Tony Mannion – is it time for him to go?

Tony Mannion has been forced to justify his continued service as Councillor on behalf of the people of Sitwell Ward, Rotherham, this afternoon at Todays meeting of the Full Council.

Despite now, not being qualified, living in Leicester and having no direct business links to Rotherham he justified himself today, by pointing out his attendance was better than that of the Advertiser! Come on!

The time has come I’m afraid, for Tony Mannion to consider his position and then to stand down, to give Sitwell’s citizens their full complement of representatives, actually qualified for the job!

2014 elections – first look at the battleground

The 2014 Battleground, first look. These are the incumbent Councillors who’s Term of Office, expires May 2014.

Ward Incumbent Party
Anston & Woodsetts Ward Jo Burton Lab
Boston Castle Ward Rose McNeeley Lab
Brinsworth & Catcliffe Ward Alan Buckley Lab
Dinnington Ward Jackie Falvey Lab
Hellaby Ward Lynda Donaldson Con
Holderness Ward Gerald Smith Lab
Hoober Ward Brian Steele Lab
Keppel Ward Ian Barron Lab
Maltby Ward Amy Rushforth Lab
Rawmarsh Ward Shaun Wright Lab
Rother Vale Ward Richard Russell Lab
Rotherham East Shaukut Ali Lab
Rotherham West Jahangir Akhtar Lab
Silverwood Ward Pat Russell Lab
Sitwell Ward Tony Mannion Con
Swinton Ward Neil License Lab
Valley Ward Dave Pickering Lab
Wales Ward Jennifer Whysall Lab
Wath Ward Alan Atkin Lab
Wickersley Ward Sue Ellis Lab
Wingfield Ward Keith Goulty Lab

Borough Council Elections 2010 Results

Opposition? What Opposition!

Little wonder that Rotherham Council is so poor – there’s a distinct lack of scrutiny or oversight provided by the so-called Tory opposition!

There are 7 Tory Councillors on Rotherham Borough Council but what do they spend their time doing? They must all be asleep during Council meetings or absent as few of them has ever been reported as raising any issues with the ruling Labour Group over recent years.

What’s the purpose of having an opposition when they don’t ‘oppose’? Or could the answer be that they are content to take their Councillor allowances, do very little and join in with the ‘troughing’ and ‘social life’ that Councillors appear to enjoy and value above all else?

In my opinion, they act more like an Independent group, showing a lack of co-ordination and direction, presumably with a Group Leader who takes a Leader’s allowance but doesn’t seem to be ‘leading’. It seems to me that Rotherham Politics provides more scrutiny, oversight and comment on the antics of the Council than the official ‘opposition’!!

If the Tories claim to be truly opposed to what the Labour Group is doing, then they should form themselves into a cohesive group, elect themselves a Leader who gives leadership and supports the Group and starts doing what they are on the Council to do!


Labour Abuses Privileges – Martin Kimber Duped?

Yet another sorry tale of Labour abusing their privileges I am sorry to relate. This time in the Eric Manns Building aka ‘the Councillors Club’! This expose′ comes courtesy of the Rotherham Tories, who have been investigating this abuse.

This tale of petty abuse casually done, followed it would appear, by another Officer led ‘cover up’. This time it goes right to the top, the lead Officer involved, none other than the Chief Executive, Martin Kimber!

Someone thought it was acceptable to install an expensive printer, owned by the Labour Party, in the Eric Manns Building and then to use it for printing Labour Party electoral propaganda! Who thought it was an acceptable use of public resources? – we should be told!

In Rotherham both the Councillors and Officers have an extraordinarily loose relationship when it comes to their observance of their ‘Codes of Conduct’.  Martin Kimber’s role here leaves him open to the accusation of naivety if not complicity! This kind of thing should never happen, it must not do so again.

I reproduce the Tory Press Release:

Press release on Labour theft of electricity

Rotherham Labour Councillors caught fiddling the ‘lecky!
Sent by: Cllr Tony Mannion

Phone No 07766441754

Conservative Gp Leader Cllr John Gilding.

Phone No 07795368650

The Conservative Opposition Councillors have caught Labour with their hands in the public purse yet again. This time with a systematically planned operation to print Party Political leaflets using stolen electricity.

They purchased a printer said to have cost £3000 and installed it in a public building, the Eric Manns building, so it’s not just the theft of electricity but the misuse of a public building as well.

The Chief Executive, Mr Martin Kimber, investigated the matter and his initial decision was to charge them a nominal sum for one day’s use of the printer, as that was all the use of the printer that Labour admitted to. We subsequently informed Mr Kimber. that the printer was first seen being used over at the very least a two month period, they have been seen using the printer on several occasions by the Conservative opposition, and that stacks of paper and ink cartridges have been seen in the Eric Manns building for Labour’s use. He stands by his initial decision!

Cllr Tony Mannion. said “we always felt that for Labour to spend £3000 on a machine, go to the trouble of installing it in a public building, with all the inherent risk involved, and then to use it on one occasion was just too ridiculous for words!” he added “ this was not a portable machine, not even a table top model, this was a large free standing machine as large as the professional photocopiers that the public can use for a fee in their local shops and Library’s. This would take at least two men to install, who installed it, who signed for it, and who subsequently removed it, all in plain view of the Council Staff?”

