Saturday, 13 February 2010

Tea Anybody?

Still concerned over Northampton Borough Councils ban on noisy tea drinkers at Delapre Abbey? (see post below) So are we, so let battle Commence.

Following on from the Boston Tea Party (No taxation without representation) We have now started the NORTHAMPTON TEA PARTY ( Say No to No Tea at Delapre) at:!/photo.php?pid=3280625&id=302273234884

or search for us 'Northampton Tea Party' on your facebook page.

Below is a copy of our inaugural speech given in the Walled Garden this morning

This battlefield of kings, this green oasis, This earth of majesty, this seat of nuns, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of a Liberal Democrat Council, This happy breed of Northampton men and women, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which served in it's walled garden cups of tea, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of Northampton Borough Council ,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Abbey they call Delapre!!!

Let us therefore commit ourselves to drink from the cup of thy beauty and thus defy the planners and plotters of Clegg's Army, defiant in the knowledge that truth is our tea cup and righteousness our saucer.


Our Photo Shows Independent Cllr Tony Clarke, Dr Marie Dickie OBE (former chair of Northamptonshire Police Authority) and John Dickie (former Leader of Northampton Borough Council) defying the Councils Tea ban in the walled Garden on Saturday 13th February 2010

Why not join us by sending your own tea based photos to our facebook wall? Together we can beat this tea tyranny

Friday, 12 February 2010


Whilst a nervous Northampton public awaits the Borough Councils final verdict on the administrations plans for a new Leaflet Police for the Town Centre (see below) the 'Liberal' Democrat Politburo have been upping their game in ensuring that Citizens of the Town remain well ordered and controlled.

Whilst unable to confirm rumours of a ban on gatherings of more than 4 people on the Market Square this blog can now confirm the introduction of the heavily rumoured ban on Tea Drinking in the Walled Garden at Delapre Abbey.

Yes that's right "Tea Drinking"

In a statement to the Politburos Revolutionary Planning Committee a junior Commissar of the Council, Comrade Planner Andrew Holden told those in attendance that,

" We want to keep the Garden as a peaceful space and it was being disturbed by tea drinking"


As a consequence the Abbey Tea Rooms run by the counter revolutionary Friends of Delapre Abbey have been told to


Only in Northampton and only under a Liberal Democrat Administration can you be assured of such ridiculous, yet compelling news stories such as the one above.

Of course the real story behind the story is confirmed by the fact that the "Tea drinking ban" was also included in the terms of the new lease currently under discussion between the Council and FoDA which the later must sign if they want to remain on site. All this because a small group within the Liberal Democrat group on the Council have made it their lifes work to make life almost impossible for FoDA.

Complaints are fired off to the Charity Commission like confetti, Pickets made up of Liberal Democrat Councillors are sent out to agitate and leaflet those arriving at FoDA meetings and even yours truly has fallen victim to their well-orchestrated campaign of complaint, innuendo, distraction techniques and smear tactics, when a Lib Dem Councillor reported me to the Standards board for not declaring in my register of Councillor interests that I along with Sir Hereward Wake was a founding Patron of the Charity at the time of its formation! My crime? I tried to mediate in the dispute.

But I am not allowed to discuss with you what the Standards board said on this matter, but you will note that I still have my Liberty and that none of my fingernails have been extracted, much to the disappointment I am sure of some in the Lib Dem group.

But I feel really sorry for FoDA, and I think it is high time that some of the Liberals on the Council put their cards on the table and say exactly what their beef is, instead of using the Council officers both through its estates department and now through its seems the "non political" planning process as a stick to beat the charity up with.

FoDA has suffered a great deal in recent months from both infighting and a lack of tangible support from the Council, and this needs to stop right now. Some members of the public have been used by Councillors in my view to do their dirty work for them, but now that also has to stop.

Its now time for all of us who hold the future of the Abbey dear to our heart to tell the administration and their bullies within, that their campaign against FoDA must stop right here, right now. And I will work with any member of the Council of whatever political party to ensure that happens.

