Thursday, 26 February 2015

Proposed savings of milllion's was said years ago.

I have had an interesting meeting with Council officials who have confirmed that some of the suggestions I had previously put forward at Budget Meetings have since been implemented by the Council.

Each year the Council hold a Budget Meeting to discuss costs incurred by the Council - with a view to reducing expenditure, and every year it is the same story!  Any suggestions put forward by Opposition Councillors are immediately brushed aside by Labour.

Back in 2012 here: I declared it was ridiculous that the Council keep looking outside for legal advice whilst already having its own Legal Department and solicitors at its disposal - I suggested that the Council hire their own Barrister as this would help to reduce costs.  It has been confirmed that the Legal bill is around the level it was in 2012, but from next year the Council will be looking to reduce the bill by £200,000 and one way of realising this reduction would be to hire their own in-house Barrister. 
By implementing the changes which I suggested in 2012 demonstrates the Council having come round to my way of thinking - in effect they have admitted that I was right all along.  Of course, it is great that savings will now be made - but had Labour taken on board my suggestions back in 2012 they would have saved themselves at least £600,000.
On another issue, back in 2013 here: I recommended that Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust be brought back under the control of Wigan Council.  At the time, Opposition Councillors echoed my sentiments because we all felt very strongly about the proposed cuts to front line services.  I can now announce that from April of this year that the majority of WLCT will be brought back under the control of Wigan Council - but once again, had Labour acted on my suggestions earlier, they could have saved millions of pounds which would have resulted in fewer cuts to front-line services.
Who knows, maybe 2015 will be the year that sees Labour listening to and taking on board the views of their Opposition counterparts - it would be nice to think that Labour is now open to common sense solutions.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Save Ashfield Witness Statements

With a public inquiry approaching shortly it is important that we now start to prepare for that 4 day inquiry. We have to do this in a number of ways and there are a number of different areas we need to review and prepare.

One part of the inquiry is that we have to show, demonstrate and evidence how we as a community has used the park and fields. This will be crucial. There are a number of different ways to do this and at the beginning of the campaign we decided on one particular way. The easiest and most consistent way to do this is witness statements. Because we are a member of the open spaces society we discussed this with them and we decided to use their form that they have prepared.

Here is a clip about this.

We have had a tremendous response with approx 200 forms already completed and returned but are we missing something? Yes your voice. We need as many of these witness statements completed and returned.

Here is a link to down load the form here. It takes just about 10 minutes to complete and once you have completed these return to

31 Littleton Grove

It is important to recognise that if there are more than one person in the house each person can complete their own form and return it. It is not one form per house hold, the more the matter and if you want to get your children to complete one they too can do one of these forms.

So come on why not take 10 mins out to try and Save Ashfield.

The closing date to get these to us is the 14 March 2015 so please act now.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Message to Wigan Council Staff

It has been brought to my attention that the Labour supporting Chief Executive of Wigan Council - Donna Hall - has forwarded an email to ALL staff informing them that 4 Councillors have been secretly recording conversations with a view to then using them to bully and/or intimidate staff.  The email implicates both myself and Cllr George Fairhurst amongst others, and I would like to take this opportunity to state categorically that neither of us are in the habit of recording conversations with Council staff.  I know for a fact that Cllr George Fairhurst would not know where to begin - I don't believe he could manage to record an episode of Coronation Street - let alone go about recording people's regular or phone conversations.  There have been occasions when the Chief Executive has enquired as to whether I am recording what she is saying - and she has explained to me that on occasion sensitive matters are discussed and for that reason recording is not allowed - this I do not have a problem with.  
I realise that Council workers often have a demanding role and those who carry out their duties in a politically unbiased manner will no doubt see straight through this veil of lies. I would like to reassure them that I would never invade their privacy as has been suggested -  I work hard as a Councillor for the people of Standish - so it is important to me that I get this message across.  With a General Election looming I imagine we can expect more of this behaviour - it is a sad reflection of local politics that those who stand for fair play are targeted in this manner.

Of course, this all comes on the back of a Senior Official at the Council having swore at me during the week - in response to this I effectively ended the meeting and left the room because they did not have the good grace to apologise and since then they have collectively turned on the attack.  Also, the email was drafted shortly after I had recorded an interview for BBC Radio Manchester - where the Leader of the Council had refused to go on air with me to discuss the embarrassing issue of Historical Abuse at Wigan Care Homes.

I have requested a formal meeting with the Leader Cllr Smith on numerous occasions with a view to resolving matters but each time he refuses.

I have written to the Chief Executive and given her 48 hours in which to provide evidence of these allegations - should she fail to do so, I will have no alternative other than to file a formal complaint against her - she appears to be on some sort of personal crusade against non-Labour Councillors.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Update on Abuse Scandal in Wigan!

