An intrepid researcher into the deeper workings of RMBC, came across this High Court Judgement. To say this raises many questions, is the understatement, of the year. Our inquirer though, is having no sucess in getting the Legal Officer, Jacqueline … Continue reading
An intrepid researcher into the deeper workings of RMBC, came across this High Court Judgement. To say this raises many questions, is the understatement, of the year. Our inquirer though, is having no sucess in getting the Legal Officer, Jacqueline … Continue reading
Friday’s Star brought us more news of the successful prosecutions of three ‘blue badge abusers’, who used someone else’s blue badge when the holder was not present!
Emma Gaffney, aged 38, of Ascension Mews, Maltby, Ronald Steele, 67, of Herringthorpe Close, Rotherham and Waseem Kazmi, 42, of Middle Lane South, Rotherham, were all found guilty and fined for fraudulent use of another’s blue badge when the holder was not present.
These tales sound awfully familiar to us at Rotherham Politics with the case of our, very own blue badge abusing councillor who evaded prosecution thanks to the hard work of the then Borough Solicitor, Tim Mumford, who found a loophole which resulted in the failure to prosecute him. Tim Mumford, then also put the fear of God in to Labour Group and others to stop any leak! Some hope! All that, to protect the reputation of one rather minor member, with a chequered and rather inglorious past already.
His crime was exactly that of these three examples, why then, is Rotherham’s blue badge abusing Councillor still being protected by Roger Stone, Jahangir Akhtar and Rotherham Labour Group, to their eternal shame? We should be told!
Yesterdays post about Robin Stonebridge’s 2007 resignation from Anston parish council presented the ‘official’ version, the truth however, lies somewhere else!
The featured piece from the local Dinnington Guardian newspaper, was in fact written by the ‘Tiser’s Gareth Dennison, if only he had access to these revelations his story would have been very different. (Gareth has left a comment. To view click on comments button below)
Let me take you back to 2007 on Anston parish council. Robin Stonebridge was Chairman of a couple of years standing, for some months there had been increasing friction within the parish council and Robin Stonebridge’s behaviour at meetings had become increasingly bizarre.
A typical exchange, given here by way of example, Robin Stonebridge was making derogatory remarks to a constituent of the parish, Hilary Estrada-Haigh, who enquired of him if he was talking of her he replied “No I am chewing a brick and it is more intelligent than speaking to you.”
Also bizarrely, Robin Stonebridge told Valerie Sheldon-Ennis, in a letter to her, that he had forwarded her correspondence to Tim Mumford Head of Legal Services. It is known that Robin Stonebridge did not send these letters to Tim Mumford as threatened, he threw them into his file and said, “those are going nowhere!”
Clearly undaunted and extremely fed up with the unacceptable behaviour of Stonebridge Valerie wrote to Tim Mumford herself on 11th October 2007. Valerie provided Tim Mumford with correspondence she had received from Robin Stonebridge in addition to her observations and correspondence. I have seen this correspondence and it points to one inescapable conclusion, Robin Stonebridge had crossed the line and it would need covering up!
What happened next was most instructive as it is revelatory.
Valerie’s letter contained news to Tim Mumford of which he was unaware of until that point. Robin had not in fact, told Tim Mumford as he had threatened he was doing!
Once Tim Mumford had more than a flavour of recent events on Anston parish council he realised for the first time the issues at stake? If a formal complaint citing the evidence were to be made, then the case against Stonebridge would have been unanswerable and very embarrassing! Stonebridge was a Borough councillor as well it should not be forgotten, he would not have survived for long at that either, if these issues had been properly explored by the Standards committee!
After a lot of debate they came to the inescapable conclusion that Stonebridge had to go! A resignation now, would prevent him being held to account for his, by now accepted unacceptable behaviour. Complaints cannot be proceeded with once he was no longer a member of the parish council! Brilliant!
There followed, a difficult meeting for Robin Stonebridge, who eventually accepted the relentless logic of the situation and went along with the plan.
