Telford Tories in disarray

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

When the Tories won control of Telford & Wrekin Council for the first time last year, many promises were made of a more transparent administration with more involvement of the electorate in council decisions.

It was a rocky start for the Tories who had to pick up the pieces after a scorched earth budget from the outgoing Liebour administration which spent a third of the council’s cash reserves in a damage limitation exercise in the run-up to the election.  It didn’t limit the damage – one Liebour councillor told me they knew they were going to lose but they didn’t think it would be that bad – and council taxpayers in Telford are still footing the bill for their reckless spending.  But being dropped in the shit by Liebour doesn’t stop them implementing a transparent administration or community involvement and that has been strangely lacking.

Residents were promised a say in full council meetings but it still hasn’t happened.  Residents were promised a say in the siting of mobile phone masts but it still hasn’t happened.  Residents were promised an honest and transparent council but very little has changed and some truly shocking decisions have been taken.

Telford & Wrekin was in the news a few months back over their policy of stopping and questioning adults in the town’s famous Town Park who weren’t there with children in case they were kiddy fiddlers.  This attracted worldwide attention and even prompted the Home Office to issue a statement distancing themselves from the actions of the council.  The council officer responsible for sending the letter that kicked the whole thing off escaped unpunished but the Councillor with responsibility for leisure, Councillor Denis Allen, was made a scapegoat and sacked from the cabinet.

The upshot of all this is that Councillor Allen and Councillor George Ashcroft have both resigned the Tory whip (the Leader of the Tory group, Andrew Eade, still denies there is one) and are currently sitting as independents.  The Tory administration is now a minority administration, short of 4 seats.  Ironically, Denis and George will now be in a stronger position to influence the council than they were when they were part of the cabinet because they now hold the balance of power.

The sad thing is, Denis Allen is probably the best councillors Telford has had and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for.  We’ve had our differences in the past but he’s a good man and an honest politician (yes, they do exist).  He didn’t deserve the treatment he got and if Andrew Eade has anything about him he’d have apologised and reinstated Denis to the cabinet.  Instead he told the local paper that he expected Denis and George to resign their seats and fight a by-election.  Funnily enough, he didn’t have the same opinion when Councillor Steve Bentley defected from Liebour to the Tories just before the last elecion.

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  1. John Franklyn (59 comments) says:

    Andrew Eade has failed from the start and issued many promises that I now believe he had no intention of keeping. He sent me the following email just before the last elections that seemed honest, he received alot of positive feedback and support from it, then went onto let everyone down. Andrew has let the Borough down and what he did to Denise was sheer deceit.

    Email from Andrew eade below,

    Hello John
    Thanks for the mail, the points that you have raised are pretty pertinent and most certainly should be asked.

    The Conservatives line on Car Parking Charges is quite simple and non negotiable in that we are implacably opposed to them for a number of reasons. Firstly is the economic impact on our local towns and ‘district centres’ that have to compete with the Town Centre and need every advantage and bit of support that they can get. Certainly free parking is a major attraction for shoppers and has to be maintained. The affect on shop workers would also be detrimental and would take a huge chunk out of pay packets. In short I do not believe that you can take £0.5M out of the local economy and expect towns to survive such a ‘hit.’
    Then of course was the blatant unfairness of singling out Wellington and Newport for these ‘special attentions’ – something that I personally will never forget.
    We played the major part on the council in getting rid of these charges and both myself and Cllr miles Hosken also took part in the very first meetings to form local public opposition to these charges, it was this group that eventually became TAWPA.

    Like all groups of people of whatever organisation there exist differing views on many issues (watch a Telford Utd match and listen to views later in the pub!) the Conservative group’s line is as I have said quite simply “no car parking charges” and this group line is accepted by Steve. Our group decisions are inclusive of all views, debated and then a decision made, and as we are in the business of supporting the Borough “no charges” means no charges.

    The town park issues have been far from transparent, something that local government in Telford and Wrekin is very good at. As far as our group is concerned any planned development, or gerrymandering with boundaries is meaningless as after the election we will open the whole thing up for transparent, real (and I mean real) debate. I feel very strongly that ‘good old’ T&W has totally lost its way, there almost appears to be an arrogance about their approach to such issues and in particular ‘City Regions’. We will put all of the issues surrounding the park into the public domain and then decide ‘hand in glove’ ways of improving the facilities there and providing tangible benefits for the whole community.
    It should be an interesting ride for all concerned.

    The cabinet structure is an issue that we are currently working on and I will pass our decision to you as soon as we have finalised our proposals. However a number of fundamental concerns exist with the current arrangements that inculde accountability, scrutiny of cabinet, public transparency, the number of cabinet posts and inclusiveness of councillors within the cabinet process. Also stemming from this is a fundamental belief that Councillors are elected to run the council, I do not believe that this is necessarily the case at T&W and if so it is little wonder that the all important link between the community/electorate and their councillors has been lost. I think that there is an opportunity to re-establish that link but it will take some time and effort as there is a credability gap between the two that will take some bridging. But if a council is honest and open with its community, and seen to be so over a period of time then that link and mutual respect and understanding can be put back in place.
    When was the last time anyone in local government put their hand up and admitted a mistake? And yet mistakes happen, and with the best will in the world they will always happen as nobody gets everything right all of the time whether in local government or the community that it is supposed to represent.
    Its about time that we had that sort of honesty and guts locally, and if so, just maybe, we could sort it all out.



  2. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Gordo has sold Aldermaston, maybe T&W could buy themselves a nuke and do over the neighbouring enemy council and then it will be cake and crisps for all and a huge victory celebration!

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