Archive for Telford

Telford council taking the piss

The council left my bins out in the road again today, forcing Mrs Sane to stop in the road and move them before she could park in the drive.

They’re taking the piss now, but I have a cunning plan …

Once again my bins have not been put back at the end of my garden from where they were taken, instead being left at the end of my drive at the edge of the road.  My wife had to stop in the road, blocking the way for two cars, while she got out and moved the bins out of the way of the drive so she could park.

A couple of months ago I sent you a fine through the post.  That was joke to get your attention and hopefully deal with the problem.  You didn’t respond to the fine and you haven’t dealt with the bin men leaving my bins in the road because they can’t be bothered to put them back where they got them from.

The fine was tongue in cheek but on reflection I believe the council may have a case to answer.  If I leave my bins in the road you will fine me but you seem to think your rules don’t seem to apply to your own people.  I pay you to empty my bins so we have a contract and I think that a clause in our contract allowing you to fine me for leaving my bins in the road but not for me to be able to fine you if you do it is an unfair term.

The Office of Fair Trading defines an unfair contract term as follows:

“A standard term is unfair ‘if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer’– Regulation 5(1). Unfair terms are not enforceable against the consumer.”

There is a significant imbalance in our rights and obligations under the contract we have for you to empty my bins.  I have an obligation to leave my bins out at a certain time on a certain day determined by you and at the edge of my property and not on the road or pavement.  You, on the other hand, only have an obligation to empty my bins once a fortnight, on a day of your choosing (which may or may not be the day you are supposed to empty them) and are allowed to leave my bins wherever you want without penalty.

The Office of Fair Trading also says the following on exclusion of liability for poor service:

A business that supplies services to consumers accepts certain contractual obligations as a matter of law. In particular, consumers can normally expect services to be carried out to a reasonable standard. That applies not just to the main tasks the supplier agrees to perform, but to everything that is done, or should be done, as part of the transaction.

It is a reasonable assumption that under our contract you will return my bins to the place you got them from and not leave them in the street.  By failing to meet such a basic and reasonable level of service with no penalty to yourselves in our contract, that is again an unfair term.

Rather than cancel our contract, I will instead fine you £60 every time you fail to return my bins to where you took them from.  This redresses some of the imbalance in our contract.


Stuart Parr
p.s. I’d quite like an answer this time.

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The Wrekin

I walked up the Wrekin today with Mrs Sane, three of the kids and Charlie (the dog).

For those of you not familiar with the Wrekin, it’s a 978ft hill on the outskirts of Telford in Shropshire.  It’s not the most challenging walk for most people but as you may know, both my knees are pretty much buggered.

Since the age of about 7 (co-incidentally, the age I was when I last walked up the Wrekin my mother tells me) I’ve had osteochronditis in both my knees.  It’s quite rare – only 15-30 people in every 100,000 will get it – and I’ve had every type of surgical intervention there is for it.  I’ve had osteochronditis in my knees since I was a teenager as a result of it all.

We all made it to the top and I’ve got the pictures to prove it!

View from the top of the Wrekin

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Telford quango on its last legs

Transforming Telford, the unelected and expensive “regeneration” quango set up by Telford & Wrekin Council and a couple of unelected regional quangos, has had its “contract” withdrawn.

The previous Liebour administration at Telford & Wrekin Council was responsible for setting up the quango that costs Telford council taxpayers a million pounds a year.  In return for a million pounds of taxpayers money, Transforming Telford has declared itself responsible for creating a handful of jobs and was almost responsible for scuppering the private redevelopment of the Telford Centre.

The excellent residents group, Telford Council Watch, was tipped off that Transforming Telford was being wound up this week.  The council voted last night to withdraw their “contract” and repatriate their powers and responsibilities back to the elected council where they belong.  Transforming Telford hasn’t been wound up yet – the council only got 2 seats on the board of directors in return for their “investment” and can’t force the decision – but the company was set up for the sole purpose of spending our council tax on regeneration and as they’re no longer required to do so, there’s no reason for the company to continue to exist.

Hopefully most of the staff of Transforming Telford will be transferred to the council rather than being made redundant but as far as I’m concerned – and I’m sure most residents would agree – there is no place for Chief Executive Sarah Raper or the other “top brass” quangocrats in the council.

