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.

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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