Archive | August, 2011

Be my Valentine!

31 Aug

One cheer for Kempston Cllr James Valentine for having the ordacity to break away from the unofficial but everyone knows about it coalition with the Lib Dems by having a pop at the Mayor of Trumpton and also the Conservative MP for Bedford Richard Fuller (a name to play with).

James impressed us so much with his having attended various council meetings but not having said anything of any note in the minutes. But he has impressed us a little bit.

The meeting at which this outburst was made was Bedford Against The Cuts. Mabe there’s a “n” missing here.

James who wears Harry Potter glasses described the Bedford MP as a disaster, an outpouring that Fuller must have found mildly irritating however he saved his fire for Trumpton’s Mayor by calling him a hypocrite. Wow! Lib Dem cuts apologist Michael Headley however makes a very telling point that all three political groups and the independents are busy being very supportive of cutbacks and redundancies. 

Our new found Valentine also revealed that the Labour Party will soon reveal their candidate for the next general election or prospective parliamentary candidate in the coming months. The excitement is intense, things can only get better. Probably not.

Once you reach the conclusion that voting makes not one iota of difference it becomes easy take a dismissive view of name calling as a) its not going to do anything and b) its definately not going to do anything particularly as the rest of the Labour Group on the Borough Counncil have either gone on the payroll as Portfolio Holders (an extra £10,000 a year on top of the basic £10,000 plus fuel and food) or taken a vow of silence.

Bit we will give James the benefit of the doubt and say keep it up and we really do wonder who the next Labour candidate for Bedford might be? hmmmmm!

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Anarchist Bookfair coming soon!

29 Aug

Working on It! and Hodgson’s Choice

29 Aug

A good do in the Ship on Cuthberts St on Sunday night, Steve’s jigging to the band (bluesy type stuff) Ms S is people watching with a bottle of Shiraz, Gill’s over with the landlord starting off a new religion after the cat came back from the dead and DTis teaching one of the regulars to dance!

Rich turned up and as a result of his suggestion that some parts of Bedford-Bypass seem unfinished, well he’s right, its unfinished which is why we haven’t gone as live as we might like, that will follow when all the links are up and the content is loaded.

In the meantime Watch Out Hodgson’s About. Apparently the Mayor of Trumpton with an abysmal share of an abysmal vote is visiting various rural areas, 60 villages in 30 days.

As anarchists we want everyone to play a full part in running society. Dave wants us to rubber stamp cut after cut after cut to save £36million over the next four years. This is going to devastate local services, put many out of work yet at the same time he’s just recruited a new personal assistant on £30,000 to help him manage his workload. I can’t recall seeing that in his manifesto. Sounds like Hodgsons Choice!

Agency breakthrough

29 Aug

I was asked to meet one of the Borough Council’s rubbish collection chaps on Sunday, he like many of the councils frontline workers don’t actually work for the authority but through an agency where many of them have languished for years with crap wages, crap holidays, working every bank holiday and sod all chance of promotion. Crap crap crap. Get flu, loose three days pay so they are effectively forced into work in all all sorts of crap weather.

Well word has it that its changing as from October and they are to be moved into Borough Council positions although from what I cab gather they are all going on three months probabtion so they won’t get the same rates of pay as the existing Borough staff till December which doesn’t sound either legal or fair.

The collection rounds themselves are changing into what will be a four day week which could be both interesting and chaotic and the workers themselves are going down to 37 hours a week.

I’ve asked to see any paperwork relating to this and Gill has offered to continue scanning whatever the borough produce for any anything detrimental! We shall continue this thread.

Traffic Chaos Theory

27 Aug

Our correspondent from over Tavistock Street writes…..

Full credit where its due, the Borough are now intent on boosting the economy of Bedford by recreating the basics of the heart of London here in our little town. Like London we can spend vast quantities of time sitting in endless traffic jams.

Whoever allowed the traffic lights at the Bedford Modern School to be put there, should be sentenced to sit in the horrendous traffic jams these cause until such time that a bridge, or underpass or who cares what, is put in their place. It beggars belief that the Council could have agreed to these lights, in a place that during rush hour periods was already one of the most congested junctions in Bedford. If the final bit of the by-pass is ever built, things will get even better. Although we add that this blog is not named after the by-pass, we nicked the title from someone else.

As far as we can tell the person best able to sort this out is Stewart Briggs who earns £130,000 each year. We asked the Borough press office for a comment on the traffic problems in that part of town and spokesperson said “this is beyond us, we aren’t up to this sort of thing”

Shhhh!

26 Aug

Keep this quiet but there’s a band on at The Ship this Sunday called Mojo, now the Noice Officer was kicking up a fuss about The Ship a few weeks back so hopefuly they will be playing with cotton instead of nylon strings, no amps and cushions on the drums. The lyrics will be on cardboard rather than sung so it should be a sedate affair.

This is a pub for f**ks sake, most of the bands there are not exactly your Kerrang / monster bash types, people deserve a bit of enjoyment.

On a similar front you may have seen reports of the pubs cat coming back from the dead half an hour after they buried it. Weird or what. Now there’s a bunch of nice but otherwise odd people round the corner convinced that when Jesus comes back he’s going to live in Bedford which is going to be much safer than the Middle East and he should be OK providing he stays away from the nails section of the hardware shop opposite The Bear (best pub in town). The resurrection of Louis the Cat can only be down to this being a blessed area of town and this miracle needs to be celebrated, possibly by going to The Ship on Sunday 28th. The fact that Steve knows the drummer is totally coincidental by the way.