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We are not amused

One of my spies tells me that the council took the £75 fine I sent to them for leaving my bins in the road to a meeting with their contractor, TWS.

Apparently TWS thought it was funny but the council weren’t amused and told them to sort it out.  Needless to say, my bins were put back where they got them from today.

I did ask my spy if I was going to get a cheque for £75 but they thought it unlikely.

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Thieving Bastard Telford Politicians – Part 296

So the House of Commons have released details of MPs expenses, self-censored by the MPs themselves.  Did your thieving bastard MP make any inappropriate claims?

Here’s a couple of examples from the two thieving bastard MPs in Telford:

David Wright, thieving bastard MP for Telford, claimed over £7k for a photocopier and £300 for an accountant to do his self assessment tax returns.

Mark Pritchard, thieving bastard MP for the Wrekin, claimed 31p for an air freshner, £170 for bed and breakfast at a hotel a mile away from his house and hundreds of pounds for short taxi journey’s (how far does £4 get you in a black cab?) in London.

I have just sent Mark Pritchard an email about his expenses …

Dear Mark,

I note from your recently published expenses that you claimed about £170 for bed and breakfast at the Buckatree Hall Hotel, about a mile away from your house.  Can you please explain why you believe the cost of staying in a hotel a mile from your house is a legitimate expense incurred wholly and exclusively in carrying out your duties as an MP and should have been borne by the taxpayer?

I also note that you have claimed for various low cost items such as 31p for an air freshener and a pound for some tissues.  Could you please explain why, with a salary of £64,775, you felt unable to pay for your own tissues or a 31p air freshener?  Could you also please explain why you believe that tissues and toilet rolls are expenses incurred wholly and exclusively in carrying out your duties as an MP?  Would you not have blown your nose or wiped your backside if you weren’t an MP?

Finally, I see that you have spent hundreds of pounds on taxis for short journeys.  I understand that a £4 taxi ride in London would get you about a mile, two at the most.  I have attached a text document containing details of something that is commonly referred to as “walking” which I copied from Wikipedia.  You may wish to investigate the feasibility of taking part in this new “walking” craze as an alternative to charging the taxpayer hundreds of pounds for you to be driven a mile or two down the road.


Stuart Parr

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What’s good for the goose …

Some people accuse me of being a piss-taker, how can they say such things?

Fixed Penalty Notice to Telford & Wrekin Council for leaving wheelie bins in the road

This will be in the post today.

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Thieving bastard Telford politicians

My thieving bastard MP, David Wright, clearly has a different view of what’s reasonable to the rest of us.

He thought it was reasonable to keep a 17 grand bung from a property developer for changing the tenancy agreement on a flat in Westminster the taxpayer was paying the rent on rather than give it to the Fees Office to go towards the inflated rent the taxpayer was paying as a result of the new tenancy agreement.
He thought it was reasonable to claim £599 for a TV for his flat in London so he could watch the news when he was down there.  Tesco are selling a 15.6″ HD LCD TV with built-in Freeview tuner and DVD player for £129.97.  Is that good enough for watching the news on?  I might take a trip to Tesco tomorrow and find one and take a picture of it showing the news, purely for scientific purposes of course.

He thought it was reasonable to claim £64.99 for a razor to keep at his London flat so he didn’t have to take one with him when he went to London (his explanation).  The Fees Office didn’t think it was reasonable and rejected it.  Tesco are selling an electric razor for £11.

The other thieving bastard MP in Telford, Mark Pritchard, also has a problem grasping what is reasonable to your average taxpayer.

He thought it was reasonable to move from one flat to another in Westminster and claim £1,000 for new furnishings, £199 for a new vacuum cleaner, £145 for a microwave, £55 for new kitchen utensils and £45 for new bedding rather than take what the taxpayer had already paid for from his old flat to his new flat.  What happened to the old furnishings, vacuum cleaner, microwave, kitchen utensils and bedding?  Were they sold and the money paid into the Fees Office?  Or were they left in his old flat for the next tenant, thus depriving the taxpayer of a nominal return on their investment?  If he absolutely needed to replace all these items then Tesco are selling a vacuum cleaner for £16.59, a microwave for £29.39 and a full set of kitchen utensils for £29.36.

