Sunday, January 31, 2010

Likely St Neots Council Tax increases.

With 2010/11 Council Tax (CT) setting getting towards its final stage I thought I would take a look at the likely final outcome. These are the Band D amounts. Band D represents the percentage increases so whichever Band your property is in these are the increases. I have divided up the Council Tax into their constituent amounts. I have three different totals as two annexed areas will be joining SNTC area on 1st April 2010.

St Neots: 2.53% increase. This is smaller than the 2.95% sub total because SNTC was able to cut its portion of the CT with all the new money from the annexed areas.

ex Eynesbury Hardwicke: On 1st April 2010 the Town Ward of Eynesbury Hardwicke Parish is annexed. CT payers currently pay zero in the Parish portion. On joining SNTC they will liable for SNTC CT rates. To go from zero to £84.24 (Band D) is an infinite percentage. All this extra money SNTC gets has gone mainly to cover increased spending and some to reduce the CT.

Love's Farm: On 1st April 2010 Love's Farm part of St Neots Rural Parish Council is annexed. CT payers at Band D will see there current Parish CT of £16.95 rise to the SNTC rate of £84.24. This represents a 397% rise. All this extra money SNTC gets has gone mainly to cover increased spending and some to reduce the CT.

HDC receives £10,000 grant towards finding illegal sublets

In the ever excellent News and Crier there is an article on HDC receiving a £10,000 grant to stop a illegal sublets of social housing. The Council will be working with Luminus to hunt down these individuals.

Hold on there. Isn't this the job of Luminus? Shouldn't this Registered Social Landlord (RSL) be seeking out illegal sublets? Luminus manages this housing stock and must know who is living in each property. One very good reason for having your own maintenance staff is they have contact with tenants.

With Luminus cutting maintenance staff by 19 this is going to make this tougher. The reason behind cutting staff is because other RSLs are doing the same. True. This is just Luminus following industry fashion. These RSLs who employ contractors do so because their stock is spread over regions rather than one District. But contractors doing this service aren't always the best way forward.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Djanogly, Planning and Local Democracy

I was browsing through Djanogly's parliamentary website (paid for by the Taxpayer) when I saw an article questioning the decision by RWE N-Power to appeal the decision of HDC to refuse the planning decision for the wind turbines at Cotton Farm. The article went onto say:

Mr Djanogly said,
'I am disappointed to learn that N-Power have decided to appeal the decision made in November by HDC’s Development and Control Panel, it shows little regard for local democracy.'

So what does Jonathan Djanogly MP means by this "shows little regard for local democracy."? It seems to me that if you make a planning application and HDC decides against your application and you appeal, Jonathan thinks appealing is wrong!

This is an enhancement of "local democracy" which isn't in law and conflicts with individual freedoms. One freedom is: I have a piece of land I should be able to develop the land as I like unless proscribed or regulated by law. Another freedom is: my right to appeal a decision.

I know this is my libertarian part coming out. I do believe where people want to keep the scenic views they should own the land underneath and keep it that way. For instance that is what the National Trust does. There are also many charities which own land to keep it for public use instead of development. With all those people objecting there must be enough money to buy this land.

Planning is currently decided by the law. Any decision by any Planning Authority has to have reasons which are valid in planning law. As with most legal decisions these can be appealed. This is right open to all developers. As a solicitor Djanogly should know this. Planning is a top down process with local involvement. Whilst local planning departments are important, the decisions taken by Councillors have always got to be valid in law. Councillors cannot make up their own rules on planning applications as these will be shot down on appeal. In reality there is no such thing a local democracy in planning. It is an illusion. To keep the illusion up means residents think the local council has more power than it actually has.

As Planning has not much to do with local democracy, I feel Djanogly is wrong to refer to this. What he could have said was: "The Appeal shows little regard to local public opinion which is wholly against this development".

This use of the term "local democracy" troubles me. Are the Conservatives moving away from the Rule of Law to a new stance where local people have the final say on all planning applications? I feel we should be told!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What do you think Cameron is saying to Djanogly?

Just a bit of fun!
Any thoughts? 
Just copy the picture, write your own comments in the callouts.
Send the results back to me. My e-mail is: 
Otherwise leave a comment.
(Nothing rude will be published)

Letters in the News and Crier 27/01/10

Rather than doing a separate piece on each letter so I thought I would lump all I want to comment on into one article. Link to the ever excellent News and Crier.

Outrage at candidate's 'offensive remarks' - This blog started this story and the News and Crier picked this up. Bill Sinclair is right. Though whether this is slanderous is a moot point. James Clark should read the original article before firing off a letter.

Community should pay - Malcolm McColl is right to say Tesco should be asked for a contribution. The church pays the rest. As for Helen Cochrane's letter, I will repeat that it if the church wants this car park then the Church should pay. Has it got to be that everytime something is used by "the community" the taxpayer must then pick up the bill? I don't think so. Will Helen support all churches which have or want a car park get these paid for and maintained by the taxpayer? It is very easy to call for taxpayers to pick up the bill because there is no direct relationship. But one of the consequences doing something for the 'community' is in next letter.