It may have taken this ridiculous story to surface in order for the real truth about what has been really been happening down on London Road to be flushed out for all to see, but maybe the embarrassment that follows might prompt some within the Liberal group to ask whether or not their underhand tactics to date have served them well?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


It was the story that all the tabloids missed, but surreal as it may seem, during the late 1990's whilst a Member of Parliament, I was actually detained at O'Hara airport by armed members of the Chicago Fruit police for entering into US territory whilst concealing on my person an illegal substance, in the form of a banana.

It was the sniffer dogs that did for me, I was cautioned, my banana was confiscated and the details of my villainy were placed on the official record for future reference. They were not interested in my protestations of innocence at the time, and despite me telling them that the banana in question was for my own personal use, and that I had no intention of dealing in illegal fruit substances whilst in the USA they booked me. I even snitched on my supplier, to try to cut a deal, and told them that the said offending banana had been given to me on the flight over from Charles De Galle airport by a friendly American stewardess on a United Airlines Flight. All to no avail, I was done for. You see in the States the law is the law, unbending, unchallengeable and enforced with vigour.

So it was with some trepidation that I attempted last night to influence the views of the Borough Councils Overview and Scrutiny Committee not to support the Liberal Democrat Cabinets latest plans to introduce Leaflet Police onto the streets of Northampton. You see it seems that we have a big problem, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights with businesses advertising their mostly alchoholic wares via the exchange of hundreds of colourful leaflets handed out mostly by young men and women (probably being paid the minimum wage) to entice Joe Public into this bar or that night club. We were told that the leaflets were a Health and Safety hazard, that women in high heels might trip over them (one brave Councillor suggested that the public were under more threat from the pavements than the leaflets) We were also told they made it difficult for our street cleaners to clean up (Cllr Pam Varnsverry asked sensibly if they didn't have to clean up anyway, and sometimes clean up mess a lot worse than leaflets) But the officer class stood firm to their task of telling us all what they thought we we wanted and needed regardless of our views.

So the same Council that has bought to you "Talking CCTV" (this system barks out orders to you as you walk down Abington St, which most infamously told a couple to stop making love in a shop doorway) and now plays upbeat Muzac to shoppers and traders on the Market Square leading the Chronicle and Echo to compare Northampton to North Korean capital Pyongyang, now wants to add leafleting to the ever growing list of offences (including skateboarding and dropping a discarded cigarette stub) punishable by the inevitable £80 Fixed Penalty Notice.

Now I have nothing against punishing litterers, and we already have laws to do that, but when we start to introduce new bye laws to fine those supplying the litterers and those supplying the suppliers, then you have to question what the intention really is? After all what about the fast food shops whose customers leave the remains of their late night feast on the pavement (eaten or uneaten!) or all those discarded bus tickets courtesy of the bus companies? They it would seem were all to be exempted from the new by law? As were, believe it or not political parties ! and you should read some of the cr*p thats on thier leaflets!

I have said before that Councils used to be "Providers" of service to the public, we then, post Thatcher and Blair became "Enablers" whereby it mattered not who provided the service (or sometimes it seems to what standard) as long as it was done. But now local Councils are becoming "Enforcers" and I don't like the path we are setting ourselves on.

Thankfully last night the Scrutiny Committee mostly agreed with me (almost cross Party, one of the Tories Cllr Kevin Reeves made an input suggesting almost that hanging was too good for them and we needed to get tougher on these litter louts!) The committee to my relief have now suggested that when the Cabinet go on to consider the matter in full, that they might want to try out a voluntary code with businesses before we send in the heavy mob.

Let us hope the Cabinet listens, after all for a council that can't even afford a rat catcher, agreeing to employ leaflet police to chase around town after young underpaid leafleteers may not be seen by the public as a top priority for an "Improving" council.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


So if Tory controlled Northamptonshire County Council use sleight of hand to sell their annual budget plans to the public, how do their Liberal Democrat neighbours across the road at Northampton Borough Council fare when it comes to openness and transparency?

