Thursday, 27 May 2010


Considering that Cllr Richard Church once called me an "Albanian Stalinist" in the Council chamber I was somewhat taken aback at the tirade of personal abuse he espouged at me during last Mondays full council meeting!

This once mild mannered Liberal Lovie has tried to reform himself in to the Lib Dem administration's chief attack dog on Northampton Borough Council as he rallies and rails against any spoken dissent from the opposition benches (How dare the opposition oppose!) or from the public benches.

"You're so negative" "Why do hate your town so much " and  "Scaremongering" he shouts at me whilst telling us all that the Lib Dem's are always always right and are never to be found wanting. I now know how John Dickie felt when Slugger went for him in the imfamous Italian Coffee house!

But his tyrannical outbursts lacked any effect for two main reasons:

1) Despite his best efforts to look like tough and sound like Mr Angry he still comes across as the rather softly spoken geography teacher from our schooldays who every pupil ridiculed and threw paper airplanes at


2) Despite his best attempts to convince us that the Liberal Democrat Administration on Northampton Borough Council are a beacon of excellence and pro active engagement within the UK civic arena we just don't and won't buy it!

So my views and concerns on our less than impressive Market Square Water Fountain "still to be switched on last I heard" were treated with denial and ignorance by the Lib Dem benches who simply clapped like performing seals every time Slugger opened his guttural pipes.

Of course I still don't have a copy of  the Councils risk assessment on the fountain which I asked for? or any details as to how the water is cleaned/filtered or chemically treated? We just have Cllr Churchs view that "alls well" and that the Emperors new clothes are very fine indeed

Well it seems not, you see it's not just the opposition on the Council who have had enough of the Lib Dem's continual meddling. The Market Traders themselves are equally unimpressed by the administrations efforts, and now on top of the fountain fiasco we have yet another big blow to the markets reputation and survival as the Lib Dem's attempt to move 34 stall holders in the main Aisle away from their usual stalls to make way for a "Leather Sculpture" as part of the "Blinx" Arts festival. Take the following quotes from their website  as an example

"When traders were asked to discuss the issue, several thought that the intent to remove up to 34 stalls from the heart of the market for a fortnight was a deliberate provocation by some leading members of the Liberal Democrat council. “They are trying to kick the market to death!” Said one angry trader. Others thought the move represented the usual arrogant and thoughtless attitude of the Liberal Democrats, who have continually angered the market traders with many decisions taken which adversely affected traders’ livelihoods"
Traders are now to be shoved down to the bottom of the market into - you guessed it! - the ‘Events Area’! Doesn’t make sense? No, that’s what the market committee thought when they were told about it. They asked why this ‘event’ could not go into the ‘Events Area’, and were told rather vaguely that the artists preferred to show their sculpture in the middle of a working area. So for this arrogant vanity a great many traders have to be moved for two weeks, losing a great deal of regular trade.

The market committee were asked to consult with affected traders to get their views, and report back to markets management with a - presumably sanitised - account of how traders felt about the matter. one said

Traders’ livelihoods are being destroyed for two weeks so a great deal of public money can be wasted on some so-called art event. It’s a bloody disgrace!”

Fitzy our well loved Fruit and Veg seller on the market on his blog says:

I see there has been yet another hold up recently in installing the fountain; getting on for five months now they have been at it: they'll get it right soon. Good job these people are not running the Fire Service.

Then there was a series of plans that we protested against to take down almost all the traditional market stalls on June 13th, and then at first replace three, then two, then finally one row of traditional stalls with gazebo popups, which they still haven't got awnings for, after over a year of waiting for non-existent prototypes.

Now the latest Lib-Dem twaddle is about an arty farty pseudy arts festival that not only wants to install itself on the market square, but plans to take down up to 34 stalls in the very middle of the market itself, for a fortnight, and dump a moronic 'leather sculpture' in their place, bang in the middle of the actual market. Words fail me!
Have the Lib-Dems taken leave of their senses at last, or is this a calculated plot on the part of Richard Church and co. to take another kick at the market traders? One of the surest and quickest ways to finish a market is to keep moving it about, so no regular customers can find the traders they used to shop from.
All this trouble and loss of trade just so some arrogant arty farty so-called 'arts festival' can drop a piece of pseudo-art 'leather sculpture' into the middle of the market. What is the Events Area for, Cllrs Hoare, Church, and Crake, if not for events? The 'Events Area' which you turfed the market traders out of last year, is supposed to be for events, so use it for this purpose, and let the market traders continue to try to make a living. Things are quite hard enough for market traders as it is, without deliberately kicking them in the teeth. Roll on the local elections next May, when these Lib-Dem turkeys go to their political slaughter.
As I write this blog further news reaches me suggesting that the new  sockets put in the ground for the new lightweight gazebos have all been put in the wrong places! (too close together) preventing any vehicular access to stalls for the Market traders to offload their wares.