Anger at £270k hole - St Ives Town Council is run by Independent Councillors. I think that is worth saying. The trouble is the Corn Exchange. These Independent Councillors were elected to stop the building being sold and set about refurbishing it for the 'community'. When Councils do things for the 'community' it cost money and Council tax goes up.
In answer to the letter, Parish and Town Councils are NOT included in the capping arrangements. In theory they could tax us more and more. My worry is that HDC, with all its financial problems, will look at what a Town/Parish can do and try to shift services and costs to the Towns and Parishes. This is what HDC did with the Public Conveniences.

Did they want a lap dog - A much better letter from Paul Dakers than the one printed in the Hunts Post. I can understand the frustration with the political process when you are at the bottom. The political parties/councillors/councils build up their respective roles. The reality is what Councils can do is restricted by law and many major decisions are taken by Government.
 The trouble with Cllr Monk is he is a political tramp. Started with the Conservatives, went Independent and has ended up in UKIP.  Probably not the end of his journey.

Fewer jobless than in 1992 - Labour Parliamentary candidate is again in the papers. This time with an outright political letter. What Anthea doesn't mention is the Government is likely to borrow in this current financial year at total of £180,000,000,000. That is scary! 

Whatever happened to Djanogly and his Legg letter?

I was watching the BBC iplayer of the Daily Politics Show and I saw a piece on MPs' expenses and the Legg "atomic bomb" to be released on 4th February 2010. So I thought I would do a bit of investigating of what a couple of other MPs have been up to. I found:

Austin Mitchell has pre-empted the whole caboodle with an admission of having to pay back expenses.
Anne McIntosh has also pre-empted the whole circus with a press release.

And what of our MP Jonathan Djanogly?

Looking at his website there has been more activity than normal. News releases are coming out every few days. The raw statistics show a greater number of news releases are happening. Even this one:

That is it. The news release is Djanogly sitting next to David Cameron. Just a picture. Nothing about where they are or the major topic under discussion. No words and no context. To me this is starting to smack of desperation.  Is Djanogly that desperate? Obviously he is worried. This could be getting the good news in before any bad news comes out on 4th February 2010.

On the otherhand if Djanogly and the Conservatives have been looking at the same data I have then Djanogly should be very worried.

Martin Land: He's gone quiet!

After an initial flurry of articles to start his campaign, things have gone very quiet. Very quiet. The Hunts Liberal Democrats site has got 3 articles dated dated 14th, 16th and 17th January 2010. On his personal campaign site there are 2 articles dated 16th and 19th January 2010.

So why is he being so quiet? This might have something to do with his outburst on Liberal Democrat Voice where he said: "that the Tories remain a coalition between the blatantly self-interested, closet racists, and homophobes..".

Or might it be as County Campaign Manager he has much to do in many other parts of the County. This means the Huntingdon general election campaign doesn't have his full attention.

As I've said right from the start it is UKIP which is the main contender to Djanogly.

Why the Fenstanton By-election matters

So why is this by-election important? Well 9 weeks after this by-election Huntingdonshire will go to the polls to elect a MPs and Councillors (not all wards up for election). This will give a good indication on how each party is doing in the forthcoming elections.

At the last Fenstanton Election.

2007 Candidates
442 - elected
Liberal Democrat
This gives a majority of 12.

So what are the aims of each party?

For the Conservatives they just need to win. Losing in a close election whilst another seat gone will need to not be so bad and would not indicate a shift in support for the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrats don't just need to win. They need to take this seat with a shed load of votes. Whilst a win would be an advance, the Liberal Democrats would need to win by double the Conservative vote to make the Constituency and the Council into a winnable scenario! (For example: LD's 600 votes against a Conservative vote of 300)
Labour needs to do better than 45.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letters in the Hunts Post 27/01/10

Rather than doing a separate piece on each letter so I thought I would lump all I want to comment on into one article. Link to Hunts Post.

It's time to make a stand - If all these people are using the church, why does the taxpayer have to pick up the bill for a church car park? Something that I feel the letter writer Mrs K Robertson missed.

Web of intrigue - Cllr Andy Monk's letter shows a fundamental misunderstanding of local government. In it he looks at trying to have a go at the Conservative run HDC over spending money on a new website. The Editor's note is good but doesn't go far enough.  When Monk says:

"Could not the extra money spent developing this site have been better used ensuring more roads in the district were gritted, or helping the elderly and others whose needs were great keep warm during this extended cold snap."

The simple answer is NO. As a UKIP District Councillor you should be able to come up with specific costed alternative proposals. But you didn't. This is just a very poor political attack against his former colleagues. Maybe the UKIP group leader should forego the extra £723 he gets for being a minor leader?

