Before we forget – those who have gone

Gallery

Rotten Boroughs is seldom so revealing:

Complaint – Vehicle Obstructing Public Footpath Outside Town Hall Towers – Further Correspondence

Rotherham Politics updates readers on the continuing saga of the basic abuse of power:

Latest first, as usual.

Dear Mr Kimber,

Thank you for your courteous response, the contents of which I have noted.

Mr Battersby would be able to achieve significantly more credibility and respect with Wickersley and Bramley residents if he were to articulate himself in the same professional, measured and very eloquent way that you have displayed in your e-mail to me.

Instead he chooses to ape the responses, behaviour and attitude of the Cabinet Member, Regeneration and Environment, and so although he may consider himself to be diligently employed on the betterment of Rotherham, his efforts are not recognised as he lacks credibility or respect – two vital elements which I am sure you will agree are fundamental to establishing a satisfactory working relationship among equals.

I now consider this matter closed and do not wish to take you away from the many other important civic tasks which I have no doubt you need to complete.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 24/7/12, ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: FW: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Tuesday, 24 July, 2012, 12:03

Dear Mr Buxton,

Thank you for your e mail dated 20th July.

One of the things I have found since I returned to work in South Yorkshire is the pride and passion of local people for their town and community. Many apply this passion in very positive ways, and it helps the town tremendously.

I see the same sense of pride and passion in council employees. These are people who are often criticised unfairly in some quarters. However, I have no doubts we try our very best in difficult circumstances. Many are rightly proud of what they do and what the Council is able to achieve with and on behalf of residents and local business.

As I know Mr Battersby well I can say he would not intentionally seek to offend anyone. I have always found him to have a helpful and measured approach in his dealings with people. He is also proud of the things that he and his colleagues have achieved and continue to try to do to improve Rotherham .

Lots of residents and businesses have helped to improve the town centre too. By supporting the buy local campaign, visiting for events such as the Jubilee or Olympics celebrations, by investing in their businesses, or by investing their time in other ways such as stewarding events. These are examples of local people providing strong positive support and what this can achieve

I have read the correspondence you have sent to me. I do not think it represents the personal criticism you have taken although I accept this is the way you have interpreted it otherwise you would not have taken the trouble to write to me.

The point that I think is being made is a simple one. Investment funding is very tight and there is competition for it. Towns that give out a unified message that they have confidence in their future and are a good place to do business are more likely to attract investment than those who do not. The town will only thrive if we can attract appropriate investment and this is not an easy task in the current financial climate.

I acknowledge there is still more to do with the town centre. However, I do not think that should deflect from the fact that in the last few years significant improvements have been made at a time when many other town centres have suffered badly.

I agree that correspondence should confine itself to dealing with the issue rather than using personal or emotive language. Some of the correspondence the Council receives does not always do this however it is pleasing to know yours will not fall into this category.

Yours Sincerely

Martin Kimber
Chief Executive

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

I wish to bring to your personal attention the words used in an e-mail to me by one of your subordinate employees, and which I am forwarding to you for your comments and observations.
This is the statement of his which I find to be totally offensive and grossly unprofessional:

“Lastly, I strongly disagree with the comments that you make regarding the town centre.  I would have hoped that as a local resident you would want to support the town centre and not make disparaging comments about it. The evidence would suggest that many do not share your view, given the significant and ongoing increases that we have seen in the footfall figures, the many new businesses that have opened and the significant improvements in the look and feel of the place.”

I find your employee’s use of such a specific personal value judgement towards me to be completely inappropriate. I am not interested in whether your employee finds my words or opinions to be disparaging or otherwise.

He may privately choose not to share my point of view but nonetheless as a lifelong Rotherham resident, citizen, voter and ratepayer, and coincidentally the provider of the financial resource which keeps him in such a secure, highly-paid and comfortable employment and pension, it is neither necessary nor professional for him to give me his private opinions about me and the views and opinions that I may hold.

I may choose to disbelieve RMBC propaganda that Rotherham town centre is now riding the crest of a new era in terms of civic, commercial, industrial and economic output, activity, employment and economic success in the face of a world recession unprecedented since the Great Depression, but it remains my absolute right to form an opinion based on my interpretation of any information I choose to access or not.

