Déjà vu – Has anything really changed? 42
Special South Yorkshire Police Authority 23/09/2011 11:30 – Isn’t technology wonderful! 36
Planning reform: what are the facts? from fullfact.org! 34

Our all time most popular posting, Gerald Smith case goes international – Swedish ‘Kristdemokraten’ picks it up! Has now notched up a total of 839 hits and still counting!

Labour Mutates once again! ‘Old’, ‘New’, ‘Blue’ now ‘Real’ Labour, but remember no change will come to Rotherham Labour – Ed Miliband’s writ does not apply in ‘Scum Labour Tendency’ Rotherham

As Labour gathers in Liverpool this weekend for their Annual Conference, debate has surfaced regarding what Labour is to be ‘branded’ as next. I gather that ‘Next’ Labour has been well fancied but has been discarded in favour of ‘Real’ Labour.

Whatever ‘branding’ stunt Labour pulls nationally, the fact remains that here in Rotherham and elsewhere in the Labour ‘Heartlands’, citizens have to endure a mutant form of Labour, dubbed ‘Scum’ Labour, by Michael Elmer, a local South Yorkshire man, unfortunately living in Beckenham at the moment out of necessity rather than choice.

The fun really started when Michael’s letter was  published in the ‘Tiser on September 9th. I re-publish it here with a small edit restored at the beginning:

Nasty strain infects party

Sir-Labour mutates. There is Old Labour, New Labour, Blue Labour and in South Yorkshire, where Party Leader Ed Miliband has his seat, Scum Labour-an altogether nastier strain.

Once a party of decent working men, that famously “owed more to Methodism than to Marx,” mutant Scum Labour includes liars, politispivs and crooks, with one MP jailed for expenses fraud, another suspended and a third forced to apologise to Parliament when caught out using House of Commons stationery for Party purposes.

Scum Labour also contaminates the body politic at local level with manifest arrogance, bullying, breaking of electoral law and spreading lies about opponents.

The scandalous case of Cllr Gerald Smith, lucky to escape with a police caution, has now gone viral with his outrageous claim that Christian Democrats are far Right reaching the foreign press.

In a statement seen by the Rotherham Advertiser and available on the Rotherham Politics website. Prof D.L. Hanley, this country’s foremost expert on Christian Democracy, has written that this claim “reveals at best political ignorance and at worst a desire to mislead.”

Scum Labour is now affecting Labour’s renewal work.

On June 22 Dr Udo Zolleis, head of planning of the CSU, the Bavarian Christian Democrats, was received in the Palace of Westminster by Blue Labour.

Nasty Tumours and hideous growths like Scum Labour need to be cut out. Smith’s supine cronies may not see this, or else lack the courage to act, but there are cleverer Labour figures at Westminster who do.

Michael Elmer, Beckenham.”

I have spoken to Michael about his critics opinions. He vehemently rejects them! I still can’t think of a better description than ‘Scum’ Labour, to sum up RMBC Labour Group, the local Party machine, Gerald Smith, the antics of Rotherham MP Denis MacShane and the conviction and jailing of Eric Illsley whilst a sitting MP. When you put it that way, it is difficult to argue with the principal conclusion!

In a predictable fashion, Denis MacShane just couldn’t resist rising to the bait and fired off an angry denunciation of Michael Elmer’s opinions, I quote:

“I was saddened to read a letter talking about Ed Miliband and the Labour Party as “Scum Labour” (see Advertiser, September 9).
Coarse abuse permeates too much of our political debate.
Readers would be astonished at the abusive, foul language in emails and letters I get but there is always the delete button or wastepaper basket.
But should this kind of gutter vocabulary appear in our local newspaper? I note the letter was written by someone living in Beckenham.
I hope the local weekly in Beckenham would not publish a letter from Rotherham about Scum Conservatives or Scum Liberal Democrats.
I am all for robust debate and vivid language, but calling a mainstream democratic political party scum debases political discourse and degrades political Language.

