Off to the Orient?

Gallery

Off they go on the Oriental Express To a ancient land far and beyond Visions of China Theme Park Research is the official given reason Hard at work they shall be Not another jolly surely Those who are going on … Continue reading

Come Dine With Me – RMBC Style!

So in the land of Socialism, our well paid Mayor invites his well paid councillor mates along to a four star hotel for a £40 per head slap up meal, the Mayor arrives in his chauffeur driven BMW ET 1.

RMBC has two top of the range dedicated BMWs one for transporting the Mayor and one for transporting the Leader

The new Riverside building has the Ministry of Food bistro and the Town Hall has its own in-house catering facility, so no need for our Councillors to go hungry.

In the town where everyone matters, Cllr John Doyle is considering if a consultation on the removal of day centre transport and hearty meals for disabled adults should go ahead.

The anonymous council spokeswoman reassures us that the move will be good for service users and they will not have to spend so much time travelling, what waffle, she clearly has no understanding of the social benefits adults with learning difficulties can gain from a trip into a centre with friends.

So there we have it! Cllr Dave Pickering can spend money like water on four star meals and be driven about in his BMW, but for adults with learning difficulties, no meal and no transport.

Cerberus.

As I was falling asleep, it came to me! Has anything changed?

Former Chief Commissar, now Supreme Chief Commissar of Rotherham, Roger Stone,  local Politburo chief and self styled ‘Dear Leader’ is said to be ‘basking in Labour’s local election results’ and is claiming to everyone who will listen that theirs was a ‘truly historic victory of monumental proportions and is a total vindication of his vision for the future’.

I am now able to bring you his leaked communication to the faithful citizens of Rotherham. Despite it’s contents being a State secret our ‘Dear Leader’ assures me he won’t have me sent to the Gulag this time, as secretly, he really wants you to know about his most magnificent recent electoral achievements and the Politburos selfless approach to public service.

Supreme Chief Commissar, Roger Stone, Rotherham’s ‘Dear Leader’. Basking in Victory, speaks to his people.

My People! (I like that one, I got it from the odious MacShane in ’97, thinking about it, haven’t seen much of him since then?) Your votes have proved once again that Labour in Rotherham is an invincible force at the ballot box and the old maxim that a donkey could get elected with the right colour rosette stuck on it, is as true today, as it ever was.

All our candidates won, except for the ones that didn’t that is, some voters even actually voted themselves in person this year, because of the General Election.

Our local government campaign was breathtaking in conception and has never been bettered, by doing almost no campaigning at all, we caught the voters off guard and surprised them at the last minute into voting for us.

I would like to congratulate the thousands of volunteers that responded to the call and delivered this masterful campaign of almost complete inaction. Hero of the Revolution second class, has been awarded to comrade Chester, who dreamed it all up, but of course I had already thought of it first as your ‘Dear Leader’ is infallible, just like our spiritual father and still overall leader, the ‘Great Leader’ Layden, who is running things behind the scenes although we don’t see much of him these days.

The counter-revolutionary capitalist Tories have been routed!

Long live the Revolution! Long live the Rotherham Soviet! Long live Comrade Supreme Chief Commissar, our ‘Dear Leader’ Roger Stone, Hero of the Revolution First Class and our ‘Great Leader’ Layden, now departed but still running things, Hero of the Revolution First, First Class. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

I can assure you, ‘My People’, that all your Politburo members are unanimous in being prepared to continue enduring the endless functions, dinners and conferences and the beer, wine, spirits and numerous other alcoholic beverages that we have to drink, so you don’t have to. Our Rotherham Alcohol Treatment And Reduction Strategic Enterprise Development (RATARSED) Programme is working well, it is our commitment to you, that over a ten year plan period we will have reduced the harm done by alcohol in our communities because we will be drinking it ourselves instead. The ten year plan calls for the Politburo to be making it’s contribution by upping it’s alcohol consumption from 25% to 35% in five years and a full 50% in ten years of the towns overall consumption. A truly public spirited and selfless act by the Politburo, you will agree, don’t forget, I know where you live, all of you, so do as I say!

We are the most ‘public spirited’ of all the ‘Peoples Soviets’ of the North and reject the counter-revolutionary approach of  ‘Cameron the Slash & Burn’ and his Liberal sycophant supporters of the reviled ‘Clegg the Turncoat’. They may be able to walk to work or travel second class but we can’t, largely down to the amount of selfless drinking we do on your behalf.