Press releases were prepared to conceal the situation from both the public and newspapers and Stonebridge duly resigned, immediately prior to the October 2007 meeting of Anston parish council.
Now Rotherham Politics readers know the truth. Robin Stonebridge resigned to avoid accountability and to cover up the truth!
Valerie and Hilary can be proud of their achievement, brought after persistence and doggedness and should be congratulated by all who wish to scrutinise the actions and behaviour of the politically powerful.
I am left wondering why the Labour Party would ever present Robin Stonebridge as a Labour candidate at any future election after this debacle in 2007? Are they mad!
Readers may not wish to miss this: A reflection on Robin Stonebridge’s fitness for office?
The Yorkshire Post brought us news of a fresh clampdown on Blue Badge Cheats in Rotherham!
Published on Wednesday 27 May 2009 11:05
DRIVERS who use disabled parking badges when they are not entitled will have their car towed away in a new crackdown being planned by a South Yorkshire council.
Blue badges are issued by local authorities to people with a disability to allow them to park on the street or use designated disabled parking bays in car parks.
But the system is open to abuse, with some badges being “borrowed” by able-bodied family members who flout the parking regulations. Others are stolen, rented out or copied.
A recent survey in Rotherham among blue badge holders revealed that 95 per cent of them would support more harsh sanctions for those caught playing the system. Read on…
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the Blue Badge Abuse Scandal, previous posts can be viewed here if you want the full story. They will understand that a Rotherham Borough councillor was caught red handed using his wife’s Blue Badge and has obliged colleagues and officers to mount a ‘cover up’ to prevent his name being made public.
This blog has recommended to this miscreant that he should ‘fess up’ himself and emerge from this sorry tale with at least some honour and credibility left. He has signally failed to heed this advice and seems to want to cower from the truth, hiding his identity behind Labour Group and a few senior officers, has he no shame one wonders?
For my first posting on Rotherham Politics, I thought I would start with a look at Councillor Gerald Smith, who has been in the news recently on Rotherham Politics and had a letter published in the Rotherham Advertiser last Friday.
Gerald has been a fixture on Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council pretty well since it’s inception in 1974 (Gerald Smith joined RMBC in 1979) and had been active in local politics for a time before that. A genuine product of his age, a veritable dinosaur in the flesh. This man’s antediluvian views have not changed one bit in much of that time, mostly due to the fact that he will not listen to anyone, but himself, never has!
Gerald Smith’s abilities and power is ebbing away as his supporters fade away or increasingly fall victim to the grim reaper. The complexion of Labour Group is slowly changing, with new members, not quite so tolerant or imbued with the Leninist attitude to rigid control and the use of patronage to bring about total adherence to discipline. So called working class democracy in action, with the, ‘do as you’re told or else mentality,’ often referred to as ‘democratic centralism,’ that still pervades labour politics in Rotherham Borough.
Never one to have doubts about his actions, Gerald has become a boor, a bully and infallible, if his letter is anything to go by! His ignorance and basic stupidity are clear for readers to see for themselves, as is his over bearing arrogance that, if ever it belonged in Rotherham, should now belong in the past!
Gerald Smith is a bully, so it does not surprise anyone, least of all me, that there are members of Aston cum Aughton Parish Council that will not speak at main meetings, because the get their heads bitten off if they do! Gerald Smith pours his contempt and derision upon anyone who does, even obliquely ask a question, the first time they try it! Been on the receiving end from time to time, so I know, only too well, what it’s like having this bombastic idiot in your face. I am sure that there are others that could, on Smith’s definition of silence, be so labelled.
On the rest of Councillor Smith’s assertions, I cannot comment other than to say his attitude throughout his letter would seem to form prima facie evidence, of a serious breach of his and the Parish Clerk’s, codes of conduct! I do hope that a complaint is lodged at Parish and Borough level.