Denis MacShane MP, House of Commons, London.

The following week a young man, who comments freely here under the moniker community champion and in letters to the ‘Tiser as P.J. Cawkwell of Conisborough, jumped on the bandwagon and produced this missive published last Friday. Hoped it would be available on the ‘Tiser’s website but unfortunately it is not, so I will have to type it out. Hope the ‘Tiser don’t mind? I quote:

Disgusted at ‘Scum’ label

I am disgusted that a mainstream left-wing democratic political party can be described as “scum” in your newspaper see Advertiser, September 9).

I am disgusted that local activists like myself have been branded “Labour scum” simply for wanting to improve our towns and villages with everything from bold ideas to small, insignificant changes to help the community in any way we can.

What really does stick in my throat is how the website http://www.rotherhampolitics.org.uk/ and it’s author/contributors can pull down a member of Rotherham town centre’s business community for wanting to kick start reinvestment in the High Street.

Rotherham needs the investment and innovation that Chris Hamby’s project can bring.

I really do feel positive about the town centre, until I read vindictive letters on that website or in this newspaper which pull Rotherham to pieces.

If Rotherham and it’s people offend you so much may I suggest you move to another town.

P.J. Cawkwell, Conisborough.

Thanks a lot Patrick, for being the first to successfully get this blog’s full web address into the ‘Tiser, you have done us a service there!

PJ’s letter is most interesting, it certainly displays greater erudition, vocabulary and sentence construction than any of his other contributions which can be found all over this blog like a rash! Was he really the author? Or did he have help, perhaps he phoned a friend?

P.J. really should understand the very real difference between ‘Scum’ Labour and Labour ‘Scum’, they mean quite different things and to use them interchangeably is a distortion of the truth.

As for his rambling, synthetic rant about one of our previous posts, The Bank of Rotherham – From the Taxpayers Alliance. This report was brought to readers from the Taxpayers Alliance for readers edification and enlightenment, it certainly was not expressing mine nor other blog contributors opinions collectively, and it is a ridiculous distortion of the facts to say that it is! Only two comments have been left, one from PJ and the other from a contributor Grald-Hunter!

Nothing about this post should have resulted in PJ attacking this blog or it’s contributors because the opinion alleged simply is not a reasonable interpretation of the facts nor an excuse to write such drivel, parading inaccuracies and to expect the ‘Tiser to print it! Unless of course, they may not have intended to be entirely helpful? If PJ’s mate, Denis MacShane, gets his way, with a small claims libel court, PJ, would I am afraid, be going there pronto! Along with Gerald Smith, I would imagine?

One thing is entirely clear, PJ a member of Doncaster Labour Party, and Labour Maltby Town Councillor, Stewart Platt, are both extremely greedy with the frequency of their comments, some are priceless, all are ignorant and extraordinarily childish for two grown men! Quite typical of the domineering, Scum Labour Tendency in action. Study the comments carefully and as well as foolish and childishness, a certain arrogance is manifestly present, typical of Scum Labour!

Playing the player, not the ball, is a common stratagem deployed against those with whom they disagree or who have the temerity to stand up and be counted,  standing in local elections in opposition to the candidates of the Scum Labour Tendency.

Some of us are old enough to remember some of South Yorkshire’s scandals that have passed in to legend and has characterised this area over the years. Poulson and T Dan Smith, Donnygate and Garvin Reed and the Anti-Poverty Forum spring immediately to mind, but there are many other fine examples of the tendency to corruption, when Labour dominates with untrammelled hegemonic power.

Remember, some serving currently, on borough, town and parish council’s throughout Rotherham, were around when all of the above incidents of corruption and fraud occurred and it frankly stretches credibility too much, to think that these practises are extinct!

Rik

Competition Time:
These are a few random examples of Stewart Pratt and P.J. Cawkwell’s recent comments, some might amuse themselves playing the game of which is which?

