Tuesday, 27 October 2015

It's all going off in the house!

Last night opened up so much debate in the houses of parliament.

First of all the lords defeated the Tory Government on Tax credits and now the Government has to rethink this area. Obviously, people are concerned with the changes to the tax credit system, including a number of Tory MP's. The Government plowed ahead with it anyway. But when it went to the House of Lords they defeated the proposal and they want the government to rethink this.

The Chancellor, George Osbourne, said he will listen and will try to get a consensus that both houses are happy with. Great statement but he then went on to question the constitutional process, i.e the House of Lords having this power.

There are two issues here. First of all the Government are trying to say that these people are un-elected and they should do what the elected Government was given power to do. The problem with this was David Cameron said in the run up to the General Election was tax credits would not be touched. Obviously some may say he lied, others may say he had to change it but when he made that pledge he thought he could keep it.

Secondly, the House of Lords are there to do what they did last night and keep the elected Government in check when they go to far. Therefore, many will say that last night was proof that the system works. Controversial but interesting to see how it ends.

David Cameron is now ordering an urgent review as it is clear he doesn't want this to happen again.

For me both arguments have a point, the House of Lords are un-elected but it is clear that many, including Tory MP's, thought this change in the tax system was too far and therefore they did the right thing last night by keeping the Government in check.

For me there should be two types of pledges. A and B. A are if that party goes into coalition or win out right control these pledges will not be changed or missed out. If so then the electorate have the power to call for a new election on the basis that party failed to keep their A Pledges. B pledges would be things that they want to do but if they went into coalition or won then they may change. Almost like a wish list. If this was in place then it would have been interesting to see where the Lib Dems would have put scrapping tuition fees. Had it been a A pledge then people could have called for a new election. Had it been a B pledge then people would have known it was a wish. Here on tax credits when the PM said he wouldn't change tax credits again people could have seen the pledge rating and known where it lay with him, priority or wish list.

Also the Government had to give way in the house of Commons on the Finance Bill, to get it through. This was over Ladies Sanitary Products. This is because the EU say that they are luxury items and therefore VAT has to be charged on the products. However, men's razor are deemed to be an essential item by the EU and therefore are VAT exempt. How on earth can the EU say this? So the Government conceded this needs to be addressed and will take it up with the EU.  

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The week that ended.......26 Oct '15

Bit of a mix bag this week. I heard at the beginning of the week that the Founder of the Community Action Party, Peter Franzen, is now a paid up member of the Labour Party. I would suspect that with Jeremy Corbyn has similar views to Peter. The Community Action was the biggest threat to Labour in Wigan. At one point in their height of success they had 18 Cllrs. Some achievement that no other party has managed. I wonder what the Labour members think in the Council Chamber?

Street Lighting resolved
I had noticed that the streets lights were playing up in Standish this week, especially those on Preston Rd and Avondale Rd. Not sure if the timings where set incorrectly as there were turned off earlier and turned on late. This has been reported and I believe they are back to normal now.

Helping out on parking Issues.
We have been working with residents on Church Street, where the double yellow lines are. These were put in near the old doctors surgery and now that has closed some residents wanted these gone to allow more parking. This is because there is in adequate parking in the area. We agreed with the residents and worked with the Council and now the Council have agreed to reduced the length of the lines and also to make them a single yellow line. This will allow residents to park there at nights and weekends. Residents are pleased with this and it shows more success for residents.

UK open for business of up for sale?
This week say the UK Government showing that they are asking China for a load of money. There is one thing to say, and promote the UK as open for Business, but I wonder if the sign really says UK for Sale? Given that China has an appalling record on Human Rights too one must ask will the Tories do a deal with anyone just to get their hands on their money? Working in partnership is good and one thing but it seems that this is not a partnership but just a hand out and given that the Steel industry is collapsing in the UK because of China dumping steel on to our shores cheaply I wonder if all the deals where worth it and/ or right?

Do you know of a Child not getting any presents this year? 
Finally Christmas is coming fast and I would like to know if you know of any child that is not getting any presents, or few, because of the family struggling? If you do please let me know at the usual address garethfairhurst@gmail.com . I heard of a child last year not getting any presents because of their personal situations and I think we as a Community would only be to glad to help. So let me know if you hear of any child or family in this position.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Wigan Council get caught out with their Baloney!!!

Wigan Council have put out yet more propaganda. That is putting it nicely, others may just say lies but yet in truth, the truth is in the details.

The issue is Ashfield. I asked the Council some time ago was it true that they spent £70,000 on a barrister to stop the Ashfield Village Green public inquiry even happening? The Council said they would not release that information. 

However what they are trying to push is that the village green public inquiry wasted £36,025. Below is there Press Release and breakdown in figures.

