Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ashfield Village Green Public Hearing

In 2012, I put in a Village Green application in to register Ashfield Park/Playing Field as a Village Green. Once the Village Green application went in the process takes over, which in turns means the it goes quiet. Many people presumed that meant that we had won the fight to register Ashfield as a Village Green and there would no be no houses on built on there.

Whilst things have been quiet to the public I can assure you that a lot has been going on. The first thing that I needed to do was gather up all the witness statements that people kindly filled in. This was a case of scanning and printing the Witness Statements and then submitting the hundreds into the Council has evidence. These went into the Council into three bundles. Those that have not submitted a witness statement but would like to have a small window of opportunity to fill one in and return it. I have put a link at the bottom of this post to print out.

Once the bundles went in the Council I believe that they knew that the support was of such a a size and the evidence in the witness statement was so strong that they went and hire outside solicitors and/ or barrister who specialise in this area of expertise. I believe that the bill for this specialised work has cost over £50,000 , which shows the level of feeling that the Council wants to stop this application for a Village Green.

The first thing the Council tried was to write to the inspector asking him to through out my application because in their opinion it failed to meet the criteria. This was because the crucial issue on a Village Green is did we get permission to use it when we used the playing fields or did the Council give us permission. In their eyes years ago they moved the budget for the fields from the education pot to the recreational pot and on that grounds the Council believe that was them giving us permission.

Also out of the advice that the Council received was to try and get a behind closed doors hearing to try and resolve this application. The Council said that if they won that "behind the closed door" hearing, as I call it, then that way there would not be a need for the public hearing. The Council have tried to stop the public hearing because when that goes ahead then the public will not hear the truth, the public will not have a voice and most of all the public does not get their say. And on this matter the residents of Standish needs their say and it will be heard.

As part of the process the Council, as the objector to the Village Green Hearing, had to ask for my opinion on the "behind closed door" hearing. Their thinking behind this idea was it would save money because there would be no need for a public hearing and also witness's would not need to go through the process. As part of my objection I said this was out of the ordinary and would not save money if we won because we would then need a public hearing the witness's evidence would be needed to decide if the application stands or falls

The inspector that is overseeing this application has now returned his opinion and direction and that is that there will be a public hearing. There will not be a pre hearing like the Council had asked for and it will be determined in the usual way of a one stage public hearing.

Now comes some serious hard work in preparing for the public hearing. With bundles made up and prepared, opening and closing statements drafted and redrafted. I will be calling a public hearing to update residents. Keep watching.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Council takes step closer to closing Ashfield playing fields.

Wigan Council are doing what they do best - closing things! They are taking another step to closing Ashfield and trying not to get people to notice it. But this is of great concern to me.

Ashfield is a campaign that I, like the population of Standish, are very passionate about. We all know that in 2012 the Council were having conversations with Persimmon and Morris Homes about building houses on the feilds. The Council spent nearly £3000 on leaflets only the other month and sent them to every house in Standish saying that the closure of Ashfield is not true. However, the Council at the end of last football season removed the changing rooms and they did not return at the beginning of this years season. Many thought that they went away for the summer just to be refurbished or something and would return at the start of the season.

Now we are well into the football season and the Council have not returned the changing rooms and South Lancs League have now banned ALL their teams from playing on Ashfield because their criteria is that the grounds have to have on site changing facilities.

Now the football teams cannot plan on Ashfield because of the Council's decision to remove the changing rooms and no doubt the Council will in time will say, what they usually do, that the fields are no longer being used by football teams and so they are defunct and they can sell them. Remember when the Council block new pupils attending Mere Oaks and then they said that children were not going there so that's why it had to close.

I have contacted the Council with my concerns and I am demanding that the changing rooms are put back ASAP to allow the teams back on the feilds before they go and find other permanent places to play on.

Shame on this shameful Council who only purpose seems to try and publish and get opposition Cllrs that oppose them!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Wigan Council spend £50,000 to stop Ashfield Village Green Application

Obviously many of you will know that in 2012 I put in a Village Green Application to Save Ashfield Park from developers. Wigan Council put out their usual lies that they never had conversations about selling Ashfield Parks, knowing that we had the information under the Freedom of  Information and we published it on line.