Do you personally condone and encourage your subordinate and junior employees to respond to “customers”, ratepayers, residents and voters in such a manner, or is this merely the lone response of a subordinate employee who is now adopting the boorish behaviour and attitude of the Cabinet Member to whom they regularly report?
Lastly, I would have accepted, but disagreed with the response from your subordinate employee, apart from the contentious paragraph which I have highlighted.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Fri, 20/7/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Friday, 20 July, 2012, 11:53

Mr Buxton, thank you for your email. Apologies that I did not treat your email as a formal complaint. Previously when I had treated them as complaints, you were clear you did not want them treated as such. That is my mistake, as you had clearly badged this email as a complaint.

That said, I had thought that we had concluded this matter in our previous exchange, in which you were clear that you did not want to waste further time on this issue.
I can provide the following response to the points raised in your complaint. However, let me be clear, that this will be the last correspondence on this matter.

1. What parking enforcement steps you intend to initiate against the inconsiderate and parking-fee-evading driver of this very expensive saloon.

None.

2. If you don’t intend to initiate enforcement steps please supply categoric and specific legal reasons why this is not your intent.

As stated previously, the vehicle in question is a fleet vehicle leased by Rotherham MBC and is therefore a statutory vehicle. The Traffic Management Act 2004 allows for statutory vehicles to be exempt from parking restrictions when being used for official duties. This is the official Mayoral car, whilst ET1 is off the road.

3. Will you advocate and approve such inconsiderate and fee-evading parking for me, or any other Rotherham citizen voter and ratepayer?

No.

4. If “No” in relation to (3) above, please explain in detail why not.

I would have thought it was obvious

5. Will you be issuing specific instructions to your Parking Enforcement Manager and his/her staff that similar parking of any vehicles, RMBC or otherwise, unless engaged in specific recorded statutory or emergency service duties is not tolerated in any circumstances and will result in enforcement action being taken against the registered owner and driver of the vehicle by way of a Parking Penalty Notice.

No.

6. If “No” to (5) above, please explain in detail why not.

It is not necessary. My team are well trained, are already well aware of the parking regulations and restrictions, and carry out their duties in a comprehensive and efficient manner.

Lastly, I strongly disagree with the comments that you make regarding the town centre.  I would have hoped that as a local resident you would want to support the town centre and not make disparaging comments about it. The evidence would suggest that many do not share your view, given the significant and ongoing increases that we have seen in the footfall figures, the many new businesses that have opened and the significant improvements in the look and feel of the place.

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

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

Thank you for the brief partial response to my Complaint, which you had delegated to your subordinate employee to respond to. Please inform me how RMBC will formally finalise this Complaint in line with its Corporate Complaints Policy.

I now feel a little more enlightened, but still concerned, that the parking-fee-evading, lazy and inconsiderate parking of this vehicle was due to the current Mayor’s unwillingness to walk like us ordinary citizens and to gain a healthful benefit from such simple cardio-vascular exercise.

I suppose I shall have to grudgingly continue to pay my RMBC Parking Fee to park my private motor vehicle, and unlike the current Mayor, then walk to my destination, on the handful of visits that I now annually make into Rotherham’s drab, dreary, deserted and derelict town centre.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Fri, 20/7/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT – VEHICLE OBSTRUCTING PUBLIC FOOTPATH OUTSIDE TOWN HALL TOWERS
To: Don Buxton
Date: Friday, 20 July, 2012, 8:42

Mr Buxton, I noticed the vehicle myself earlier this week, and on speaking to the town hall attendants was advised that the vehicle in question is on loan as replacement for the mayoral car ( ET1) which is in the garage due to problems with the brakes. I have responded to the other points previously.

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

Bramley Dog Dirt Dispute Becomes Public

Rotherham Politics brings you this lengthy posting (Sorry) of a series of emails documenting the growing dispute between Bramley parish council and Rotherham MBC.

We can only bring you this information because of our sources public spiritedness, our eternal gratitude goes to them. Remember, our readers are our ‘eyes and ears’, please let us know if you have something that would be of interest to readers.

The exchange in full:

Dear All

As you may know, Bramley Parish Council is in dispute with Rotherham Council over its refusal to empty its dog waste bins, which it erected on the Flash Lane recreation ground and which it has maintained ever since.

As such, the Parish Council has prepared the following communication, which is issued to all enquiries relating to the matter.