We know from our experience of fighting elections that when you use a smaller machine than the ones used by professional Printers that to get the numbers needed to cover an electoral ward they soon turnout to be more expensive than getting the job done by a professional printer, even with the electricity being paid for by the taxpayer: so the question has to be asked if they were prepared to steal electricity how can we be sure they did not use any council paper or ink cartridges?

Leader of the opposition Cllr John Gilding stated “The installation of this machine was no small affair and from my many years of experience in Politics I know the purchase of such an expensive item has to be approved at the highest levels. Where did the people who approved this purchase think it was going?”

Labour have closed ranks and refused to confirm when the machine was installed, who installed it and who subsequently removed it.

Cllr Cutts said “Its not just the theft of the electricity and who knows possibly paper and ink, it’s the use of a public building as their office. The Labour party, to best of my knowledge do not have an office in Rotherham so to bypass the cost of an office with all its overheads is no mean saving, and we ought to know as we do have an office fully paid for by our members, and we pay our own electricity bills as well!”

An added twist to the tale is that the printer was in the Chair of Planning’s office when it was first spotted but was then placed in the Majority room without actually being moved, they simply changed the name on the door.

Cllr Cutts added “whether or not this was to protect the Chairman of planning or to disguise what they doing we do not know. I do know, even if we hadn’t seen them doing their printing on several occasions, that to ask us to accept that they used it only once is quite unbelievable! We are not satisfied that we have got to the bottom of this scandal yet and we will keep pressing and digging until we do!”

Quite a little tale, this raises as many questions as it answers. More on this as information comes in. If you have any further insights in to this story, please let us know.

Wales Ward – Is political skulldugery involved?

As I understand it, until the recent furore, Wales Ward was looking forward to the local elections, expecting the candidates to be, Dominic Beck for Labour and Gavin Sharp the sitting Tory councillor.

In recent years Wales Ward has developed into something like a private electoral argument between Tories and Labour, everyone else being squeezed out in the rush. The exception was last year when the extra turnout ensured the unexpected victory of Labour. Wales Ward is also represented by Jennifer Whysall for Labour and Thomas Fenoughty for the Tories.

The story starts with the announcement by the Labour party of their selection of Dominic Beck, an 18 year old student, as their standard bearer. This immediately caused problems for Rotherham Labour Group, when the Advertiser printed his refreshingly truthful and honest observations on the ongoing expenses scandal! This resulted in him receiving ‘advice’ from those not quite so fresh and inexperienced.

Ward voters were, I understand, not much impressed with Labour’s choice and were very likely planning not to turn out to vote in the usual numbers. Labour had a problem therefore.

Rule No 2.5 part F of the political dirty tricks rule book reads: ‘If you are in trouble, play the opponent, not the ball’

The story now focusses upon Gavin Sharp, the sitting Tory Councillor. His attendance has been pretty abysmal, since being elected 4 years ago and he started to come under pressure. He acted on 17th March promptly resigning his seat. If he thought this would make the story go away and avoid further embarrassment he was wrong. His resignation, unfortunately, only fuelled the fire.

Last Friday, the story exploded on to the front page of the Advertiser under the headline, £1,179 AN HOUR! the online story, £46,000 bill for ‘missing’ councillor. This rather public humiliation will have been most unwelcome to him, as he is a Bank Manager and Magistrate.

Surprisingly for such a local matter, the Tax Payers Alliance were amongst those giving him a good kicking, in the shape of Emma Boon.

Unsurprisingly, Jane Austen speaking on behalf of Rotherham Labour Group, milked the issue to extract the maximum political capital. I think she could have made a much better job of it, unsubtle she isn’t.

Most surprising of all was the way his own side put the boot in! Tony Mannion, aka ‘the Sitwell Polecat’, clearly displeased at the negative publicity this issue has generated, perhaps unwisely, failed to engage brain before opening mouth!

The one thing about this sorry turn of events that must not be forgotten in all this, is the Tories total incompetence to manage and control their own members. Had he not spontaneously resigned, He would have been their candidate, no replacement had been selected to replace him!

Where does this leave Wales Ward? The Tories have selected a new candidate, Gill Shaw, Chairman of Wales Parish Council and is pledged to better attendance than Gavin Sharp.

Dominic Beck

Dominic Beck, the Labour Candidate now just 19 years old, is surely going to be significant liability on the doorstep. Dominic claims to be a full time student and a full time employee simultaneously. It is difficult to see how Dominic could find the time between his studies and work to serve as a councillor. The issue of his youthfulness and distinct lack of experience will not go away! The Labour party are clearly taking the mickey out of the Wales Ward voters, but I am sure they have figured that one out for themselves.

This sorry tale of incompetence and inaction by the Rotherham Tory Group is only to be expected when you take a quick look at their membership on Rotherham MBC. They don’t look to me like they will be an effective opposition any time soon. Their age profile, not helped by the defection of Darren Hughes to Labour assisted by intolerance inside the local Tory party, makes this a major priority. The public relations performance of Rotherham Tory Group needs radical improvement, a piece of free advice – keep Tony Mannion away from anyone with a note book!