Localism Act creates new offence!

Rotherham Politics was informed recently that a new offence had been created by the Localism Act 2011 that would prove a useful tool for those who wish to scrutinize those in the Town Hall. The new offence? Failure to register an Interest within the 28 Day deadline is now a criminal offence!

We have the confirmation in this email:

“I refer to your recent email to Jacquie Collins in relation to the Localism Act 2011.

Ms. Collins is not in the office this week and I have been asked to respond.

You are broadly correct to state that under the Localism Act a councillor’s failure to keep an up to date record of their register of interest can become a criminal offence with a fine up to £5,000 and disqualification from office for up to five years. For the exact details of the requirements and potential offences please refer to s29-34 of the Localism Act 2011.

These requirements and offences are reflected in the Council’s Code of Conduct.  

I trust this deals with your query.

Regards

Stuart Fletcher
Contentious Team Manager
Legal and Democratic Services
RMBC”

So there we have it, hope all Councillors will now get this right in future as the penalties are harsh indeed! We will be keeping a very careful eye on this. Now all we need is for ‘Surcharging’ to be brought back!

See also:

That Time Of Year?

Why are local politicians celebrating? The death of the hated Standards regime, that’s why!

Localism Act 2011 and Localism Act, Statutory Instruments.

Going, Going Gone?

Its Gaviscon time at Town Hall Towers, stomach churning Rotherham politics at its very best, it’s the only game in town when it comes to the planning application by Rotherham United Estates Ltd  to demolish parts of the grade 2 Guest and Chrimes building.

Guess what’s going to hit the fan on this one?

English Heritage has stepped into the fray and what a lot of trouble that is causing.

It’s laughable to listen to Elected Members spouting planning and architectural terms they do not understand and even more funny to see them trying to distance themselves from the Leader and the decision.

Seasoned Officers are making sure their backs are well protected on this one.

A firewall of silence has been put in place to stop any prying eyes, FOI requests blocked etc.

The cunning plan is to give a green light to the application and come up with an argument that withstands external scrutiny, and stops any adverse public comments.

Even the once independent Rotherham Advertiser is spinning the line via the Charlie Graves pages that the site has little value.

The web pages of Rotherham Business News have comments from sources supporting the demolition.

Sad to say the application will be passed and there goes another part of the Boroughs heritage.

The light at the end of the tunnel, could this be the issue that brings down the current RMBC Cabinet?

Peter Baker

2014 elections – first look at the battleground

The 2014 Battleground, first look. These are the incumbent Councillors who’s Term of Office, expires May 2014.

Ward Incumbent Party
Anston & Woodsetts Ward Jo Burton Lab
Boston Castle Ward Rose McNeeley Lab
Brinsworth & Catcliffe Ward Alan Buckley Lab
Dinnington Ward Jackie Falvey Lab
Hellaby Ward Lynda Donaldson Con
Holderness Ward Gerald Smith Lab
Hoober Ward Brian Steele Lab
Keppel Ward Ian Barron Lab
Maltby Ward Amy Rushforth Lab
Rawmarsh Ward Shaun Wright Lab
Rother Vale Ward Richard Russell Lab
Rotherham East Shaukut Ali Lab
Rotherham West Jahangir Akhtar Lab
Silverwood Ward Pat Russell Lab
Sitwell Ward Tony Mannion Con
Swinton Ward Neil License Lab
Valley Ward Dave Pickering Lab
Wales Ward Jennifer Whysall Lab
Wath Ward Alan Atkin Lab
Wickersley Ward Sue Ellis Lab
Wingfield Ward Keith Goulty Lab

Borough Council Elections 2010 Results

FOI Request 106

Dear “FreedomofInformation” <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your breakdown of the spurious notional costs you attach to my legitimate FOI enquiry.

I am struck at the marked difference in RMBC’s approach to FOIs in comparison to Leeds City Council who attach no such spurious notional costs to FOIs regardless of where and from whom they originate.

I would like to offer the following advice to RMBC in relation to its attachment of spurious notional costs to FOIs. If you had attached your itemised breakdown along with the FOI response this would have saved £15.37 and also further informed the customer as to the financial methodology used by RMBC.

