Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My comments on letter to the St Neots News and Crier - 10/06/2010

St Neots News and Crier - 10/06/2010

Call for 'Pickles' to save town - Jon Mountfort is again missing the points in a fundamental way. (Must be a Labour supporter). In his open letter to Eric Pickles he states: "St Neots pays more in Council Tax than any other town in Cambridgeshire and yet has no facilities". No we don't. Fenland is an example of higher Council Tax. Huntingdon Town Council charges more per head than St Neots Town Council. This argument doesn't stand up. Nor does the ..yet has no facilities". St Neots has a Leisure Centre, parks and open spaces galore, children's play area, community halls, Priory Centre. So this argument doesn't stand up! Jon goes on further to say: "Such facilities we did posses have been taken away..". Jon then goes onto list the following:

Swimming pool. The open air one was shut by the Swimming Pool Trust/Town Council.
Public Toilets. 2 out of 3 have been passed to the Town Council to fund and run.
Band Concerts. Cut by HDC and taken up by the Town Council to fund and run.
2 Free Car parks. Well the ability to park for free is being taken away.

Again Jon's assertions don't stand up to scrutiny.

"HDC is attempting to make £3.5 million of cuts this year as it spent all our money on its new luxury HQ which cost £12 million". Err...wrong again. The main reason HDC is cutting is because it has been carrying a deficit for a number of years. The £3.5 million has to saved out of revenue. The £12 million is out of the capital budget.

He then lies on with: "The interest on this loan will be funded by making the Riverside car park in St Neots pay and display". What is with this continual lying. There is no relationship between the two.

He continues lying with: "The vote to impose parking charges on St Neots' two free car parks (another lie as there are other free car parks in St Neots) was not taken by full council (yes it was! The budget containing this item was passed by full council - no one tried to stop it!) but by a small clique on the cabinet (In passing the budget the Council gives authority to the Cabinet to decide).

Jon continues with "The casting vote fell to the Michael Simpson, member for Huntingdon East, who voted twice to impose car parking charges." This is a twisting of the truth. The cabinet voted and there was a tie. When there is a tie in votes then the Chairman has a second or casting vote to ensure a decision is made one way or another. This is perfectly legal and democratic and has been in local government since inception.Why Jon finds this not democratic or ethical I find hard to understand.

So what Jon implores Eric Pickles to do is investigate a load of allegations and lies made up by Jon Mountfort. Waste of time. I do have to wonder why the Editor allowed this twisted tissue of lies to be printed in his paper?

Will pool be a white elephant? Steve Searle of Little Paxton asks this question. My answer is the problem is not the running of the swimming pool which is the problem, it is the long term maintenance which will always be the problem. An open air swimming pool would need some subsidy from the taxpayer through the Town Council.

What is needed is to map out the long term funding and replacement of a future pool. It may be a better idea to build a new open air pool on the new development. There are plans afoot to use hot water from the power station to heat homes. May be a better idea to use the hot water to heat an open air swimming pool? 2004 and 2005 financial results here.

Would an open air swimming pool be an asset? I feel it would.

Please think of the carers - Angela Heading says decisions are always down to money. I can empathise with Angela's predicament as I nursed my mother who suffered from a series of illness with cancers. Sad as it is this will be the way of the world for the future. What we are seeing is the way spending cuts will happen and this is only the start!

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