No change - Cllr Peter Bucknell has a go at Cllr Monk about becoming a UKIP Councillor. Whilst this wouldn't cost much money as there is an election in 2010 in Ramsey anyway, I have to say Cllr Monk was elected by the people of Ramsey and he is not bound to do so by political convention. Otherwise all those Councillors who defect from other parties to the Conservatives in other parts of the country would have to do the same.

Air of resignation - Paul Dakers has a go at his former colleagues over their response to his resignation. Well DUH! Politics moves on. You have resigned. That is it. I feel your resignation has embarrassed the Conservatives and HDC so they ain't going to send you letters of sympathy.

The trouble with letters to the weekly press is they can be out of date when printed. This is the case. As I reported in an article on this blog dated 21st January 2010 a by-election has been called in Fenstanton.
Obviously the Hunts Post is behind the times.

Whilst HDC has gotten round to editing Dakers out of its website the same can't be said for the Conservatives. As found on the HCCA website today!

Council Tax reduction is a ploy - Cllr Bird reiterates her problems with the Town Council budget for not having enough contingencies. But no proposals on how much these contingencies should be! I agree with Cllr Bird the newly annexed residents are paying for this cut in Council Tax. As for the ECC estimates, I do have a degree of agreement. But the budget is ONE BIG ESTIMATE. Full of small estimates.

Again, Cllr Bird blames the Liberal Democrats for closing the public loos when it is the Conservative run HDC that decided to do this. This is a dreadful misrepresentation.

As for Rodney Bird (her husband) weighing in accusing Hunts Post of being pro Liberal Democrats I feel this is wrong. I feel the Hunts Post is pro Djanogly/pro Conservative newspaper. That is probably why the Hunts Post publishes Cllr Bird's dreadful letter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I went to the Neighbourhood Forum and had a good time.

Last night was the second go at the new neighbourhood forum. The first time I've been to one in Huntingdonshire. I arrived slightly late. These are my views on the meeting.

Ian Bates (in his role a a member of the CPA*) performed well as the Authority's Lead Member for St Neots and District. He set out what the Police Authority is doing and the budgetary constraints. He also set out a good comparison with other Police forces as to numbers. Whilst he alluded to future problems these were left to one side. Even when I asked a question about the future the answer seemed rather hazy. The forecast is for savings of £7 million over the next 2 years having to be made.

Inspector Mark Greenhalgh gave a very good performance over Policing in St Neots and District. The closure of the Unique Bar has been good for the crime statistics. Some of the crime stats were a bit funny with some peaks caused by snowballs.

One item that did come out was the youths wanting an alternative things to do other than Youth Clubs. The idea came forward for a Coffee Bar for the youths. That would be a good idea for the Town Council to take up with County. Other information to come forward is the County Youth Service has yet to sort out Bargroves! An other idea was for a Youth Forum.

There weren't that many concerns brought forward about the problems in area. Though I have to say that whilst a good number of people attended it seemed to me to me that if I cut out all the Councillors, Officials, Police, party members there were few uninvolved residents attending this meeting.

For the future I did ask for the District and County to explain how the cuts/savings/efficiencies are going to affect St Neots. How can priorities be set for St Neots if residents do not understand how deep the cuts are going to go?

One thing Cllr Thorpe did was start a small debate about the School merger/federation. It came out that St Neots Community College has got the £1 million debt paid off and £350,000 in Federation cost. This was seen as a plus to St Neots. I don't see this as a plus.

I though it was a good meeting. Residents do need to support this process and HDC and has to try other ways of publicising these meetings. I don't have any ideas. The only way I found out about this meeting was coming across it on the HDC website.

Next date: Thursday, 8th April 2010 - Venue to be confirmed

HDC Agenda for this meeting
HDC Neighbourhood Forums
*Cambridgeshire Police Authority

South Street Toilets - Was an offer made?

At the Town Council meeting on 6th January 2010 there was a debate about HDC and its decision to stop the service of Public Conveniences in St. Neots. The Town Council was to be offered the ability to take over this service. The Town Council, quite rightly in my view, declined. But something was said by the Acting Town Clerk that perked my brain. Apparently the offer was about 2 of the 3 loos and South Street was not mentioned.

So I looked up South Street Toilets on the Agendas/Minutes on HDC. On 17/09/09 the Cabinet decided the following:

"Agreed to offer to St Neots Town Council the option of improving and maintaining the South Street Public Conveniences before any final decision is made as to their future."

Having read this decision and comparing it with what the I heard the Town Clerk said I thought I would ask the District Council if they had made the offer to SNTC. I put the Cabinet decision in the form provided and I asked HDC for the following:

"Copies of any correspondence between yourselves and St Neots Town Council specifically relating to this decision to offer."

The reply from HDC was:

"Verbal discussions were carried out but there is no documentation of correspondence re the sale of this site with St Neots Town Council."