The above comments and customer advice are offered in a constructive context as a Critical Friend of RMBC, and I make no charge whatsoever for the provision of the comments and advice as it falls within my remit as an active and empowered citizen with an interest in the workings of local democracy and the costs and activities of RMBC Elected Members and Officers.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Mon, 30/7/12,<Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: FOI Request 216
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Monday, 30 July, 2012, 15:20

Dear Mr Buxton,

I refer to your request for information for an itemised breakdown of the costs for FOI request 166.  I can provide the following information:

Post

Task

Salary Band

Time (Hours)

Cost

Information Governance Assistant Administration and logging request

D

0.33

£5.58

Solicitor Provision of Advice

L

0.16

£6.87

Information Governance Manager Draft Response

K

0.25

£9.78

Business Manager Safeguarding Advice

PO16

0.16

£7.85

 In accordance with the procedures of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC), I am advising you that the cost to the authority in responding to this request has been £15.37 which reflects the staff time and administration costs involved. RMBC however does not currently make any charge to customers for processing Freedom of Information Act requests.

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to an internal review by the Council.  Please contact us via the above email address or by post to Sarah Corbett, Information Governance Manager, Legal Services, Riverside House, Main Street , Rotherham , S60 1AE .

If you are not satisfied with the 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 http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Corbett
Information Governance Manager
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Resources Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

The Annual Greed Parade!

For those who missed this information, published Friday July 20th 2012 in the Rotherham Advertiser, close to the back pages, well page 87, actually:

Cllrs Allowances, Travel & Subsistence 2011-2012
Name Basic Special R Travel Subsistence Total
Akhtar J 12129.96 20722.6 18.4 32870.96
Ali S 12129.96 1233.96 249.8 67.6 13681.32
Andrews J 10858.27 1068.11 11926.38
Atkin A 12129.96 5349.96 17479.92
Austen J 1271.69 1124.18 2395.87
Barron I 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Beaumont C 10858.27 1068.11 11926.38
Beck D 10858.27 1068.11 11926.38
Blair W 12129.96 12129.96
Buckley A 12129.96 1233.96 169.66 13533.58
Burton J 12129.96 1233.96 33.65 13397.57
Currie S 12129.96 5349.96 17479.92
Cutts B 1271.69 1271.69
Dalton J 10858.27 1068.11 11926.38
Dodson B 12129.96 5349.96 17479.92
Donaldson L 12129.96 12129.96
Doyle J 12129.96 16083 161.6 79 28453.56
Ellis 12129.96 4630.88 16760.84
Falvey J 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Fenoughty T 12129.96 12129.96
Foden J 12129.96 12129.96
Gamble J 8086.64 8086.64
Gilding J 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Gosling A 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Goulty K 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Hamilton J 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Hamilton N 12129.96 12129.96
Havenhand J 12129.96 5349.96 17479.92
Hodgkiss F 12129.96 12129.96
Hughes D 12129.96 9281.7 21411.66
Hussain M 12129.96 16083 28212.96
Jack H 12129.96 10722.96 117.8 11.4 22982.12
Johnston L 12129.96 5349.96 44.8 17524.72
Kaye B 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Kirk M 12129.96 12129.96
Lakin P 12129.96 16083 21.5 79 28313.46
License N 11731.5 1233.96 12965.46
Littleboy R 1271.69 129.37 76.8 1477.86
Mannion A 12129.96 12129.96
McNeely R 12129.96 15362.57 27492.53
Middleton C 12129.96 12129.96
Nightingale G 12129.96 12129.96
Parker M 12129.96 719.08 12849.04
Pickering D 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Pitchley L 10858.27 10858.27
Read C 10858.27 10858.27
Roddison A 10858.27 10858.27
Rushforth A 12129.96 13921.31 243 26294.27
Russell A 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Russell P 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Russell R 12129.96 16083 80 67.6 28360.56
Sangster A 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Sharman T 12129.96 2882.13 15012.09
Sims K 12129.96 1068.11 13198.07
Slade B 1271.69 1271.69
Smith G 12129.96 16083 269.9 28482.86
StJohn I 1271.69 1686.12 312.4 20 3290.21
Steele B 12129.96 1233.96 13363.92
Stone R 12129.96 32169.96 181.42 44481.34
Swift J 12129.96 5349.96 17479.92
Thirlwall P 1271.69 1271.69
Turner J 12129.96 12129.96
Tweed S 12129.96 1233.96 7.25 13371.17
Walker S 12129.96 1233.96 8.3 13372.22
Whelbourne G 12129.96 16083 28212.96
Whysall J 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Wooton P 12129.96 10722.96 22852.92
Wright S 12129.96 5616.3 163.2 293.72 18203.18
Wyatt 12129.96 16083 148.4 28361.36
 
Totals 758474.01 350603.67 1561.51 1364.69 1112003.88

See also: When Austerity Ends – Scandalous Councillor Greed Returns!