In my Blog last November, I raised the subject of the Historical Physical and Sexual Abuse Scandal facing Wigan Council regarding the Wood End facility at Atherton.  There are two comments from members of the public in reply to my Blog who claim that they were abused - both have been informed that their personal records had been lost and both have given statements to Operation Milan, details here:

Since then, the BBC have focused on this story a great deal, resulting in Donna Hall, Chief Executive of Wigan Council being forced to come out today and issue her 'profuse apologies' on behalf of Wigan Council .  It is only as a result of the extensive media coverage that the Council have even bothered to acknowledge or apologise for the abuse that occurred under their noses!

The Wood End facility in Atherton was opened by Lancashire County Council in 1969 as a remand home for boys aged between 10 & 17 years of age. In 1974, Wigan Council took over the running of the home until finally it was closed in 1994.  Since it's closure, three Police Investigations have taken place.  Greater Manchester Police are now investigating more than 40 complaints of Historical Physical and Sexual Abuse at the centre - two people have been interviewed under caution and three others are due to be questioned.

When the allegations of Historical Abuse first surfaced, they were hushed-up - it has taken all this time and Operation Milan - which is also covering the Cyril Smith Abuse Investigation at Knowl View - to finally come to the public attention.  Lord Peter Smith has been the Leader of Wigan Council since 1991 - therefore it follows that some of the abuse probably occurred under his watch.  A senior official at Wigan Council has confirmed to me that all the way through the allegations and Police Investigations that Lord Peter Smith has been aware of things - yet still said or did nothing.  Therefore the Leader must go and go now!  His time is up - he has quite simply let these victims down - both they and the people of Wigan Borough deserve better!

I have spoken with other opposition Councillors and group and they all support me in calling for - first an Extraordinary Council Meeting and secondly for an Independent Investigation of Wigan Council - if the Council refuse this we will simply ensure we get enough signatures in order to then call for an Extraordinary Council Meeting under the Constitution rules.

This story regarding Historical Physical and Sexual Abuse is not about to go away anytime soon - we owe it to the victims of abuse and their families to secure an Independent Investigation.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Standish left with No PCSO's

It has come to our attention that Standish has been left with no PCSO cover, whilst other areas bask with PCSO Standish remains with none. Normally Standish has one Police Officer, which we still have and they do a more specific role and not on the traditional beat, and then we have 2 PCSO's . Currently one of them is injured and currently off work and we wish them a speedy recovery, which is expected to be in a 3 to 4 week period. The other PCSO has had some great news of being pregnant and the force rule means they are now office based.

Swinley and Whitley has 2 PCSO's, Scholes  also has 2. These PCSO's are all in the Wigan Central Ward and are an addition to the 4 that cover the Town Centre.

What is frustrating is that when other areas go down a man/ woman they take one off our PCSO's like they did recently but we never get the favour returned in Standish. Today we made representation to Wigan Police on the matter and said we can't understand why we can't have one of the PCSO's from Whitley/ Swinley. Surely that is not a high crime hot spot. We were told this request would probably not happen and yet again the residents of Standish pay more and get less. With growing crimes with little or no cover the situation will get worse and it is always easier to stop issues before they grow out of control.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Is there a debate to be had to vote for an independent MP at this years' General Election?

On 7th May 2015 along with the usual ballot paper for the candidate who you want to be your local Councillor you will also get an additional paper for who you want to be your MP. Traditionally in General Elections people vote for the political party that they want in power, however with this years polls suggesting it being 50/50 between a Labour or Conservative controlled coalition government then is there a strong argument to vote and have an independent MP in Wigan?

The debate is if you have a Labour MP then Labour does very little for Wigan because it is historic a Labour strong hold and they don't care for people in Wigan, because they take them for granted. However, if an independent MP was elected then if it went to the wire then Wigan's Independent MP would be targeted by both Labour and the Conservative asking for them to vote for them. That way that Independent would be able to get the best deal for Wigan and the people of Wigan in return for their vote. Interesting!

Also the Tory Peer, Lord Ashcroft has suggested it is time to vote strategically saying it is time to vote for not who you want but who you don't want. Given the Tories have never won in Wigan for decades then it is fair to say any one that votes Tory in Wigan wastes their vote. Given the unpopular Lib Dems at the present time it would not them that people vote for.

That leaves UKIP. Given that they are just like the main political parties and just in it for themselves and they have NEVER beaten Labour in Wigan even in by elections. Givent their leader has never been to Wigan would suggest that UKIP are not bothered about Wigan,

So the debate and question is it time to break the mould in Wigan and vote for an Independent?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Labour cancel Public inquiry as they are scared!!!!

We have had communication that the Labour Control Council have scrapped the public hearing for Ashfield because they do not want any controversial issues before the election. What they do ask is that we move it to either the week after the election or the week after that.