Well I NEVER asked about the sale of this site to SNTC. But seeing there was just verbal discussions and nothing in writing. So there is nothing in writing to say the decision of the Cabinet was carried out by officers. Indeed the opposite maybe the case.

As the Town Council has decided to decline the offer to take over the Public Loos this is pretty academic. What I do feel is when the Cabinet takes a decision Officers should carry out this decision in a proper way through correspondence/e-mail rather than a couple of undocumented phone calls.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anthea Cox can't spell her own name correctly!

I found this on Twitter:

"Another letter from the office of the Labour PPC for Huntingdonshire. Among the usual mistakes, this time she's spelt her name wrong."

Spelling her own name wrong! Is Anthea actually writing her own letters? I feel we should be told!

I thought I would look at the local Labour Party website to see what Anthea is up to. What did I find? Nothing! Link to Labour website. Is this the BEST Labour can do?

I feel Labour will be competing with OMRLP to see who will come last at the General Election. And Labour is trying very hard win this fight and come last.

Has Djanogly done good for HCCA?

I was ploughing through Google on a Djanogly search when I found out about the Huntingdon Industrial Advisory Council. In an e-mail from Simon Burton on this website the following is said:

"Jonathan Djanogly, the Member of Parliament for the Huntingdon Constituency, is hosting a HIAC dinner at the Carlton Club in London on 27 October 2009 with guest speaker, Chris Grayling MP, the Shadow Home Secretary.
Huntingdon Industrial Advisory Council is a group chaired by Mr Djanogly.  It currently meets twice a year in the sumptuous setting of the Carlton Club in London where it provides an excellent opportunity for local businesses to network and meet with leading politicians in the Conservative Party and future Government.
The evening takes the form of a drinks reception and three-course dinner.  Following dinner, Mr Grayling will give a talk on current issues and there will then be an opportunity for a question and answer session.
Unfortunately, places are limited but if you would like to attend tickets have been priced at £100.00 and I would be grateful if you would be able to complete the proforma below.  If you have any questions about this event, please feel most welcome to contact me on (01480) 453062 or by e-mail at . With all good wishes. Yours sincerely Simon Burton".

Having read this I thought I would look at whether Djanogly was good for HCCA? This association is in a very safe and should be making loads of money. I therefore went through the accounts and picked out some relevant years from the Election Commission website.

Full Members
Non Constituency Members
Club Members



There seems to be a holding pattern until after the 2005 General Election. After which the Full Membership has dropped and Branch fundraising/subscriptions/fundraising has decreased. This is a definite drop off of financial support to the Conservative cause.

What will be interesting are the accounts for 2009, due out in May 2010, probably after the General Election. This will show what effect there was on the MPs' expenses scandal. It will not be until 2011 the full picture will become clearer.

From what I read it is an Association that is slowly failing. There is still much life, so the Conservatives have some way to go before death. Whilst this is happening across the UK, if the MP wants to keep getting re-elected he needs to ensure the local party is well financed and has enough activists to keep the MP in his/her seat. With the Association going down hill this will cause problems in the future for our current MP and Conservative Councillors.

Under legislation this political association/party has to publish its accounts. It should be noted Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green, Labour and UKIP aren't required to publish their accounts as they don't meet the threshold or are organised in a different way.

See neighbouring St Ives Town Council for how Independents do!

News and Crier headline: £270k 'missing' from accounts. This refers to the Independently run St Ives Town Council. The Independents have run this Town Council into the ground. It is reported there would be an increase of 8% in the forthcoming year and a further 20% rise in the year after that. All this is after some major cuts to the budget.

The main reason as to the problems over the budget has always been about The Corn Exchange. That is what the people of St Ives voted for. This is what they are getting.

For those fellow residents who feel local politics would be better run by Independent Councillors just look at the mess St Ives Town Council is in. The main problem is the quality of councillors and not the political system.

Huntingdon Town Crier 8/5/8 see page 9 for the Independents elected.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Boundary Changes aren't good for the Liberal Democrats?

"that the Tories remain a coalition between the blatantly self-interested, closet racists, and homophobes.."
In his first entry on his website the new Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Martin Land, announces his selection like a new Pope. Whilst he may feel he'll get the catholic vote by this use of Latin, I'm unconvinced this will resonate with the electorate. Habemus PPC indeed!

But Latin isn't the point of this article. It is the idea that boundary changes are helpful for the Liberal Democrats. Martin Land says: "With revised boundaries, life is not going to be as simple for the local Conservatives as it has been in the past."

So Martin Land where is your evidence for this statement? I can't find any evidence to back up what you said.

In the respected website the opposite is actually found. The researchers have come up with a Notional result which means the Conservatives actually increased their lead.