Yours faithfully

Robert Foulds
Clerk to Bramley Parish Council
___________________________________________________________________

Dear concerned resident

Regarding the removal of dog waste bins on the Flash Lane Recreation Ground.

Up until the beginning of this year, Rotherham MBC would cut the grass on the recreation ground, set out and maintain the football pitches, pick litter from the children’s playground, empty the litter bins and empty the dog waste bins, and this had been an arrangement that Rotherham MBC instigated about 25yrs ago, in spite of the land belonging to Bramley Parish Council.

With specific regard to the dog waste bins, which served dog walkers on both the recreation ground and those using the verge on Flash Lane – these were instated approx. 5yrs ago by Rotherham MBC and thereafter emptied and maintained by them. For information, dog faeces is classed as ‘hygiene’ waste and requires specialist handling and treatment prior to disposal.

During last year however, Rotherham MBC advised that they no longer wished to continue with their arrangement and that they would no longer cut the grass and pick up litter on the playground free of charge, and they quoted a fee of £6497.80p per annum for those services – see attached quote.

The Parish Council, as it is reasonably and indeed legally obligated, consequently drew up a specification on the basis of Rotherham MBC’s quotation and sought tenders from 3no. alternative service suppliers  –  the accepted quote for the same works was approximately one third the amount that Rotherham MBC intended to charge. Therefore from last month, grass cutting, pitch marking and litter picking was to be taken over by the Parish Council and the incurred costs to residents will be approx. £2000 per annum.

A few weeks ago the litter bins and dog waste bins on the recreation ground became noticeably full and an associated incident occurred, and therefore Rotherham MBC were contacted and their response, in essence, was to advise that the PC had not responded to previous correspondence on the issue of grounds maintenance, which was wrong – see emails below, and they also claimed that bin emptying duties were included in the works that they had quoted for, which was equally wrong – see attached quotation for grounds maintenance works as prepared from Rotherham MBC.

Rotherham MBC was taken to task about their position in the matter and reminded that they still held the keys to the litter bins in the playground and that the dog waste bins had been erected by them and thereafter maintained by them, and that they had not in any way alluded to the cessation of any bin emptying services during the contract quotation process.

Rotherham MBC’s response to the dog waste bin service, was to turn up one morning, on or about 27th June, enter onto the Parish Council’s recreation ground without permission and remove them.

The dog waste bins located at the entrance to the recreation ground on Bentley Road remains in place, because that area of land belongs to Rotherham MBC and the one on Finch Gardens also remains, presumably because it is an area of land that RMBC considers public space.

Regrettably, Rotherham Council has seen it appropriate to remove dog waste bins that served areas other than the Parish Council’s recreation ground for reasons known only to themselves, but whose actions have resulted in increased health risks to the residents, and particularly children, of the parish – not that it had been a great idea to erect them adjacent children’s play areas in the first place!.

There is no way that the Parish Council can undertake the specialist removal of this kind of waste and therefore the only alternative is for dog walkers to take their dog’s waste home, or deposit it in the receptacles that Rotherham Council has chosen to leave in place.

The Parish Council utterly abhors Rotherham Council’s irresponsibility, but it is powerless to respond to its actions.

Perhaps you might like to contact your Rotherham Ward councillors on this matter and their contact details are as follows:

Jenny Andrews      tel: 07585 795985
email:    jenny.andrews@rotherham.gov.uk

Lauren Astbury      tel: 07554 436536
email:    lauren.astbury@rotherham.gov.uk

Lynda Donaldson     tel: 07748 142715
email: lynda.donaldson@rotherham.gov.uk

Bramley Parish Council maintains an open books policy and considers all information to be available to the public unless the Data Protection Act applies. All associated correspondence between the Parish Council and Rotherham MBC is attached below  –  start at the bottom of the emails in order to read them in chronological order.

Please feel free to contact me if you require anything further.

Yours sincerely

Rob Foulds
Clerk to the Parish Council
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Bramley PC to Rotherham MBC, 26 June 12:

Cllrs (Akhtar and Stone)

This response is totally unacceptable.  The dog waste bins were erected on Parish Council land by RMBC and NOTBramley Parish Council.

At no time has there been any mention of not emptying either dog waste bins or litter bins in communication toBramley PC only the  of cutting grass on the playing fields was discussed.

This is a health hazard and if RMBC are not going to empty YOUR dog waste bins on parish council land please have them removed immediately.

