Friday, 31 July 2015

Save Ashfield Update - Evidence Delivered.

The last weeks or so have been busy, confirming, collating and printing all the evidence that we have collected over the last three and a half years. Obviously the Save Ashfield campaign started back in early 2012. Much has been said and done over those three and a half years. 

Today was the recommend date set by the independent inspector for both myself, as the applicant, and Wigan Council, the sole objector, for the Ashfield Village Green Application. However, this was only a recommend date because the hearing is classed as a "non statutory" hearing, meaning that the registration authority - which is also Wigan Council, organises the hearing after getting recommendations from the independent Inspector. In fact should we be successful in the Village Green Public Inquiry it will be a recommendation made by the Independent Inspector and then the Council themselves will either make the order to make Ashfield a Village Green or deny it. However, whilst this may cause concern that the Council can ignore the recommendation made by the Inspector they would have to have a very good reason otherwise they leave themselves open to a legal challenge. 

Back to today, this was the day recommended for both sides to hand over their evidence to the other side. The Council earlier this week confirmed the date had moved to next Tuesday at 4pm. 

Whilst we had arranged to go and do the exchange today when we arrived the Council, again as the objector wasn't ready with their evidence. So after arriving with 8 large lever arch files with 000's of pages of evidence and the Council wasn't ready with theirs I left - with all the evidence and I will hand over only when Wigan Council have theirs ready.
Whilst Wigan Council has tried so many times over the last few years, and certainly over the last few weeks, to try and discredit the campaign it shows today with all our evidence, they have failed - monumentally. The residents have helped with 00's of witness statements and also rallied to help fund the skeleton legal argument that is in the bundles too. 

However, with the deadline for the evidence to be exchanged moved to Tuesday it now gives anyone that was thinking of doing a Witness Statement the last chance to complete one. Should you want to help and give your voice and backing to the campaign and join the 000's that already have please just email me at .

After the deadline has passed there will not be another chance to put in your witness statements. They only take a few minutes to download, print out and then fill out. We can come and collect them from you too. Then from Tuesday we will be working with the people that have agreed to speak at the public hearing and working on our case that we will be presenting at the Public Inquiry.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

The week that ended....19 July 2015

What a week. Earlier in the week we had full Council. This is where ever 8 weeks the full council meets. The agenda is set out and been worked like that for years. I believe it is law to have it laid out this way. Why am I talking about an agenda? Well yet again Wigan Council have changed the rules to suit them. Now the Council has changed the rules to allow the Chief Executive to add or remove items from the agenda. They say it will streamline meetings. Given that some only last 5 mins how much more do they want to streamline? Call me a cynic but this is so Labour can get their CE to remove items that they don't want to discuss - things like Don't Blame the Council! Then in it's place they will put something else in it;'s place and when we say Labour are doing this, they will cry, " O no it's the unbiased CE." Or is it a case of the tail wagging the dog? I say this because Full Council meetings are there to discuss the mandatory items and then Cllrs can put forward items that they consider important, i.e things like Mere oaks, Ashfield and Don't Blame the Council. With regards Mere Oaks as an example Labour must be kicking themselves that they didn't change the rules back then. That way they could have done the Chinese version of tiananmen square and then said, "O no it never happened, parents are lying."

On Don't Blame the Council TV programme, the council, i.e Chief Executive and Leader have said they are carrying out an internal review and they are looking at emails to see how it was aired in that way? For me wrong set of questions. First of all I don't believe for one minute the Chief Executive or the Leader didn't know about it. I would guess they signed it off. Now the council has suspended another officer of the council. Some are saying scapegoats. The leader and Chief Executive must be included in any investigation otherwise if they are not and were to blame they will simply cover up their failings and accuse others.

Secondly, it is important that the people of the borough find out the truth and some mickey mouse white wash is not allowed to be carried out.

Finally, what is equally important is that the Council find out not how it was aired in this way but why the Council has been allowed to become like this? It is the leaders fault - the people at the top, not the normal work force.

If an independent investigation is not ordered then the Leader and Chief Executive must go. It is a disgrace that they have run the council in this manner!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Last Night's Full Council

Last night was the full council meeting. what a farce! The reason I say this is clear, more than ever Labour do not want to discuss things that matter to people's lives in Wigan like the highly disturbing TV program, Don't Blame the Council. Yet Labour wanted to talk about how opposition Cllrs that oppose and challenge some of the decisions bring the Council's good name into disrepute. Labour waffle and waflle about how opposition Cllrs do this and do that.