2005 Actual Result
Conservative: 26646 (50.8%)
Labour: 9821 (18.7%)
Liberal Democrat: 13799 (26.3%)
UKIP: 2152 (4.1%)
Majority: 12847 (24.5%)

The Notional 2005 result - adjusted for boundary changes.
Conservative: 25170 (51.2%)
Liberal Democrat: 12611 (25.7%)
Labour: 9309 (19%)
Other: 2024 (4.1%)
Majority: 12559 (25.6%)

So the Boundary Changes help the Conservatives and hinder the Liberal Democrats. Martin Land didn't say that!

I also noticed this quote: "Over the last two elections we’ve moved from a poor third, doubled our share of the vote and are now in a strong second place."

Well no, this is wrong. In 2001 the Liberal Democrats came second with 23.9% of the vote. In 2005 they increased this vote by 2.4% to 26.3%. If measured over three elections from 1997 this statistic sort of works out. But the major jump in support was between 1997 and 2001.

It is true the Liberal Democrats are in a strong second place. So Martin Land needs to get support from Conservative supporters to win. He is hardly going to do all this by saying: "that the Tories remain a coalition between the blatantly self-interested, closet racists, and homophobes..".

But these elections are in the past. What of the 2009 Euro elections? Well the Liberal Democrats did really badly at these elections coming a bad third behind UKIP.

As the General Election gets nearer the statistics are going to come thick and fast. But they do need to be considered and looked at before they are believed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dipping my toe in the pool of despair!

There was a time when the whole thing would have been secret. With FOI, I was able to obtain one redacted document and the HDC also sent me another as a background document.

The reason why the District Council is involved in swimming pool is the fact there was a mess up over pool ownership back in 1974. Back then local government was being re-organised. The Urban District Councils (UDC) and the Rural District Councils (RDC) were being combined to form the new District Councils. In place of most UDCs and all RDCs Parish Councils were formed where there were none. In the case of St Neots a Parish Council was formed. Back in 1974 the pool should have become the responsibility of the Parish (now Town) Council and should have been transferred to the Parish Council. It wasn't.

In 1987 this error was found out. To correct this HDC entered in to agreement with either SNTC or SNSPT or both. There was a debt of £28,859 associated with the Trust which was dealt with by the District Council foregoing this in return unless the Town Council disposed of the site.

The terms of this agreement are redacted.

The SNSPT approached the District Council for consent to sell the land to put the proceeds for an "alternative recreation committee" as set out in the Trust Deeds.

These documents gets me a bit further down the road to what is going on with the land at the old Swimming Pool site. What I still don't understand is this: The Town Council owns the land. All the SNTC Councillors are  trustees of the St Neots Swimming Pool Trust. The District Council is the other part of this equation. Effectively, this is an agreement between two elected Council over a piece of land. There are Councillors who are on both Councils. So why is this so secret?

So is the Town Council still a Quality Town Council?

I was looking at the Town Council website when I realised something! Where is the Quality Town Council logo?

How can a Town Council with an Acting Town Clerk, 2 damning reports from external auditors be a Quality Town Council? In previous articles I found out this status will end on 31st January 2010 if not renewed.

Is the missing logo a tacit admission the Town Council is not renewing its Quality Town Council status? Looking further I cannot find a statement about this loss of status.

There is no doubt this is a blow to St Neots Town Council. Whilst the Town Council is moving S L O W L Y in the right direction, this loss of status is a result of the actions/inactions of the previous leadership of Cllrs Giles and Thorpe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2009 County and Euro Elections analysis

The 2009 Euro Elections were held in tandem with the County elections. This gave a chance to compare local election results where few parties stand to the Euros where many parties stand. This analysis can show where voters moved from the main parties to minor parties.
The County results were roughly the following:
Conservative: 23,950
Liberal Democrat: 14,150
UKIP: 3,900
Labour: 2,984
Green 1,440
Others: 566
At the Euro elections:
Conservatives: 16,543: (-7,407)
Liberal Democrat: 6,498 (-7,652)
Green: 3,332 (+1,892)
Labour: 2,421 (-563)
UKIP: 10,422 (+6,522)
Others: 7,812
The difference between the two elections are as follows:
Conservatives: -7407:
Liberal Democrat: -7,652
Green: +1,892
Labour: -563
UKIP:  +6,522
Others: +7,246
The others are:
BNP: +2,377
ED: +930
UKF: +1,354
Animals Count: +343
Christian Party: +656
Jury Team: +226
No to EU: +482
Libertas: +354
Socialist Labour: +280
Independent: + 332
OMRLP: -566

Conservatives: They lost a large minority of their support between the local elections and the Euros. I would suggest much of this support went to UKIP. But not all. Some went to the Jury Team, Libertas, UK First and the BNP.

Liberal Democrats: A total disaster as their local vote didn't translate into their Euro vote. 54% of their local support went elsewhere at the Euros. Some of the vote went Green but many others must have voted UKIP or even BNP.

Labour: This was a bad election for Labour who were beaten into 5th place in the Euros behind the Greens and not much in front of the BNP. The loss in Labour vote is not explained by a transfer of voters to the BNP. It can be explained by the transfer of votes to other left wing parties.