The cost to Wigan Council in processing the town or village green application and holding a non-statutory public inquiry is £36,025 made up as follows:

 Inspector’s fee £8,475 
Objector’s barristers fee £14,500 
Objector’s Solicitor time cost £6,400 (approximately 100 hours work) 
Registration Authority Solicitor time cost £6,000 (approximately 90 hours work) 
Admin (Bundle Costs) £450
 Press Notice of Inquiry £200 

The element in black are what the are, However the figures in red are council officers time. 
The first thing to note is if the Village Green didn't go ahead then the Council would still have paid the officers their salary. Fact! So no additional cost there.

Then let's look at the figures. The first two represent 2 Council officers. Let's call them X and Y. I don't think we need to know their names, although I do. Names are not important but figures are.

For the Objector's Solicitor (x) they say £6,400 for 100 hours work. That works out at £64 per hour. Given that their contractual hours are probably 35 hours per week that means 100 hours work out at just over 3 Weeks. For easy of the figures let's call it 3 weeks worth of work. 

So the Council is saying for person x they get paid £6,400. That works out at £2,133 per week, approx. Times that by 52 weeks of the year you get person x is on a salary on just under £111,000.
Now what we have to remember that this person is not an executive officer or executive. The PM only earns £142,000 per year and this person is earning over 75% of his wage. 

For the Registration Authority Council (person y) again they work for the Council and would have got their salary anyway. But if you then work out his salary, using 90 hours at 2.5 weeks then his salary is just under £125,000. Again he's just an officer and not a member of the executive. Again compare that against the PM's salary, ridiculous.

As for £450 for the bundle, I have no idea where they got that figure from because it was only one file they produced. If it costs the council £450 to make a bundle then they need to outsource that.

Also they say I cost them the £14,500 for their barrister. No they choose to hire a barrister. They have an internal legal team already and they could have represented the council but they didn't.


I don't believe that person x and y are are on the salary's that the council are claiming and if they are serious questions are needed. Especially when this Labour council are asking people to do the job of the Council for free - the deal! We all remember Don't blame the council.

For me these figures should not be included because they were getting paid anyway and therefore not a direct cost for the Village Green. But the Council simply make these figures up to try and push their propaganda. One word Jackanory!

So the true figure for me is that the Village Green cost just over £8,500. Given up until recently that this Labour controlled Council spent £75,000 on free meals and drinks for Cllrs £23,000 is small. 

What is also important to recognise that it is the independent Inspector that recommends a hearing or not. If they do not feel their is a strong enough case for a hearing they recommend to through it out. On the basis that the independent Inspector said that Village Green had merit to be explored means that I did not waste this money at all as it wasn't my call to say whether we got a hearing or not nor was it my call that the Council choose to hire a barrister costing nearly £15,000. 

Council's will have to pay money for numerous things. The people of Standish pay the most in the borough and losing virtually all their green open land, golf course and the line. Also losing employment area in Bradley Hall Trading Estate (50%) being turned into houses too. So any action from any one to try and keep green open land, especially important land like Ashfield is worth it.

The fact is in 2012 the emails we have seen under the Freedom of Information proves they were hell bent on selling to persimmon/ morris homes. We stopped it then and now the Council have been saying this then we have it so far on the record that they will not sell Ashfield I wonder what they will say the reason for the sale in the 2nd half  of 2016. Or maybe we have backed the council into a corner to protect Ashfield. If this is the case then the money that has been spent on Ashfield is well worth it.     

As for this press release that the Wigan Evening post are going to run with and won't publish my comments just proves that they back Labour and not interested in fair unbiased reporting because I bet they don't mention the figures in the way I have. Surely there is a story for them to ask why two normal officers are being paid so much. Will they ask the Council? No. Then they wonder why no one buys their rag? 

The figure prove how the Council lie and to what extent, if I was the local paper I wouldn't want to try and explain these figures. Surely unbiased reporting is interesting rather than just pushing Labour's propaganda! 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The week that ended.......11 October 2015

Another week floats on by, well not sure about floating seems to be going faster and faster and the darker nights are a sure signs that things are a changing. I guess when the clocks go forward that's it in for the long Winter haul. To be fair the weather hasn't been that bad - yet.

So this week a number of issues have popped first is:-

New Law Plastic Bags

Last Monday saw a new law whereby you have to pay 5p per plastic bag. The Government has brought this law in England to bring it in lane with Scotland, Wales and NI. Also the reason is to try and get people to re-cycle more and there is not lots of these plastic bags rotting for 000's of years in land fill.

Trying to encourage re-cycling has to be a good thing but will 5p do the job? I guess it will have a n impact but how much, time will tell.

The thing I don't get is we can put man on the moon but we can't make a substitute bag for the plastic bag, that has the same strength and all the other characteristics of a Plastic bag with the exception of not taking so long to rot?

Devo-Manc - more money

So Devo-Manc is this new Government and Local Authorities in Great er Manchester thing where by more power and influence is decided at a local level.  Not a too bad idea in some ways. This is because the Country is not all like London but then we do need to have some centralisation between the different parts of the Country.

