Saturday, 16 January 2010

Look at the Size of my War Chest

An attempt through the "Call in" process by the Independent group on the Borough Council to stop the sale of Archway Cottages. Abington Park unfortunately failed and fell on deaf ears on Wednesday night, but the outcome of the meeting is well worth sharing with the general public of Northampton. These wonderful grade II listed cottages which date back from the 1670's were gifted to the people of Northampton by Lady Wantage in 1892 (as was all of Abington Park) but the current ruling Liberal Democrats on the Council want to sell them on to the highest bidder.

Our challenge led by the Councils Heritage Champion and fellow Independent Cllr Jean Hawkins was based around real and evidential concerns that the Councils cabinet had not looked at all the other options open to it, and that their decision was directed and predetermined by the administrations own priorities. We argued that the cottages could be kept in public use and used for a variety of community purposes, or by the Council itself to house its Heritage team who are to be moved out of Cliftonville House. We also informed the committee that the Council had not followed published guidance from the government or English Heritage over the sale of listed buildings and that grants could be available for either the council or the Friends of Abington Park and or others who wanted to find a future public use for the properties.

As evidence of the above we presented information gleaned from a Freedom of Information request submitted by Jean which threw up some startling revelations. For instance we discovered that in October 2009 Phil Houston, the Youth Development Director for NAYC had made an approach to the Council about using the cottages for a "Youth drop in project" for local 13 - 19 yr olds. This idea was described as "a good potential use" by Cllr Andrew Simpson Lib Dem PPC for Northampton North in an emailed response copied into the portfolio holder Cllr David Perkins, but 'Perky' was having none of it. In a direction to officers dealing with the property he made the administrations position crystal clear when he wrote:

" We will only consider offers which releases capital back to NBC. I am sure that you will be aware that we are trying to establish a war chest of funds from the sale of non priority assets to assist us to manage our organisational change programme"

Despite the above evidence the call in committee decided that the decision to sell should stand and that our claim of a pre determined outcome was irrelevant.

The Borough Solicitor and Cllr Perkins summed up beautifully by telling us that there is nothing wrong at all about the administration on the Council having a set policy to sell assets and only consider options that they wish to consider, equally it was for others to come up with plans and apply for grants if they wanted to maintain the cottages in public hands, but of course following Cllr Perkins email we the public as owners of the cottages would have to buy them back from ourselves (or in this case the Council that is supposed to be looking after them for us) at the going rate in order that a capital receipt went back into the Lib Dem's said war chest.

And what is the "organisational change programme" which will be funded by this windfall? Well to you and me this means that the Council is building up a pot of money to fund the redundancy costs of staff put out of work as even more services are cut in future months.

So their we have it, all out in the open, Northampton Liberal Democrats champions of private market solutions and offloading valuable public assets in order to fund cuts in staff numbers, and all in their own words not ours.

The cottages will now be advertised and probably sold on at a knock down price because of the full cost of repairing years of neglect by the Council who where supposed to be custodians of Lady Wantage's gifted estate.

Doesn't it make you proud of our council? Lady Wantage will of course certainly be turning in her resting place, even the Tory grandees in charge of the Council when she made her gift were far more Liberal than this lot.

Questions Update

With the Lib Dems on the Borough Council having "declined to answer" the 18 questions listed in my post below, the Independent group decided to resubmit them along with another 77 questions that the iliberal undemocrats have also decided to ignore, to next Mondays Full Council meeting . We changed each and every question slightly, as the exact same question under the council constitution cannot be asked twice in a six month period. The Borough solicitor however is now considering disallowing all 95 questions on the grounds that they are not different enough from the first lot of questions, even though the first lost of questions were never answered ! We won't know the outcome of his deliberations until Monday but it seems as if his mind is already made up. This means then that we will not be able to resubmit these questions now until the Council meeting in June, where of course the same apologists for local politicians that call themselves "Liberal" and "Democrats" can simply "decline to answer" them all over again. So much for open democracy and local accountability.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Silence is Liberal Yellow, not Golden!

Sometimes, just sometimes, the minutes of the Council say enough in themselves about the record of our Liberal Democrat administration on Northampton Borough Council and the sorry state we are now in !!


"Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “would the Leader agree to the contract between Legal and General and this Council being submitted for scrutiny (as private business if necessary) to ensure the Council’s decision is robust? If not why not?”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “If agreement is given to close Bridge Street on a temporary basis on Friday and Saturday nights will a similar order be raised to open up the top end of the Drapery to traffic be sought for the same time? If not how will vehicles entering the Drapery from Gold Street leave the Town Centre.”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor P D Varnsverry as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Can the Portfolio Holder explain what assistance this Council has given to groups wishing to set up credit unions in the last year?”