UKIP: They did very well at both local and Euro elections. With the Euro vote UKIP is the number 2 party behind the Conservatives.

At the Euro elections the Conservatives got 35% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats failed translate their local vote to their national vote. It was UKIP gaining support for both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats which saw its vote rise to become the second party in terms of votes.

In conclusion: At the General Election the electors vote to return a candidate to Parliament. It is obvious that if you vote for Djanogly you vote for this expenses scandal tarnished candidate. Voting for the UKIP candidate you will be voting for change in Parliament. I say vote UKIP.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Something else missing from the HDC website!

I saw a link to the Petitions page as HDC wants to encourage online petitions. So I thought I would give petitions a try. So I went to the page and read through the blurb. The last sentence says:

Any individual wishing to submit an electronic petition should click the link on the right.

But there is no link on the right!

A larger version here.

David Monks is right over an Election Night Count

There was an interview with The Speaker about retaining election night counts on the Daily Politics Show. In reply to The Speaker was David Monks, Chief Executive of HDC, talking about some of the difficulties imposed by Parliament. Lets no forget it is Parliament that has imposed all these extra requirements. It is also Parliament that is complaining when laws they impose means overnight counts can't go ahead.

The main points The Speaker made for an overnight count were:

Credibility and Legitimacy - Er...Don't really know what The Speaker is on about here.

Security of the ballot - I refer The Speaker to the ability of political parties to seal each ballot box. If Parliament was that worried about the security of the ballot then Parliament should have legislated to make ALL counts overnight!

The construction of the New Government - Whether the Government is in the morning or in the afternoon doesn't really matter. Many other countries have to wait for months for a Government to be formed.

Financial Markets - This is such a non-argument. So what! Close the markets for the day.

Whilst we do live in 24 hour media age, the counting of the ballots takes time. The US Presidential Elections of 2000 were pushed by the media to declare the result as soon as possible. But the legislation behind voting allowed ballots with an election day post mark to be counted. So what the media wanted was an instant result. What the US legislators and courts allowed was a longer time to count.

The same disconnection is going on here. Parliament legislates for more hours and more postal voting security, but then expects everything to run the same. It won't and can't. I agree with David Monks. Lets us have a properly conducted count with a result we can rely on. If Djanogly and the other MPs have to wait for the result then let them wait. Otherwise change the law!

Speaker Bercow interview BBC
David Monks reply - BBC
Liberal Democrat Voice article on 1872 Ballot Act

Will John Major campaign for Jonathan Djanogly?

According to a The Daily Mail article:

"The former Prime Minister has told friends that he regards the behaviour of Jonathan Djanogly as 'greedy' and 'inappropriate'."

A Tory with close links to the constituency party told the Daily Mail: 'John Major is very unimpressed with what has been going on.'

'He has kept silent in public but he has let it be known that he thinks Jonathan has behaved badly. It's completely inappropriate.'

'People have told Jonathan they don't approve and that John doesn't approve but he (Djanogly) keeps insisting that he did nothing wrong.'

'Why would someone with extensive share holdings want to expense £1,500 a month for a cleaner and gardener when he has a hugely lucrative job in the City as well. I tell you why - pure greed.'

So will John Major be campaigning for Jonathan Djanogly?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New HDC website getting better but....

Looking at the HDC again I find the site is getting better. Many of the errors are being corrected and the site looks and feels is better. But there are still errors and when it comes to the political party links page this seems to have been written by the Liberal Democrats. On the website it says:

Political Parties

Councillor details can be accessed using the link on the right.

This page also details links to local political parties.

Links to the national parties can be found on these websites.

Clicking on the links to local parties I find: 

The UKIP site goes to the national site. There is a local site.

The Cambridge Green Party website link is for CAMBRIDGE. There is a perfectly working Hunts Green party site.

The Cambridge Conservatives is for CAMBRIDGE. There is a perfectly working HCCA website.

The Cambridge Labour link is for CAMBRIDGE. There is a local site for Labour.

Only the Liberal Democrat link actually points to a local website.

I know the local websites are pretty dismal but I find it strange the only local links that work are for the Liberal Democrats! There is one website that has found these local links and that is er..hum.. this one. Just look to the right and there are most of the links I can find to local political party websites. I know this can be confusing but Huntingdonshire is NOT Cambridge!

Fenstanton Ward HDC by-election 25th February 2010

A by-election is being held for the Fenstanton Ward following the resignation of Mr P Dakers. Nominations close at 12 noon on 29th January 2010. At the last election in 2007 this ward was a Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginal. Even if UKIP don't put up a candidate this could be a good indication of local political feelings towards the national parties. If UKIP do get a candidate up and run a good campaign this would make the result very interesting.

A 2,439 electorate is smaller than most of the wards. Looking at the map of the ward it is a fairly compact ward and should be easy for any party to campaign in.

