Sandwell MBC – Publication of reports into land sales and other matters

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…… and the connection to Rotherham. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council has had some difficulty with land sales it would seem? Click on the image to view the reports: ….. and the Rotherham connection? That would be the Leader, Steve Eling … Continue reading

Some assistance to Labour?

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In Labour’s version of the balloon game, we start with those councillors who have been there, for many scandals now! In an attempt to assist Labour in it’s due-diligence, when applied to the selection of next years candidates, I publish … Continue reading

Democracy, Sir? – A response to Sir Derek Myers

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This rather petulant piece, made it into the letters pages of this weeks Advertiser. I read with some interest the article in then July 24 edition of the Advertiser about the £800 per day Sir Derek Myers’ views on the … Continue reading

A Machiavelli for our times?

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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has been controlled by the Labour Party since the reorganisation of local government in 1974, which created the current structure we operate under today. Power corrupts! Absolute power, corrupts absolutely! Were it ever thus? Labour has … Continue reading

Gone elsewhere but not forgotten

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The latest edition of Private Eye this week includes news of Chris Mallender and his disastrous activities at, Labour controlled, Corby Borough Council. Many will remember him at Rotherham, when he was an Assistant Chief Executive:

Friend of Old Rotherham brings us these two stories that will amuse you!

Firstly this very revealing story, in Yorkshire’s national daily, the Yorkshire Post, from 2003:

Fresh blow for council rocked by scandal

Published on Sunday 26 October 2003

THE new leader of a council tainted by a major sleaze scandal has admitted making a false expenses claim over a trip to Scotland – but insists it was a genuine mistake.

The claim, by Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone, was discovered during a police inquiry into an anti-poverty organisation run by Garvin Reed, the disgraced former deputy leader of the authority who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for his part in stealing 172,000 of public money. Read on….

And this link to a piece of the jigsaw of the history of Rotherham from the same time:

ROTHERHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL
REPORT TO CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE

Available as a pdf, here.

A timely reminder of the tendency to corruption, fraud and worse that seems to occur wherever  Labour rule without effective opposition!

Thanks to ‘A Friend of Old Rotherham‘, for bringing these links to our attention.

A selection of stories featuring Roger Stone from the Yorkshire Post can now be found in:

The Leader’s Files – Roger Stone

New Labour’s Project 99

It wasn’t until I read the report on Ron Windle’s death in the ‘Tiser last Friday that I remembered Project 99. I had no idea they were still so exercised by this last attempt by the Labour Party to ensure proper accountability of elected members. Since then, the Party has gone backwards and we are pretty much back to where we were in Local Government prior to 1997! Out of touch local politicians, paying only lip service to Labour’s constitution! Back to the future, would be an appropriate and simple way of explaining what happened here in Rotherham.

Project 99

Once Tony Blair and his coterie took control of the Labour Party in the wake of the sudden death of John Smith, the then leader. They realised that the Party itself, was one of the biggest obstacles to a return to government.

Labour leaders from Michael Foot through Neil Kinnock and John Smith had tried to reform the party from within with some success at least superficially. Kinnock’s fight to the death with Militant was perhaps the major turning point. John Smith tried the ‘constitutional’ route by changing the way the party organised but this approach was already exposed as a failure that could not ultimately work. Despite this, John Smith managed to ‘modernise’ Clause 4 in 1993, with a little help from John Prescott, which included the abandonment of a socialist perspective in the Constitution of the Labour Party.

The biggest problem facing New Labour once in power? The ‘fiefdoms’ in the North in Labour’s ‘Heartland’ areas! Those in control locally, had their own ‘agendas’ which was frequently at odds with the party centrally. Power in these places resided, then as now, in the hands of the Labour Groups. Populated by time served apparatchiks, often with limited abilities, and in some cases of great age. These Labour Groups were largely out of the control of the party and often corrupt as well. Rotherham would have served as an archetype of this tendency.

When Blair took over the reigns of the party it was so hungry for power the membership would have done almost anything to secure a period back in government. Members would have swallowed anything that was necessary to secure victory at the 1997 General Election. Discipline was enforced, at least for public consumption, all embarrassments kept from the public by means of a very slick public relations operation with Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson heading it up.

Plans were already in train before the 1997 General Election to attempt to remove this obstacle to future electoral success by removing the ‘dead wood’ and replacing them with councillors much more in the new Labour mould than hitherto. The fact is, Labour had successfully ‘airbrushed’ out the unreconstructed nature of the party at grassroots level throughout Labour’s ‘Heartlands’ during the General Election. The strategy they came up with was Project 99 followed by Project 2000. This was an attempt to standardise and set standards of performance for all local councillors by controlling the selection process, giving real power to the members and more importantly challenging the power of the Labour Group.

