Rugby BC in Private Eye

When Craig Humphrey was the leader, Private Eye often had a story about him in their “Rotten Boroughs” section. Having left for a nice sinecure in the quango sector (conveniently as a director for a body he was involved in setting up as a council leader), I was hoping our area would no longer have the shame of a PE reference.

However, this was in the latest edition of the Eye:IMG_0746

I checked the minutes of the meeting at which Belinda Garcia’s application was approved. Four Tory councillors disclosed an interest as she is a fellow councillor. But none of the others did, despite her being a Borough Councillor (and so a fellow to all of the Planning Committee, particularly the Conservative ones). The chair of the committee, Carolyn Robbins disclosed a pecuniary interest as she is also a close friend. This meant that Robbins did not vote on the item.

Why did Tory councillors Jill Simpson-Vince, Tony Gillias, Graham Francis and Chris Pacey-Day not even declare an interest?

And what is happening when an officer is made redundant after reporting what appears to be “gifting” to an officer?

The one concerning Mark Pawsey’s brother is also concerning.All Tory councillors did disclose an interest, but not one that would preclude them from voting. The officers’ reasons for refusal were:

REASON FOR REFUSAL: 1
The proposed dwelling would result in a piecemeal development that would prejudice other development potential neighbouring land contrary to saved policy GP6 of the Rugby Borough Local Plan 2006
REASON FOR REFUSAL: 2
The proposed dwelling would be located to the rear of no.43, Bilton Road and would form a ‘backland’ development. Having regard to the isolated positioning of the development amongst the residential gardens which characterise this area, the proposed dwelling is considered, by virtue of its siting, to be unsympathetic to the character and appearance of the locality. Furthermore the development due to its location, size and height would form an unneighbourly form of development impacting in terms of an overbearing and an overshadowing impact upon the neighbouring rear gardens to the detriment of the amenities currently enjoyed within. The proposal is therefore considered contrary to policy CS16 of the Rugby Borough Core Strategy 2011.

Councillor Tony Gillias moved, and Councillor Helen Walton seconded, that both reasons should be set aside and the application approved, and so it was.

Neither set of minutes records how each councillor voted (would only happen if someone called for a recorded vote, which is very rare), or who was in the room (eg: did Cllr Robbins leave when the item she declared a pecuniary interest in was being discussed and voted upon?)

I have asked the Tories and RBC for comment.

Yes, the Tories are guilty of fly-posting

After I wrote this entry – Tories flyposting? – I was able to find out that the owners of the land where the old College was are now Bellway Homes.

Bellway Homes have just replied to my email query:

Hi,

I believe that Bellway East Midlands is the owner of the former Rugby College site on Lower Hillmorton Road.
Can you advise whether you or any other agents have given permission for a political party to use the land to display election materials?

Thanks,
Owen Richards,
local resident.

And the reply

Good Morning,
I have spoken with the land department and no consent has been given for any political party to put anything up.
Kind Regards,
xxxxxx xxxxxxx | Sales Administrator | Bellway Homes East Midlands | 3 Romulus Court | Meridian Business Park | Leicester | LE19 1YG | 

I think that is what you call “bang to rights”. The local Conservatives have got posters in Rugby that have been flyposted. It is not an indication of “support” that we see so many, but of their lack of consideration.

Tories flyposting? And stupidly!

Rugby seems to have developed a rash of Tory banners – expensive looking durable ones – put up on road junctions and the like. But should they be there?

Nearest to me is the one on the gates to the old Rugby College site:

Tory flypost 1As can be seen, someone has vandalised it and the scraps are still there. The site is jointly owned by Warwickshire College and Warwickshire County Council (but it is up for sale). I can’t see the council giving permission for political posting on their property (they are pretty zealous about the use of lampposts), and I doubt the College would either. EDIT 9/4 – Warwickshire College inform me that the land was sold to Bellway Homes East Midlands in November (not sure why the for sale boards are still there nearly 6 months later).

