Thursday, 28 May 2015
Belligerent, curmudgeonly Chairman Drew returns to the ranks as Councillor Jan Strelczenie takes over the Chair, and the legacy of Drew, McCann and their ‘Mute Newt’ Mates - Senior, Pickering, Harrison and Sedman – aptly described in the Internal Auditor’s report.
Did Councillors Senior, McCann, Harrison and Pickering agree to stay silent about “The Investigation” after the December 2014 Parish Council Meeting?
Did they tell Hails, the Conservation Group Secretary, in December? Did the five agree to stay silent and not tell “many of the members of the Group”? Maybe they didn’t tell Hails. Why didn’t they tell “many of the members of the Group” at their January, February or March meetings? Did they tell Mrs McCann, a Steering Group Member, about the Investigation straight after the Council meeting?
Who kept other four members in the dark for so long? What was their true intention in writing the letter (below) in April? Why didn’t Senior, the Conservation Group Chairman tell the Members? Why didn’t the 'Gang of 4' tell the other Councillors of their concern about Council’s authority to join in investigation of the relationship between the two Groups? Why did they vote in favour of the Investigation when they and their mates controlled the Council and one chaired the Conservation Group?
Watch the YouTube Video - 18 December 2014 Parish Council meeting http://bit.ly/1LJ3JIn - when Councillor McCann said, “I would personally like it (Investigation) done by Selby District Council” if Selby Council are capable of doing that, and will do it, etc.
I think this saga has about the same reliability as Councillor Senior telling the Council Chairman, Councillors and public he didn’t know the identity of the person (a Member of the Conservation Group Steering Committee) dumping shreddings on the parish council registered village green. His friends at the Conservation Group AGM cut the ground from beneath him.
From the Secretary of the Hemingbrough – Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group.
Dated 14 April 2015 - two days before Parish Council meeting. (Made public 21st May)
Contents couldn’t be referred to at April meeting as the Councillors’ Summons issued a couple of days before.
Dated when four members of independent Conservation Steering Group expected to win their seats on the Parish Council
That ‘Gang of 4’ plus mates presumably hoped to keep controlling Council majority for almost any vote of the past four years.
Their election message - You voted for us before, do it again, we want to run the Council!
Did they plot to have their letter in the official parish record hoping they could officially reply to it after the election? (People with an intimate internal knowledge of Council matters writing from an independent Group to the Council, hoping to write back to themselves?)
The ‘Nolan’ Integrity Principle requires Councillors must not be obligated to organisations that might influence them in their official duties. If they are, they must put an end to the matters.
Where is the Probity?
Hails claimed Council letter of 24 March 2015 was “the first that many of the members of the Group knew of the investigation ....”
Group wants to know when investigation instigated. By whom? Who is undertaking investigation? They offered the view “we question the authority of the Parish Council to instigate an investigation into the affairs of our Group.”
Presumably, Hails wrote on behalf of “We” being Members at their 13 April 2015 meeting – Senior, McCann, Hails, Harrison, McCann (Mrs), McMurray, Pickering, and Noble.
My video recording of 18th December 2014 shows the 'Gang of 4' sitting at the Council table when internal investigation recommended in letter from their Professional Adviser, the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations.
Councillors Chilvers identified three independent Councillors to handle internal investigation.
Councillor McCann introduced the idea of the Selby District Council Monitoring Officer doing it, and expressed a preference for that.
As usual, ‘Mute Newts’ Senior (Conservation Group Chairman), Harrison & Pickering stayed mute, (which is why McCann was featured in Council matters so often - he spoke for four mutes and himself and had to help Drew know his backside from his elbow) and Drew played belligerent Council Chairman in favour of Conversation Group.
Councillor McCann asked the visiting Selby Councillors if Selby Council could do the investigation and one agreed to ask Monitoring Officer Lund, cutting right across the Chilvers proposal. Lund turned up at the January Parish Council meeting, and again in May. Councillors discussed the issue every month.
And still the 'Gang of 4' didn't tell many of their Members for three months? Funny Group!
Monday, 25 May 2015
Friday, 22 May 2015
Thursday, 21 May 2015
I changed the colour scheme of the Bear Garden Blog after the election results were declared to match what I thought was a new mood of optimism. Tonight’s Parish Council was exactly how it should be, with courtesy, consideration and the promise of progress.
The experienced Jan Strelczenie was unanimously elected Chairman of the Council with Bob Proctor also unanimously elected as the Vice-chairman.
You could hear the sucking in of breath when the Clerk revealed the past Parish Council chaired by Richard Drew and Kenny McCann had left +£54, 000 in the bank (31 March 2015). As one person muttered, the ‘Mute Newts’ did nowt for residents, so spent nowt!
"Those who play the game do not see as clearly as those who watch."