Want a copy to work with? Download here:
Cllrs Allowances 2011-2012 Basic Info.pdf
Cllrs Allowances 2011-2012 Basic Info.xls MS Office

Strange Fascination?

Or, Questions – only Dominic Beck can answer?

Rotherham Politics in previous posts (links at bottom) presented the facts about Dominic Beck’s Interests Declaration. These posts were of interest to a large number and attracted numerous comments. For actual numbers, see Notes below.

We had looked first at Beck, because his youth and reported intelligence would, we thought, have made his declaration an ideal example of the way an Interests Declaration should be completed!

We were therefore surprised and dismayed to find this not apparently the case when close scrutiny was applied. There were many supportive comments posted on Rotherham Politics, which all boiled down to one defence above all others, ‘He is young, so Rotherham Politics should cut him some slack and overlook his infractions’.

Between us we have reviewed all the relevant information regarding procedures to be followed when declaring interests and we can find, not even a nod and wink, to justify this defence argument for youth justifying dispensation, it is fallacious!

All Councillors, of whatever age, are required to register all interests within 28 days of acquisition of each new interest. Simple and straightforward you might think? We have also reported in the past, Dominic Beck’s unusual interpretation of this requirement and his spurious attempts to justify it.

Unfortunately we discovered hidden complexity, that would indicate that this Declaration is deficient as well as having been completed without the necessary degree of commitment to ‘openness and transparency’ required of him by his ‘Councillors Code of Conduct’ and his supposed adherence to ‘The Seven Principles of Public Life’, that are their underpinning.

Readers should not forget Dominic Beck took many months to update his Interests Declaration and only then, due to the dogged persistence of a Rotherham citizen. Hardly willing, was he?

What are those questions only Dominic Beck can answer?

Why did it take you so long to update your Interests Declaration?

Please specify the date you were appointed to Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber?

Please specify the date you became a Rush House Trustee?

Please specify the date you became a Rush House Director?

Please specify the dates of award of each of the Council contracts you have declared?

We would also like a response to these issues that concern your ‘Connected Person’ status and assurances that you have made all relevant declarations and withdrawals required of you?

Cllr Dominic Beck and Mr Darren Hughes have been appointed Trustees of the Rush House Charity, they are also Company Directors?

It is permissible to be both Trustees and RMBC Cllrs.

However it is much more problematic in relation to what the Charity Commission calls ‘Connected Persons’. Definition below.

‘Connected Persons’ have to declare all Prejudicial Interests at Trustees Meetings and leave the room if they have a prejudicial interest.

After reviewing Dominic Beck’s Interests Declaration, he clearly has some connection with RMBC contracts awarded to the Charity.

As these are RMBC contracts and there is therefore a connection to RMBC, he must have fully declared these Interests at both RMBC Meetings if he was involved, and similarly, at Rush House Trustee Meetings. The minutes of theses meetings should supply confirmation?

Rotherham Politics readers would be grateful for your early clarification of the points raised.

Notes: Table of Direct Hits and Comments:

Post Direct Hits Comments

DBfiles new ID

495

49

Everyone but Beck!

386

29

‘Connected Person’ Definition:

K1. Meaning of “connected person” as set out in section 118 of the Charities Act

(1) In section 117(2) “connected person”, in relation to a charity, means any person who falls within subsection (2) –

(a) at the time of the disposition in question, or
(b) at the time of any contract for the disposition in question.