Pritchard said:

Rather than but new furniture and kitchen appliances, I purchased second hand goods – again, keeping the costs down.

I have only claimed for the necessities for living in my flat and had no luxuries.

Second hand?  £199 for a second hand vacuum cleaner?  £145 for a second hand microwave?  Second hand, my arse.

Come the revolution, these two thieving bastard politicians will be the first against my wall.

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David Wright: Thieving Bastard Politician

I’ve been patiently waiting for the Daily Telegraph to get round to my MP, David Wright.  I was confident he’d be getting a mention based on the fact that he’s usually the local rent-a-quote for the Shropshire Star but we’ve not heard a peak from him since the expenses fraud stories started.

So what has my thieving bastard of an MP been up to?  Well, he rented an apartment in London in an apartment block called Dolphin Square.  The block was bought from Westminster Council by a property developer who paid every tenant £16,787 to change their tenancy agreements.  So, bearing in mind that the taxpayer had been paying the rent for his apartment, where did this money go?  In the thieving bastard’s pocket of course.

Only a day or two ago he posted a “news” piece on his website about expenses in which he was very careful not to criticise anyone, not even “the system” which most of his colleagues tell us is at fault.  He even tried to divert attention from the expenses fraud stories, saying it’s detracting from the work they’re doing to get us out of the recession:

I am conscious that every day the newspapers are dominated by stories about MPs’ allowances. Each day this happens we lose a day when we could be talking about the work we are doing to help people with their jobs, their homes and their family. That is what I want to focus on in the coming months.

Another quality speech from David Wright, almost word for word what the grown ups have been saying.  How many times have you heard El Gordo or Harriet Harperson or countless other Liebour ministers say almost those same words?  David Wright always has been and always will be a low grade Liebour Party mouthpiece, right up until the next election when he loses his seat.

Back in January I wrote to David Wright and asked him not to support the Liebour government’s attempts to exclude MP expenses from the Freedom of Information Act following a High Court ruling last year that they had to be released.  He replied saying he supported making his expenses secret and instead breaking down the headline figures that were already available into different categories.  I sent him an email back which he didn’t bother replying to.  The last line of my email was:

I would strongly urge you to reconsider your support for this assault on democracy and accountability.  Or is your desire to hide your expenses, perhaps, because you have something to hide?

I wonder why he didn’t reply?  Could it be because he had something to hide?

And while we’re talking about his expenses, the previous “news” item on his website says:

The House of Commons Communications Allowance rules require that no news stories are added to this website during the 28-day ‘closed period’ before the European Elections and County Council Elections in England on 4th June.

So even when he’s talking about misuse of MPs expenses, he’s still fiddling the expenses system.

According to the “news” section of his website – the “news” section he’s not allowed to update because it’s against expenses rules – he’s holding a couple of surgery’s on Friday.  I might pay him a visit and see why he thinks he should have pocketed nearly 17 grand for changing a tenancy agreement for an apartment that the taxpayer has been paying for.

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Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show

Last night we went to watch Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show in the Arena in Telford Town Park.

Slaine For a tenner for adults and a fiver for kids, they had motorbikes, cars, an ATV, three monster trucks, a human cannonball, a clown and lots of fire!

It’ll be a real shame if Telford & Wrekin Council manage to build on the Arena like they plan to do, this is the sort of event that brings people in from all round the county.

There are a few videos on YouTube here.

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Another one bites the dust

Telford & Wrekin Council has lost its second Chief Executive in 3 years and once again I can honestly say good riddance to bad rubbish.

Three years ago Michael “The Traitor” Frater left to mismanage Nottingham City Council and was sacked after less than two years after rubbing the officers up the wrong way.  Frater the Traitor was a card-carrying Liebour supporter and so is his replacement, Steve Wellings.

Wellings is one of the highest paid council Chief Executives in the country earning a recession-defying £160k a year – about £1.50 for every man, woman and child living in the borough.

