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.

No.

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.

N/A.

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.

No

(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.

Upset in Anston & Woodsetts ward!

For those eager readers waiting for full analysis of this years Rotherham local government elections, disappointment, I am afraid is inevitable! It takes time to do this.

The highlight of the night came at the very end of the counting session, with the declaration of the result for Anston & Woodsetts ward.

Clive Jepson, the doughty Independent, had beaten Darren Hughes!

What the voter giveth, they can take away again!

Selling out Anston’s green belt to the Brethren Cult, was never going to make Darren popular! It’s that kind of place, that and the simple fact, that they wouldn’t be taken for fools! Not twice!

Elections can be wonderful occasions! Revenge of the ‘duped’, perhaps? Or even Rotherham’s very own ‘Portillo’ moment?

More on this story later, when I wake up properly!

The results are here on the RMBC website.

Rocking Horse droppings at Greenlands TARA AGM – tonight!

Greenlands TARA AGM – tonight! Breathless report just in!

Darren Hughes turned up! Now there’s a surprise – he has never been at all in the last four years! Judy Dalton was invited – but “could not come”

Darren spoke with all authority – as if he was doing marvellous things. The audience were absolutely amazed at his audacity, knowing what he is like for never finishing anything or getting back to people.

Darren Hughes spoke on the following subjects:

LDF – The number is now down from 1K and some  to 501.
The new development will be parallel with Woodland Grove – our informant has never heard, of Woodland Grove – probably another lack of attention by Hughes.

Darren went on at length on the subject of the public consultation. Surprise, surprise! Another consultation in August!

Brethren School & Gospel Hall
Hughes has done extensive surveys in Laughton Common and everyone he has spoken to is FOR this. (depends how the question is framed!)
There was only 1 person against!  He said?

He has been in consultation with RMBC and said it did not go through because it was not written up strongly enough. Darren emphasised it is a Gospel Hall and If they word the reapplication to the effect that the Gospel Hall is not on Green Belt, it would go through.
RMBC know if it goes to appeal it will cost a lot of money.
Outrageously Darren Hughes & RMBC appear to be telling the Brethren how to word this application so it will be successful. He confirmed they will be putting in another application.

The fumes/pollution is causing concern from premises on the Monksbridge Trading Estate.
Darren Hughes set up a meeting with both the Paper Factory and Trade B, but never turned up – He has never been to any of the subsequent meetings either.
It is Clive Jepson along with Sandra Wallhead and others who attend.

Summary
Darren Hughes is making out that he does a great deal for the community – despite never getting back to them!

Funny that! Anyone might suspect that he wants the mugs from Anston & Woodsetts Ward to re-elect him?

Naked politicking or what? Nothing for four years, then he waltzes in on his white charger telling everyone how wonderful he is, Not!

Fly on the wall

From RikiLeaks ‘snail mail’ inbox – Question for Darren?

RikiLeaks ‘snail mail’ inbox contained today this interesting question and observation on Anston & Woodsetts Tory Labour candidate Darren Hughes:

Question: Why is Darren Hughes standing at Anston & Woodssetts and not at Brinsworth & Catcliffe where he belongs?

Answer: An all women shortlist!

Darren Hughes makes an ass of himself!

We have to give Darren one thing, his single minded determination to con the voters of Anston and Woodsetts Ward into re-electing ex-Tory boy, this time, as a Labour candidate!

Darren Hughes campaign materials up to now are consistent in containing mostly deliberate half-truths, inaccuracies and frank deceptions!

We at Rotherham Politics were very surprised to learn therefore, that Darren Hughes lodged a Police complaint about the nature of statements made in his Independent opponent, Clive Jepson’s, election address!

The complaint took issue with Clive’s assertion that Darren Hughes had been, I quote:

“Working to get a private religious school built on green belt land at Anston.”

We though the reports to be a joke when we first heard them, but they proved to be accurate.