I would like to reassure Councillors, especially the new ones that my cameras are not meant to embarrass or inhibit you and that when honest mistakes happen, you will not be blogged.
They can carry your good work into local homes, and that is to your benefit. I hope you will forget the cameras are there, but do remember the Councillor who gave his partner self-serving versions of what goes on at Council meetings, then she saw differently when watching YouTube.
The cameras see far more than you can. They see, for example, the numerous interventions of the visiting Councillors without the Chairman’s invitation, especially when sensitivities flourish. They highlight people playing silly buggers and deviating from the well-known national rules, and are a public record of fact and continuity. They can improve the quality of meetings for Councillors and residents.
Watch a smart-mouthed Chairman http://bit.ly/1HtOoKL and a Clerk with years of ‘experience’ still not sure in April 2015 of a basic ‘Named Vote’ rule http://bit.ly/1FBiI8A she has used many times before! This is unacceptable.
Hemingbrough Parish Council became one of the first Councils in England to experience the new arrangements when I walked into the meeting on 21 August 2014, after a two-year absence, with a camcorder, camera, voice recorder and tripod.
The silly games of previous years were over! If Councillors want to bugger about, their antics can be blogged and broadcast on YouTube and Twitter before they go to bed that night. Thankfully, the new arrangements started a new era so everything that had gone before can be ‘water under the bridge’, if people are so inclined.
One experienced old warhorse was sufficiently concerned by my camcorder he told a local meeting how inhibited he felt. There was no need, as long as he acted reasonably and accepted that Council Meetings are for the benefit of both Councillors and Residents.
It is unacceptable, for example, for residents wanting to hear the session on local planning applications to be confronted by a cacophony of chatter and laughter from Councillors when they must keep quiet themselves. It is even worse when visiting Councillors wander round making tea and chatting to their mates and the odd resident. They would not try that in Selby District Council meetings. Why did the Hemingbrough Chairman and Clerk allow it?
Our Parish Council meeting is not a drop-in cafe. It is the first tier of local government spending our money. A competent Chairperson and a knowledgeable Parish Clerk should be there to guide and help - if they do not, they will be on YouTube and Twitter.
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
An unusual item on the Agenda of Thursday night’s Parish Council meeting! The first meeting of the new team. The meeting that follows the Annual General Meeting when recently elected Councillors sign their Declarations of Acceptance and appoint Officers and Committee Members for the coming year. Until then, nobody knows who will be the Chairperson.
I assume it will not be the curmudgeonly Richard Drew, the smart-mouthed Friend of the Hagg Lane Green Gang who could forget the residents’ Public Forum, limit his Chairman’s remarks to ‘Good Evening’ when the camcorder was recording his behaviour and seemed to have a problem with the Father of the Council, Roland Chilvers, who attracted the second highest number of votes in the recent election.
Item 7. ‘Investigation – Terms of Reference’ comes before the Confirmation of Minutes of the April 2015 meeting. That is highly irregular and exceedingly suspicious.
Does it signal an unannounced, unscheduled, flying visit by Jonathan Lund, Deputy Chief Executive of Selby District Council and Monitoring Officer?
While we should welcome Lund at a guest sitting in the public gallery, I think any attempt by him to speak would be highly intrusive. If he arrives unannounced, at this late stage, WHO invited him? Drew? Chairman Drew will almost certainly have been replaced at the Annual General Meeting so it would be highly offensive for him to have invited a guest speaker without the approval of the new Chairman in his or her first meeting, or the newly elected Councillors.
Councillors will not know until Thursday night who is the new Chairperson. It may be Elizabeth Carstairs, the Councillor with the greatest number of votes. If it was Drew, it will be a final piece of arrogance that has characterised his Chairmanship since filming of the Council began.
Was it the Clerk? If Lund does appear like a Jack-in-the-box with the expectation of speaking, why wasn’t he listed on the summons? His visit may be well intentioned, but Councillors have the right to three clear day’s notice of items, and residents should also know beforehand of a guest speaker. Why hasn’t the Clerk informed Councillors and residents?
Imagine Ms. Carstairs, or any other Councillor, taking the Chair of a new team, without any opportunity to prepare for Lund’s sudden appearance.
Scheduling this item before Councillors have had the opportunity to confirm the minutes of the April meeting is a gross impertinence. That arrogance means Councillors may not refer to the approved legal record of the previous meeting - a meeting I recall that discussed this Hagg Lane Green item. I also recall the gist of the April discussion, and can look it up on my video record, if I must. The Council agreed to tell Lund to back off until they had had the opportunity to discuss the Terms of Reference of the Investigation amongst themselves and then tell Lund what they want and for what the residents are paying up to £1,500. If Lund doesn’t like them, he will have an opportunity to put his thoughts on paper for them discuss and find a way forward together. What is the Clerk playing at?