We also now know that the annual cost of putting on events on the Market Square has risen to over £175,000 a year! We pay German and Italian Market traders to come an trade on the market at the same time we take rent from local traders and ignore their views, all this money for Market events and yet we couldn't afford to keep the Balloon Festival going! We can't afford to keep public Toilets open and we can't even afford to emply a rat catcher!

But don't moan about any of the above, you will just be accused of not loving your town and being too negative. The changes to the Market have all been a wonderful success story which has secured the future for market traders and improved the area for all. Just ask Richard Church


  1. Richard Church27 May 2010 at 22:23

    You continue to recycle false rumours and lies about the Market Square. As I said at the Council meeting, your peddling of badly researched scare stories show your contribution to local politics to now be utterly shallow and pointless. Whatever happened to your claim to be champion of truth and honesty?

    You are ready to hand out personal abuse by the bucketload on this blog, but take offence at any criticism of your own inadequacies. I only spoke what many people now think about your contributions.

    I'll correct some of your points relating to both this post and your previous one.

    (1) Yoy say the fountain and gateway area is 'over budget'. It is not. The contract for the fountain and gateway area was let for £252,000 and will be delivered at that price, funded by grant from the Northamptonshire Enterprises Ltd.

    (2) The Council did not dig in the 'wrong place' as you claim. Water pipes were found which historically had not been correctly mapped, causing a short delay while Anglia water moved them to enable to project to proceed. you were told this in my reports to council in February and again in March, but you didn't bother to listen.

    (3) It is you that has not done your homework relating to the fountain in Clacton. Unlike that fountain, ours has proper filtration and chemical treatment to minise any risk, as is case with dozens of fountains in towns up and down the country which operate in a similar way. One call or enquiry could have stopped you shamefully peddling a false health scare.

    (4) You falsely claim that the fountain flooded a newsagents cellar. I suspect you simply lifted this from a market traders website, who on being told he was wrong has now removed it. No cellar has been flooded by the fountain and I challenge you to provide any evidence for your claim.

    (5) Yes, there does need to be an alteration to the drains before the fountain is working at full capacity. This is for the contractor to put right before the project is completed and handed over to the council. It is not unusual in any building project for such alterations to be needed, but it hardly a great issue. I am sure you would not expect the council to accept completion until this is done.

    It was a real pleasure today to see the fountain operating, the delight it gave to children, and older people relaxing on the new seating to watch.

    I am sorry you don't share that pleasure, but I've learned not to be surprised.

  2. Told you he was rattled!!! Richard, point by point

    1) On Budget? How about this minute from the Cabinet meeting we both attended?

    Market Square Planning & Regeneration Approval is given to the following variation to a scheme in the capital programme for 2009-10.

    The original costs of the gateway aspect of the project were estimated by the cost consultant, however these have now been revised upwards by the contractor, and are now more than the budget. Therefore the use of section 106 monies is required to fund these additional costs. If the use of the section 106 monies were not approved major items agreed by project board would have to be omitted. £40,052 + £38,052 Section 106. £2k NEL

    2) So the Council which should know its mapping of it's own Market Square dug in a place where they had no pipes mapped and then they blame Anglian water for them being in the wrong place? lesson: when in a wrong hole stop digging!

    3) As to the safety of the water used by the water feature On Monday you said there was NO risk? Now you say "ours has proper filtration and chemical treatment to minimise any risk,"? So to clarify please send me the Councils risk assessment as I requested at full council and details of the cleansing regime and I will consider it and respond, but forgive me if at the moment I don't simply take your word for it.

    4) Richard if what you say about the Newsagents cellar is wrong then of course I will retract it.

    5) Building project!! It's a 7 jet fountain not the Taj Mahal!!! so it is unusual for so many alterations to be needed, Just tell us what the real problem is and be done with it man.

    I hope people do get pleasure from the fountain as long as it is safe, however you cannot continue to bury your head in the sand, a large number of people have not been impressed at all with the fountain and have said that it is the wrong type of fountain in the wrong place.

    So just imagine for one moment if you can that you had listened to the Market Traders and allowed them to keep thier stalls around the outside of the market Square with an entertainment space in the middle? meaning shoppers would walk through the stalls and spend whilst getting to the centre?

    Imagine if we had spoken to Haddenstone about showcasing their goods with a fountain in the centre of the square which would be a focal point?

    Imagine all that good will?

    Imagine me and other opposition Cllrs on the Council saying what a great job the Council has done in regenarating the Market Square?

    Now look at where we are what people think of your input, read the criticism, try and answer some of those other points above, read the press coverage? and blame me if it makes you feel any better, but don't expect many in the town to join you in your delusion!