Councillor P D Varnsverry declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Markham as the relevant Portfolio Holder “How many members of the Council’s staff have been affected by verbal or physical
violence in the last 5 years? In what locations did these events occur and what level of support has been given to those employees?”

Councillor B Markham declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Perkins as the relevant Portfolio Holder “What professional fees, eg SOLACE etc, does NBC pay on behalf of its staff and what has been the annual cost of such over the last three years?”

Councillor Perkins declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Markham as the relevant Portfolio Holder “What is the total cost of maintaining the Council’s web site?”

Councillor B Markham declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Markham as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Why does the Council not have joint member/trade union liaison committee?”

Councillor B Markham declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Markham as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Re overview and scrutiny work of the Council: Is the leader satisfied that officers are acting on Member requests, so that reports intended for Cabinet should appear at meeting of Scrutiny committees for pre scrutiny before the items are dealt with by the Cabinet?”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Perkins as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Would the Portfolio Holder list in table format the following information of each of the past four financial years for each Council directorate:
i. the estimated pension costs of staff employed;
ii. the percentage this represents of the directorate’s running costs?
Would the Portfolio Holder list in table format the following information of each of the past four financial years;
i. the number of employees for whom the Council has to make pension provision;
ii. the number of pensioners;
iii. the estimated pension liability of those currently employed;
iv. the annual cost of pension provision to those retired;
v. the percentage of total council expenditure spent on pension provision;
vi. the average annual pension for an employee who retired during the last financial year?”

Councillor Perkins declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Perkins as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Given the naming in 2008 of at least a hundred companies in the Office of Fair Trading’s “bid-rigging” inquiry, does the Portfolio Holder know of any company who the Council has a link with that was named – firstly those in the group of companies who have admitted breaking the rules and secondly of the others named but have so far not admitted any responsibility? Given this, will the Portfolio Holder quickly investigate and then look to take legal action against such companies that have
caused Northampton Borough Council to pay more than was fair or expected for contacts? Will the Portfolio Holder act to change the rules on how the Council procures contracts given the recent findings, perhaps including clauses to cover exposure of this type of wrong-doing and suitable compensation payments to Northampton Borough Council from such colluding contractors?”

Councillor Perkins declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Perkins as the relevant Portfolio Holder “How many public clocks are there in the Borough, how many are working and not working? and what is the total cost to the Council?”

Councillor Perkins declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor P D Varnsverry as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Will the Portfolio Holder set out in table format the running costs of the “one stop shop” in each year since 2007?”

Councillor P D Varnsverry declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Will the Leader of the Council comment on how the Guildhall may be made more welcoming to visitors who use the main staircase entrance into the building? In view of the total dearth of signage and welcoming reception desk, what could be provided at minimal cost to indicate that this is an open and democratic Council?”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “What steps will be taken to ensure that all voters are made aware of the recommendations being made by the Council working party to the Electoral Boundary Commissioners?”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Would the Leader agree that the proposed reduction of Overview ans Scrutiny committees will lead to a weakening of the Authority’s ability to fulfil its statutory duty in view of the amount of Council business required to promote this Council in its journey towards 4* status.”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor B Hoare as the relevant Portfolio Holder “What tangible benefits accrue to NBC for their membership of the LGA and can the Leader give examples of where VFM and best practice has been achieved as a direct result of such membership taking into account the opportunity cost of attendance at conferences.”

Councillor B Hoare declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Crake as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Can the Portfolio Holder confirm the number and location of all the public waste bins in Northampton, the collection rotas for each, and the plans for the future of such waste bins?”

Councillor Crake declined to answer.

Councillor Clarke asked Councillor Crake as the relevant Portfolio Holder “Are flood mitigation plans adequate to protect the Borough’s IT services in the event of this service being moved to Westbridge?”

Councillor Crake declined to answer.


So much for Liberal democracy I hear you cry!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A New Years Message from Terry Waite

As we enter another General Election Year I thought I would share with you a letter I received last week from Terry Waite written to all prospective parliamentary candidates who have sought endorsment through the Independent Network

Terry, as he often does, seems very much to have hit the proverbial nail right on the head:

"I hope you will not think it presumptuous of me to write a New Year message to you. I do so not because I am an individual of any great standing or influence. I am an ordinary voting member of the public and as such am gravely concerned about the political health of our country. It is in this capacity and with these thoughts in mind that I write.

