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!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The report that Labour didn't want you to see.

This is the report that Labour and the Council didn't want you to see.

In 2013 I report the then Labour Cllr Emma McGurrin, who sat on the Planning Committee, for dealing and working with developers who wanted to build in Standish. After all this time the Council still haven't released this information. Isn't it funny when it is opposition Cllrs they plaster it all over the media but yet when it's one of theirs they keep quiet.

In the report you will see that my allegations were proven and that she also accepted hospitality from one developer. Shame on her! However, what is worrying that it broke the code of conduct and when the Chief Executive and  Leader of the Council found out about it they did not tell the developers to stop lobbying a Cllr who sat on the Planning Committee.

In the report you will see that she provided information to developers about the Core strategy, (2000+ houses for Standish). This is again against the rules.

Since the report I have said to the Council that they should do a thorough investigation just to confirm that this is and was the only Cllr on the planning committee that participated in this kind of practice. Reason why I say this is we all know it would be wrong but the developers seem to think it was OK or maybe they were common practice for them. either way it raises worrying questions that surely need looking at. To date the Council refuse to do this and say it was only Cllr Emma McGurrin that did this. How would they know if they have not investigated the whole issues?

Here is the report into Emma McGurrin.

This is not the first time a Labour cllr has broken serious rules. Labour Cllr and ex Mayor Billy Rotherham was found guilty of forwarding confidential emails to his son who was in a tendering process for some local facility. Here is that story.

The Week that ended......5 October 2010

So the end of the first week in October. Where's the year going? It's certainly flying by. What a week this has been for myself . It never surprise me what no lows Wigan Council will go to try and get me, bless. This week I have been in the news numerous times and so have a whole heap of other Cllrs for so called standards issues but the real let down is Labour. But we'll get to that in a bit.

So lets start about me. Earlier in the week I had a call from a reporter from the local paper, Wigan Evening Post, asking about what I thought on the new sanctions? I asked what he was talking about and Wigan Labour Standards Quango Court had apparently met to discuss the fact that I have not apologised to the Chief Executive about her being a Liar and political biased. That story is here. The thing with this is when the Committee originally met they read the decision notice was read out but there was no mention of me having to apologise, in fact they said that there was nothing they could do and they would keep watching me. In fact the Wigan Evening Post ran a story on the hearing too where they reported that the Council had exhausted their findings, here is that report. That decision notice, when it is read out, is known as a statutory notice, so it is final. However, from being read out, to going in the press the bit about being made to apologised was illegally place in. Wonder who put that it? Yes you and me are guessing the same person - the Chief Executive herself. Obviously if this is the case what a unscrupulous, unprincipled person who should not hold any post in the Council, least of the senior post. Trust me yet another why I am challenging this in the High Courts, Wigan Council can't get away with making it up.

So after the meeting this week they decided because I hadn't apologised, which someone was now saying I should have done and the Council will be taking my Council laptop and IT equipment off me and snooping on my emails. After I stopped laughing I told the reporter that I didn't have any Council Laptop or IT equipment so how on earth could the Council take something off me what I haven't got? Just goes to demonstrate how stupid this Council is! You simply couldn't make this up. So why did they meet? Why did they not tell me first? Why did they tell the press before me! Simple - Bullying and this is just demonstrates to me and many that it is political motivated and people are misusing their powers and if so the Council and Civil servants should butt out and not medal in politics, that should be between the Cllrs. 

So why they run round trying to make negative stories up against me I will simply get on with being a Cllr but also I am taking a number of Legal opinions and advice on over some serious issues which I can't comment on at this time. One thing is one of my legal teams has said how Wigan Council miss use the Standards Committee for political ends rather than doing for genuine cases. Interesting and just proves my point.

But if Labour and the Council want to talk about standards they should start by apologing for the fact that a Labour Cllr, Joy Birch has been living in Ireland for months whilst taking and claiming her Cllrs allowances. that could be over £4000 and I believe should be paid back. However, Labour and the Council didn't think any one would find out and they could get away with it. Wrong! I exposed it here on the blog. Read that story here. Now because of me exposing her she's had to quit a by election will now be called and the people will have 3 Cllrs again. 

However, will all the negative press that the council continues to put out about me do me any harm? It seems not given the great comments I am receiving from resident including from 2 x 92 year old ladies. Also it seems the publicity that the Council are giving me is pushing up my profile. I say this because more and more people are contacting me for help including many now from other Wards in the Borough.

The number of people who have contacted me over the rise of Anti Social behaviour this week is growing and worrying. From neighbour nuisance to pub windows being smashed, the Shamrock Pub on Preston Rd has had 7 windows all smashed and people are thinking that the Council and Police are letting the area down and they are worried that the area is getting worse and if it doesn't improve they would look to move out of the area. So where you once had the case that Standish was the area that people wanted to live it is becoming less desirable. That is where we as the local Cllrs are stepping in and helping the residents that are experiencing some difficulties and we are making sure that they get the help and support that they need.

Friday, 3 October 2014

We gain a Labour Scalp.

After yesterdays revelations about a Labour Cllr living in Ireland whilst still claiming her tax payers allowance has quit. This I believe has about to over £4000 and therefore she should pay it back. Out of the money Labour have taken their subs - or kick backs from her - so they are implicit in this and they too should pay the money back. Question is will they?

And this was the behavior of an ex mayor too. Shame on her!!!

But this will now force a by election in the Douglas ward.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Labour Cllr lives in Ireland

Over the last few weeks Labour have been up to their usual tricks of trying to bash opposition Cllrs and saying they sit on the moral high ground. They have accused an opposition Cllrs of mis using tax payers money and yet their have been sat on their own little dirty secret, One thing that is shocking the ward of Douglas tonight is a political scandal. I have learnt from a Labour Cllr, that is disgruntled at the way the Council are treating me, that Labour Cllr Joy Birch is and has been living in Ireland for a few months now, possibly for the last 5 months.

I also understand that she informed the Labour Party that she wanted to stand down a couple of months ago but they asked her not too because they are worried of the UKIP threat at the minute and asked her just to attend the one meeting in 6 months.

What is interesting when you send Labour Cllr Joy Birch  an email is it bounces back. Also if you look at her details on the Council website you see that there is no address but she uses the Town Hall address and also there is no phone number for her. So there is no way any residents in her ward can get in touch with her but yet I hear she still claims her Cllr allowance. This has cost tax payers 000's.  Residents in her ward believe she may have been ill and they wish her the best for recovering, as do I, but they feel why should she get paid for being a Cllr when she is doing nothing as a Cllr and lives in another Country.

This is not the first time this has happened Lib Dem Cllr Hoggs did this a few years ago and Labour Leader Peter smith said about that Cllrs should not get paid if they don't do Council work, to which I would agree with him. I wonder why he has allowed this to go on and also because the Council know this has been happening they are involved in this disgraceful act. One resident told me that if she has been paid but she has not been doing the work would that be classed as stealing tax payers money? Under the current rules, I explained, that Cllrs only have to attend one meeting every 6 months but even if they do this then they are expected to carry out the day to day duties which obviously this Labour cannot do if she lives abroad.

I am therefore demanding that Cllr Joy Birch stand down immediately and I am also writing to the Labour Leader and Chief Executive of the Council of this matter and request that they call a by election ASAP and if they don't, I know residents will be getting their own petition up calling for her to resign and force a by-election that they really should have called by now. Shame on them!!!