I’ll keep some fond memories of Steve Wellings, the fondest of which will be the look of utter disgust on his face as he held one of my West Midlands NO! leaflets between his thumb and forefinger and the filth look he gave me at the election count last year when I said hello to him (he wouldn’t speak to me).

That’s another red out of the council, only a few hundred more to go.

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St Georges Day in Telford

UKIP Telford & Wrekin Branch

Celebrating St Georges Day

on the evening of the 23rd April


The Telford White House Hotel
Watling Street

Tickets £12.50 each

Arrival 7.00 – 7.15 Meal 7.30pm

Ends around 10.30pm

Brass Band

Fish & Chips and Mushy Peas
Apple Pie

This is the time to sing along let your hair down and have fun.

More importantly Fly the Flag

Please forward a cheque payable:

UKIP Telford & Wrekin
c/o Holly Cottage
30 The Fields

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Shropshire man falls foul of the Nationality Lottery

A Shropshire man has fallen foul of the nationality lottery after Telford & Wrekin NHS Trust refused to treat him with Lucentis to try and save his sight.

Allan Farley has punctate inner choroidopathy and two consultants have told him that Lucentis will help to save the sight in his right eye. He is already blind in his left.

But the NHS Trust, acting on guidelines issued by the increasingly inaccurately named National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), have refused to fund a course of Lucentis. Honestly, someone really should complain to Trading Standards – they are neither “national” nor “nice”.

Two years worth of Lucentis will cost about £18k, pocket money compared to the cost of paying benefits and providing services to a blind man and his family for the next 50 or 60 years. If you’ll excuse the pun, the decision is more than a little short sighted.

Mr Farley says he’s being refused Lucentis because of the cost. Yes, it’s an expensive drug and the NHS Trust probably doesn’t have £18k stuffed down the back of the Chief Exec’s sofa to pay for it but finding the money for the drug is a secondary issue and the NHS Trust does have the money if it wants to spend it.

The real reason why Mr Farley is being refused Lucentis is because he lives in England. If he lived in Scotland he would have been treated by now and the sight of his left eye might have been saved. The Scottish Medical Consortium – the equivalent body to NICE north of the border – allows Lucentis to be provided on the NHS in Scotland, along with a host of other drugs such as cancer and alzheimers treatments that are unavailable to English people.

Shropshire MPs complaining about unfair treatment of the English

The following story graced the front page of Wednesday night’s Shropshire Star:

MP’s bid for equal rights at factories

Workers at a Japanese car part factory in Shropshire are not receiving the same state aid in the current economic climate as their Welsh counterparts, an MP has claimed.

Shimizu UK has operations in Hortonwood, Telford, and Welshpool.

However, while its Welsh staff receive taxpayer-funded subsidies for their earnings and efforts to boost their skills – those at the English site do not.

Mark Pritchard, The Wrekin MP, whose constituency includes Hortonwood, today demanded a fair deal and similar assistance for his constituents as well.

The Tory MP raised the issue with Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy in the Commons.

He said: “The Secretary of State will know that Shimizu – a fone Japanese company – has a factory in Welshpool and also in Hortonwood in my constituency.

“But the difference is, on the Welsh side of the border they receive taxpayer subsidies for wages and training.

“That is good news obviously for people in jobs in Wales, but what about the people of Shropshire and my constituentsm who would like to see a similar subsidy from the regional develpment agency?”

Mr Murphy said there were “plenty” of schemes to turn to for assistance, including Train 2 Gain.

He said: “There are plenty of schemes – it is important that you make your constituents aware of them.”

The irony is, the Conservatives today announced that they will abolish all the regional quangos if they win the next election, including the regional development agencies.

Today I wrote the following to the four Conservative MP’s in Shropshire (there’s no point writing to the Labour MP, David Wright, any more as he rarely replies and when he does it’s usually spin or he answers a question you haven’t asked) as follows:

Dear MP,

Yesterday, Mark Pritchard had the following exchange with the British Secretary for State for Wales:

Mark Pritchard: What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and the Welsh Assembly Government on schemes to assist businesses in Wales during the economic downturn. [261330]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy): I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mark Williams).