First, you will undoubtedly remember the elation expressed by so many when Labour came to power and Tony Blair assumed office. It seemed as though a breath of fresh air was about to blow through Westminster. The Labour Party seemed to have been given a unique chance by the country to institute sensible reforms and work towards an equitable and fair society for all.

Alas, hopes were dashed. An unprecedented number of people from all walks of life took to the streets in protest against the Iraq war. Intuitively they suspected the motives of those who were leading the country in that direction. Subsequent events have proved them right. What was sad about this unhappy time was that those in leadership positions in our country appeared not to listen to the thousands who were protesting. They were not even prepared to let Hans Blix complete his work. Although a number of MPs expressed their disquiet, when it came to the crunch they had to vote as their parties dictated. Only the minor parties stood against the war.

The decision to go to war shook the confidence of the population in our political system and convinced many that individual MPs were little more than lobby fodder. There was also growing alarm that increasingly the Civil Service was being undermined and that “advisers” were being appointed mainly (or so it seemed) because of their ability to massage the media.
Parliamentary government – of the people by the people – was increasingly a fond illusion. Again, it seemed to many that we were being governed by an elite with a facility for smooth talking and clever manipulation.

To be fair, the Labour Party did institute many constructive changes but many were lost to public view because of the way in which Parliament was conducting its affairs.

The bombshell came when the Daily Telegraph exposed the expenses issue. In speaking about this I want to bend over backwards to be fair and I shall not point my finger at any one individual MP, even though some have crossed all acceptable boundaries. The fault in my opinion lies in the system. Members of Parliament ought to have recognised this years ago and put in place something more transparent.

Working as I do with some of the very poorest in our society, I do not believe that our elected representatives are underpaid. When, as some do, they compare themselves with other so-called “public servants”, their pay may seem to be inadequate. I take the position that thousands of our “servants” are overpaid. MPs receive very adequate allowances and I hold the very old-fashioned position that if one enters public service one does not do so to grow rich.

Without a doubt the expenses issue caused a major slump in public confidence in Parliament and in the party system of government.

Let me now come to the main point of this letter. I firmly believe that reform of Parliament is urgently required. It is not good for the nation to suffer an ailing political system. The country needs a strong and healthy Parliament composed of Members who can and will truly represent their constituents and at the same time have the vision and foresight to lead in constructive ways. At this juncture I have little confidence in the domination of the various parties over Parliament, which leads me to believe that reform is urgently required.

If there can be a new group of candidates who have had experience of the world and have had to make their way in the rough and tumble of everyday life, if such a group of candidates could come together around key issues of parliamentary reform and remain free to vote according to their consciences, then it may be that such a group would be able to speed the reform process so urgently needed. I am not advocating total abolition of the party system. I am urging reform and to this end I would hope that if you are considering standing as an Independent candidate you would take the opportunity to meet with others and hammer out the necessary reforms for which you would be willing to work.

In recent years I have been urged to offer myself as a candidate for Parliament. Each time I have given the suggestion serious consideration and have declined on the grounds that a parliamentary career would mean that I have to cease the work that I already do. However, I will do my best to support you in your candidature. This is a unique point in the history of our country. We face complex and demanding issues which require wise and mature leadership – leadership that is not subservient to party dogma, media approval or desire for status and position.

The call goes out to the country to find such people who are willing to serve for no other reason than that they desire to see the United Kingdom develop a just and fair society where tradition is respected and Parliament is truly a Parliament of the people.

Let us hope that such individuals will come forward in the coming months – and, if you are such, more power to your elbow!
Wishing you a very happy New Year,

Terry Waite, CBE"



Blog Archive

Thank You

Thank you for visiting "tonyclarkegreenparty" The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are made by me personally in my own capacity as free citizen and not as representative of any outside body or council that I may serve on or be employed by. However if anyone is offended by any of these comments or feels that they should be corrected then please contact me in the first instance at and I will do my best to consider your comments and correct any errors.