No1
LOL!
Your tirade doesn’t let up does it?
Moaning about nothing, day in, day out.
No2
yes thats right your dick
No3
blah blah blah
No4
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh handbags
No5
Tough!
No6
dear i hope you,ll be there with the rest of the INDEPENDENTS joke wat party was u before u to became a failure
No7
sorry i meant ronald u no RONALD MC DONALD CLOWN ,sorry i went early last night don but there was a realy funny man on tv ,even funnier than u think you are.BRAVE HUNTER,dont think so thats why u hide behind a made up name ,warrior no just because u got a10 thunderbolt for your pic dunt make u a warrior.come clean let us no this BRAVE man,or are u really the brave SITTING BULL -SHIT,over to u ronald mc
No8
Oh dear me.
No wonder your right wing lot are doing Rotherham down…people from outside of the town being slated for working there.
What a sorry state Rotherham is in with people like you around to pull it down, inch by inch.
I wonder why Thrilie hasn’t signed up yet to contribute? Hmmmm……………….
No9
I have to say that I agree with Denis on this issue 110%
No10
u going round in ya a10 don,its dark out thereoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow
There all on here somewhere. Happy hunting!

Specially for Independents thinking of standing next May!

Next week at Bramley Parish Hall, Independents from around the borough, will be meeting at 19:00 next Tuesday 27th September to begin the campaign leading up to next May’s Borough Council elections. Everyone welcome!

Rotherham Independents are part of the National Independent Network and are committed to the ‘Bell Principles’ as the foundation for their activities.

They are a ‘self help’ group for Independents, member led and committed to providing support not normally available to Independents at a local level. Fighting elections can be very expensive and a minefield of obstacles are placed in the way of Independent candidates, staying legal can be quite a challenge as recent experience has shown.

“Rotherham Independents cordially invite all members of the public considering standing as or wishing to support Independent candidates standing in the Borough Council elections next May, to join us at Bramley Parish Hall, Next Tuesday 27th September at 19:00.

We will be beginning our preparations and this meeting may well prove useful to all Independents, even those who do not want to be part of our group, may well find this evening very useful later on.”

Peter Thirlwall
Spokesperson Rotherham Independents

Update: I thought this information piece might at the very least excite some comment – little did I expect to shake the two Labour members out of hiding that it has.

Firstly  Community Champion, a Labour member who hails from Conisborough and a callow youth and secondly Stewart Platt, a Labour member From Maltby who is also a Maltby Town Councillor and who is definitely old enough to know better, have been misbehaving while the shop was left unattended! I hope these two miserable Labour specimens, might reflect on their evident foolishness, childishness or even worse and apologise, on behalf of their party for bringing Labour and Maltby Town Council in to disrepute and subject to ridicule!

The attitudes displayed are an affront to democracy especially when coming from members of  ‘a mainstream left-wing democratic political party’, they display all the arrogance of power, Labour dictatorships in both their home boroughs, a basic disdain of anyone who challenges them at the polls, or their opinions or indeed even asks questions!

Rik

Special South Yorkshire Police Authority 23/09/2011 11:30 – Isn’t technology wonderful!

South Yorkshire Police Authority is meeting tomorrow at 11:30 for a special session about the police helicopter. View this at 11:30 23rd September.

The good news is, we can all see it as it happens, thanks to wonderful technology!

The same technology is installed in our very own Rotherham Town Hall but has never been used for anything yet, beyond providing the current Mayor Shaun Wright with a nice souvenir of his installation.

Personally speaking, making any meeting is quite a challenge, therefore I welcome this development and would ask why RMBC do not use the technology at their disposal to webcast their meetings? We, the people of Rotherham Town and Borough, deserve nothing less!

Watch out for Terry Sharman in action, most likely to be inaction though, from the comfort of your own armchair! Click here at 11:30 23rd September.

One of our main purposes is to lobby for greater openness, transparency and public access to information.