I decided last week to attend one of their "Public Consultations" to judge for myself whether the information available to the public was any clearer this side of the road from County Hall? The answer? A big no I am afraid, in fact its worse than that, let me explain what occurred.

Those bothering to attend (very few) were submitted to a hour and 30 minute party political powerpoint presentation where Brian Hoare the Council leader, with David Perkins in the background share with us all their views on how wonderful a council they now are and lecture us on Local Government finance, including the fiscal pitfalls of an inequitable regressive Local Government tax systems not centred on ability to pay (The Lib Dem's Local income Tax) An explanation of NBC's 10p a week increase against NCC's 10p a day without telling us that NCC pay for Schools and Social Services and and etc) and at every opportunity a rally against the awful government and the way they treat Northampton on concessionary fares and on being been sold short on population figures.

All good political knockabout material, and I actually agree with them on the last one, but none of this, was what we were actually there for!

The meeting was advertised as a consultation on the Council's 09/10 budget, so where was it?

No leaflets, no handouts, no brochures (glossy or recycled) telling us what their plans were, or asking us to make choices as to what we might like to see saved or what we could do without, just a continued ramble through the "Bigger picture" as Cll Hoare puts it, as he turned an ever pinker shade of red as he blustered on and on and on, with Cllr David Perkins as his prompt and foil, they were turning into the Pinky and Perky show right before our very eyes.

It was 1 hour and 15 minutes into the show that I finally gave in and could resist no longer the urge to intervene, and ask when we were going to get to next years budget?

And at last we got there, one slide that at least acted as a signpost to what might lay ahead (although where to is anybodies guess)

We were shown a slide with eight lines on it, 3 under a heading of "What you might like" and 3 under a heading of "What you might not like" You will be pleased to discover that we might like:

80% of the reduced budget coming in efficiency" savings
Protection of all Community Grants, and
A freeze on "day to day" car parking charges

but we might not like:

A 2.4% Council Tax increase
Changes to the operation of Community Centre (15 Caretaker redundancies) and
Increased charges for leisure centres and other activities.

We of course didn't like any of it and asked for more detail.

It felt like sitting in a restaurant in rural Estonia wondering what each of the dishes on the menu really might be? and whether or not the waiters translation could be trusted?.

A few hardy souls tried to question our" liking" the 80% of the reduced budget coming from efficiency savings, As the budget reductions added up to £4m what exactly were these £3.2m worth of efficiency savings?

Perky assured us that it was all innocent stuff like "cheaper Electric and Gas" and "restructuring efficiencies" members of the Trade Unions present asked how many redundancy's were included in the "efficiency savings"?

Pinky and Perky couldn't answer.

A member of the public asked what services would be reduced as a result of the savings?

Pinky and Perky couldn't answer.

I asked if the savings were like those not announced last year when they scrapped the Councils Pest Control Service without telling us?

Pinky and Perky couldn't answer.

There most amusing response, which I wrote down word for word came from the leader himself when he told the audience that:

"We didn't want to confuse the public with figures"

How we all laughed, but the joke is really on us, whats the point of a consultation if we have nothing to be consulted on?

If they were serious they would be asking us for instance if the NBC proportion of the council tax should rise by 10p a week or 12p a week or 14p a week? and give us the chance to say what services we would like to save if we elected to spend more.

Or heaven forbid if they don't want to go that far, how about asking us our views on the real cuts they are making, but not telling us about?

Our local councils need to get real over their need to consult, Both Councils are in a difficult position, money is tight and will get tighter and only by being open with us as to what the options are open to us will they ever have a chance of bringing us on board.

This however was a further attempt at smoke and mirror politics and hidden agendas and it does little to alleviate the publics understandable mistrust.



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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.


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