Cllr Malcolm J Brown
Chairman Bramley Parish Council
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Rotherham MBC to Bramley PC, 26 June 12:

Dear Councillor Brown

Thank you for your email relating to various issues on Flash Lane Recreational Ground including the responsibility for dealing with litter and emptying of  dog waste bins which are positioned on Parish Council owned land.

The proposed changes to the arrangements were first raised (by Karl Battersby and David Burton) at the Parish Council liaison meeting on the 7th April 2011 in the context of the council’s budget savings requirements.  Parish Councils were advised that from April 2012 the council would only continue to maintain parish owned facilities if the PCs undertook to pay for Grounds Maintenance and Street Cleansing services.

Formal Notice was given to all Parish Councils in a letter sent on the 17th June 2011 (copy of letter to Bramley PC attached). This formal Notice detailed the services which would be withdrawn – “it will not be possible to continue to cut the grass, litter pick grassed areas or maintain sports fields and flower beds on land owned by Parish Councils without covering our costs. The notice also offered to meet all Parish Councils to discuss individual issues and provide an estimate – “either for continuing the current level of service or providing a varied level of service in the future”.  Three more letters were sent to all Parish Councils, the last of which included the offer of a one-year transitional support of approximately 50% of the costs to ease the financial impact and to provide time for PCs to consider future arrangements for maintenance of their land.

Bramley Parish Council did not take up the offer of a meeting to discuss the maintenance of their land and I have attached a copy of the email from Rob Foulds dated the 16th December 2011 which confirmed they did not wish to enter into a Contract with RMBC to carry out the works.  Therefore, since April 2012 Rotherham Streetpride has not cut the grass, litter pick grassed areas or maintain sports fields and flower beds on land owned by Parish Councils as detailed on the Schedule of Works (copy attached); however I can confirm that several litter and dog waste bins that are the responsibility of Bramley Parish Council have been emptied in error by Streetpride staff over the last three months; we have now re-issued an amended schedule of work to the operatives to correct this and the bins on the PC’s land will no longer be emptied by the council with immediate effect.

You also raise the issue of inspection and maintenance of Play Area equipment; the arrangements have always been managed separately from those for Grounds Maintenance and Cleansing and are as follows:

The arrangements for the annual (specialist) inspection of equipment remains unchanged, the costs are charged back to the PC.
The routine visual inspections (of equipment) continue to be undertaken by the council albeit at a reduced frequency, and the frequencies are consistent with those on council-owned Play Areas.  PCs pay for costs of materials for repairs other than minor ones which can be completed during the inspection.

These arrangements are under review and should any changes to them be proposed they will be discussed with PCs in due course.

Should the Bramley Parish Council wish to discuss the future provision of services by the council (Streetpride) then please contact Richard Jackson – Streetpride Area Manager on 01709 823895 or via email on richard.jackson@rotherham.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Liz Kemp (on behalf of Karl Battersby)
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Bramley PC to Rotherham MBC, 22 June 12:

Dear Mr Archer

It is a month since you last exchanged emails with the Clerk to Bramley PC in respect of the Flash Lane Recreation Ground, to recap:

Mr Foulds informed you that RMBC had previously advised the Parish Council to undertake its own playground equipment inspection arrangements, but you confirmed that RMBC had in fact carried on with the inspections and would continue to do so.

Regarding the litter bins in the playground, RMBC has always emptied these bins and indeed the keys to the bins are retained by yourselves, and at no time has the Parish Council been advised that this arrangement would cease.

Regarding the dog excrement bins, RMBC instated them and has emptied them ever since, and Mr Foulds confirmed that Bramley PC is not empowered to deal with them. And as with the playground litter bins, at no time has the Parish Council been advised that this arrangement has ceased.

We now have a situation, where the PC is receiving complaints via RMBC about the state of these bins, which are in fact a health hazard, furthermore, last night some idiots decided it would be fun to strew the contents of the overflowing dog bin across the road and play areas.

I appreciate that you have passed this issue on to another department, but as yet no response has been forthcoming.