Mark Pritchard: I am delighted to have given the Secretary of State more time to think about his answer. He knows that Shimizu, a fine Japanese company, has factories in Welshpool and in Hortonwood in my constituency. The difference is that, on the Welsh side of the border, it receives taxpayer subsidies for wages and training. That is good news; we want people in jobs in Wales, but what about the people of Shropshire and my constituents, who would like a similar subsidy from the regional development agency?

Mr. Murphy: As the hon. Gentleman knows, one great benefit of devolution is that we can have several schemes to help businesses in Wales that might not be available in England. However, there are also effective schemes across the border in England, such as Train to Gain, the help that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform gives small and medium-sized enterprises, and the Department for Work and Pensions schemes. There are plenty of schemes—it is important that the hon. Gentleman makes his constituents aware of them.

This raises an important point and one that is going to get more focus, especially as the economic situation worsens.

Last week Daniel was quoted quite justifiably complaining about the £2m per year cost of treating Welsh patients at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Co-incidentally, I received a letter from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital that same week confirming that the new kidney cancer wonder drug that the Welsh government have approved for NHS use could be given to a Welsh patient in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital whilst an English patient would be refused it. Is this another benefit of devolution? It is for the Welsh.

As the economy gets worse, the Scottish and Welsh governments are spending more of their subsidy on propping up their businesses. There is no equivalent focus on English businesses from the British government, the focus is on UK-wide measures.

The Bank of England has magicked a few billion pounds out of thin air and used it to buy assets off British banks so that they will have enough capital to start lending again. The Royal Bank of Scotland has pledged £1.7bn to start offering mortgages – but only in Scotland. RBS is a Scottish bank first and foremost, they’re only British when they need rescuing from bankruptcy. The same applies to HBOS – both RBS and HBOS pledged to sacrifice jobs in England to save them in Scotland.

I’m afraid the regional development agencies (which David Cameron says he will abolish) just won’t cut it when it comes to addressing the democratic deficit in England or providing support to the English economy. An unelected regional quango with a few million pounds of funding pales in comparison to the national governments of Scotland and Wales with multi-billion pound budgets, the ability to pass its own legislation and directly elected politicians elected to represent the interests of the people that elected them.

What England needs and what England wants is an English government with English politicians elected by English people to represent English interests. We don’t need a Prime Minister and Chancellor elected in Scotland, unaccountable to English voters and having signed the Scottish Claim of Right, pledging to put the interests of Scotland first and foremost in all their acts and deliberations. We don’t need MPs elected in Scotland, unaccountable to English voters, casting the deciding votes on devolved subjects such as university top-up fees, foundation hospitals and the new runway at Heathrow.

Before you give the usual speech about how we’re stronger together than apart and our shared values, ask yourself what the union is doing for your constituents right now. Billions of pounds is being spent on Scotland and Wales at the expense of England. Legislation that only affects England is being passed by Scottish MPs that have no right to vote on the same matters in their own constituencies. Scottish and Welsh businesses are not only benefitting from the British government’s UK-wide efforts to combat the recession but they are also benefitting from their own government’s efforts. You are already seeing – and questioning – the benefits to Scottish and Welsh people from having their own devolved governments. Why would you want to deny those same benefits to your own constituents?

The case for an English Parliament is growing stronger as every day goes by and support for it is increasing year on year. It is no longer a subject for academics and political anoraks, it is a mainstream subject talked about in pubs, workplaces and schools. Are you going to stand on the Welsh border like a modern-day Canute and demand that the tide of change turns back or are you going to accept that things are going to change whether you want them to or not? England is being failed and you can do something about it – support the Campaign for an English Parliament while there is still an England to support.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally and discuss this further.

Stuart Parr

When I got home tonight and picked up the paper, Daniel Kawczynski was on the front page again, this time in a similar vein to Mark Pritchard last night. How am I supposed to keep up!

Pleading for the future

Fifteen firms appeal to MP for help to survive

Up to 15 Shrewsbury businesses have approached their MP in a desperate bit to avoid folding because of problems with their banks, it has been claimed.

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had faced the “extraordinary” situation of being asked by companies to pleasd with bank bosses to allow mre time for payments to be made and stave off unreasonable demands.

