Friday, July 6, 2012

1000th post and the blog finishes


My fiance and I and looking to move away from St Neots and probably Huntingdonshire. Therefore I feel I cannot carry on with this blog as I will have no connection with St Neots. For the most part I have enjoyed living in St Neots. It is a lovely town and the people should be proud of what they have.

The major downfall is the misuse of the New Homes Bonus and the need for major re-development of the Town Centre which could be funded by the NHB. Sadly this will be missed by the Town and I feel history will look badly how this money was wasted. There is much to commend this town and I wish the population success for the future.

The new boundaries changes will put Djanogly in a spot. Our London MP will have a choice as to whether to try and fight a new Huntingdon constituency or find a seat in London. Whether Djanogly will weather the changes has yet to be seen. Any new boundaries need to be ratified by Parliament.

This blog was mainly about how badly we are governed. The Town Council seems to be getting better and with a proper Town Clerk I feel will do better. Huntingdonshire District Council is still rubbish.

One point is I've always been asked why I don't stand for election. And here is one of many good reasons. If I were elected I would have to resign my seats and cost the council taxpayer a couple of by-elections. Not all people who are political are able to stand.

One thing hasn't changed and that is the disconnect between the public and our politicians. This will continue as none of the political parties seem to have the resolve and resources to make contact with the people of St Neots. The main purpose of this blog was the gee these politicians up to get them communicating with the electorate. In this I failed.


Independent County Councillors?

With a letter in the Hunts Post about buses by Delboy Giles and Julia Hayward he seems to be looking forward to the County Council elections in 2013 for the seat of Eaton Socon and Eynesbury. I thought I would look to see if two independent candidates have any chance of winning by combining the 2012 District election results.

Adding the votes together would have brought the following result.

Conservatives = 934
Labour = 438
UKIP = 403
Liberal Democrat = 273
Independent = 890
Conservative majority = 44

The Conservatives would have marginally won this County seat. What needs to be taken into account is no independent stood in Eynesbury in 2012. If Delboy and other could match what went on Eaton Socon in 2012 they could win hands down. This is because Delboy took support away from Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.

It would take much work to do, but the Independents have a very good chance of taking these 2 county seats if they put their minds to this job! Should the Conservatives be worried? Yes they should!

Money down. Membership down. HCCA continues - just

Looking at the annual accounts for Huntingdon Constituency Conservative Association I feel they are waiting for the end to come. The problem with changing the constituency boundaries is the Conservative Associations will have to be amended, combined or dissolved. Even so HCCA had another bad year. On the up side the deficit has been cut from £12k to £2k. On the down side HCCA is still making a loss.

Also membership is down again. From 663 to 577 (at drop of 86). The 663 number belies another problem with 435 being full members and 142 being friends. This meant a drop of £2,683 in subscriptions. I suppose this is why the Agent (Simon Burton) has gone and is replaced by an Organising Secretary.

HDC Pension scam?

I was looking through the HDC Draft Accounts for 2011/12 and I found this statement:

3 Valuation of Pension Fund
The contribution rate is determined by the Fund’s actuary based on triennial valuations. To avoid the impact of potential reductions in the workforce the actuary proposed that a fixed percentage of 17.8% should be used to provide for future service liabilities together with a lump sum contribution to reduce the existing deficit relating to past service. The lump sums proposed were £451k for 2011/12, £456k for 2012/13, £470k for 2013/14. The Council has chosen to make additional lump sum payments pending the results of any changes to the pension scheme that are determined by the Government. The additional payments are £209k (2011/12), £450k (2012/13) £669k (2013/14).

Whilst the Pensions contributions at SNTC are set to rise to 29% HDC looks good with a 17.8% contribution. Instead of increasing the basic amount HDC has gone down the road of making additional lump sums. I could understand the rationale behind making a one off contribution but these are lump sums paid over 3 years and should therefore increase the 17.8% contribution rate.