However after years of battling to stop a public hearing I learnt a little time ago that wigan Council have spent well over £50,000 on barristers and solicitors. That's your money - not theirs. So I decided this needed to be looked at and again under the Freedom Of Information I requested to find out how much they have spent on the Ashfield Village Green Hearing. I thought that the figure I had been quoted was a little high, even for the Council. However, Wigan Council have come back and said they will not tell me nor you the figure because it will have a detrimental impact on the hearing that will be coming up. Question why would it be detrimental on the hearing knowing the figure? Answer it wouldn't however what it would do is show and demonstrate how much Wigan Council does not want you to know the truth what they are doing with

a) your money and
b) how they much they don't want this village green hearing.

I will know be reporting the Council to the Information Commissioner and ask him to get involve and ask him to force the Council to release the figure. What the Council and the dictators can't get their heads around is the truth always comes out.    

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Technology will mean less jobs

The big political debate at the moment is about immigration. UKIP is polling high in some areas. The main discussion is that people from other country's are not needed and we should keep the jobs for the British. Gordon Brown even said in 2010 British Jobs for British Workers. They claim that we should not be giving immigrants benefits neither. I don't think many will argue with this.

However, on the issue of jobs because technology is taking over there will be less jobs in the future so we do not need as many people from abroad. If you mention topics like this the loony left start saying you are a racist, which is complete nonsense and just prove that they will try any tactic including trying to scaring people not to discuss topics that they want to that are effecting us.

On the issue of jobs let's look at technology in every day life. We are seeing more and more scan your own shopping for example and self serving tills in Supermarkets. This will cut work forces in Supermarkets. But this is just one example that our every day life is changing and we don't realise that it is effecting jobs and we can't stop this change, What we need to do is change with it and adapt with it.

I believe that a fair system for immigration is a similar style system as they have in places like Australia and New Zealand. This is were it is a point scoring points and for jobs that we need filling. Common sense but the Westminster Bubble that our politicians live in don't get it or they don't want to say this to Europe. Tricky situations but let's have leaders that serve and lead.

Alcohol harm

At a recent Confident Health Scrutiny meeting there was an agenda item on how alcohol was harming people and what can be done on it.

This agenda was talked by a few Labour Cllrs saying that it was the failure of this Government to introduce a minimum price per unit. For me this is either the failure to understand reality or divert attention that it was in fact Labour's introduction of 24 hour drinking law that has fueled this problem. It could even be a combination of the two.

When I think back to my days there were occasions as a teenager and young male when yes I got drunk. It wasn't ever night, wasn't even every week, but never to the point of needing medical attention and therefore knowing when enough is enough. I guess many people have got drunk at some point in their life, it may be the whole idea for them for going out with the sole aim of getting drunk but I guess some people have just had a great time and got carried away.

In my time, when I was younger, and went out clubbing etc you would probably go out about 7.30 pm into a pub for a few hours and then move into a club around 11 for the remained of the night but kicked out by 2 am and that was your lot.

Now youngsters get "tanked up" on cheap drink from the supermarket because and wait till between 11 - 12 before evening going out. That is serious and you can see why there are problems. if you introduce a minimum price per unit  people would do the beer run again to the continent or buy it from someone who has been.

Now with the 24 hour drinking law that was introduced under Labour it is probably time that, whilst it may work in some parts, London, it probably not OK for the whole Country and maybe the Local Authority should have the say whether they have 24 hours drinking law. Whilst some may say if Cities have the 24 Hour drinking then young people will just go out in there I would seriously question if youngsters from Wigan would travel to Manchester every weekend and probably do it occasionally.