(2) The persons are –

(a) a charity trustee or trustee for the charity,
(b) a person who is the donor of any land to the charity (whether the gift was made on or after the establishment of the charity),
(c) a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother or sister of any such trustee or donor,
(d) an officer, agent or employee of the charity,
(e) the spouse or civil partner of any person falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (d),
(f) a person carrying on business in partnership with any person falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (e) above,
(g) an institution which is controlled –

(i) by any person falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (f), or
(ii) by two or more such persons taken together, or

(h) a body corporate in which –

(i) any connected person falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (g) has a substantial interest, or
(ii) two or more such persons, taken together, have a substantial interest.

(3) Sections 350 to 352 (meaning of child, spouse and civil partner, controlled institution and substantial interest) apply for the purposes of subsection (2).

Section 350 to 352 of the Charities Act

Section 350 Connected person: child, spouse and civil partner

(1) In sections 118(2)(c), 188(1)(a), 200(1)(a) and 249(2)(a), “child” includes a stepchild and an illegitimate child.

(2) For the purposes of sections 118(2)(e), 188(1)(b), 200(1)(b) and 249(2)(b)

(a) a person living with another as that person’s husband or wife is to be treated as that person’s spouse;

(b) where two people of the same sex are not civil partners but live together as if they were, each of them shall be treated as the civil partner of the other.

Section 351 Connected person: controlled institution

For the purposes of sections 118(2)(g), 157(1)(a), 188(1)(d), 200(1)(d) and 249(2)(d), a person controls an institution if the person is able to secure that the affairs of the institution are conducted in accordance with the person’s wishes.

Section 352 Connected person: substantial interest in body corporate

(1) For the purposes of sections 118(2)(h), 157(1)(b), 188(1)(e), 200(1)(e) and 249(2)(e), any such connected person as is there mentioned has a substantial interest in a body corporate if the person or institution in question –

(a) is interested in shares comprised in the equity share capital of that body of a nominal value of more than one-fifth of that share capital, or

(b) is entitled to exercise, or control the exercise of, more than one-fifth of the voting power at any general meeting of that body.

(2) The rules set out in Schedule 1 to the Companies Act 2006 (rules for interpretation of certain provisions of that Act) shall apply for the purposes of subsection (1) as they apply for the purposes of section 254 of that Act (“connected persons” etc).

(3) In this section “equity share capital” and “share” have the same meaning as in that Act.

Downloads:

Dominic Beck’s latest Declaration dated 4th July 2012.
Dominic Beck’s previous Declaration dated 21st June 2011.
Company Information Rush House Ltd.

Rotherham Politics Links to recent posts:

Everyone but Beck!

Posted on July 11, 2012 by

When Rotherham Politics published the story, Dominic Beck – files new Interests Declaration, we assumed there would be little interest in this beyond a mere handful. How wrong we were, this post has been well read and commented upon, 373  400 … Continue reading →

Dominic Beck – files new Interests Declaration

Posted on July 7, 2012 by

Dominic Beck, the youngest Councillor on RMBC and now the youngest parish council chairman in the Borough, has filed a new Interests Declaration. About time I hear you say! Dominic Beck’s latest Declaration dated 4th July 2012. Dominic Beck’s previous … Continue reading →

Neighbours Everybody Needs Good Neighbours!

At long last we have the figures for Rotherham Councillor’s Allowances & Expenses for 2011/12 only three months after our neighbours in Sheffield published theirs.

I’m afraid I don’t have a link but readers can find the full table on page 87 of today’s Rotherham Advertiser.  I will let you all make your own assumptions on the relevance of how far into the paper the notice is with no statement or coverage by the wider media.

So here we go in 2011/12 Rotherham Councillors claimed £1,112,003 a drop on last year of 1.2% from £1,125,555 wow how impressive in an age of massive austerity cuts (not).

As readers are aware we like to compare how Rotherham compares to Sheffield where the figures were £1,356,705 in 10/11 and £1,328,178 in 11/12 a drop of 2.1% oh dear Sheffield outperforms Rotherham………….again.

Now for some more numbers

Average claimed per councillor last year

Rotherham £17651
Sheffield    £15812

Question: Rotherham Councillors what is it about your role that means you need allowances that are 11.6% higher than your Sheffield equivalents?

This figure also means that by simply reducing allowances to the same as Sheffield Rotherham could have saved £115,857 last year and maybe saved a few of those jobs they cut, but hey I’m sure they can convince us why their own pockets being lined should be a priority.