The final paragraph which describes what is called an imprint, incorrectly as an ‘indent,’ goes on to state that to use; published and printed by Holderness Lab Party at 4 Brook Close, Aston was entirely legal! Does this stupid man not know, even the basics, of the legal niceties of imprints on leaflets distributed during election campaign periods? Clearly a fool, this man states categorically that his version is “sufficient and legal” when it is anything but! I won’t bore blog readers with the arcane details but I would refer him to Labour’s own Legal Handbook, that discusses it in detail and a quick read of it indicates that it is seriously deficient in a number of respects! Perhaps Martin, Tim or Maggs, would like to show him his errors? Like to be a fly on the wall of that discussion as Smith is never wrong!
Gerald Smith and Tim Mumford have a long and intertwined past which almost encompasses the entire history of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, since Tim Mumford has been with RMBC since ’74 and Smith joined the Council on 4th May 1979! They have had an interesting time and I am sure some of their exploits would feature prominently in any memoirs of Tim Mumford, should they ever be written. If Tim needs a ghost writer for this project, I would be happy to oblige!
So there you have it! One of the last of the dinosaurs, from a bygone age, on Rotherham Council. Beginning to become an embarrassing joke at Council and Cabinet and would it not for the control by the Council by another more powerful dinosaur in the shape of Roger Stone, he surely should have been retired, years ago! Smith’s, Diplodocus! To Stone’s, Tyrannosaurus! I shouldn’t wonder!
Arrogant, ignorant and stupid in good measure, this foolish man is also a bully and a boor with his fingers in so many ‘pies’ I doubt that he could count them all! Always right and if he wants, can make Black appear White, North appear South and East appear West! Gerald Smith has a great deal of form as a control freak and is contemptuous of dissent from his views even from party colleagues, so Independents have no chance.
Or, has the Advertiser mislead it’s readers?
Read comments here.
I read Gareth Dennison’s piece in last weeks Advertiser with interest. The story was cobbled together from copied emails provided by Rob Foulds, I was party to this circulation. So I was aware that by Friday, the story as published, was substantially misleading, because the final piece of the jigsaw from the Electoral Commission was not reported, and was the clincher in determining where the truth lies in this case.
I fully expected this to be covered again in this weeks Advertiser in view of the fact that Gareth knew the previous week, by the time the Advertiser hit the streets in fact, that his story was incomplete and gave a misleading impression as to where the actual fault lay. Needless to say I experienced anger and more than a little frustration at this thoroughly unprofessional journalistic behaviour, I expected better.
Labour in Rotherham are comfortable that their dominance will not be effectively challenged by anyone and have become careless and arrogant with their actions, especially so, since the Stone Age began.
The case of Chris Read’s address is an example of the way this dominance finds expression. This stunt was not the result of ignorance, but a calculated conspiracy involving the Labour Party and Senior Officers, who should know better! By election night, both Labour Councillors and Officers, were singing from the same hymn sheet about Chris Read and had let slip the extent of the discussions on this issue. I won’t name them, but I am indebted to them for the illumination they provided!
Unfortunately the Advertiser also fell for this official line, as though it was established fact, instead of the perverse interpretation of those blinded by self delusion and prejudice seeking a specific outcome. Where have the Advertisers objectivity and critical abilities gone? They must return! The Advertiser and it’s journalists really must start asking questions, instead of swallowing the Labour line, hook line and sinker!
Martin Kimber, Rotherham MBC Chief Executive, I am told is someone not easily persuaded to change his mind even when contradictory evidence comes to light! Stubborn and obstinate are words frequently used by those who work with him. Tim Mumford, just about to retire as the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Admin, advised that their perverse interpretation of the nomination procedures was legal! It was not! They had convinced themselves that the phase ‘commonly understood’ meant they could accept a deficient nomination with the address incomplete! They couldn’t have been more incorrect on this point as the definitive evidence from the Electoral Commission shows!
The Labour Party also convinced themselves that they had come up with a ruse that was legal, even though their own Legal Handbook advised otherwise, and would conveniently conceal the fact that Chris Read was not a local candidate and improve their chances of winning this difficult to predict ward that has developed a penchant for voting Tory in recent years. Those involved, among others, were the ‘grinning goon,’ Reg Littleboy and Chris Read’s Agent, Sue Ellis from Wickersley Labour Party, who put their plan into action.