Project 99 would be universally welcomed by the membership, but most definitely not by the councillors, whose power was being challenged! Rotherham was entirely typical in this respect and a battle for control ensued but complicated in Rotherham by the Deputy Leader Garvin Reed, who fancied himself as some sort of ‘Derek Hatton’ back then to the weak Leader, Jack Layden followed by the less cooperative Keith Billington, who had to clear up the mess left by Garvin, once he was unmasked as a delusional fraudster.

Garvin was still smarting, as was Roger Stone, from Roger’s ignominious defeat to John Healey, in the selection battle for the vacant Wentworth Parliamentary Seat. This exposed Garvin’s essential weakness, and a period of internecine blood letting and score settling followed, with at least two ‘Stalinist show trials’ of entirely innocent members and one full scale leak enquiry! Cheered on from the sidelines by everyone who had their noses put out of joint by Healey’s success, they went for the only people available to them to take their frustration out on. Disgracefully one MP stuck his knife in personally on one occasion leading the mindless baying for blood! Who was this? Kevin Barron, no surprise there then!

Project 99 certainly stirred things up in Rotherham all right! Now we know just how unhappy the collection of incompetent deadbeats were and still are, thanks to the ‘Tiser! Unfortunately, the fact is Project 99 changed nothing over the long term and local government now presents the same problems Blair had faced before the 1997 General Election. We will have to wait and see whether Ed Miliband is up to the task of proper Party reform. I bet he dodges it in the end?

Déjà vu – Has anything really changed?

Upon opening my print copy of the ‘Tiser this week, on page 6, there was an excellent piece under Gareth Dennison’s by-line, dealing with the Millers loan and the Titans financial arrangements re Millmoor. He was reporting the July Meeting of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council which took place on Wednesday 27th.

Although generally supportive of helping the Millers, I read the account with increasing incredulity and amazement! I couldn’t believe what I was reading, it was as if Roger Stone was talking about Monopoly money, not real Pounds and Pence of hard earned. By the evening the import of the article had reminded me of the way Layden had operated. Who always explained his actions using confusing terminology to bamboozle listeners that he actually understood what he was talking about! I’m sure he didn’t understand either, because he could never answer the most basic of questions when asked, at the many opportunities I had to see him in action! He was a master of his craft and achieved National prominence largely through guile rather than ability.

The feelings of Déjà vu became ever stronger, the more I let my mind wander to the past when Sir Jack was King of his Castle. I can remember an autumn meeting of a Labour Party Branch in Rotherham when he was explaining the reasoning behind the funding of the Anti Poverty Forum, based in Rotherham. That was Garvin Reed’s little side project, that ended in disaster and Reed spending time in one of Her Majesties prisons! Involving among others, one much younger Roger Stone! That story is for another time, perhaps? I digress.

Layden was fond of terminology such as ‘innovative’ and Roger Stone’s use of this term certainly rings alarm bells! As does the use of the Prudential Borrowing Facility, a right to borrow for investment that Councils have had since 2003. The assurances given to officers, it was stated, were ‘cast iron’, another Laydenism, that no money of ours was being put at hazard!

“Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss!” A line from Won’t get fooled again, by the Who. Released on 31 July 1971, exactly 40 years ago today, was an angry denunciation of the dashed hopes of a generation for genuine change. In the wake, of the then, recent events that demonstrated the inability to put dreams into action, the disillusionment was felt keenly by those of us who experienced these events contemporaneously. We may have been guilty back then of more than a little naivety but who would have thought this song might still have resonance in Rotherham of today, in that nothing ever changes, only the people change, in Rotherham of Layden’s  day, councillors waited for the ‘grim reaper’ to remove them from office, not quite such a universal expectation these days, I’m glad to say.

Roger Stone seems to have become a reincarnation of his illustrious predecessor, it would appear, when he makes the following guarantee, “There’s no cost to us.” We will no doubt see in the passage of time, if he is right. Meanwhile, we wait and see, and perhaps ponder upon one of Roger Stone’s more ridiculous claims that, “better football will be played there,” quite on what basis he makes this claim is not clear, but perhaps it was one of those ‘cast iron’ guarantees he referred to earlier in the report?

The report also states that RMBC stands ready to take the same action in other cases and raised the possibility that the Titans might benefit in future, from a similar arrangement.

The simple sad fact of the situation is that absolutely nothing has changed in Rotherham since the 70’s, we still get council decisions, made with no one understanding the consequences of their actions, not even the officers! The officers track record in this respect has been lamentable and no reliable guide as to what is permissible. I would cite the recent case concerning Chris Read, the Bramley traffic scandal and the blue badge abuse scandal as evidence for my assertions. Déjà vu, indeed!

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