Edward (Teddy) Mcnabb is a community campaigner, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland Teddy now restricts his fighting to the defence of the elderly within his community. So incensed was he when Northampton Borough Council withdrew Resident Wardens from the sheltered housing scheme he lives in that he took the Council on alongside many others who rightly pointed out that the Council was breaching the contract they signed with those elderly residents when they first moved into their homes.
So Teddy got busy, bombarding Councillors and officers alike with emails and questions, trying to get answers for many who were too frightened to raise their head above the parapet. Most of his emails went completely unanswered. In frustration at elected members from all of the three main party's who refused most times to even acknowledge his requests he lost his temper, by email! lots of them.
He knows he went over the top, even though many would understand his reason for doing so and he admits that he used some "inappropriate language" Now I know what you are thinking! But that's just your dark side coming to the fore, you see Teddy's expletives were not post 9pm watershed words, they consisted of him using lesser curses like "scum" and "bitch" both not nice, but when you are in elected office or working for the council you have to have broad shoulders and a thick skin.
Teddy also had other reasons to lose his temper on the keyboard as he had also received proof that the Council had considered and recorded the fact that they considered him to be mentally ill and that they also wrote to his doctor without his knowledge asking him to assess his patient, and in one internal e-mail exchange after Teddy had asked for a secret ballot on a tenants vote one officer wrote to another "He will get much more than a secret ballot "
So if ever there was a time to bring someone to the table and try and to resolve matters and faults on both sides then this was such an occasion. But no, that's just not the style of a Northampton Liberal Democrat Council, instead the yellow bellied bullies decided to hit him hard with a court order and sought an injunction preventing Teddy from contacting any Borough Councillor or officer (apart from the Borough Solicitor) and took such an injunction out in the names of all Cllrs without even having the decency of asking us first if we wished to be part of such an action (so much for local democracy)
Two over tender souls, Lib Cllrs Tony Woods and Dennis Merideth even submitted evidence to the court telling the judge how awful life had become because of Teddy's tirade of abuse. In the meantime myself and my fellow independents Cllrs Jean Hawkins and Malcolm Mildren instructed the Council to remove us from their ridiculous injunction and did what any Cllr worth their salt would do, that is talk face to face with Teddy to make sure he was not totally disenfranchised.
Teddy wanted to fight the injunction and attended Court to state his case, but it became clear that the Council would use all their legal muscle to take him on. as Teddy's total annual income is less than £6000 he reluctantly withdrew from the fray.
Not content with their pious victory (it surely would be the equivalent of Chelsea FC celebrating an uncontested victory over Duston Boys Brigade) the council went after Teddy for their costs totalling over £10,000! They told the court this astronomical bill included them costing out a lawyer at over £146 an hour! They used just the one "in house" solicitor
Luckily we managed to point out to the Judge that locum lawyers engaged by the Council were paid only just over £30 an hour and if the solicitor involved worked for the Council on a rate of £146 an hour then they would be earning annually over a quarter of a million pounds at the Council Tax payers expense. In other words the Council were looking to profiteer from the case at the expense of a disabled man on a measly £6000 a year income.
Well then perhaps Teddy was right after all. You see in my view any body public or private, willing to take such austere action and then chase fiscally for their own profit a sum of £10,000 from a disabled ex serviceman whose only crime was to become agitated on behalf of his elderly neighbours who couldn't fight for themselves, then I too would say that they are scum, and if they want to take out an injunction on me for saying so then so be it.
The judge it seems also agreed that they had overstepped the mark, as in court he reduced the Councils costs down from the £10,000 requested to £1,700 and also made it clear to the Council that they may wish to consider waiving costs entirely given Teddy's inability to pay. Only time will tell if they have listened or not?
The council accuse Teddy of being a bully, but just who is bullying who here? As the injunction is now indefinite what rights would Teddy now have to be represented if myself and my two Independent colleagues did not withdraw ourselves from the Councils shameful actions?
My fear now is that in the coming months Teddy and others may have good reason to take up the good fight again on behalf of the vulnerable as the Council and their coalition partners in Westminster looks to restrict services even further in the pursuit of small local government, the big society and tightened fiscal prudence.
In the meantime it seems as if we all will have to be gentle with the poor fragile souls in the Liberal Democrat group on the council, after all how dare the public expect them to be accountable and answer questions put to them as elected members, let alone take responsibility for their actions in cutting services to the most vulnerable in our society!
Just what has become of our local democracy, I ask you?
( Tomorrow part 2, a man and his bicycle )
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