In passing, I also recall the Clerk bleating at a recent meeting that she does not understand the Council rules governing ‘named votes’. For how many Parish Councils does she clerk? For how many years has she been the Clerk at Hemingbrough? She still does not understand the rules of a device that she has encountered many times!
THE CALL FOR A NAMED VOTE COMES BEFORE THE VOTE, NOT AFTERWARDS AS A DEVICE TO EMBARRASS COUNCILLORS WHO DIDN’T VOTE HOW YOU WISH AND YOU WANT THEIR NAMES IN THE MINUTES IN PERPETUITY.
Some Councillors and the Clerk have had enough training by Lund and his colleagues at Selby District Council, and by the YLCA, so they should know better. Hemingbrough Council is not served well by such ignorance or laziness.
Hemingbrough is about to embark on an exciting new era with some new Councillors being helped by their experienced, elected peers. They don’t need Lund in their first discussion for which they have not prepared, nor do they need visiting Selby District Councillors in their midst, which is why the YLCA advises those two Visitors to sit in the public gallery.
This is a shabby way for the outgoing Chairman and the Clerk to organise the handover to a new team caused by Drew’s three Mates from the Hagg Lane Green Steering Committee losing control of the Parish Council. It should be resisted for the sake of the new team.
P.S. I still have not heard from the Solicitor who called me out of the blue at home on a Saturday morning to demand copies of papers I obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. He claimed to be working for Lund. He didn’t offer any verifiable means of confirming his identity – he could have given me the telephone number of his organisation so I could have called him. He claimed he wanted my papers so he could check they were identical to the ones received from the Parish Council! I suspected he hadn’t received anything from the Council. I referred him to the Parish Clerk. I had already offered papers to the Council but neither Drew nor the Clerk responded. When I told him to put his demands in writing, he said he would email me that Saturday morning or on Monday morning. I told him I would not read his email until the Monday morning anyway. I wanted to verify his identity through his company’s switchboard. He could have been any old Jack-in-the-box. No email arrived. Nothing! His just disappeared back into his box.
Hello, hello, hello? What’s all this then?
“ Dear Mr. Lund, Monitoring Officer, Selby District Council
I object to your contractor Glen Stanbury calling me at home on a Saturday morning and intruding on my weekend. He started his telephone call with an apology for contacting me at the weekend. Apology? I understand an apology for an accident or incident caused by lack of attention but an apology for telephoning me! Was there a matter that needed urgent attention? No. It suited him to disturb me because he was working at the weekend, presumably at premium cost rates. His “apology” had all the arrogance I have come to associate with your Monitoring Officer function. Tell him not to do that again.
He offered no proof of identity or telephone number I could call to verify his identity and organisation. He could have been any Mickey Mouse character seeking information from me. Did he record our conversation without my knowledge?
He demanded copies of the information I had obtained from Lottery organisations under the Freedom of Information Act when the Parish Council refused to supply them from their files. I say “demanded” because he would not listen to my reply, repeated every time he tried the “broken record” form of questioning. I stressed that all I had received were copies of official Council papers so the Parish Clerk was the best person to contact as she could verify their authenticity.
Knowing the characters involved in this saga it would not surprise me if the Council files are incomplete and papers are still in the possession of the private Conservation Group. Stanbury said he had not received anything from the Parish Council so far.
Because there was no record of the issues discussed, I told him to write to me and I will respond accordingly.
Sunday, 17 May 2015
Hemingbrough promises to be a better place with a new Parish Council team pledged to be of strong moral principles and better communication with residents and council having the opportunity of working together.
The first time to meet the team will be at the open Annual Residents Meeting next Thursday evening at the Village Institute at 7.00.
The new team will not have completed the formalities that make them Councillors by then. Parish council rules will not apply so they can talk informally, as individuals, about their busy and interesting programme and answer questions.
National events have overwhelmed this week’s national Press - no coalition, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Murphy, McCluskey, Carswell – and our village grapevine has been busy too.
8 to 3! What will the 3 do? What do the voting numbers mean? Liz Carstairs 545 votes, didn’t she do well, shows the strength of the ‘schools’ vote; Roland Chilvers 460 votes for his knowledge, experience and commitment, he’s still working on the Memorial Rose Garden at his age; Keith Terry, Les Stebbings, Forbes Davidson, new council faces, a new approach; Bob Proctor, an ‘incomer’. Maybe we will get things done now. What is Glenis going to do? Wonder who will be the parish chairperson? Should get rid of the squabbles. Maybe we should not have been so complacent. At least they have some ideas. (And some unmentionable comments!)