Is Darren Hughes on the same planet to the rest of us? These are his own words on the subject in an email reproduced in this post:

“I’ve been working with the proposed applicant at all stages of their planning over the past year or so.”

The ‘fair comment defence’ is more than necessary to put paid to this ridiculous and spiteful complaint from this odious man! That or the ‘Arkell vs Pressdram’ defence! Scroll down a little way, we should warn you in advance that base language is present.

If ‘Wonder Boy’ Beck gets it wrong?

RikiLeaks ‘snail mail’ inbox*, the Royal Mail to you and me, has been busy this week.

Rotherham Politics brings you the first, received on Monday, concerning Borough Councillor Dominic Beck the member for Wales Ward and Anston parish councillor who lives South Anston.

A while ago when Rothpol was idly surfing the RMBC website and started to pay closer attention to the Interest Declarations made by RMBC Councillors, it was realised that the existing system was woefully inadequate and poorly administered! A fill in and forget it attitude seems to be the case amongst Councillors and the Monitoring Officer in our Town, this is especially disappointing in view of the time limits for amending records is only 28 days not the years it takes most members of the Council to update theirs!

I am very grateful therefore to my anonymous informant, for taking the time, trouble and expense to inform readers of just such a fine example in Dominic Beck:

Dominic Beck Councillors Interests Declaration of 10. 05. 2011.

Dinnington Guardian Published on Friday 24 June 2011 Career in politics Beck-oning

My informant highlights the following issues, Dominic Beck does not include his membership of the Labour Party nor Trades Union Membership as required under Labour Party Rules. Dominic Beck claims ’employment’ by Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and RMBC simultaneously and points to the resulting conflict of interest!

My informant is entirely correct about their first two points but the third is an example of a mistake by Dominic Beck, he is not an employee of RMBC, but an elected member, as employment by RMBC would disqualify him from membership of the Council! RMBC should not have been mentioned in an answer to question 4.

One for pedants, where the answer does not apply to him, the only permissible answer is none, not the Blank or N/A answers given by Dominic Beck in his declaration of  10th May 2011.

One wonders why the Monitoring Officers counter signature was applied to this incomplete and incorrectly filled in declaration and indeed the fact that this particular example exists, does not inspire one with confidence that the rest of the declarations by other Councillors are any better.

Further questions, when did Dominic Beck’s contract of employment with Hughes & Hughes expire? As Hughes & Hughes is a company owned and run by Darren Hughes surely there must be some omissions from other declarations? What is the nature of his employment by B&R Chamber? Did it change? When did he cease being a student? we should be told!

* ‘Snail Mail’ inbox address available upon request.
Darren Hughes – Declaration of Interests
Thomas Fenoughty – Declaration of Interests

Councillors and Co-opted members code of conduct.
Officers code of conduct.

Green Belt consultation – Feedback report.

A Rotherham Politics reader brings us news on the feedback resulting from the consultation on the LDF:

I’ve just found out that the consultation process of 2011 feedback report has been published: link, http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/downloads/file/6243/feedback_report_january_2012.

I’ve had a quick look and it is obvious that the majority of points raised for Dinnington East (Page 17 onwards), if not all, come from the ‘Save Our Greenbelt Dinnington and Anston Action Group‘ letter of objection (of which over 1700 were handed in) but with two omissions (must be considered too trivial to include, perhaps) viz:

“Pressure will increase on emergency services, schools, doctors’ surgeries and local hospitals” and

“In the unfortunate event of Yorkshire Water’s pumps failing (as happened in Goole on the 3 August 2011), the traditional pond will no doubt form, as now, in the bottom of the fields LDF216 and LDF220 with potential flooding to homes in Birkdale Avenue, Wentworth Way, Turnberry Way, Moortown Avenue and Belfry Way”.

The objection letter of the group can be found here:
http://www.saveourgreenbelt.info/docs/objection_environment_1.pdf