The issue is political meddling from Labour and who they and the Council hierarchy are trying to make the best chance for Labour as possible. However, it is very short sighted. Why? Here's why

If Ashfield Public Inquiry goes ahead between the dates of 21 - 24 April that finishes aprox 2 weeks prior to the election and therefore would allow all other issues to be focused on. There could not be any campaigning for any candidate for the 2 weeks before the election because everything that could have been done would have been and it would be a case waiting for the inspector's report to be published. This would come after the election anyway so again that would not have any bearing on the result.

Now by moving the hearing allows us to say send a clear message to the inspector and vote for our official Save Ashfield candidate, as we are the only party trying to save Ashfield. People would be able to vote for Ashfield because the issue would be prior to the hearing.

Also the dates of 21-24 were agreed by myself, the Council and the inspector and now Labour have told their puppets in the top jobs of the Council to tell everyone to cancel it. Political meddling should not be allowed as the public as waited long enough for this hearing.

Ashfield, for us, was never a political issue but the right issue and that is why it should have been heard at the earliest opportunity, which was the 21-24 April 2015. However, we have now been in touch with the inspector and written to him in the strongest of terms asking for the original dates to be brought back. We are also liaising with a lawyer on the matter and if we can take the matter to court to have them impose the dates. Along with this we are consulting with the open spaces society on this important matter for Standish.

This is not an isolated case and next week we will be exposing more fiddling by the Council to hide bad news till after the election.

Voting for the Standish Independent Candidate is the only way to get rid of these corrupt officer, who are held bent on helping Labour at any cost.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The week that ended......1 February '15

Can you believe that we are already in February, January has flown by and Christmas is a distance past and many will be looking forward to Spring, Easter breaks and warmer weather.

I think it is fair to say that currently Ashfield Public Inquiry has taken over a lot of my time now. If you follow the Save Ashfield Facebook page, you will know how much time and effect it is taking. I would like to take this time to thank everyone who is helping. I was speaking to one of the helpers, who has kindly offered to deliver leaflets, and she didn't think she was doing that much but it is and every little helps us. So a big thank you to all the helpers.

In terms of the update for Ashfield I will be address what we are currently doing at tomorrow nights meeting at the Unity Club, so please come along and hear what we are doing, what you can do, if you so wish, and how things will work at the public inquiry. The meeting is at the unity Club at 7.30pm.

Business As Usual (BAU)

However, whilst Ashfield takes a lot of time up there is the usual business as usual to carry out. Tuesday saw all three Wards Councillors spring into action when we were told with little notice that Preston Rd was being closed for 10 days, due to a burst water main. We held a number of emergency calls with the Council and discussions with Unity Utilities to discuss getting a diversion in place ASAP and making sure there was not much confusion with the closure and it seemed to work. Once a water drain burst there is little one can do but fix it but things in place is always needed.

Thursday we had a bit of snow and I am pleased that the Council got round and gritted the roads in Standish including the estates with steeps hills and re filled the grit bins whilst on their rounds, after they were emptied after the last cold spell. See I can speak positively some times about the Council :-).

Later in the week I attended the Audit Committee and there was some good presentations on some work that is being carried out and how some controls are going to be put in place but I have serious concerns that the risk controls are not there for basic risk and therefore how can we have confidence in the big risk controls? For example a few years ago we had a Labour Cllr, Cllr Jeanette Prescott, claiming for  mileage allowance, when she didn't have a car she shared a journey into the Town Hall with her husband - who was also claiming the same mileage. She paid the money back, which is great, and we were told checks would be carried out. But then we have just had ex Labour Cllr Emma McGurrin who claimed for child minding expenses. Now one of the checks the Council should carry out before they pay the claim is check who ever is the child minder is register with the Council. In Labour's Cllr McGurrin now one in the Council checked the register. Had someone done that very simple check they would have discovered it was a false claim. Unless the Council set her up? Food for thought! The checks need to be tight and then once in place for all the risk to the Council they should be carried out. There is no point putting a control in place but then never doing it.

The other side of the Coin!

It was good to hear that a independent Councillor for Hindley Green was on Wish FM discussing the other side of the coin on the goings on in the Council Chamber at the Full Council. Whilst Labour get their puppets in the Town Hall to push out their propaganda that opposition Cllrs are all bad and they don't behave it is refreshing that the other side comes, and that is Labour simply have had it all their own way and now that they are being challenged, pushed and must importantly made to open up and get things to be more transparent they simply don't like it. The Labour Leader has been there too long and for decades there was always just Labour cllrs there and now there are opposition Cllrs he doesn't like it and can't control them. A good example is I saw the Labour Leader and proposed that we have a meeting to try and see if we can improve things a little. I wouldn't disillusion myself thinking we can completed iron things out I would hope we can get some things better. But he simply refused a meeting and said you won't do as you are told. What a dictator!!!

Finishing on a positive note, I am not sure if anyone has been carrying out the #dryjanuary but now we are just passed the ended I wonder how many people who started it stuck to it. I am pleased with myself that I did it and get through it. I have had one message that was funny. People in Wigan need to drink because of all the socialist that run this town. Good humorous banter. Anyway, anyone that did it well done.