If we went back to the old times then I do feel that it would benefit better health for people and they would still have a great night out.
If you want to view the Council report have a look here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Labour selection for By-Election

Last night the Labour Party had a meeting to chose their candidate for the forth coming by-election in Douglas. The are some in fighting going on and the Labour Cllr Stephen Murphy who was chairing the meeting and selection, so I believe, had his step son in the race. He already has one son in as a Cllr for the safe Labour seat Pemberton.

There were 3 woman and one male in the race for the seat

There were 11 people who turn up to vote and the first vote went 6 votes for Cllr's Murphy Son and 5 for a lady called Maggie Stellen. After a protest it was discovered that one of the votes for Cllr Stephen Son was not eligible to vote because she was from Beech Hill. So another vote was and then vote went to Maggie Stellen.

I believe the Labour Party have not announced this yet to confirm if this is true and it will be interesting what they say about the the voting and why they had to have two votes.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

By election week - My thoughts

This week was by election week with two high profile seats up for grabs. With UKIP targeting both seats and fighting hard, one against Labour and one against the Conservative. Both where considered to be safe seats for the respective parties.

The first seat, which was Clacton and was called when the former Conservative MP, Douglas Carswell resigned from the Conservative Party and as a MP. Then he re-stood in the By-Election. He was considered a very popular constituent MP and was it was considered that he would retake the seat, only this time as a UKIP MP. In fact he would be the first ever elected MP.

The second Seat was the traditional Labour Seat of Heywood and Middleton after the sudden death of Labour MP, Jim Dobbin. In this seat Labour had a majority of over 6000 so that was considered a safe seat for Labour and it was expected that Labour would retain that seat. During the campaign for this seat UKIP put up a big fight and the week before the election it was becoming more evident that UKIP was putting a big dent into Labour's majority. The question was how much of a dent?
Back down in Clacton the questions were can UKIP get their first ever elected MP and if so how much of a majority can they achieve. Big stakes indeed after this was considered a safe Conservative seat.

So Friday morning came and the votes started to arrive in. Given that I wake up numerous times during the night and my interest in politics I kept watching to see the results come in. The first was Heywood and Middleton, the safe seat for Labour. The dent that UKIP was expected to put into Labour’s majority was colossal. It was so colossal they nearly won the seat. The dent had come down to a little over 600. Massive dent indeed. The Conservatives have a slogan at the minute for next year’s election. Vote UKIP get Labour. I think it is fair to say in this case it would be more appropriate for UKIP to use the slogan Vote Conservative and get Labour. Given that the Conservative candidate only got over 3000 votes. If UKIP had used that slogan and got 9% of the Conservatives to use their vote strategically then they might have stolen this seat off Labour. What a victory that would have been.

Later in the night the Clacton vote came in and the former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell won the seat, which was expected but what was clearly not expected was the size of the majority that he would get. Over 12,000! This is a not only a comfortable majority but incredible for their first ever elected MP. To get that majority Mr Carswell took nearly 60% of the vote. Unlike the Heywood election where I just described that had UKIP targeted Conservative votes and said lend us your vote otherwise you get Labour, in the case of Clacton if all the other candidates had said just vote for just Conservative candidate, as they were the second largest party, then that strategy wouldn’t have worked as 6 out of every 10 votes cast went to UKIP. That is an amazing achievement. I know a little about this as I too polled nearly 60% when I stood in the Local Election in Standish in 2012.

I know the two main parties will take some comfort that in a general election turnout goes up considerably for them to maybe around 60% but for me there is a massive dynamite stick – the 40% that don’t vote because they just don’t care for the main parties. With the huge interest in UKIP if UKIP can tap into floating voters of the 40% that don't naturally vote then that would be a great statically advantage for UKIP. I guess that the main stream parties need to try and engage with this 40% as well otherwise this sleeping giant could awake and roar.

I think it is fair to assume, to some degree, that politics in the UK is up in the air and anything can happen. The question is can UKIP regain the momentum that they are riding high on at this moment or will they fade. I would surmise that if they fail to make big in roads in the next year General election that would be a real possibility that they would fade but should they make gains then history could be in the making and a new kid is on the block.   

I guess people have the power back in their hands!