Despite crude criticism of Rob Foulds for his apparent pettiness on this issue, his critics are wrong in almost every particular. This issue is very important as it demonstrates all the current failings of the Labour Party and Senior Officers. Respect for either the Law or their professional duties is subject to compromise that breaches the codes of conduct that apply here. The ‘blue badge abuse scandal‘ and the reinterpretation of legal orders to allow a councillor to escape justice, is another example of this unacceptable attitude at work! As is the issue over the Printer installed in the ‘Members Room’ by the Labour Party and Kimber’s inadequate response, another of the seemingly partisan approaches taken by Martin Kimber and Tim Mumford that these recent examples shine a light on.
Sarah Hopson, from the Electoral Commission has confirmed Rob’s contention that a candidate has to complete the form and “the candidate’s home address must be completed in full and should not contain any abbreviations.” and that his address must be “commonly understood,” Chris Reed gave his address as Church Street, Rotherham which was wholly misleading and gave no common indication that he actually lives in Swinton. By the way, “commonly understood” means, how the locals would address themselves, it does not provide a cover for a deceptive address as in this instance!
It is clear that this deliberate deception was not legal or acceptable, this should serve as a lesson to the Labour Party locally, their arrogance will get them into trouble and nowadays their activities are being watched more closely than ever before!
Rob Foulds emerges from this sorry little tale of Labour chicanery, vindicated and with his dignity intact. Labour however have again demonstrated that there is no trick, they will not stoop to, to keep control of what happens in Rotherham! The Advertiser does not come out of this well either, they really must adopt a questioning attitude and not take the ‘official line’ as correct when they are in possession of the full facts! The police response, initially encouraging, was most disappointing. Even so, they acknowledged that deficiencies existed and undertook to remedy this in future elections.
Dear Mr Foulds
Thank you for contacting the Electoral Commission about your experience during the May 2011 local elections in Rotherham. The Electoral Commission has no power to intervene in, or investigate allegations of electoral offences however; your e-mail has been passed to me to inform you of our guidance on the matters you have raised.
The first point that you raise is outlining the particulars of the address that the other candidate put on their nomination form.
The advice contained within our Candidates and Agents guidance on this matter is that the candidate’s home address must be completed in full and should not contain any abbreviations. We cannot comment on any individual cases as this would be a matter for the courts to decide. Any allegations of false statements on nomination forms must be reported to the police. However, it should be noted that where a home address is not absolutely correct, the nomination would not be open to successful challenge as long as the address can be commonly understood. This is covered in section 50 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Your second point is about the failure to act by the Electoral staff. Returning Officers and their staff have to accept the information written on a nomination form on face value. They have no power to perform investigations into the details provided other than checking the electoral registration details of subscribers and that any description provided complies with the requirements of the Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006. They are tasked with checking that every item required has been completed and copying the details contained on the nomination form verbatim from the form onto the official documentation e.g. official notices and ballot papers.
Once the Returning Officer has made a decision that a nomination paper is valid, it cannot be challenged during the election, it can only be challenged after by way of an election petition. Just to note, the deadline for election petitions for 5 May elections has now passed.
I hope that this information is useful to you, if I can provide you with any further guidance on electoral matters please do contact me using the details given below.
Regional Liaison Officer The Electoral Commission
Date: 24 May 2011 16:42
Subject: Re: Local Elections Rotherham 2011
To: Rob Foulds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Graham.Wragg@southyorks.pnn.police.uk, Caroline.Newman@southyorks.pnn.police.uk
Dear Mr Foulds
I have now examined your complaint and researched the relevant legislation
and Electoral Commission guidance notes and respond as follows:
As you indicate the address “2A Church Street, Rotherham, S64 8QA” would
perhaps be enhanced by the addition of ” Swinton”.
A person standing in that Ward does not have to reside in that Ward to
be a candidate providing he meets one of the four qualifications. Most
residents in Wickersley will know S64 isn’t their postcode.