So did the Tories get permission or did they just slap it up there? EDIT 9/4 – I have since asked Bellway Homes if they have given permission

Another one I spotted is in a brilliant place:

Tory flypost 2You can just make out on the right that someone far less official has put up a St George’s flag and scrawled “Vote UKIP” on it, presumably in response.

What is fantastic about the site is that it is on the corner where Rapak used to be. The place was shut down last year after the owners moved the work to Bulgaria. Kind of puts an ironic spin on “Securing Britain’s Future” to advertise at a closed business.

Drakes, the agents acting for the owners of the Rapak site have told me they are not aware of any permissions to use it for political advertising.

This is familiar (Tory fiddling expenses)

I saw this today – Tory MP Made 734 Wrong Expenses Claims

Bob Blackman reminds me of someone a little closer to home: Martin Heatley.

Neither is fit to wipe Bert Crane’s shoes.

When a Council Tax freeze is a 1% increase

The local Tories have been claiming that the Council Tax has been frozen by Rugby Borough Council for the fourth year in a row. For example, Cllr Michael Stokes  made the claim in a post attacking his former colleague Howard Roberts. Our MP Mark Pawsey wanted to use it to suck up to David Cameron, and tweeted this:

Regrettably not called at PMQs so unable to refer to Rugby’s Council Tax freeze for 4th yr in a row

— Mark Pawsey (@MarkPawsey) February 27, 2013

And the Borough Council’s press release is quite clear:

Rugby Borough Council’s share of residents’ council tax bills is to be frozen for the fourth year in a row, after councillors set the authority’s budget for 2013/14 on Tuesday (26 February).

The freeze means that the average charge for a Band D property will be £187.88 for the year – a small increase of 70p due to increases in parish council precepts.

The problem is that this is not true. For most of the Borough’s households the RBC part of the bill has risen by 1%

What has actually happened is the following: Read the rest of this entry »

A Tory ‘Independent’ and an ‘Independent’ Tory

The election for a Police and Crime Commissioner isn’t supposed to be particularly controversial. In Warwickhire we have three candidates at the moment  – Ron Ball, Fraser Pithie and James Plaskitt.

Ron Ball is standing as an Independent. He was recently making noises to the local press about how it was wrong that the other candidates were political, representing political parties, and that he was untainted by such associations.

Turns out that he’s been a member of the Conservative Party for years, and tried to get them to nominate him as their candidate. Instead they chose Fraser Pithie.

Fraser Pithie claims also to be not ‘political’, despite the fact that he’s been an elected councillor in the past, and also having recently said that the PCC elections could be used to boost the fortunes of local Conservative MPs and candidates.

There was another Independent candidate, Andrew Moss. Moss is the only candidate to have been a full time serving police officer (Pithie has been a ‘Special’), and recently withdrew in favour of Ron Ball to avoid splitting the independent vote. I wonder how he feels now, knowing what has been revealed about the political past of Mr Ball?

In the meantime, James Plaskitt is the only other  choice, and the only one of the current candidates who is not a Tory. He’s not hiding his political past – he was MP for Leamington & Warwick for 13 years, so it’s pretty obvious. He is also clearly against the current government policies of cuts and increased private involvement in policing.

Turning the lights out

In my last post about Fraser Pithie’s bid to be elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, I mentioned street lighting plans.

What is happening is that the County Council has announced that they intend to switch off 80% of their street lights in the hours between midnight and 5:30am from April next year.

While there is an ‘engagement’ exercise requesting feedback, that decision has already been made – the question is which ones are affected (or rather, which ones are left on). There are criteria set out, but the real problem is that these are based on a need to move the vast majority of lights to part time.

So, for example under the current plans the Southfields estate in Rugby, where I used to live, will have no street lights on at all after midnight.

The County Council pages going into the detail are here, and there’s a google map showing all of the County Council lights that are covered that will show you how your street is affected.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 276 other followers