The reason why this could be very interesting is the result could be a good indication of how the electorate feels about Jonathan Djanogly MP and the Conservative run HDC. 

County Council looking at 3% rise in Council Tax.

In a series of reports to the Cabinet (Link here) the Conservative controlled council is proposing to increase the Council Tax by 3%. The County Council is the major part of the Council Tax Total.

The tables below are taken from a report and is in MS Word.

The first table shows the amount a 3% increase has on the CCC portion of the Council Tax.

The next table shows the amount that has had to be cut/saved to get this budget to equate to a 3% rise. The £15.976 million of savings equates to 6.7% cut in Council Tax.

This table shows the forecast for spending over the next 5 years. This shows the priority sector is going to be Community and Adult services.

This table shows how the budgets are going to rise and fall over the 5 year period. This graphically shows which sector is going to loose and which will gain.

A 1% cut in the precept = £2,375,165.41. To make the 3% rise go away it would mean further cuts of £7,125,496.23. This is on top of the £15.9 already cut/saved.

The County Council is looking towards some massive spending cuts. The forecast is for a basic 1.1% rise a year over the 5 year period. From the forecast I take it the Conservatives have already decided on what is important. Those who pay for the majority of services haven't been asked. There needs to be a conversation between the rulers and the ruled. On current form I don't see that happening in St. Neots.

What constitutes "living in the Consituency"?

With the up coming elections there is one question candidates either like to dodge or shout about. This is usually about where they reside or live. Most try to have a connection with the Constituency they want to represent. So what does "live in the constituency" actually mean?

For instance on Djanogly's website he says: ".... live in the constituency together with their son and daughter". Another instance is Labour candidate Anthea Cox who used an address in St Ives in a letter to Hunts Post.

To Djanogly this means to live in Huntingdon 3 days a week. Friday to Sunday. I don't know whether this is every week as they must have holidays etc. But Djanogly doesn't have a mortgage on his Alconbury house.

As Djanogly and his family live in their London home during the week in their very large 4 storey semi detached house (valued in the millions). I take it as said his children go to school in London. With a connection with The Hampstead Theatre where they purchased a seat. With their accountants in London and Djanogly used to work in London as a partner in the solicitors SJ Berwin LLP. Their business (it seems to be from mail order to property ownership) is also based in London.

With Jonathan Djanogly recorded as being on the electoral roll twice in London (and in Huntingdon). Once for his London home and once as a business elector in the City. With his parents also living in London/Marlow it rather makes his house in Alconbury look more like a weekend country retreat.

So does Jonathan Djanogly actually "live" in the constituency? The answer is YES. "Live" in this context means effectively a weekend retreat or secondary home. It can also be said that Djanogly lives in London and this is his primary residence.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Was Andrew Gilbert's letter meant for Birkenhead?

In this weeks letter column of the Hunts Post is a letter from Cllr Andrew Gilbert (ward: Eynesbury) writing about the Conservative policy under the banner of Family Values. I know Andrew is standing against the Conservatives favourite Labour MP Frank Field. So why are we having a letter from Andrew on Conservative Party policy? As a local Councillor I expect letters in the papers and perhaps even a leaflet through the door on local issues. Has Andrew sent the wrong letter to the local paper?

Andrew is in the bad position of having to fight two different elections 186 miles part (3 hours 20 minutes) apart. This will mean lots of travelling between the two.

Conservative PPC

Does Labour candidate Anthea Cox actually live in St Ives?

I was reading a latest letter from Anthea (in the Hunts Post), this time about household central heating boilers, and I noticed the address is now Hemingford Road, St Ives. Now this could be a move by Anthea into the constituency or more likely the address is that of Mike Sneath, Press and Publicity at the Hunts Labour Constituency Labour Party.

Contrary to the St Ives address I believe Anthea still lives in Peterborough. Nothing wrong in that, but using the St Ives address gives a false impression of where the candidate actually lives and resides.

FOI Requests and Huntingdonshire District Council

I'm pursuing a couple of Freedom Of Information requests on a couple of restricted documents. I've never made a Freedom of Information request before and I don't see why the documents I requested are restricted. What I've requested and appealed are for another day. What is starting to annoy me is the they have told me there is an appeal but not when.

On 9th Decemeber 2009 I received this e-mail:
Dear Mr Gadenne
Re: Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations – FOI & EIR Request No 1077.
Thank you for your email dated 7 December 2009. A review meeting will be set up to consider your complaint.
Should you have any further enquiries about the progress of your complaint, please contact the Freedom of Information Officer quoting “FOI Request No. 1077” at one of the following addresses:


Letter:  FOI Requests, 
Pathfinder House, 
St Mary’s Street, 
PE29 3TN
Fax:     01480 388317
Yours sincerely
FOI Support Team
Huntingdonshire District Council

On 8th January 2010 I sent another e-mail:
FOI Request No. 1077
On 9th December 2009 your office informed my that a review was being set up about this request. Can you please inform me of what progress is being made.