Before I close I want to reassure you that any ‘financial realignments’ (Cuts to you and me) will cause us much pain and anguish to us, as they will to you. I would again reassure you that the Politburo will not be sharing any of the pain you will have, if for no other reason than that given above,  largely down to the amount of selfless drinking we do on your behalf.

Onwards and upwards comrades, man the bars (surely barricades?) let’s get on with ‘business as usual’.

Finally, I have a new maxim for you all, ‘No cuts, No redundancies celebrate re-alignment and leave it with me’! Sing it in the bath, I insist that all ‘My People’ shout this twice a day at the top of their voices………………

At this point I woke up and thoughts of North Korea combined with Rotherham disappeared as soon as they came.

Rik

First published May 2010, still has a lot of resonance today!

It’s ‘Jolly Roger’ – That’s Official!

Thanks to a Labour source, Rotherham Politics can bring you this huge clue why ‘Jolly Roger’ Stone, has maintained a disdainful silence on the most significant issue faced by RMBC in recent years, that of Rotherham’s Disgrace!

We bring you, Roger Stones principal responsibilities, according to a leaked document which states:

“Leader (Councillor Roger Stone)

The Leader has responsibility for international, regional, sub-regional and external relationships.”

There you have it, Roger Stone’s focus is on everything that is, except Rotherham!!!!

The Day ‘Fly on the wall’ met the Queen and the Mayor came too!

I would like to tell you of an interesting day out I had, quite by accident, just the other day.

As you know by now, I can usually be seen hanging round the Town Hall most of the time, but lately have witnessed some pretty rum goings on at parish councils as well, I digress.

I had decided to spend the night in the Mayors car, it’s nice and cosy there and no spiders to worry about. I was awoken at a distinctly ungodly hour when the Mayor’s Attendant and Driver turned up early. We picked up the Mayor and Mayoress and their two guests and headed south, I was getting quite excited by now, this was well out of the ordinary. I soon got bored though, fell asleep by the time we had gone nearly 50 miles!

I only woke up when the party got out of the car, you’ll never guess where we were? Buckingham Palace!

I couldn’t resist following them in, they were at the Queens Garden Party! Some jolly this?

Endless photographs were taken for posterity and I was confident that this would make a splash in The Advertiser and a major good news story on the Mayor’s pages on the RMBC website.

For the time I was there I must say I enjoyed the food and especially drinking from the tiny splashes that result from sparkling wine, don’t think it was champagne though, like Darren used to supply, but never mind I got quite squiffy, don’t remember much after about a dozen! I fell asleep and only woke up the next day with a terrible hangover, once back in the Town Hall I felt quite satisfied by my accidental jolly along with the Mayor and Mayoress.

I kept checking RMBC’s website but nothing was mentioned there. Disappointment too, from the Advertiser. Zero, zilch was mentioned publicly, just what was going on?

This question got it’s answer when I bumped into a mate the other day, who usually hangs around in the press office. He told me, that they never draw attention to jollies like the trip to Buck House, because  the natives wouldn’t understand the selfless service that the Mayor, Mayoress and their two guests provided Rotherham citizens by going on their behalf. The drinking and eating were entirely selfless acts, he explained, as was meeting the Queen and tugging the forelock!

I had bumped into a Rotherham State Secret no less, or at least that was the way it was explained to me! That, and the express insistence that I never, ever, raised questions about the cost of, unmentionable in public, jollies like this. The penalty for indiscretion, the fly spray!

I went back to my usual haunt, terrified by the potential difficulties I was now in. Once I stopped shaking, I started to think and I got very angry!!

I couldn’t keep this to myself so I’ve shared it with you. I feel much better now that it’s off my chest, but I’m sure that fly spray dodging will be the order of the day on Monday, oh dear!

Fly on the wall

Final questions answered?

Don Buxton got his final response:

— On Wed, 30/5/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: FOI Request – 105
To: donbuxton
Cc: “Corbett, Sarah” <Sarah.Corbett@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Pike, Christine” <Christine.Pike@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Kemp, Liz” <Liz.Kemp@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Wednesday, 30 May, 2012, 13:45

Mr Buxton, I write in response to your latest email. Apologies, but I thought I had answered point one. I enclose a copy of the cost sheet that was used in calculating the cost of responding to your FOI of the 15th May. I hold no further information on this matter.