Also, if RMBC has decided it will no longer continue the above described arrangements, I should like to be informed, in writing, why and when the decisions were taken, who took it them and a copy of the associated documentation.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Malcolm Brown
Chair of Bramley Parish Council
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Bramley PC to Rotherham MBC, 22 June 12:

Dear Ms Kemp

Regarding your most recent email statement:

Earlier this year all Parish Councils were contacted to say that from 1st April any grounds maintenance work that was carried out for Parish Councils would be charged for – this includes the emptying of bins.  Parish Councils were contacted with prices etc. and subsequently meetings were held between them and RMBC.  Bramley Parish did not respond back to any e-mails or letters and were not involved in any meetings.  Please see attached which gives an example of what was sent to Bramley Parish Council.

In response, I suggest that you read the emails below, from last year, and also the attached quote, which your Authority submitted and which was only in respect of grounds maintenance.

You will see that there is no reference whatsoever to the “emptying of bins” of any type, as you spuriously claim, nor is there any such reference in the letter that you have just forwarded to me.

As such, the Chair of the Parish Council has sent an email to Cllrs Stone and Akhtar and Mr Battersby requesting documentary information/evidence in this regard.

Yours sincerely

Robert Foulds
Clerk to the Parish Council

From: Richard.Malkin
Date: 14 December 2011 14:52
Subject: RE: Bramley PC.xls
To: Rob Foulds
Cc: Booth, Tony, Jackson, Richard

Rob,

The area of land off Belvedere Parade has now been removed from the attached schedule as this is Borough Council owned.

If you could get back to us ASAP with your decision it would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Richard

From: Rob Foulds
Sent: 12 December 2011 15:40
To: Booth, Tony; Malkin, Richard
Subject: Fwd: Bramley PC.xls

Tony and Richard

I had a call from Richard Jackson this afternoon asking about Bramley PC’s response to the letter sent out by ‘The Leader’ in relation to the interim arrangements for grass cutting on our recreation ground.

Before I respond, could you please advise why the Borough Council believes that the Belvedere Parade Bramley Mini Park, as referred to on the attached spreadsheet, belongs to the Parish Council?

Cheers

Rob Foulds
Clerk to the PC

On 20 October 2011 15:06, Tony Booth wrote:

Rob,

Updated schedules / costs for Bramley as agreed.

Regards

Tony Booth

Senior Technician
Grounds Maintenance/Landscape/Cleansing
Community Delivery
Streetpride
Rotherham MBC
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Rotherham MBC to Bramley PC, 22 June 12:

Dear Mr. Foulds

Earlier this year all Parish Councils were contacted to say that from 1st April any grounds maintenance work that was carried out for Parish Councils would be charged for – this includes the emptying of bins.  Parish Councils were contacted with prices etc. and subsequently meetings were held between them and RMBC.  Bramley Parish did not respond back to any e-mails or letters and were not involved in any meetings.  Please see attached which gives an example of what was sent to Bramley Parish Council.

Yours sincerely

Liz Kemp
PA to Strategic Director
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Bramley PC to Rotherham MBC, 22 June 12:

Dear Ms Kemp

Can you provide me with the documentation which defines your claim that the Parish Council “opted out” of a contract which included the emptying of the dog excrement bin on Flash Lane.

Yours sincerely

Robert Foulds
Clerk to Bramley Parish Council
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Email from Rotherham MBC to Bramley PC, 22 June 12:

Dear Rob

I have been advised that  a team has been sent to go and have a look at the issues on Flash Lane on the road itself. However photographs 2 and 3 of the multiple use play area are now out of our remit as the Parish Council opted out of the contract and as such becomes their responsibility.

Kind regards

Liz
(on behalf of Karl Battersby)

From: Battersby, Karl
Sent: 22 June 2012 11:34
To: ‘Rob Foulds’
Cc: Malcolm Brown; Cllr Dennis Hardwick; Kemp, Liz
Subject: RE: Dog Excrement – Bramley

Many thanks Rob. I ask the appropriate officers to deal with it.

Regards

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

From: Rob Foulds
Sent: 22 June 2012 10:46
To: Battersby, Karl
Cc: Malcolm Brown; Cllr Dennis Hardwick
Subject: Dog Excrement – Bramley

Dear Karl

The Chair of the Parish Council has asked me to forward these photographs to you. (NB these were photos of dog excrement scattered around the play area and road)

Rob Foulds
Clerk

cc Chair and Vice Chair

Downloadable Documents:

Adjusted Bramley PC Costs 14-12-11 and Notice to ParishCouncil_GM_Bramley Parish Council..