When comparing Rotherham’s allowances to Sheffields you also need to account for the lighter workload Rotherham’s Councillors have compared to Sheffield. Sheffield has 84 Councillors for a population of 552,700 a ratio of 1 councillor to every 6580 citizens. In Rotherham it is 63 to 253,900 a ratio of 1 councillor to every 4030 citizens.

Question: Rotherham Councillors why do you claim 11.6% more than Sheffield Councillors when you each represent 38.8% fewer people?

Now the big one what does each of your councillors cost you?

In Sheffield last year it was £2.40 per citizen
In Rotherham……………….. £4.38

There you have it each councillor costs every citizen in Rotherham an extra £1.98 than our Sheffield neighbours have to fork out. a difference of 82.5%.

So if we cut our councillors allowances to the same as Sheffields and reduced their numbers to the same ratio of councillors to people as Sheffield (a cut from 63 to 39) we are looking at a total saving of £502,722 based on last years figures.

Personally I’d sooner see that spent on jobs and services rather than on what are at least compared to Sheffield under worked over paid Councillors.

Michael Sylvester

Rotherham Advertiser 27th July: Row over £9,000 Mayor’s Banquet

References:
RMBC: Councillors Allowances 2010-2011 .pdf
Sheffield City Council: Councillors Allowances 2010-2011 .doc
Sheffield City Council: Councillors Allowances 2011-2012 .doc

Inexorable logic of numbers?

Firstly an examination of the current political make up of Rotherham MBC:

Party Number Percentage
Conservative 4 6.4
Independent 1 1.6
Labour 58 92

Labour’s overwhelming preponderance on RMBC, ensures that their untrammelled use of power is rarely challenged and never properly scrutinised from within.

Rotherham Politics is here to change all that! It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone, even Adam Khan, that most of our focus is upon the members of the controlling Labour Group!

With 58/63, 92% of the Borough Council membership the Labour Party and it’s members and fellow travellers, control pretty well everything that moves!

We move on to consider the make up of Labour Group itself:

There is much diversity of view on many issues and some of it was on display today. However, they are united behind a common credo of self preservation! They largely control the party structures and are able to play fast and loose with Labour’s own rules, procedures and policies.

Labour’s rules make it quite clear how the local structures relate to one another and where Labour Group owe accountability. It should be the case, that the Local Government Committee maintains control over policy and hold Labour Councillors to account. Furthermore, the LGC should control and independently monitor, Labour Candidate selection processes.

How different it is in Rotherham!

Firstly there are no polices to speak of! Secondly the LGC is a poodle and thirdly, Labour Group controls candidate selection. The precise opposite of what should happen!

During the last three years, it is claimed by some, new and fresh faces have appeared on the Council who will be intolerant of the control freakery that pervades Labour Group. Is there any evidence to back up this assertion? Quite simply No!

Labour Group has another division, not immediately apparent to the casual observer, the division between insiders and outsiders, or those who support Roger Stone and those who don’t! Best estimates of the relative numbers in each group suggest a 40/18 split between  these two groups.

This is not good news to anyone who wants to change the party from within.

What is clear from this, is that Roger Stone has solid support in Labour Group and likely when it comes to a replacement, they will come from this controlling group. Smart money is said to be going on Paul Lakin even in these early stages of the Leadership battle to come.

What does this tell us of Jahangir Akhtar’s future? The inexorable logic of numbers tells us that Jahangir is not perhaps, Deputy Leader because of his own level of personal support, but at the pleasure of the Leader. Some commentators have already speculated that Jahangir will be relieved of the Deputy Leadership to be replaced by the ‘anointed one’, as early as next year?

Libraries – RMBC Cabinet Minutes for 4th July

Dear Rotherham Friends,

Well the decidedly dodgy Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns at Town Hall Towers can’t say that when they slash my highly-successful Wickersley Library’s opening hours by more than 10% after their supposed “consultation” that no-one gave them any views and opinions in direct opposition to their latest piece of civic and literary vandalism.

Here for posterity and information are the RMBC Cabinet Minutes for 4th July when I publically asked the higher-paid-than-Sheffield-City-Councillor and junketing-mad RMBC Cabinet why my Wickersley community is proposed to be so nastily and vindictively disadvantaged –

http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=11002&T=1

I did follow up with a demand for the “Local Needs Assessment” report which Cabinet Member Cllr Amy Rushforth decided to hide behind and to rely on as her shield for defence in her answer to me.