100 key seats 1980's 1997 2013 50th Birthday 96 Abington Park absent parents abuse Academy Status Adam Simmonds Adam Simmonds. Police and Crime Commisioner Northamptonshire. Class A drugs Adam Simmonds. Police commisioner. Northamptonshire County Council Afghanistan Afro Caribbean Agent airbrushed for change airlines Al Quida Aldi allowances AlQuida Anarchist ANC Andrew Mitchell animated fairy story Anjona Roy Ann Frank Ann Timson Apathy Arab League Council Archway cottages Arms raid arrears. Northamptonshire race Equality Council Ashes to Ashes Ask a Socialist astragate Asylum seekers Audit Baathe Party bamboo joint Banana Banker barbecue tax Bashar Assad bbc BBC radio 4 Bedroom Tax Benefits benito mussolini Benjamin Netanyahu Big Freeze Big Society Billy Bragg Binners Birds black and white cats Black Swans Blair blogger blogs Blood Blowing smoke up your skirt Blue Light Services BNI BNP boardroom buffoons Bone marrow Boris Johnson borough council boot and shoe borough council elections Borough Solicitor BP Bradlaugh Brian Binley Brian Hoare brighton Britain in Bloom British Government broken britain Brown Pelican Bryn Estyn Children's Home budget cuts Bulgarian Bullingdon Club Burglars Bus Interchange Bus Station Bush businesmen Cabinet Call in campaigning Cannes canvassers capitalism Captain Ska Car Park Revenue car parks career wreckers carillion carlisle Carrillion CASPAR Castle Ward Castle Ward 2 Catherine Tate CDC censorship Census 2011 change Charity Commision cheating cheats chicago Chicago Fruit Police Chickens Child Abuse China Chloe Smith Chris Grayling Christmas Christopher Myers chronicle and echo Clement Attlee Cllr Andrew Simpson Cllr Andy Mercer cllr Bill Parker Cllr Brian Hoare Cllr Brian Markham Cllr David Mackintosh Cllr David Palethorpe Cllr David Perkins Cllr Dennis Meredith Cllr Elizabeth Gowen Cllr Gareth Eales Cllr Jean Hawkins Cllr Jim Harker Cllr Jim Harker Road Safety Cllr John Caswell cllr John Yates Cllr Malcolm Mildren Cllr PD Varnsverry Cllr portia wilson Cllr Richard Church Cllr Robin Brown Cllr Sally Beardsworth cllr Scott Collins Cllr Tony Buckley cllr Tony Clarke Cllr Tony Woods Cllr Trini Crake Clr David Perkins Clyde Loakes Coalition government cobblers combustion committee places Community Basher conference 2013 Conservative Conservative Party Conservatives consumption Contracts Corby corporate fools corporate spin corrupt Council Council tenants councy council County Council Election county council elections CPS credit crunch crime Crimea cuts CWU Daily Mail daniel hannan mep. NHS Daventry District Council David Cameron David Harvey David Perkins. Brenden Glynane David Ross day fotlu DDC debt decent homes Defend Council Housing Delapre Abbey democracy wreckers destruction disaster DIT Britain Dostiyo Dot Cotton Duckenfield Duckinfield Ealing Council Earworm Community East Midlands in Bloom East Midlands Labour Party easy read economy Ed Balls Ed Millaband Ed Milliband education election Elections 2013 Electoral iregularity Ellis Island email Emilie Oldknow Emily Oldknow Empowerment fund Enterprise Enterprise Managed Services Environment Agency Eric Pickles ester ranzen EU euro European parliament expelled F W De Clerk F*ck you facebook FAir is worth fighting for Fairground ducks Fairytale of New York Far Right fire Fish MArket Fitzy fixed penalty notice Flashman Floods Florence and the Machine flytipping Fountain free Friends of Delapre Abbey Full Council Gaddafi Gang Culture Gaza GDP general election Geoff Howes George Bush George Bush Jr George Osborne George Osbourne Germany Glasgow mosque GMB Golden Handshake google gordon brown government Government Cuts Grant Shapps greed Greedy Bankers Greek economy Green Green Party Greyfriars growth 1980's Guantanaomo Bay. Shaker Aamer Guernsey Harry Enfield Havelock Havildar Gaje Ghale haymarket Hazel Blears health Helicoptors Help the aged highways Hillsborough hoodies hope not hate House of Commons House of Lords Housing Housing numbers Housing. eviction human rights Ian Gibson IDF il duce Immigration imprint Independent Independent Green Independent Network independents India Injunction inquiry international internet Iran Iraq Iraq war ISIS Islamaphobia Israel Italy IVA jedward Jeremy Clarkson jerk chicken Jihadists Jimmy Carr Jimmy Saville jingles Joe Joyce John Dickie john gardner John Lennon Johnston Press Journalists justice justice for the 96 KBC Ken Livingstone Kevin Quigley Khudadad Khan KPMG Kraken Kurdistan La Madala Labour Labour Group Labour Party Lady Wantage Lampedusa Land Tax Lansbury last of the summer wine