He said that Wrekin was not the only company to have faced sever pressure from the banks and has called for the government to do more to help firms in trouble.

“I am currently involved in negotiation with banks with regard to 15 Shrewsbury firms who are having difficultues with their banks,” he added.

“These companies have asked me personally to get involved and I am writing to banks and arranging for Shrwsbury businesses to meet with their bank managers.

“It is quite an extraordinary situation when local firms are asking for the suppor of their MP to stop them going to the wall.”

The Tory MP said that since the recession took hol, he has been approached by an increasing number of businesses who are suffering because of a decline in demand whilst struggling to access credit.

A Meet the Buyer event is being held for businesses in the construction industry, which will take place on March 27 at the Shirehall.

The Chamber of Commerce will offer a presentation and short interview slots explaining how contracting and procurement services are arranged by Shropshire Council.

The reference to “Wrekin” is Wrekin Construction, a local construction company that has just gone bust with the loss of around 1,100 direct and indirect jobs. Despite having £40m of orders on its books for this year and enough money coming to them to pay their £2.8m overdraft off by the end of the week, the Royal Bank of Scotland refused to give them a few days extra to pay it. The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform – an English department of the British government – will now have to pay £5m in redundancy payments because the company is in administration. Yet in the same week, RBS pledges to spend £1.7bn on loaning new mortgages in Scotland – as is usually the case: Scottish first, British second.

Leading by example

I don’t know if any of you have ever been to Telford but it has approximately 300 traffic islands per head of population.  Yet despite this dubious accolade, virtually nobody in the town knows how to drive round one.

I admit that some of the concepts of negotiating a traffic island are a bit tricky, such as using the right hand lane when turning right instead of driving all the way round the outside of the island, cutting people up.

There’s many a time that I’ve been cut up by some dickhead who can’t drive round an island and ranted to my unfortunate passenger that the police should do something about.  The policeman driving the car that followed me tonight wouldn’t have done anything about it though – he also seemed to have the same problem turning right at islands despite the fact that he was almost doing a full circuit of the island, which should have been a big clue as to which lane to be in.

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Whoever said local politics was boring?

Last week I went to a residents meeting to hear the results of a survey the council carried out last year.  This might sound boring but actually it was quite entertaining.

This survey has been carried out every 4 years since 2000 and the results have been reviewed by a “consultation manager” at the council (that was her job title) who has no connection with the area or the regeneration portfolio.

Every measure of satisfaction was down, some of them by significant amounts.  The “consultation manager” was most concerned about the drop in satisfaction with education provision – something like a 55% drop since 2000 – and said she didn’t know how to explain it.  I did.

There were lots of promises from a council officer who got quite a hard time from a woman who said that she’d sat in the same room 10-15 years ago and been told the same things.  Then Councillor Eric Carter stood up and launched into his “I’m an honest Yorkshireman” routine.

Carter is the cabinet member for regeneration and utterly devoid of a sense of humour.  Part of his “honest Yorkshireman” routine was telling us he couldn’t apologise for things that the council had done before the Tories were elected and that they weren’t going to make promises they couldn’t keep.  So, when I sat next to my sparring partner (who happens to be Carter’s mortal enemy) and pointed out that 18 months ago the Leader of the council, Andrew Eade, said that he would personally drive a bulldozer through the community centre within 12 month – the community centre we were sat in – he wasn’t very happy.

His first answer was “He didn’t say that”.  So myself and Councillor Ashcroft disagreed and his answer then was “I’m not talking about that”!  Then when he went on to say that he’d been walking around the estate not long ago “with two officers” (meaning council officers) and the person sitting next to me asked if he meant security officers, he rather abruptly responded “I don’t need security”.  Naturally, we all laughed at him.
Come the end of the meeting he stormed out of the room without speaking to anyone, not even the council employees who were there.

And people think local politics is boring …

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Welcome to Telford, heathen capital of England!

Apparently, Telford is the most godless town in the UK.  Excellent!  Let’s keep it that way.
So godless are my fellow Telfordonians that the Church of England has seen fit to send a missionary to tame the savages redeem us.