Only the Labour Party Handbook gives actual specific guidance to include
the name of the village and in fact the more authoritative Electoral
Administration Act example you quote fails to give the village/area
As you concede, it can be argued that his description does adequately
allow his address to be identified.
You received on the 6th April the “statement of persons nominated” which
included Mr Read’s name and address and on the 8th April the “Notice of
Poll” again including his name and address in the same form. However you
did not raise the matter until the evening of Polling Day when someone
else alerted you. I understand you are the Clerk to Bramley Parish
Council and perhaps better acquainted with these matters than most
candidates would be.
No changes could have been made to the nomination paper or new papers
submitted after the deadline and there is no legal requirement for
election staff to provide an informal inspection service for nomination
I have discussed the matter with my line manager and we are both agreed
that as no offence appears to have been committed by Mr Read no further
Police action will be taken The matter will be recorded with the Police
National Information Coordinating Centre, which reports to ACPO and The
Electoral Commission and I will ensure when we provide briefings to
candidates in future I will stress this area of the legislation. I did
attend the Rotherham briefing on the 6th April 2011, but I do not recall
this specific area being the subject of any questions.
Research and Development Unit
Economic Crime Unit
Wickersley Notice of Poll Read here: Does this represent a Full Postal Address? I don’t think so!!!
Extract from the Labour Party’s ‘Keep it Legal,’ 2011 Election Manual:
“The home address of the candidate must be the official home address – not a business address or a temporary address. The place of residence must be fully stated, including the name of the town or village.”
Original Complaint: To read click here.
Police to investigate the Dirty tricks played by Gerald Smith and Holderness Labour!
Following the elections on May 5th this year when Labour went well beyond the acceptable, issuing election leaflets that were deceptive and libellous in the Parish of Aston-cum-Aughton, a complaint has been made to the Police in this case and it can now be reported that the Police have opened an investigation!
We are aware that there are similar problems in the Parish Council of Anston, where Iain St John and the local Labour Party have also been reported to the Police and we understand that this will be formally investigated as well.
Comment: Labour really need to understand that they don’t own Rotherham, they cannot expect to act outside of what is legal, decent and honest! The people own Rotherham! They need to understand that simple fact! Increasingly the public are no longer prepared to let them get away with their control freak, arrogant, greedy and dictatorial ways! Power to the people! We say!!…
Previously published: Click Here.
When the scandal of ‘blue badge abuse’ by a councillor first emerged, it seemed no more than a symptom of casual labour arrogance. As this sorry tale was investigated it revealed much of the control structure, routinely used to keep information, the public has a right to know, from them. The gravity of this issue is of the utmost seriousness as it appears to involve multiple breaches of both Officers and Councillors Codes of Conduct. It has also become apparent that this type of cover up is evidence of a deeper cultural malaise within RMBC that cannot go unchallenged!
One of the other main problems in establishing the identity of the abuser was that this form of abuse has been widespread in the past, and information can be difficult to verify. One particularly egregious example that turned up, was the councillor who blatantly used his wife’s blue badge whilst he visited the Town Hall, even though she was occupying a bed in Rotherham District General Hospital at the time! Although interesting, it proved to be a diversion in this case.
Tales From the Town Hall, revealed that a great deal of effort had gone in to protecting the identity of the abuser, with vague threats of some form of legal action involving the Freedom of Information Act! So much effort, so much officers time has been expended on this futile cover up! Attempting to use the FOI as the means for enforcing a cover up is quite extraordinary and possibly a novel approach.
From a previous post: “The councillor involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, not only for abusing the Blue Badge in the first place, but for hiding the truth from us by obliging officers to mount a cover up!
The sheer effrontery of this loathsome individual deserves nothing but contempt from the people of this long suffering Town. His actions are positively outrageous from someone who purports to be a ‘public servant!’ The fact that he still seems to be under the protection of ‘Labour Group’ and Senior Officers, just adds to the outrage!
He should do the only decent thing in the circumstances. fess up and resign his seat! NOW! By his own actions he amply demonstrates his unsuitability for public office of any kind.”
