Residents of Northampton, angered at the amount of time it takes the Council to deal with flytipping will be bemused or maybe encouraged? by the swift actions of the Borough Councils finest this morning in removing a troublesome item in deepest Castle Ward.
Arguments continue as to how long 48hrs, the time the Council say it takes them to clear any reported flytipping really is. You will remember from a previous post that opposition Cllrs were told that 48 hrs is not in fact two days but 48 working hours, which equates to about 8+Days!!!, made up a working week, plus a weekend plus a day and a bit thereafter. The Leader of the Council Cllr Brian Hoare (Lib Dem) has promised twice now without delivering to clarify this figure, but we still await the result of his high level deliberations.
But this morning a complaint came into the Guildhall, together we believe with a photo of one of my election banners, obviously offending the eye of some within other parties, which was placed with the permission of residents outside their properties in Western View facing Castle Station.
I am not sure if a glowing red (or most probably yellow and black) phone rang on the desk of the Chief Executive at the Guildhall, but within minutes the rapid response unit of NBC leapt into action in their yellow truck, attended the site, tore down the banner and confiscated it, before delivering it (on a silver platter?) to the Councils Solicitor to be locked away safely at the Town Hall.
All this whilst my loyal and usually observant agent John Dickie was oblivious to the attack on the Castle Mound and was drinking his morning cuppa at Dickie Acres.
The first we got to hear of "Operation Banner Snatch" following their assault on Castle Hill was when the Borough Councils solicitor Francis Fernandes phoned me as the candidate to tell me he was holding my banner (emblazoned with my rather fetching, if not dated profile) as a prisoner at the Guildhall.
"It was on our land so we acted swiftly" he told me " "I wished you would act as quickly removing old fridges and bedsteads from the streets of Spring Boroughs" I told him in response.
Anyhow I enquired, "What are you ringing me for, surely the normal procedure is for the returning officer to ring the agent to acsertain who actually owns the land and then if it was on Council Land you would ask the agent to remove it, so the council doesn't incur any expense?"
What followed was a robust conversation,wherein I asked just who had made the complaint? (whilst respectfully reminding him that one of my opponents is the Deputy Leader of the Council) and why the Council acted so rapidly and without thinking the matter through first? After which I left him to ring John
Further conversations between the Borough Solicitor and a very angry agent determined that land ownership at the site is difficult to determine. Some of the land does belong to the Borough, some of it is the County Councils Highways Dep't and some around the car park is private and belongs to the residents, and as the owners of 1A 1B 1C and number 2 Western View had agreed to have the banner put up then what was the problem?
After tense negotiations and making it clear to the Borough Council that we would not pay a ransom for its return, the Council agreed to release the banner, and sent two men in suits with a map round to replace it on land to be agreed.
After at first showing up without the proper tools (no hammer guv!) the Council then promised to return a third time to reinstate our property!!! And then failed to do so.
They are returning in the morning we are now told. So our banner now rests only temporarily in the ground awaiting their return. So upset was the donor who provided the banners that one had been kidnapped that he has now ordered two more for our campaign to go up on other sites!!
John told me this afternoon, "It took the Council 30 f*cking years to come round and pollard the b*stard trees on that bit of land and now they have been back and forth here twice in a single day! and now they are coming back tomorrow"
I will leave it to you, the readers to determine yourselves who made the complaint, and why the council acted so swiftly without thought of the political consequences, the cost, or the risk of someone comparing their prompt action with the usual inaction witnessed by residents elsewhere in the town when they make complaints, but I am just glad we have got our banner back!
Elections are hard enough as it is without having to break off from canvassing to negotiate for the release and repatitration of kidnapped images of the candidate.
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