Darren Hughes – The Return! featuring in a cameo role that star of THT, your very own Cllr Jahangir Akhtar!

The plot so far:

A committed Tory jumps ship to oust long serving Labour activist, having managed to hoodwink the great Leader our Z list star takes on the sham role of an Anston Councillor while all the time in talks with a secret sect.

To avoid detection of his continued Tory allegiances our star avoids any contact with the locals while all the time creaming in the gold coins.

All is not lost!

He underestimates the locals and Darren falls from grace, is this the end for our undercover Tory?

Fear not pantomime fans, waiting in the wings is no other than that man of whispers Cllr Akhtar, yes our so called man of the people, and yes the very same man who now refuses to respond to blogs!

“Darren a safe seat awaits Stone says that it is yours; he has told the Rawmarsh lot you’re the man!”

Keep glad handing those myopic Cllr chumps, go to their events, stick up as many posters as you want and all will be well.

And what do I want in return, your vote for Leader!

It sounds like a pantomime because it is, at the centre of this farce is Cllr Akhtar and his design to become Leader, interestingly when challenged over the decision to award Darren the Rawmarsh seat Jahangir fails to stand up for democracy and goes with the flow.

Don’t fall for it good people of Rawmarsh and Parkgate, select your own candidate.


Shaun Wright – Some further complications?

Cerberus sent me this link to some advice on the law regarding disqualification:


Your attention should be drawn to para 4 in the introduction. It seems clear cut?

Cerberus’s view:

“From the guidance from the West Midlands it is clear for me, he can canvas for the PCC role while remaining a PA member, however as soon as he receives the nomination he has to resign.

I noted that on the news clips Wright said thank you and stated that campaigning started then, so by de-fault he could well be acting outside of the guidance if the West Midlands paper is based on national standards, given Wright was on holiday at the time of the announcement of the vote he may well not have tendered his resignation.

A minor technicality but one that could cause further embarrassment.”

This ridiculous situation of Labour’s currently disqualified candidate must be resolved!

Shaun Wright – Some problems if he wants to be Police and Crime Commissioner?

Perhaps in his eagerness to avoid the electorate of Rawmarsh Ward, Shaun Wright or the Regional Labour Party would have checked whether there were any obstacles to his candidature.

Among those who are disqualified from standing are members of staff at a Council (except teachers), including County, Borough and parish councils (note that, as with police staff, even if you are not in a politically restricted post, you still can’t stand for this election).

Councillors are allowed to stand, unless they are members of the police authority, who can’t.

Shaun Wright clearly has a problem on at least two counts. Expect resignations soon!

Fly posting – The Ex-Councillor, Mr Hughes responds!

Rothpol has been asked to give equal prominence to Darren Hughes response in the interests of fairness. I therefore reproduce Darren Hughes statement:

From Darren Hughes

“I would like to make some factual corrections to your posting.

a. Prior to erecting my election posters, I checked what the correct procedure was. Most councils have a policy specifically for election campaign posters ie that candidates may put posters up but must take them down by a week after the election.

b. On checking, I found that Rotherham has no policy on this. I contacted the Rotherham planning department and was told campaign posters were acceptable during election times and that there was a legal requirement for the posters to be removed within a specific time frame following the election. I proceeded to have the posters erected.

b. Following a complaint from an opposing candidate I was contacted by the Director of Streetpride and asked to remove the posters. I asked if this was
correct as there was not a specific policy and there seemed to be some
confusion between council departments. I was advised by Streetpride
that no action would be taken until the situation was clarified.

c. Several days later I was informed that the posters would need to be
removed. RMBC policy for fly posters is to advise and request that the
posters be removed within 7 days. I agreed with the Director of Streetpride that I would arrange for the posters to be removed myself by the
weekend. If I had not removed the posters by this agreed timescale
Streetpride officers would remove them.

d. I arranged for the posters to be removed only to find as we started to remove them (within the agreed timescale) that RMBC officers had already started their removal. Despite this, the vast majority of posters were taken down by my arrangement.

I am a little surprised that Mr Thornton has made this posting as he was one of the people who approved of my posters in a similar fashion in 2008, and who himself displayed posters during his own election campaign.”

Darren Hughes

Readers may need to refer to this post: Fly posting – The Ex-Councillor, Mr Hughes

The MG Awards 2012

A particularly observant reader brought this little interesting nugget to Rothpol’s attention on the subject of last night’s MJ (Municipal Journal) Awards Dinner.

See: The MJ Awards 2012

This poses the question, did anyone from Rotherham attend?

They were Highly Commended in the Transformation by IT category, after all!

As I was falling asleep, it came to me! Has anything changed?