  3. There's no question about it - Church is perturbed - enough to resort to scouring unofficial blogs to see who is criticising and talking about his continued inability to deliver anything of note during his ever shortening tenure as regeneration zsar.

    Time will tell how successful the 'fountain' is Mr Church. It may well have novelty value now in the bright, hot sunshine but let's see how such a 'we must have a plaything fountain like everyone else' stacks up when the weather gets inclement and you have to close it off because of ice.

    The offer from Haddenstone was indeed one that should have been explored with enthusiasm. With their expertise, we may then have had an opportunity to reinstate the Market Square to a significant shopping place and not turn it into a stall 'hopscotch' area.

    "Don't let that chip on your shoulder be your only reason for walking erect"

    James Thurber - Midnight at Tim's Place (lanters and lances 1961)

  4. Thanks the Lord for blogs!! Without them the public would be kept in the dark.

    What we have above is a desperate Richard Church trying to excuse his and his party's ridiculous decisions over the Market and Tony Clarke tearing his arguements to pieces point by point, line by line. Cllr Church lives up to the impression given in the main blog to a tee!! and has clearly lost the plot!

    We never get this level/standard of news in the paper, so more power to Tony Clarkes elbow, this blog is now a must read for me.

    Church asks about Truth and Honesty! well its all here for me


  5. I love Richard28 May 2010 at 08:26

    It comes to something when the lead Cllr for a this project feels he has to come on to a blog to defend himself. It is so obvious reading Cllr Church's comments that he is taking this whole thing all very personally!

    I remember a long and distant time ago when Cllr Church was in opposition (never a negative word passed his lips then of course on the administration)

    He then espoused the need for a Lib Dem Council that would take the personal out of politics, would get things done and would not blame others for any problems. Oh how power changes those in power .....

    Come on Richard - its time you came out ... and take the hit, show some leadership and stop taking it all so personal.

    Someone once said from the hottest fires come the strongest steel. At the moment Cllr Chruch is all a bit wobbly.


    A full scale search has been launched to find a man who stuck his plums in Northampton's controversial new fountain….

    That sounds painful

  7. ripe for comment28 May 2010 at 09:21

    Does that mean we need to find a plumber?

    Seriously - if a thousands of pounds project can be brought to a standstill by a bag of plumbs we hardly have a robust and hardy fountain do we.

    Cllr Church will have to plumb new depths now to find an answer

  8. Saw the underwhelming water feature working this afternoon. A few bemused members of the public were looking on. There were quite a few bits of soggy waste paper lying in the water. They did not appear to be redundant Liberal Democrat focus leaflets, nor little stickers saying Liberal Democrats coming third here. Hopefully they will be removed before the unfortunate edifice clogs up and there is a drought.
    The vox pop on the market square was of the opinion that this feature is nothing to write home about. One or two said they wondered if this whole episode will help to wash away the Lib Dems next year. Who knows, it's probably up to the floating voters.

  9. I find it unbelievable that Richard Church dares to claim all Tony Clarke wants to do is run down the town. I know Tony. He loves this town. What he hates what the Liberals are doing to it.

  10. Firstly I agree with Anonymous above; I don't think Tony could ever be negative if he tried...

    However, as an ex Lib Dem member I can see why they say he is... It is a little like something John Dickie said in his blog about a column he wrote.

    Apparently the local BNP party have had a go at John and called him a nasty piece of work, he then accuses them of being tender little flowers (have to love his way with words sometimes!) for being offended.

    It seems that because Tony makes his voice and concerns heard over what he rightly or wrongly sees as the Lib Dem administration running this town into the ground, they get upset and call him things ranging from a bully; nasty piece of work (blimey, sounds familiar) to being negative over this town (one he was born and brought up in) and a liar.

    Tony is a lot of things, but negative is not one of them!

    Now, on to the fountain ~ well, water feature as it is... personally, it's alright. I like the way it looks, and does seem a focal point for kiddies and their families; which is a good thing.

    Personally, a proper fountain (like we used to have) would be great in the middle of the market square: as would the choice of having the stalls round the edges of the market and the "entertainment" area on the inside.

    However, and this could be part of the reason the council went for this type of "jet" design... for some reason best left to the elders of this town, we have a "bad reputation" for getting drunks and yobs/youths etc using the surrounding streets etc as their own personal houses.

    Most people in this town (especially of a certain age) will be only too quick to point out that the nice bits of work the council has done (and I still say it has) will not take long to be damaged in some form or another... It only took a few days for some guy to stick his "plums" (I'm actually not sure which type ~ either type are funny) into the "jets;" so how long before someone is sick in them or relieves themselves in them?

    I've said this many times and shall stick to it, until you can tackle that element(s); nothing will get sorted in this town, because every "nice" thing the council does or do will not take long to be destroyed or messed up or about with.




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