Those of you who know me, are quite well aware, even if the Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns are not, that this document will be obtained from them either the easy way or the hard way, and that I’m not bothered which way it comes – but come it most certainly will.

I would advise and urge anyone who has an opinion on the way that their community is governed by these Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns to e-mail and challenge and scrutinise those who seek highly-paid public office to govern us with our consent and who then engage in the profligate use of our hard-earned tax receipts to disadvantage our communities like mine here in Wickersley.

They don’t like, and are not used to, being challenged – well tough, cos there’ll be more not less in the future

Kind Regards,
Don Buxton

Complaint – Vehicle Obstructing Public Footpath Outside Town Hall Towers – Further Correspondence

Rotherham Politics updates readers on the continuing saga of the basic abuse of power:

Latest first, as usual.

Dear Mr Kimber,

Thank you for your courteous response, the contents of which I have noted.

Mr Battersby would be able to achieve significantly more credibility and respect with Wickersley and Bramley residents if he were to articulate himself in the same professional, measured and very eloquent way that you have displayed in your e-mail to me.

Instead he chooses to ape the responses, behaviour and attitude of the Cabinet Member, Regeneration and Environment, and so although he may consider himself to be diligently employed on the betterment of Rotherham, his efforts are not recognised as he lacks credibility or respect – two vital elements which I am sure you will agree are fundamental to establishing a satisfactory working relationship among equals.

I now consider this matter closed and do not wish to take you away from the many other important civic tasks which I have no doubt you need to complete.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 24/7/12, ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: FW: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Tuesday, 24 July, 2012, 12:03

Dear Mr Buxton,

Thank you for your e mail dated 20th July.

One of the things I have found since I returned to work in South Yorkshire is the pride and passion of local people for their town and community. Many apply this passion in very positive ways, and it helps the town tremendously.

I see the same sense of pride and passion in council employees. These are people who are often criticised unfairly in some quarters. However, I have no doubts we try our very best in difficult circumstances. Many are rightly proud of what they do and what the Council is able to achieve with and on behalf of residents and local business.

As I know Mr Battersby well I can say he would not intentionally seek to offend anyone. I have always found him to have a helpful and measured approach in his dealings with people. He is also proud of the things that he and his colleagues have achieved and continue to try to do to improve Rotherham .

Lots of residents and businesses have helped to improve the town centre too. By supporting the buy local campaign, visiting for events such as the Jubilee or Olympics celebrations, by investing in their businesses, or by investing their time in other ways such as stewarding events. These are examples of local people providing strong positive support and what this can achieve

I have read the correspondence you have sent to me. I do not think it represents the personal criticism you have taken although I accept this is the way you have interpreted it otherwise you would not have taken the trouble to write to me.

The point that I think is being made is a simple one. Investment funding is very tight and there is competition for it. Towns that give out a unified message that they have confidence in their future and are a good place to do business are more likely to attract investment than those who do not. The town will only thrive if we can attract appropriate investment and this is not an easy task in the current financial climate.

I acknowledge there is still more to do with the town centre. However, I do not think that should deflect from the fact that in the last few years significant improvements have been made at a time when many other town centres have suffered badly.

I agree that correspondence should confine itself to dealing with the issue rather than using personal or emotive language. Some of the correspondence the Council receives does not always do this however it is pleasing to know yours will not fall into this category.

Yours Sincerely

Martin Kimber
Chief Executive

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

I wish to bring to your personal attention the words used in an e-mail to me by one of your subordinate employees, and which I am forwarding to you for your comments and observations.
This is the statement of his which I find to be totally offensive and grossly unprofessional:

“Lastly, I strongly disagree with the comments that you make regarding the town centre.  I would have hoped that as a local resident you would want to support the town centre and not make disparaging comments about it. The evidence would suggest that many do not share your view, given the significant and ongoing increases that we have seen in the footfall figures, the many new businesses that have opened and the significant improvements in the look and feel of the place.”

I find your employee’s use of such a specific personal value judgement towards me to be completely inappropriate. I am not interested in whether your employee finds my words or opinions to be disparaging or otherwise.