On 15th January 2010 I sent another e-mail:
FOI Request No. 1077
On 9th December 2009 your office informed my that a review was being set up about this request. Can you please inform me of what progress is being made.

On 19th January 2010 I sent another e-mail:
FOI Request No. 1077
On 9th December 2009 your office informed my that a review was being set up about this request. Can you please inform me of what progress is being made.

I've also got a second request in - FOI request 1103. I've asked for an appeal for one part of the of the request. Sent an e-mail on 12/01/10. Still awaiting a reply!

Profile of Jonathan Djanogly - Conservative Party parliamentary candidate

The current Member of Parliament for Huntingdon. He was first elected in 2001 taking over from John Major. Djanogly was re-elected in 2005. He is currently Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Solicitor General. His Parliamentary career is linked here. Until recently Djanogly was a partner in the law firm SJ Berwin LLP. He was also a member of the family firm at Lloyds. Until recently he was also a director of his wife's firm Canalside Studio Management Ltd.
Whilst being an MP, Djanogly carried on with his profession as a solicitor (just shows how much a part-time job being an MP really is!) representing major firms in takeovers. I have no doubt that our MP and his team of office staff, interns and seconded solicitors do a good job for the Huntingdon constituency and for Cambridgeshire.

Djanogly could have carried on with all this except MPs' expenses were finally published and our MP was thrust into the daylight by the Daily Telegraph. Articles such as:

MPs' expenses: Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly claimed almost £5,000 for automatic gates
Jonathan Djanogly defends his expense claims to party supporters
MPs' expenses published: Jonathan Djanogly
Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly denies claiming expenses for au pair
Djanogly on ITN
ConservativeHome on Djanogly and Peter Brown resigning
A quote from ConservativeHome: "The meeting on Thursday is not a public meeting, as David Cameron has suggested to MPs, but instead is open only to party members and has been described by Mr Djanogly's local paper as a "clear the air" session."
The Millionaire Tory, the au pair and £25,000 in repaid expenses: John Major condemns 'greedy' successor
Guido Fawkes' Blog

put Djanogly and his expenses/lifestyle into the public domain.

To me this expenses scandal changed my view of Jonathan Djanogly. If he had been able to face his constituents, as suggested by his Leader David Cameron, I would have had respect for Djanogly. I would have given him a second chance. But he didn't. So I'm not.

More Documents
The Guardian has more information
The Public Whip
They Work For You

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Neighbourhood Forum Meeting next Tuesday 26/01/10

From the HDC website:

St Neots
Tuesday 26 January Guest Hall, Priory Centre 7pm

Neighbourhood Forums are taking place to encourage local residents to become more involved in what’s happening in their neighbourhoods. They form part of a number of improvements to try to encourage the community to get engaged and to provide the public with better access to councillors and other partners

Representatives at the forums will include county, district and parish councils in each neighbourhood, National Health Service, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and Luminus. These are an opportunity to find out what’s happening in your area and raise issues of local concern for the partners to deal with together.

The forums will absorb the Safer Neighbourhood Policing Panels but crime and disorder issues can continue to be raised and the forums will be used by the police to set their local priorities.

All forum meetings will be held on a quarterly basis. For further information on the Neighbourhood Forums or dates for future meetings visit the link on the right.
According to the photo on the announcement page we need a megaphone to make our voices heard to the assembled organisations!

Shall I take my own along if they don't listen to us. Invitation or what?

Sarah Teather MP expenses scandal. What would Martin Land do?

"that the Tories remain a coalition between the blatantly self-interested, closet racists, and homophobes.."
I've just been reading the allegations about Sarah Teather and her mucky expenses with Brent Liberal Democrats. In essence, what has been alleged is that Sarah rented a shop under a joint tenancy with the Brent Liberal Democrats and the local party made no payment in rent. This would mean the taxpayer was subsidising local party. Further allegations have been made over the shared phone system. The Brent Liberal Democrats haven't paid any phone bill by Parliament has. Investigations show some really high bills which coincide with local elections. Further investigations are under way.

What Martin Land needs to answer is what the relationship would be, if he won, between himself and the Liberal Democrats over any property rented for his MP office? Will any Liberal Democrats members be able to use any property rented by the MP with all the office equipment and phones as a campaigning base or local HQ?

The reason this investigation has been able to be mounted is because a comparison can be made between what Sarah Teather claimed and the accounts of Brent Liberal Democrats. The Huntingdonshire Liberal Democrats don't make their accounts public. Will they in the future?

Political scrapbook website

And the HDC website problems continue!

The NEW website continues with problems. Some of the problems I encountered and I wrote about last time have been changed. But I have now come across a new problem.

There is a pop up with keeps asking me for authentication. Well I'm not looking for anything secret. Nor have I joined this website. So why is this asking me for a user name and password?

This new website is not very good. I know HDC has got massive money problems but this NEW website has obviously been done on the cheap. And it is showing!