However, there is now a campaign for more money, this is backed by a number of publications like the Wigan Evening Post. They want the deal to have another £6bn. The deal has been done!

In the main the local Authorities in Greater Manchester are made up of Labour Controlled Councils, with the exception of 1, which is Trafford. They agreed the figure and signed the deal. You simply can't agree a deal and then say, "O we don't like it - we want more money." If they thought it was such a bad deal is this now Labour realising that, although in some ways a good concept, in practical terms they can't deliver? Won't be the first time. But time will tell.

On this matter it was only recently that the Chancellor, George Osborne, was in China asking them for money for this area. Why?

Street Parking in Standish

As Local Cllrs we get many comments about street parking but I had one Gentleman contact me this week about parking in Church Street. Outside and around the old Doctors surgery are the double yellow lines and now the doctors's surgery is no longer there then why can't we have the double yellow lines removed? Good question and one that we will be putting to the Council this week and this will help in some small way to local residents.

Should you have any comments or suggestion please get in touch on 01257 42 32 12.

Wigan Warriors

Got to say bad luck for the warriors in last night's Grand Final. Let's see if we can break the run next year by winning it.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The week that ended....04 Oct '15

So another week has passed and we are now getting into October. Soon be..... no I'm not going to say it. Many may be trying to stop smoking with the Stoptober campaign and any one doing, or trying that, good luck to you.


So the week didn't start off that great for Standish with the news that the inspector, who over saw Ashfield Village Green, has recommended not to register it as a Village Green. We have a small number of months now to review, in detail, that recommendation and see if we want to appeal it. A tough challenge but one that we need to review.

Wigan Council said that they never intended to sell Ashfield and this was all a waste of money and time. They said that they are looking into put the area into the historic part. That does not in anyway protect Ashfield. The only thing that does it make the value of the land go up, and then who benefits from that ? The Council when they sell it. 

I don't believe they will sell it yet. With the last local election next year for 2 yrs they will probably wait till after then and do it shortly after because there will not be a chance for people to forget, or get used to it not being there. 

Labour has said that it cost the Council £32,000 and this has put a strain on the budgets for vulnerable children in the borough. Fistly, I will be the last person to take that from Labour after they closed Mere Oaks Special school and putting the most vulnerable children in our borough lives in chaos, and I saw this. Next does Wigan Council really believe that people will believe that £32,000 will put budgets at risk? In fact the true cost of the Village Green is nearly £70,000 because over the years the council didn't want to get to a public hearing. 

I would like to thank everyone that has emailed,spoken or called me with their comments of thanks. As many say at least we stopped them in 2012 from building and if and when they come back we will stop them again. A small comfort but yes the email from the Council proves and demonstrates, especially the bit where the Council says to Persimmon Homes that the car park and play area has to stay, allowing houses on the playing fields, the bit we were trying to save forever, that they were planning on this.

I quite often put links on to the story but with Ashfield I have written to such I would recommend you type in Ashfield in the search box in the top left hand corner of the page and hit enter to see them all.

School bus service improved.

Last week members of the public contacted me over Winstanley school bus service that was not good enough and there were students being left behind. I am pleased to say that I was able to step in and get the Council to work on our behalf with Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive and now they have agreed to put more bus places on and this will mean that no student is left stranded again. Good Result. Here is that story.

New Labour Leader

So the new left wing socialist leader has said a speech this week that people shouldn't accept what they are given. I do believe he was talking about the cuts the Tory Government is making. Not sure of he wanted the Country to do a mass walk out, which would never happen, but the point of people not accepting what they get from government is interesting. Given that Wigan Council is a Local Government then I wonder what the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suggest with all these houses that we are being told by this Labour Council we have to accept?

On Labour it is interesting that the Labour Candidate for Standish who has come third for the last 2 years is praising the Tory this week. And now she is copying me by having a blog. So after all her mouthing off she has no ideas of her own but praises the Tory's and copy's my blog. I guess if she is selected again next year another third place she will get. Although, the tory's are trying to get her not to stand and therefore not allow any splitting of any anti Fairhurst vote. For me I sit back and smile. Labour would never step down and allow that! We live in democracy and let 2 or 22 people stand in the election and let the people decide.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

Great outcome for students

Last week I wrote about students that live in Standish and attend Winstanley are being left behind because there was not enough bus places. Here is that story.

Parents were getting sick of no action and they decided to contact me and ask me for help. I am pleased to announce that after I wrote to the Council about the matter and say how disgusted I was that students were being left behind and this was not acceptable to me. Also with the cold and dark nights coming up fast I wanted an speedy resolution to the matter.

I am pleased that the Council got on it straight away and contact Greater Manchester Transport, who supply the yellow buses, and then they agreed to put on more extra places so that no student is left behind again.

I am glad that I was able to get a quick and satisfactory resolution to the matter and I know that parents have been told too and many have contacted me and said thanks. Glad to help. Hopefully GMPtE will keep all the bus places on and not reduce them.