According to the Church of England, Telford has the lowest per capita church attendance in the UK.  This really doesn’t surprise me, there aren’t many churches around for the people who want to go anyway.  Most of the housing estates in Telford have a single multi-faith church and the one by me is mostly used by the local Ghanaian immigrant population for a bit of happy clappy late night singing and praying.  I imagine most of them have been adopted by local immigrant groups who have a more zealous approach to religion.

I personally have no religion – I decided at a very young age that I didn’t believe and it was evidently such a revelation that I still remember it to this day.  However, I do respect the fact that not everybody is as well adjusted and able to cope with the realities of life, the universe and everything and feel the need to believe in a supernatural being.  Those people should be allowed to go about their god bothering if they want to whilst us right-thinking atheists go about our heathen business.  Missionaries prey on the vulnerable – the elderly, the young and the sick.  They may have good intentions but in reality they’re no better than pushy double glazing salesmen.

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Power to the people

On the outskirts of Telford is an industrial estate, Hortonwood and next to it a small village, Horton.  Access to the village is via a narrow road, Horton Lane.

Horton Lane is relatively unknown but it’s a useful time saver if you’re trying to get out of the back end of the industrial estate at rush hour which, in the time-honoured tradition of Telford planners, has woefully inadequate access roads that can’t cope with rush hour.  It can take upwards of half an hour to get off the industrial estate at peak times.

The council have, in the past, tried to discourage motorists from using Horton Lane by narrowing the entrance and putting up signs but it is, of course, still used and being on the outskirts of the town it’s also used by the local chav population to race their stupid cars.  Nothing unusual there, a large proportion of Telford is used for racing cars but a handful of residents in Horton don’t like their quiet village being used by motorists so they’ve complained to the council.

Last year the council proposed to close off one end of Horton Lane, nearest the industrial estate to stop the lane being used as a rat run and forcing residents and visitors to Horton to take a detour of several miles.  The majority of residents didn’t like the idea of having to drive miles out of their way to get out of their village or the increased amount of time it would take a fire engine or an ambulance to make its way into the village in an emergency so they formed a campaign group to stop the road closure and presented a petition to the council showing that 270 residents wanted the road open and only 68 wanted it closed.

Earlier this year they received a letter from the council saying that they had decided not to close the road after all because of their petition but they have now received a letter from the council saying that from xx January it’s going to be closed as an experiment for 18 months.  The reason?  The council have had more complaints from residents since the petition.

I don’t live in Horton, I don’t work on Hortonwood and I don’t use Horton Lane but this has pissed me off because it’s just the sort of stupid thinking that makes people think “why bother?”.  They’ve had a petition showing that almost 5 times as many people want the road open as want it closed but because they’ve had complaints from the vocal minority they’re going to close it.  The only feedback the council are going to get about the road is negative because nobody is going to write to them saying “I wish to not complain about Horton Lane being used as a rat run, I’m quite happy about it” are they?

Another genius scheme by the highways people at Telford council is a pair of bus stops opposite each other on a main road with a central refuge in the middle so you can’t pass a bus without breaking the law.  The reason the council gives for doing it?  It slows traffic.  But it doesn’t and they know it doesn’t.  If there is only one bus at the stop, cars just go the wrong side of the central refuge to go past it.

Then there’s the “improvements” to the dual carriageway that runs through the town that’s no longer a dual carriageway in places thanks to the council tinkering with the road layout to make it “safer”.  The number of casualties has increased since they made their “improvements” but rather than put the road back to how it was before they are going to tinker some more and put up more signs.

Oh and we mustn’t forget the busy traffic island that they decided to make safer by erecting a plastic fence on one of the approaches to block the drivers view of the island until the last minute to slow them down.

And there’s the couple of miles of wide, open road with no junctions, no houses and no accidents that they decided to drop from a 60mph speed limit to a 40mph speed limit for no apparent reason whatsoever other than their obsession with slowing drivers down unnecessarily.
The entire department is staffed by idiots who either don’t drive in Telford or spend most of their waking hours on another planet.  If I was a resident of Horton I’d wait until the council put up the bollards, drive down to them in the middle of the night, hook them up to a 4×4 and tear the buggers out of the road.

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Telford Tories in disarray

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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