Was it only seven days ago when Mary Weastell, Selby District Council Acting Returning Officer and Chief Executive, Assistant Chief Executive at North Yorkshire County Council, Governor of Selby College, Chair of the North Yorkshire Community Safety Partnership (the speed camera people?) and the lead North Yorkshire District Chief Executive representative on the sub-regional Housing Board, woke on the Sunday morning to find her name on Twitter and elsewhere because Hemingbrough Parish Council results had been ‘declared’ at 3.45 on Friday afternoon, so she said, but they wouldn’t be announced on the Selby Council website to the candidates, their supporters and the residents until sometime on Monday? That must have prompted a flurry of activity to get them published on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing quite like Twitter to encourage those in the public eye to do the job we expect of them.
So what about the 3 - Harrison, Sedman, Drew? They campaigned on a platform of ‘You voted for us before, Vote for us again. We want to run the council.’ They offered no plan. Their election leaflet sounded like small ideas from small people.
Although the Parish Council is the first tier of local Government, there should not be any Opposition. Yes, there are different views to be honestly debated, collectively decided and then implemented for the Community with our money. No local feuds, no ingrained petty squabbles or tit-for-tat voting based on past arguments and sleights in the village.
It is not as simple as that. The core of the new council Team is five Councillors from the Parish of Hemingbrough Historical Heritage Society. They may take part in discussions about the Memorial Rose Garden and the ‘Oldways’ but may not vote on resolutions. That leaves the voting Council Members for such issues balanced at 3-3 each.
So what will Harrison, Drew and Sedman do? Will they join the rest of the Team that received resounding support from residents, or will they continue with the ’Opposition’ of the past four years? Will they do what we expect of them? The camcorder will be there to observe.
Perhaps they could start with an act of reconciliation. How much would it have cost the Council to remove and clear the site of the old filling station? The Council has bloated funds from the four years they were in power. Surely, they know what to do!
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
I recognise a blocked email when I see one.
Never mind, James 'Jim' Deans. I left a copy at the ‘Access Selby’ office this afternoon to ensure you get it! Remember you are one of my two elected representatives in Selby District.
(Click this image to enlarge it.)
Monday, 11 May 2015
Democracy is alive in our village.
CONTESTED PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS (6)
Brayton, Hambleton, Hemingbrough, Selby (North), Selby (South) Selby (West)
UNCONTESTED PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS (63)
Parishes where there were fewer Candidates than available seats so everyone putting forward their name was ‘elected’ without a contest!
4 Year term. 11 Council Seats. 15 Candidates
CARSTAIRS, Elizabeth 545 Votes
CHILVERS, Roland Bernard 460
TERRY, Keith William 443
STEBBINGS, Leslie John 442
HARRISON, Glenis Mary 414
PROCTER, Robert 397
DAVIDSON, Forbes Thomas 395
STRELCZENIE, Jan 393
SEDMAN, John Stephen 376
KINSELLA, Edward John 375
DREW, Richard Haldane 370
McCANN, Kenneth William 350 (Not Elected)
SENIOR, Martin Gregory 342 (Not Elected)
PARKIN, Victor William 323 (Not Elected)
PICKERING, Neil Charles 285 (Not Elected)
I wonder what kind of arrogant thinking has pervaded the Executive Offices of Selby District Council when the Acting Returning Officer and Chief Executive, Mary Weastell and her ‘top team’ can approve the haughty, self-important-decision to bugger off home on Friday afternoon after “declaring” the results of the District’s Parish Council Elections at 3.45 p.m. and then deciding the hard-working candidates and their supporters and the local residents would have to wait until this morning (Monday) to know the results.
I imagine Mary Weastell and her team have already honed a mealy-mouthed, grudging, insincere apology full of weasel words to justify their pompous actions and subsequent reversal after being shamed on Twitter to get the results published on Sunday afternoon.
Was Selby District Council the only one in Britain to behave in such a conceited way?
Sunday, 10 May 2015
4 Year term. 11 Council Seats. 15 Candidates
Congratulations to all those favoured by the residents.
Liz Carstairs - ELECTED
Roland Chilvers - ELECTED
Forbes Davidson - ELECTED
Richard Drew - ELECTED
Glenis Harrison - ELECTED
Eddie Kinsella - ELECTED
Bob Procter - ELECTED
John Sedman - ELECTED
Les Stebbings - ELECTED
Keith Terry - ELECTED
Hemingbrough feels like a better place already.
There is much to be done. I have heard there is a contingent of residents that would be willing to step forward for co-option if a vacancy arises. That is also good news.
Hemingbrough Parish Council election candidates have been contacted regularly since Friday afternoon by residents enquiring, “Do you know the Parish Council results yet?” (Sunday afternoon – still nothing!)
There are high hopes for a change in direction at the Parish Council regarding residents’ wishes being taken into account on a variety of subjects and acted upon wherever possible. Presumably it is the same in other Parishes throughout her area.