2011/12 £451k + £209k = £660k
2012/13 £456k + £450k = £906k
2013/14 £470k + £669k = £1.139 million

This equals £2.705 million over 3 years.

So our Council Tax increase and cuts in services aren't happening because of cuts in funding from Government. No the Council taxpayer has to find an extra £2.7 million over 3 years to pay for these pensions. Of course this is bureaucratic utopia where all the Council tax will not go on services but keeping the pension fund afloat!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

HDC still hasn't got its 2010-11 accounts finalised

The long running saga of HDC and its 2010/11 accounts seems to continue. As of writing, the Conservative run HDC still hasn't got its 2010/11 accounts signed off by the accountants. This is 9 months after the deadline. Indeed the external auditors have got to get these accounts finished before they start the new set published on 30th June 2012.

Pity we can't all run our accounts like Conservative run HDC. How many heads have rolled because of this fiasco of the Councils own doing? Zero. Because no one is to blame for anything at Conservative run HDC!

Barclays and HCCA

With Barclays Bank in the news about how they had to pay fines over manipulating the Libor rates there is a local connection here. Back in 1990, I suppose when John Major became Prime Minister, Barclays loaned Huntingdon Constituency Conservative association £10,000. This is still registered on the Electoral commission website. A copy here.

I just wonder how many other people will get this good deal from Barclays? £10,000 at 2.5% above base and never have to pay the money back!

Senior Termination costs us £187k

Buried in the HDC draft accounts for 2011/12 are the termination costs for a couple of senior executives. These are David Monks: £140,417 and Ian Leatherbarrow (of MBA fame): £47,223.
Why either got termination money is the query. David Monks retired. Why he got a £140,417 payout is beyond me. Ian Leatherbarrow was doing an MBA course whilst Director of Central Service. By all accounts he went sick and eventually got a payout of £47,223.

It seems Conservative run HDC can throw money around to its Officers. A case of snouts in the trough. It is only council taxpayers money anyway!

Town Council Pension Contributions Rocket

The Pension contributions payable to the CCC pension fund are set to rocket over the next few years. This is paid by the Town Council (ie the Council taxpayer) for those in this pension scheme. From 22.5% for 2011/12 going up to in stages to 29% for 2013/14. The proviso is the even at these rates this isn't enough and, by implication, there will be higher rates to come in future years. Ouch!

Town Council comes £102,000 under budget

The 2011/12 budget set by the outgoing Liberal Democrats are largely run by the Conservatives has come in under budget by £102,837. That is the last bit of the legacy of the Liberal Democrats rule. From now on the Conservatives have set the budget and have to live by what they have set.

Not many surprises here. One surprise has been the increasing deficit at The Eatons Centre. Another is the increase in pension contributions the Town Council will have to make in future years.

On the whole these accounts show the Liberal Democrats left the Town Council in a very good position. The Conservatives cannot blame the Liberal Democrats for the financial position if this deteriorates in the future.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Conservative pledge goes unfulfilled

At the 2011 Town Council elections the Conservatives said the following about the Eatons Community Centre:
The Conservatives pledged to:
1) Reduce the annual deficit.
2) Market and Promote the Centre.
3) Increase its annual income.

With the annual accounts just published (below) how have the Conservatives done with the 3 parts of this pledge?
1) Reduce the annual deficit. 
According to the Conservatives the annual deficit increased from £36,815 to £60,305. In their first year in power the annual INCREASED rather than reduced. So far the Conservatives have got this wrong and they will need to find extra income over expenses of £25,000 to achieve this part of the pledge.
2) Market and Promote the Centre.

They seem to be doing this more. But it the product is defective then no matter how much marketing and promotion happens they will not make this a going concern.

3) Increase its annual income.

This has gone into reverse. The annual income has dropped by over £13,000. 

This is the first year the Conservatives are in control. If the Conservatives have a chance of fulfilling by the end of their term the Eatons Centre will need a dramatic turnaround in fortunes.