Leadership election league two Learning difficulty Learning Disability Lebanon Lee Barron leeds Legal and General Liar Liar Lib Dem Liberal Democrat Liberal Democrats Liberals Libya libya. david cameron Likely lads Lily allen Liverpool lloyd grossman local candidates local governance local government Local Government Association local press localism bill Loft insullation London Labour London Olympics london riots Loo of the year Lord Mandelson Lord Michael Ashcroft Lord Stuart-Smith Lord Taylor Lord Waterhouse LSE Mackenzie mad as a box of frogs Madiba Mahmoud Abbass Malcolm Mildren Margaret Thatcher Market Square Market Square Fountain Market Trader Martyn Gilleard martyrs May 2ns Medhi Hussein media Michael Ellis Michael Foot Michael Turner QC Micheal Ellis MP micheal martin Middle Classes Middle East migrants Mike Ferrigan Milk Snatcher millions Miserable old sod mk dons mortgages MP's Expenses mps expenses Multi Agency Group Muslim community Narrowboats Nasseem Nicholas Taleb Nathan Worrell National Debt national front Nato Nazis. EU NBC NCC Neil Lewington Neil Magregor NEL. MIPIM Nelson Mandela Neo Nazis NEP New Statesman New Year NHS Nick Clegg nick clegg.norman clegg Nick Griffin Niel Kinnock NNDC NNJPU Noor Inyat Khan North Wales Police Northampton Northampton Borough Council Northampton Chronicle and Echo Northampton Conservatives Northampton Independent group northampton independent voice Northampton Labour Party Northampton Labour Party. Northampton Borough Council Northampton Liberal Democrats Northampton Saints Northampton South Northampton South Conservatives Northampton Town Football Club Northamptonshire County Council Northamptonshire County Council Elections Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership Northamptonshire Music Service Northamptonshire Police Norwich North not all party's are the same ntfc Number 10 Observer Oil Old Labour Oliver Tambos Paddy Tipping MP pakistan Palais de Festival Palestine Parish Poll. Police Commissioner Elections parking parking services parliament parsons Party Political Broadcast Paul Blantern Paul Varnsverry PCC Pegasus Penalty Charge Notices pensioners pest control pest express Peter Mandelson Peter Righton pfi phillip mears photos for all occasions Pinky and Perky Plain English planning police Police and crime Commissioner Police Commisioners Police Commissioner elections political Polycythemia Pope Francis poplar porkie pies President Obama privatisation Professor Pongoo proportionality public consultation public deficit Public Service cuts purdah que sara sara Racism Radio 4 rats Rebekah Brooks reccession Recycling referendum refuse collection regional labour party relegation Rememberence Sunday residents parking retail Richard Hannon right wing riots Robert Cottage Romanian roofing RPA act RSA Rushden Sainsburys Sally Keeble Sam King Scrutiny Seb Coe Second Life Shame on you shameless Shami Chakrabarti Sheltered Housing Shire shirkers Shona Deans Messinger silver medal Simon Cox Simon Williams Skateboarders skivers. scroungers Slipping back in time SNC Snow Spad speaker spies spring boroughs Spring Boroughs Residents squandering St Andrews st andrews road St James Stagecoach stagnation standard and poors standards board stealth tax Stephen Pound MP. Jeffrey Archer Steptoe and Son Steve Messham Stock Market street lights supergran suspended Syria Taliban Tax Evasion tax the rich tea team GB Terry Waite Tescos Tess Scott Thatcher The Cobblers The Conservative Party The Green 'Un The Green PArty The Press The Queen The Report The Ridings The Saints the story of broke the story of change the story of stuff The Sun through the keyhole ticckle Till Death do us part" Tom Watson MP Tony Blair Tony Clarke Tony Clarke MP Tony Woods Tory Tory Government Tory Party Tory's town centre trade unions Trees Trevor Kavanagh TTIP TUC Trident Tuck Inn TVC E-coli and coliforms tweets twitter UAF UK debt UK floods UK Government UK riots UKIP UKIP. Green Party UKIP. Labour Party Ukraine Ulric Cross ULT UN unemployment union flag unitary authorities unitary government Unite against Facism United Learning Trust united nations Unity College Upper class USA usual channels Vara Varnsverry. Guildhall vat Virtual vlog vote Walter Tull Waltham Forest Wardens watchdog WDC Welfare welfare cuts west northamptonshire joint planning unit Westbridge Westminster Weston Favell School what's the point of Nick Clegg wicked William Hague window dressing winter wonderland witch hunt WNDC WNJPU workers Working Class working mens clubs workshy written questions WWII youth services