He may privately choose not to share my point of view but nonetheless as a lifelong Rotherham resident, citizen, voter and ratepayer, and coincidentally the provider of the financial resource which keeps him in such a secure, highly-paid and comfortable employment and pension, it is neither necessary nor professional for him to give me his private opinions about me and the views and opinions that I may hold.

I may choose to disbelieve RMBC propaganda that Rotherham town centre is now riding the crest of a new era in terms of civic, commercial, industrial and economic output, activity, employment and economic success in the face of a world recession unprecedented since the Great Depression, but it remains my absolute right to form an opinion based on my interpretation of any information I choose to access or not.

Do you personally condone and encourage your subordinate and junior employees to respond to “customers”, ratepayers, residents and voters in such a manner, or is this merely the lone response of a subordinate employee who is now adopting the boorish behaviour and attitude of the Cabinet Member to whom they regularly report?
Lastly, I would have accepted, but disagreed with the response from your subordinate employee, apart from the contentious paragraph which I have highlighted.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Fri, 20/7/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Friday, 20 July, 2012, 11:53

Mr Buxton, thank you for your email. Apologies that I did not treat your email as a formal complaint. Previously when I had treated them as complaints, you were clear you did not want them treated as such. That is my mistake, as you had clearly badged this email as a complaint.

That said, I had thought that we had concluded this matter in our previous exchange, in which you were clear that you did not want to waste further time on this issue.
I can provide the following response to the points raised in your complaint. However, let me be clear, that this will be the last correspondence on this matter.

1. What parking enforcement steps you intend to initiate against the inconsiderate and parking-fee-evading driver of this very expensive saloon.

None.

2. If you don’t intend to initiate enforcement steps please supply categoric and specific legal reasons why this is not your intent.

As stated previously, the vehicle in question is a fleet vehicle leased by Rotherham MBC and is therefore a statutory vehicle. The Traffic Management Act 2004 allows for statutory vehicles to be exempt from parking restrictions when being used for official duties. This is the official Mayoral car, whilst ET1 is off the road.

3. Will you advocate and approve such inconsiderate and fee-evading parking for me, or any other Rotherham citizen voter and ratepayer?

No.

4. If “No” in relation to (3) above, please explain in detail why not.

I would have thought it was obvious

5. Will you be issuing specific instructions to your Parking Enforcement Manager and his/her staff that similar parking of any vehicles, RMBC or otherwise, unless engaged in specific recorded statutory or emergency service duties is not tolerated in any circumstances and will result in enforcement action being taken against the registered owner and driver of the vehicle by way of a Parking Penalty Notice.

No.

6. If “No” to (5) above, please explain in detail why not.

It is not necessary. My team are well trained, are already well aware of the parking regulations and restrictions, and carry out their duties in a comprehensive and efficient manner.

Lastly, I strongly disagree with the comments that you make regarding the town centre.  I would have hoped that as a local resident you would want to support the town centre and not make disparaging comments about it. The evidence would suggest that many do not share your view, given the significant and ongoing increases that we have seen in the footfall figures, the many new businesses that have opened and the significant improvements in the look and feel of the place.

Regards
Karl Battersby
Strategic Director
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

Thank you for the brief partial response to my Complaint, which you had delegated to your subordinate employee to respond to. Please inform me how RMBC will formally finalise this Complaint in line with its Corporate Complaints Policy.

I now feel a little more enlightened, but still concerned, that the parking-fee-evading, lazy and inconsiderate parking of this vehicle was due to the current Mayor’s unwillingness to walk like us ordinary citizens and to gain a healthful benefit from such simple cardio-vascular exercise.

I suppose I shall have to grudgingly continue to pay my RMBC Parking Fee to park my private motor vehicle, and unlike the current Mayor, then walk to my destination, on the handful of visits that I now annually make into Rotherham’s drab, dreary, deserted and derelict town centre.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Fri, 20/7/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Friday, 20 July, 2012, 8:42

Mr Buxton, I noticed the vehicle myself earlier this week, and on speaking to the town hall attendants was advised that the vehicle in question is on loan as replacement for the mayoral car ( ET1) which is in the garage due to problems with the brakes. I have responded to the other points previously.

Regards
Karl Battersby
Strategic Director
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council