Like Watergate, the cover up is what catches up with you in the end! Had this councillor admitted his mistake in the first place, he would no doubt have been embarrassed, but would probably have ultimately survived. That option is no longer available to him! Once exposed he will have to go! Local people will demand nothing less!
What do you think? Leave a comment, click link below.
When Labour selected their candidate for the Wickersley Ward of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council they knew straight away that they had a problem, they had selected, not a local Wickersley resident, but a resident of Swinton, Mexborough and if that were not difficulty enough he doesn’t even own a car nor drive!
Why was this a problem for Labour? Swinton lies a stones throw from both Barnsley and Doncaster! Not exactly local then! The issue of lack of personal transport will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to represent Wickersley as well as he should.
This is a rapidly increasing problem for Labour in Rotherham, as they have many ‘bussed in’ councillors liberally sprinkled around Rotherham. Wouldn’t it be useful if they could simply keep this information from voters in the future?
That is exactly what Rotherham Labour Party decided to do, conceal the truth from the voters of Wickersley Ward, quite outrageous!
I got an inkling of the issues ahead, when upon my arrival at the count at Magna at 10 pm, Councillor Alan Atkin from Wath Ward, without being in fact asked, couldn’t restrain himself from giving me an explanation, that bore much more than a striking resemblance to the official answer, I was given later by Maggs Evers, the Council’s Elections Officer?
Others I spoke to at the count, freely acknowledged that much discussion had taken place about this within Labour circles, and involving I understand, both the Chief Executive and Assistant Chief Executive, Martin Kimber and Tim Mumford respectively. Martin Kimber, it should not be overlooked, was acting as Returning Officer for the elections held on May 5th. If Martin Kimber or Tim Mumford were involved, the conflict of interest issues might well prove problematic.
How did they do it? The issue of how to conceal the inconvenient fact of his domicile on election literature was easily achieved, nothing in the text of the leaflets from Labour mentioned that Chris Read lived elsewhere than within the Ward. The imprint also is not required to have the address of the candidate, only their name, provided that the promoter and publisher were properly identified. A deception indeed! But at least perfectly legal.
How about the Ballot Paper? Surely his full address should be stated there? Apparently not, according to the opinion of RMBC! This is of course where most of the discussion and debate was focussed, how to procure a ballot paper that was essentially deceptive by confusing the issue of where he lives and effectively conceal the facts from Wickersley voters by manipulation.
What goes on the ballot paper is the address information given on the nomination paper. That’s when a bright idea came to them, if the candidate was nominated using the following address 2A Church Street, Rotherham, S64 8QA, then that is what would appear on the Notice of Poll, displayed at Polling Stations and on the ballot paper. Read Wickersley Notice of Poll here Wickersley.
I am advised that the correct full postal address for Chris Read is in fact; 2A Church Street, Swinton, Mexborough, S64 8QA, quite a difference!
A result for Labour you might think? As this stunt will, no doubt. be pulled across the Borough next year by Labour Candidates wishing to conceal their often distant domicile fearing their electorates won’t like it.
Will it work? Unfortunately for Labour, one of the other candidates Rob Foulds, the Rotherham Independent candidate, he is not happy about this and will not rest until every avenue of this disgraceful and deceptive episode is explored and any wrongdoing exposed! They may have scored a spectacular ‘own goal’ on this one as Rob Foulds is a doughty fighter for what is right, if ever there was one!
Another potential problem for Tim Mumford to ponder upon is that this ruse may well turn out not to have been such a good idea once all facts are known. The ballot paper may well be ‘legal’ but the legality of the original nomination is quite a different matter.
As a Full Postal Address is required by law for the nomination to be valid, this does not look to be a valid nomination to me, because the address is deficient and believe it should not have in fact been accepted!
A final point. This trick goes against the advice contained in Labour’s own ‘Keep it Legal‘ election manual! The Labour Party devotes considerable attention to issues such as this and I am confident that if this was such a good idea Labour would have advised so.