I wanted to bring up Don't Blame the Council and yet again Labour get the Council to come up with some advice, like we can't talk about it. Rubbish!

Also the Labour lot changed the rules again by allowing the Chief Executive position to be able to add and or remove items to the Councillors full council meetings. This is clearly the tail wagging the dog. In this world of democracy the good people of Wigan choose who they want to represent them. Then they should be allowed to go and discuss things that matter and no civil servant should get involved with politics.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Can't speak on Don't blame the Council

I attended the Council's Audit meeting tonight and the first item on there was the annual report. In this report it talks about everything, including finance. As soon as the item was started Wigan Council told the meeting that they cannot talk about, Don't talk about the Council. When I asked why we can't talk about it it was because we can't. After more probing they said it is because there is a live investigation and we can't prejudice it as staff need to have a fair hearing, which suggests some heads can roll.

I pushed further and said taking that on board why can we not talk about it in general terms. Answer no. What a Farce! I then was so disgusted at this I asked that the video recording taking place on the meeting to be put on the Council's website so the public can see what just happened? Guess what the Council said it wasn't on and they only record it if someone else does. I saw the video recorder in the room taping but the Council doesn't want people to see what just happened and how there is no democracy in Wigan.

I say whilst yes staff should be able to get a fair hearing I say something else equally important the people of Wigan deserve their elected members to discuss what is important to them. I am putting a motion to Full Council next week, I know the council have said I can't because there was no seconder put in on time but under Part 4 section 10 of the Constitution says that elected members can put motions to the Council without notice. Then the Council votes whether they discuss the motion or not. I have been told by Wigan Council if I do this the advice to the Cllrs is you can't talk about it whilst there is an investigation going on. As some people have said - investigation or cover up?

I believe that members of the public that voted which ever candidate in would want them to discuss this important matter on their behalf.

After hearing what i have just heard and seen what I have saw the Council is more Wigan Clowncil. Fancy taping a meeting in front of everyone and then saying it's not on? Just so you don't see how they cover things up and this you can blame the Council for!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Fighting Mould in Council Property

Recently a number of people have asked if I can publish their stories on my blog. These are real stories from real people in Standish. I am quite happy to do this and the first one that I am starting off with is a story from a resident that is fighting mould in their Council property. They have asked and asked for the Wigan and Leigh homes to help solve the matter and they feel they are getting nowhere. They have asked for a house move but been refused. It also has a number of photos at the bottom too.

Fighting Mould

I first moved in to the house in late October 2013. The mould was there when I moved in. It had been hidden by furniture and pictures and wiped so it wasn't as noticeable. The damage in the house was also hidden until I moved in and saw the bare house as it was. There is mould in every corner of the house, the smell of mould is atrocious when the windows are closed. The damp has caused woodworm in both of the bathrooms. The council have replaced the upstairs bathroom door as it had so many holes in and woodworm coming out of it. The inspector looked at the downstairs bathroom door frame and said he would leave that as it didn't look bad. There are about 10-12 little holes and have woodworm in and out of them daily. My clothes and wardrobe have been ruined by the mould. I had to throw out most of my clothing and the wardrobe as it was the only way to get rid of the mould. My clothes are now in vacuum bags in my drawers, which are also covered in and smell like mould. I had kept my daughters cot disassembled in my room since she grew out of it and have had to take it to the tip as it was full of mould and I couldn't have let a child sleep in it even if it had been cleaned. My daughter now has asthma and uses an inhaler due to the mould spores in the air.

I reported the problem a few weeks after moving in to the property and was told 'due to agreeing to a mutual exchange' I wasn't entitled to any repairs for 12 months.