Former Chief Commissar, now Supreme Chief Commissar of Rotherham, Roger Stone,  local Politburo chief and self styled ‘Dear Leader’ is said to be ‘basking in Labour’s local election results’ and is claiming to everyone who will listen that theirs was a ‘truly historic victory of monumental proportions and is a total vindication of his vision for the future’.

I am now able to bring you his leaked communication to the faithful citizens of Rotherham. Despite it’s contents being a State secret our ‘Dear Leader’ assures me he won’t have me sent to the Gulag this time, as secretly, he really wants you to know about his most magnificent recent electoral achievements and the Politburos selfless approach to public service.

Supreme Chief Commissar, Roger Stone, Rotherham’s ‘Dear Leader’. Basking in Victory, speaks to his people.

My People! (I like that one, I got it from the odious MacShane in ’97, thinking about it, haven’t seen much of him since then?) Your votes have proved once again that Labour in Rotherham is an invincible force at the ballot box and the old maxim that a donkey could get elected with the right colour rosette stuck on it, is as true today, as it ever was.

All our candidates won, except for the ones that didn’t that is, some voters even actually voted themselves in person this year, because of the General Election.

Our local government campaign was breathtaking in conception and has never been bettered, by doing almost no campaigning at all, we caught the voters off guard and surprised them at the last minute into voting for us.

I would like to congratulate the thousands of volunteers that responded to the call and delivered this masterful campaign of almost complete inaction. Hero of the Revolution second class, has been awarded to comrade Chester, who dreamed it all up, but of course I had already thought of it first as your ‘Dear Leader’ is infallible, just like our spiritual father and still overall leader, the ‘Great Leader’ Layden, who is running things behind the scenes although we don’t see much of him these days.

The counter-revolutionary capitalist Tories have been routed!

Long live the Revolution! Long live the Rotherham Soviet! Long live Comrade Supreme Chief Commissar, our ‘Dear Leader’ Roger Stone, Hero of the Revolution First Class and our ‘Great Leader’ Layden, now departed but still running things, Hero of the Revolution First, First Class. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

I can assure you, ‘My People’, that all your Politburo members are unanimous in being prepared to continue enduring the endless functions, dinners and conferences and the beer, wine, spirits and numerous other alcoholic beverages that we have to drink, so you don’t have to. Our Rotherham Alcohol Treatment And Reduction Strategic Enterprise Development (RATARSED) Programme is working well, it is our commitment to you, that over a ten year plan period we will have reduced the harm done by alcohol in our communities because we will be drinking it ourselves instead. The ten year plan calls for the Politburo to be making it’s contribution by upping it’s alcohol consumption from 25% to 35% in five years and a full 50% in ten years of the towns overall consumption. A truly public spirited and selfless act by the Politburo, you will agree, don’t forget, I know where you live, all of you, so do as I say!

We are the most ‘public spirited’ of all the ‘Peoples Soviets’ of the North and reject the counter-revolutionary approach of  ‘Cameron the Slash & Burn’ and his Liberal sycophant supporters of the reviled ‘Clegg the Turncoat’. They may be able to walk to work or travel second class but we can’t, largely down to the amount of selfless drinking we do on your behalf.

Before I close I want to reassure you that any ‘financial realignments’ (Cuts to you and me) will cause us much pain and anguish to us, as they will to you. I would again reassure you that the Politburo will not be sharing any of the pain you will have, if for no other reason than that given above,  largely down to the amount of selfless drinking we do on your behalf.

Onwards and upwards comrades, man the bars (surely barricades?) let’s get on with ‘business as usual’.

Finally, I have a new maxim for you all, ‘No cuts, No redundancies celebrate re-alignment and leave it with me’! Sing it in the bath, I insist that all ‘My People’ shout this twice a day at the top of their voices………………

At this point I woke up and thoughts of North Korea combined with Rotherham disappeared as soon as they came.


First published May 2010, still has a lot of resonance today!

Fly posting – The Ex-Councillor, Mr Hughes

Rotherham Politics brings you another interesting exchange of E-Mails regarding the fly posting of Mr Darren Hughes Election posters in and around North and South Anston.  I am most highly peeved that MY TAX MONEY has been spent on the removal of illegal fly posters.

From  S Thornton
To    K Battersby
25th May 2012

Dear Mr Battersby,

It has been brought to my attention, both through the local papers and through local “blog” pages, that the Election posters placed in North and South Anston by Mr Hughes were removed by RMBC workers.