Gill McC blogging from a rainy Preston.

Fudge anybody?

25 Aug

An earlier blog told of Ruth Lutt who was the Mayors PA for what we believe was 7 years though Rutrh had worked there for much longer. Ruth was made redundant last month and in addition to redundancy there’s a gagging order payment involved. Then the re-worded PA post advertised recently is on a higher salary. Good on you Ruth for staying put, Hodgson must have been squirming. He’s always come across to me as thick. skinned.

Depsite this cost the Borough Council press office has released a comment saying that this little exercise hasn’t actually cost us anything. I hope that has they look at cuts in Adult and Childrens Services they don’t appy a similar level of unique  mathematics.

We are hearing of shedloads of agency workers being thrown on the scrapheap at the Borough and you can see this in the monthly report of expenditure. As has been said before agency staff don’t count as they are secret people and so when they issue statements about how many long servibg staff members are out on their ear, the numbers are always massaged.

You can be a temporary worker for the Council for in some cases 15 years, be kicked out at a weeks notice without a bean or a “thank you”.

This is your Council! We hope you like it!

Silence at the back please!

23 Aug

Last week the Chief Exec of the Borough Council Phil Simpkins was urging us to get ourselves onto the elctoral register so we can vote!
Last year the Borough was dishing out information about what Councillors do and I guess encouraging us to consider joining the ranks of the great and good. Its an attractive financial proposition being a Councillor these days, basic allowance of £10,000, plus mileage and food allowance and then if you keep quiet and get the pat on the head you might end up as Portfolio Holder! Nice!

If like me you have few friends and don’t get out much other than the country dancing down Flitwick you might enjoy having a gawp at the Borough Council website and the minutes of council meetings. If you do get to become a councillor you might get on a good committee, attend a meeting and still be able to listen to The Archers. Take the Corporate Services Overview and Srutiny Committee on 19th July, it started at 6.30pm and ended at 6.53pm, let me make life that bit easier and tell you that it lasted 23 minutes and seven councillors were present. Don’t worry this seems to be a one off for this meeting, the June meeting managed 44mins, they must have been squirming.

Elswhere the Bedford Tree Forum (?) in January with four councillors and three apologies  managed 14 minutes, the one before that in Jan 2010 lasted an astounding 4 minutes. The previous meeting came in at a staggering 30minutes possibly making up for the fact that there were no meetings since 2005 the last one of which clocked up 19minutes. I’m not making this up, have alook.

The trustees of the Bedford and Freemans and Commons (???) meeting on the 25th January stretched to a agenda packed 4 mins and at this point if there’s a saving grace to the “Carry On” its the fact that the cast of this unfathomable committee are the same as for the Tree Forum and the meetings are held back to back so it would be reassuring to here that we only pay for Sid James, Kenneth Williams et al the once rather than for each meeting.

Some nice people have taken up the offer to become Councillors. I’m being sarcastic, the chance of anyone getting onto the council without being a paid up member of one of the three main parties is bloody remote. There’s a few of independents, some of which are longstanding which is a nice way of saying that in some cases they’ve long been kicked into the long grass. Then there’s Doug McMurdo who features in the “Missing inaction” post from last week. Don’t get me wrong he’s a nice bloke, I got rat arsed with him in the Bullnose Bat a few years back, he serves his ward very well but as the last surviving Better Bedford councillor I expected far better from him.

Onto the new boys and first up is Jon Gambold who looks like ex MP Patrick Hall with a wig (take a look), second is James Valentine who is down in Kempston and third but by no means last is Henry Vann who in his official picture looks to be eating sweets. At the June Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny meeting in June (45 minutes) Henry can only have been studying the agenda and papers very closely as he doesn’t appear to have said anything worthy of inclusion into the minutes. Same for John and James, no comment!

Now I’m in danger of painting myself into a corner as I get really narked with councillors who like the sound of their own voice or the ones that go to great length to get their picture in the paper for things not connected with their duties as a councillor (John Mingay has a PhD in this). So given that its only three months into the council cycle I’ll assume that as new boys they are biding their time before they let rip (more so in James Valentine’s case as he’s Labour and no doubt ready to get stuck in against cuts in the Adult and Childrens Service budget.

I’ve worked in local government since 1986, with 9 years of this with the County Council and then three years with the Borough Council. 12 years living in Cauldwell ward which holds recognised pockets of serious deprivation during which I’ve come into contact with councillors of all colours and none. Some stand out as real voices for common sense and are much missed (Bill Astle and Bob Elford to name two) but the labour group on the Borough Council may as well not be there.

There’s a very complex relationship between councillors and senior officers as they depend on each other for their long term survival and I’ve been party to phone calls where councillors will demand the impossible and officers will oblige. Councillors like to show that they can get things done even if its pushing someone elses needs down the list whilst officers like to show willing so that backs can continue to be scratched. I will return to this theme at some future point.

Steve Watson

Rather attractive don’t you agree?

22 Aug

Comic Strip returns with a dig at Tony Blair

22 Aug

THE HUNT FOR TONY BLAIR’ scripted by Peter Richardson for Channel 4 will be the first Comic Strip production for years. To soak up maximum outrage it will go out this autumn on the day of the Chilcott Inquiry report. It will have Blair implicated in murdering John Smith and pushing Robin cook off a cliff…so fake controversy guaranteed. The programme will probaby generate more controversy than the clapped out old Chilcott report. I might be more enthusiastic if we were not to be saddled with the Tory voting green wellied Johnnie Boden twats Rik Mayall and Jennifer Saunders etc etc in the lead roles.