I reported the mould and damage again after 12 months and they sent an inspector out, who told me that it may be due to the way I was living, and if not then it would clear up as the previous tenants had a dryer and this could have been the cause. I wasn't happy with this and the mould kept growing, so I reported it again and the same inspector was sent out who walked around and left saying 'I'll get it sorted.' After it was not 'sorted' after a few months, I reported it again. The same inspector came the third time. He walked around and said he would 'get them to paint some mould stuff' over the mould but that I would not be able to paint or wall paper over it. He also said it could be due to me drying clothes on the radiators. I had one sheet on my bedroom radiator that wouldn't fit on the maiden and it was in the middle of winter. Also, he told me that I didn't open my windows enough, even though I have them open all day every day, although just on the catch when I go out. He also said that he would get a vent installed in my bedroom, the living room, the downstairs bathroom and the one in the kitchen replaced. A few weeks later a mears employee came to install two vents, one in each bedroom. I told him that my daughters bedroom didn't need a vent as it is not mouldy. I told him the vents were for mould and he told me that the problem would only be fixed if the corners of the house were properly insulated and that 'the council don't do that'. The vent has not solved the problem, it lets in a lot of noise, especially when its windy and because I live on a main road with plenty of traffic from 6am every morning. The mould is still growing and myself and my daughter have seemed to be nothing but ill since moving into the property.

The 'mould spray' hasn't been painted on the walls, even though I was told it would be, at least six months ago. My daughter's health is at stake and the council aren't helping. The house next door but one, was my grandma's house until she moved into a care home recently. I moved into this property to help take care of my grandma. I asked the council for a mutual exchange with my grandma's house after she moved out and they said to apply. We did, all forms were signed, lost and signed again. Both houses went on to the mutual exchange list and then a very rude lady came to my house to tell me that because my grandma has dementia, they can't accept forms to exchange and therefore it would not go forward. That same day, Mears vans moved in and started to work on my grandma's house. They couldn't accept a mutual exchange but could accept her giving her house up. Work was then carried out from 8am until 4pm every day for three weeks. My grandma had always looked after her home and it was in a lot better condition than my new home. Unnecessary repairs were carried out every day for three weeks and at least twice a week for the next 4 weeks. I was told I could apply for my grandma's home and that I would be sent the forms. This was 4th May and it is now the 23rd June and I still haven't received those forms. The house has now been taken off the housing list.

My property has an infestation of woodworm, they are all over the house, there was even one in my bed when I pulled the covers back two nights ago and I now have a problem with silverfish. Both of which like to live in damp conditions. The last inspector to visit about the woodworm said that it was the only case he'd ever known of and that they normally live in floorboards. This was not helpful to my situation. The house needs fumigating and repairing throughout.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The week that was....05 July 2015

So another week passes and we enter into the month of July. Time fly's when you are having fun, as they say. People are talking about Christmas already, which seems a bit early.

For myself this week started of with a meeting about Ashfield and an update on what was happening. The Friday before I was meant to get 5000 leaflets to distribute and that would have informed people of the meeting. the printer did not deliver the leaflets, which let us down a bit. So only a couple of residents who are wanting the Village Green turned up as they saw the poster in a shop window.

 I know that the Council and the other political opponents of the Village Green will be happy for Ashfield not to get Village Green status, which then allows the Council to build on it, they will be happy at the dismal turnout too. I then went knocking on people door's and asking them what they think.

The response has been fantastic. The main theme - we all got the council leaflets and thought lying gits. Only one said he was not sure what to think but he was moving out of Standish any way. Other comments after seeing that program about the Council they don't want to believe or trust them to pick litter up and want them out. Good Call. So much so a number of residents are now wanting to get involved with us politically and this too is heartening.

Back on Ashfield we have to exchange the bundles of evidence later this month and we will see what the council are saying and they will see our argument. we both then have till the start of the Public Inquiry to prepare for the inquiry, which starts on the 1st of Sept. A member of the public asked me to ask the council - where will they extend the historic gardens for Ashfield and will it included all the front part of the fields. As usual no answer from Wigan Council.

On the Don't blame the Council people will be also heartened that I submitted a motion to the next Full Council meeting to call for a full investigation. This has now started and the officer running the dept has been relieved of his duties whilst an investigation goes on. For me this is not completely what I was after but I want a full investigation, i.e. we don't just want a scapegoat scenario. For me the Councillor in charge of that dept should be removed out of Cabinet and also the Leader of the Council should go. I say this because in the first part the cabinet member should have known what the council dept was run like and he has allowed this. Secondly, many agree that the Council has become a joke, which is a shame as there are many many hard working people but the Leader has allowed it to be run like an organisation for the 70's. It needs a full overhaul.

I will be back out door knocking in a little while and quite possible more during the week. We have the Wigan Jazz Festival on and I think I will also pop down to a couple of the shows. If you are going - see you there.