In relation to your second point, the answer is no. I did not answer this point, as I thought that this was a rhetorical question. My response would still have notionally cost the same, as I spent time drafting the response and checking the ICO advice. Responding to this correspondence clearly costs time, and therefore money.

I think that we have now exhausted this issue, and I consider the matter closed.

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

Don Buxton responded thus:

Dear Battersby, Karl Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk  et-al,

Your apology is very publicly noted as indeed is your assumption that part of my letter was “rhetorical”. As you are now no doubt very aware it has proved both embarrassing and expensive for you to yet again make assumptions.

I note with interest that you will not be including further costings to Leeds City Council in relation to their failure to reimburse the Rotherham taxpayers, via RMBC, for the Leader’s profligate use of the civic vehicle for non-RMBC use.

Clearly any further requests to Leeds City Council for payment don’t attract any cost from RMBC in their myopic jumbled-up approach to civic finance. RMBC seems to have developed a highly selective approach to those issues which it decides cost something and those politically embarrassing issues which it wishes to bury and decides don’t cost anything.

Your notional spurious costings are entirely rejected by me, and I would suggest and advise that you consider that it is the fact that Cllr Roger Stone’s non-RMBC use of the civic vehicle which created the cost to the town’s ratepayers in the first place. Happily this was brought to my attention by a strategic friend within Town Hall Towers.

I now choose to end this matter as I can no longer be bothered to spend my time and money exchanging communications with you.

Yours Sincerely,

Donald H. Buxton

Questions that went unanswered?

Don Buxton received this response:

— On Mon, 28/5/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: FOI Request – 105
To: “DON BUXTON”
Cc: “Kemp, Liz” <Liz.Kemp@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Monday, 28 May, 2012, 14:43

Mr Buxton, I write in response to your request on behalf of the Chief Executive.

In terms of the first issue, advice from the Information Commissioners Office is that for a request to be valid under the Freedom of Information Act it must be in writing, but requesters do not have to mention the Act or direct their request to a designated member of staff. We should therefore treat every request for information as an FOI request.

In terms of the cost, we use a cost calculator based on the amount of time taken to find the information and deal with the request. This includes the time taken to log in the request, retrieve the information,  and subsequently respond. We do not make a charge ( although the regulations allow a charge to be levied), but we do show what it has cost to respond. The regulations state that:

“ A public authority can charge for the time taken by its staff on the activities included in communicating the information. Regulation 7(5) indicates that staff time is to be charged at the flat rate of £25 per hour, irrespective of whether a higher rate is actually incurred by internal staff or charged by external contractor staff”.

We use this regulation as the basis for communicating what it has cost to respond to the request for information. In this instance, the cost to the authority in responding to this request has been £12.50.

Regards.

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

Still dissatisfied, Don replied thus:

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

In response to the latest e-mail from your subordinate employee I note that there has been a complete failure by RMBC to answer these two points –

(a) – I would appreciate a detailed costing from you or a subordinate which explains how your organisation is able to concoct such a ridiculous notional imaginary sum.

(b) – Will you be adding such a spurious notional sum to your subsequent requests to Leeds City Council for reimbursement of the costs of RMBC’s civic vehicle. If not, please explain to me why not.

I also note the pedantic nature of your response which alleges the further spurious notional cost of £12.50.

To quote a previous Chief Executive of RMBC, the e-mail was read, but not read thoroughly enough. Perhaps if it had been read thoroughly enough then you could have saved £12.50 instead of incurring it.

I have costed my time at 0% in relation to my request to obtain statutory information held by RMBC, and as such will not be making a request for payment or reimbursement to RMBC.

This has been part of my civic duty as an active and empowered citizen who wishes to scrutinise and challenge the costs of activities of those who are elected to discharge public duties on behalf of Rotherham citizens.

I hope to have the courtesy of a reply to my two unanswered points.

Yours Sincerely,

Donald H. Buxton

Don’t miss Trambuster’s comment, which reveals the amazing and outrageous deception at the heart of Karl Battersby’s reply! Karl Battersby should learn that Rothpol’s contributors and readers are neither fools or mushrooms!