Everyone but Beck!

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  400 424 and 44 respectively, at the latest count.

The biggest surprise to us was Ex-Borough Councillor Darren Hughes, who entered the fray with a number of attempts at self justification and a defence of his ex-employee, Dominic Beck who was the subject in question. Why?

It is interesting to note that we have had no contribution from Dominic Beck himself up to now. His silence speaks volumes!

All we would wish for would be a little explanation, especially as to whether and how he derives a personal benefit from the Council contracts he is involved with? For example.

Dominic Beck’s latest Declaration dated 4th July 2012.

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.

Cerberus

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

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.

Anston’s Green Belt – still under threat, time to get organised!

When Rotherham Politics learned of the withdrawal of the planning application to build a Gospel Hall and School for the Exclusive Brethren’s exclusive use, we realised that this withdrawal was strategic rather than permanent. So it has proved to be.

Withdrawing the doomed application was presumably just a cynical ploy to push the next application on to a more favourable legislative framework? The presumption in favour of development, comes to mind.

It has given them also, time to explore amelioration of some of the issues raised by objectors, with planning officers? Remember the Brethren are not short of a ‘bob or two’, so anything that money can pay for, to ‘smooth’ the way is possible!

It must have come as a blow then, for the Brethren to learn of the existence of extensive archaeology, Roman and pre-Roman, if the surveys are correct, extending over most of the proposed site.

Another blow for the Brethren came with the Borough Council Elections in the Anston & Woodsetts Ward this year. The Brethren’s, ‘useful idiot’, Darren Hughes, had lost his seat to the Independent, Clive Jepson! Who, it should be noted, is adamantly opposed! The Brethren appear to have invested their hopes in Darren Hughes. How let down they must now feel?

Current thinking, we believe, is to give up on the School idea for now and push ahead with a Gospel Hall, built on the part of the site with no apparent archaeology underneath it. With the option of coming back for more, when the archaeological situation was sorted out!

This sounds a bit to us, as essentially the same as the ‘Trogan Horse’ of antiquity!

We have also learned that local opinion is resolutely opposed to any development on this green belt site and locals are preparing for the battle to come!

Previously on Rotherham Politics: ‘Cult’ wants to build school on Anston’s greenbelt!

Some sound advice by email:

“One thing always worth remembering is that any “pre-submission” discussions between RMBC people and your Exclusive Brethren friends, must be disclosed under an FoI Request.

I would make the request very general to cover “any communication with …. or their agents, or regarding …. ” or some phrase like that.

Some councils do have a formal system for giving advice and in those cases everything is routinely disclosed in the documentation. Rotherham doesn’t do this as far as I can see, but  pulled out everything relevant when I once asked for information on another application.” Rothpol is very grateful to our source.

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.