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New row emerges over expenses story

December 24, 2009

The commentators on the local political blogs are very excited this  latest development of this ongoing story.  It plays out over several different pages on our site, so to help them understand the story, here is the important information in one place.

It all kicked off in our Hattersley Newsletter when we criticised Roy Oldham.  He had chosen to draw a comparison with the expenses scandal at Westminster, and had claimed the equivalent figure (for the 57 Councillers in Tameside) was just £541.   (You’ll see slightly different numbers; it just depends if the reclaimable VAT has been deducted).

As normal, his words were carried extensively in the local press.  You can see the Advertiser’s copy here.

The reasons why we believe the £541 figure is not valid in the comparison Roy Oldham CHOSE to draw, are covered in our letter to The Reporter which is reproduced further down the post.  But let me continue chronologically for a moment.

The issue cropped up again after the State of the Area Address, when the Conservatives group had put forward a motion calling for ALL expenses to be made public, not just the ‘out of pocket’ claims.   The following was how the debate was covered in the reporter:

We obviously have a right of reply when we are mentioned in a story, and The Reporter were kind enough to carry this letter in response:

As we have not been contacted by either TMBC or The Reporter, we can only guess at why The Reporter today felt it was necessary to issue their apology, which is reproduced below.

If TMBC are to take legal action, we have yet to be contacted.  We’ll let you know if anything arrives.  We now have to be careful not to escalate matters, but I’m sure its ok to say to that we would have preferred to hear about any planned legal action from TMBC themselves, rather than through the newspaper.

The blogging community can decide for themselves if they think Roy Oldham’s chosen £542 is valid in his chosen comparison with the Westminster scandal, and if his response, and that of the TMBC, are fair and reasonable.

We are confident in what we’ve said and are very happy for the original story to be fuelled by all this publicity.

Although both Rob Adlard (Staly & Hyde new PPC) and myself were involved in the initial row, it is just me, Peter Hayes who wrote the letter to the Reporter (and is writing this post!) and will apparently be the subject of any legal action.  As explained elsewhere on this website, I’ve been selected by the Conservatives to stand against Roy Oldham in May’s local elections for the Longdendale Ward (Assuming he stands for relection).


Tameside Propaganda reaches new lows

December 22, 2009
TMBC propaganda

Waste of money and factually wrong

TMBC have been wasting our money again.  However with this latest series of full page adverts they are reaching new lows.

You will see the advert clearly boasts: Tameside “Best in the Country”, identifying the 2009 Audit Commission Comprehensive Area Assessment as the source of the quote.

Put aside for the moment whether you think this is a good use of taxpayers funds and you are left with only one problem:  nowhere in that report will you find this phrase!

The nearest this years report comes to such an accolade is in describing the Adult Social Care service as “One of the best in the Country”.  The wider Organisational Report adds ‘Support for older people and those who are most in need of support’ to the roll call, which is rated as “among the best in the Country”.  Congratulations to both of those teams.

In choosing to use the headline, TMBC under Cllr Oldham’s Executive Leadership have clearly misrepresented the work of the Audit Commission.  TMBC are clearly experienced and well practised in this box ticking exercise, (more on this later) and there are several quotes in this years report they could have used to flatter their egos.  I’m left to wonder at their motives for having to make up quotes.

If you like to check for yourself, the reports can be downloaded and examined from the new Oneplace website or found here and here.

On a slightly different tack, the performance of most organisations (and bosses) are measured by data rather than the rather flowery text you find in these reports.  However if you delve around the Oneplace website, you may come across the “All performance indicators” (shortcut here) which paint a very different picture of life in Tameside.

Comparing the facts and data for Tameside to other Metropolitan Councils, you will find that:

  • Tameside’s “Serious acquisitive crime rate” is only matched in the worst 25% of comparable Councils.
  • Our “% overall / general satisfaction with local area for Tameside” is in the worst 10% of comparable Councils
  • The “Percentage of residents who are very or fairly satisfied with doorstep recycling” is in the worst 5% of Councils
  • “Children and young people’s satisfaction with our parks and play areas” is matched in only the worst third of Councils.

There are many more, and if look at the comparison with different groups of Councils, the results are often worse.

Quite how these numbers are meant to correlate with a generally positive written report, I’m afraid I don’t know.  My personal view is that I  recognise neither TMBC’s made-up boasts, nor the very negative picture painted by some of the statistics.  Services here are similar to other places I’ve lived in the UK.  What is different here is the amount of money wasted (and no doubt effort expended) in trying to persuade residents into believing the Council’s performance is great and therefore the Political status quo must be maintained.  The problem becomes particularly acute when TMBC is forecasting a £2.8 million budget deficit by the end of the current financial year.

Rob Adlard selected to stand for Parliament

December 20, 2009

Rob Adlard. New PPC for Stalybridge & Hyde

Rob Adlard, the chair of Longdendale Conservatives has been selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for the seat of Stalybridge and Hyde against the incumbent Labour MP, James Purnell.   Given Purnell’s unpopularity in the constituency, Rob has a good chance of winning the seat and we wish him well!

Unlike Purnell, Rob lives (I mean really lives) in Broadbottom.  His website is under construction and can be found here