Could you please supply the following information:-

Were the posters erected by Mr Hughes for his campaign removed by RMBC staff?
If yes, how many staff were involved ?.
How long did it take for the staff to remove the posters (hours or days)?
If the staff did remove the posters, has Mr Hughes been sent an invoice to cover the cost to the Taxpayer ?.
What was the cost to the Taxpayer ?.
Did the invoice (if sent) cover costs for fuel for Council vehicles ?.

The information you supply maybe given to the wider Public.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future, thank you for your time.

S Thornton

A reply duly came:

From K Battersby
To   S Thornton
CC  (Employee RMBC) (Employee RMBC) (Employee RMBC, Chief Exct office ?)
25th May 2012

Mr Thornton, thank you for your e-mail. I can provide the following initial answers to your questions.

Were the posters erected by Mr Hughes for his campaign removed by RMBC staff.

Yes that is correct.

If yes, how many staff were involved.

I think it is two. (employee) can you confirm please.

How long did it take for the staff to remove the posters (hours or days)

I don`t have an exact record, but I recall that it was two occasions.

I would have said it was in the order of a couple of hours.

If the staff did remove the posters, has Mr Hughes been sent an invoice to cover the cost to the Tax payer.


What was the cost to the Tax payer.

As we have not prepared or sent an invoice, I do not have a cost.
These were staff already employed and funded by the council.

Did the invoice(if sent) cover costs for fuel for council vehicles.


Stuart replied to Karl Battersby in the following terms:

From S Thornton
To   K Battersby
30 May 2012

Dear Mr Battersby,

Thank you for your reply, I am very disappointed that RMBC staff have been employed on the removal of “private” Election fly posters.
The Election posters were erected by a private individual, Mr Hughes, who was at the time an RMBC Cllr.
The posters were his private property and therefore if they were removed by your staff Mr Hughes should be sent an invoice for the work involved.
My Tax money and the Tax money of the rate payers of Anston should not have been used for this “removal”.
I dispute your answer in which you say that the removal of these signs took “a couple of hours” by the sheer number of signs put up I think this would have been impossible to do in a couple of hours, the signs appeared to have been erected over a number of days.
Your reply states that “these were staff already employed and funded by the Council”  This is stating the obvious, all staff employed by the Council are funded by the Council.
The point you completely miss is the fact that these two persons were already employed on Council business and had to be taken off the tasks they were allocated to remove private signs put up by an individual who also happens to be an RMBC Cllr at the time.
Are we now allowing RMBC Cllrs (as he was then) free use of Council facilities.

I now request under the Freedom of Information Act the following information (if a cost is either charged or quoted, I request an explanation as to why you are charging me for Council services and not Mr Hughes).

(1)  Exactly how many staff were employed on the task of removing Mr Hughes Election posters.

(2)  Exactly how long this task took in hours.

(3)  Were the staff employed, taken off another”job” to remove these private Election posters.

(4)  Who made the decision not to send Mr Hughes an invoice.

(5)  Do you have any plans to invoice Mr hughes in the near future.

(6)  If the answer to question 5 is no, please give a detailed response as to why no invoice will be raised.

Karl Battersby again responds:

From  K Battersby
To    S Thornton
31 May 2012

Mr Thornton thank you for your latest email. I can provide the following response to the questions you have asked;

(1) Exactly how many staff were employed on the task of removing Mr Hughes Election posters.

One operative, along with a cherry picker

(2) Exactly how long this task took in hours

Four hours, two two hour stints.

(3) Were the staff employed, taken off another “job” to remove these private election posters.

Yes and No, this employee has a substantive role which is to repair lighting columns, however it is within his remit to from time to time remove fly posted materials when required as when they are at height we can only take them down using the cherry picker.

(4) Who made the decision not to send Mr Hughes an invoice.

Current Council policy is to remove fly posting and where the poster can be identified we write to them not to do it again. If they re offend in the future we would then raise an invoice for the cost of removal.

5) Do you have any plans to invoice Mr Hughes in the near future.


(6)  If the answer to question 5 is no please give a detailed response as to why no invoice will be raised.

See question 4

Regards Karl Battersby

It was at this point I gave up.  It is quite clear that our Tax money was used to remove illegal fly posters and that Mr Battersby was not going to ruffle any feather by charging anyone.
I suspect, but cannot prove it, that Mr Hughes was called in to the office, told what a naughty boy he was, but don’t worry we will take them down.
Was this because he was a serving RMBC Cllr?.
That it was thought Mr Hughes would win the election, and then nothing more would be said was also possible.
Its my understanding that it took a full four days from the date of the complaint to the removal of the posters, was this just coincidence that it happened to be the last full week before election, Mr Hughes got an “extra” four days publicity. you make up your own mind.
Same old story, ask a question of RMBC, straight into defense mode and fob people off with rubbish answers, dig deeper and all seems not to as appears.
Did you notice that my FoI request did not “attract” the usual line of how much it had cost to process.
If RMBC staff are going to continue to flout the rules and waste my Tax money on their cronies then maybe we need more exposure of this kind.

S Thornton.

A Parallel Universe?

Rotherham Politics recently reported on the case of Roy Hunt, part of which related to the fact that he had thought himself underpaid as a Town Council Clerk, on circa £40,000!

Roy Hunt. formerly a Rotherham Borough Councillor 1975-1979, Ex-Wales parish council clerk* and the sacked Dronfield Town Council Clerk had clearly lost contact with reality. Apparently propelled by the same sense of entitlement that afflicts RMBC to this day, he thought public money could be used for his own benefit, helped himself and has paid a heavy price for his stupidity.

Imagine my surprise then, when I stumbled across another potential example of fantasy reality, in a parish council clerk in Rotherham!

This time I write of the Anston parish council clerk who is also simultaneously, Responsible Financial Officer for Eckington town council, Michael Gazur!

‘Two Jobs’ Gazur, describes himself as Chief Executive Officer of Anston parish council!!!

Anston parish must be the only one in the land to employ the services of a Chief Executive Officer, as opposed to the parish clerk that all the others are content with having?

See Rikipedia entry for Michael Gazur.

Previously: When there’s a democratic deficit?

* Citation required

Let’s Say Something Nice

Recently I had a friend of mine who is a former Labour councillor in Rotherham post on my Facebook wall “Michael why are you always so negative about Rotherham and its councillors?”.

The person is somebody who I’ll always be happy to have a pint with but they did nark me a bit with this comment.

In a way their comments did reflect a snobbery that exists in some sections of the Labour Party in Rotherham that anybody who dares question any aspect of council policy or services is doing Rotherham down.

Equally the other way, if you’re truly independent in your thinking then you have to be big enough to say when the council have got it right.  Over the years I’ve had criticism from the Tories and BNP in Rotherham for supporting policies that I thought were right for our town and feel the same criticism goes the other way with regards to sometimes wearing blinkers.

A lot of all this is down to the silly outdated my dad is bigger than your dad be loyal to your tribe and hate the other tribe because they are the other tribe politics we have in this country.  By the way it is fair to criticise myself for getting down and dirty in this way.

To my ex councillor friend I would say that it is my belief that the vast majority of contributors to Rotherham Politics do so because they want a town that is better, because they do love where they live and Labour and the 18% of the total  electorate who support them do not have an exclusive right to say what is good or bad for the area.

Here though is a challenge for us all  to prove my friend wrong about the “always so negative” comment by posting at least one thing you think the council does well.  I’m going to list 5 some of which I know you will disagree with but lets just for now concentrate on proving my friend wrong.

My Rotherham (council related) Top 5

1 Minster Gardens: an absolute delight and what has now got to be among the top public spaces in England whoever designed it if they didn’t get an award they should have.

2 Countryside Management: 75% of the borough is open countryside and the country parks are well managed.

3 RIDO: especially apt on the day they are doing the ground breaking for Rolls Royces new factory, thousands of jobs created and they do a great job of marketing the area to bring in investment.

4 Adult Social Services: controversial to some but especially with the way both of the last two governments have increased their workload by shifting responsibilities without any way near enough funding its amazing how they have managed at all!

5 One I know many Rotherham Politics readers will disagree with The Imagination Library: I think its a brilliant initiative targeted at a real goal of raising literacy rates and incredibly popular amongst parents and carers.

So they you are lets say something nice to support the council when things are right but retain the right to question when something is not quite and to downright oppose when they get things wrong.

Michael Sylvester

Rotherham’s Disgrace – Shabana speaks out while the silence of the lambs continues!

While the majority of Elected Members and Chief Executive remain silent on the issue of the grooming and sexual exploitation of children here in Rotherham at least two Councillors have had the courage and stand up and set out their stance, Cllr Akhtar and Cllr Ahmed, it is a start and a positive one, I would even suggest a brave one given the track record of the Rotherham Labour Group to take a hard line with anyone that steps out of line.

If Shabana can stand up and be counted why the continued silence from Councillors:  Hoddinott, Astbury, Dalton, Andrews, Donaldson, Ellis, Beaumont, Clark, Burton, Godfrey, Falvey, Hamilton, Johnston, Lelliott, Pitchley, Russell(x2), McNeely, Whysall, Havenhand, Sims and Rushforth?

To each of the above, its time you stood up for vulnerable children, it is time you stood up for your community and its time to stop ignoring the problem that will rob innocent individuals of their childhood.