25/08/2016

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, …OR IS IT?

Upon visiting Stalybridge earlier today, I noticed something was happening!

Yet another fence had been erected around the old Casablanca’s site and heavy machinery could be seen knocking down what was left of The Millpond pub!

Could this be a sign that the ‘new owners’ had finally started to build, or was it just another photo-op for those who may not have been born when the ‘new owners’ published the last one?

Back in February 2013, Cllr John Taylor - Deputy Leader of Tameside Council, speaking on the redevelopment of the derelict Casablanca’s Health Club, said: "These are great times for Stalybridge. We are finally going to see the end of a building that has spoiled the town centre for almost eight years.”

“Empty buildings are not only a blight, they are a wasted asset, especially at a time when we have to work so much harder in pursuit of prosperity.’

You may well remember the well staged photo shoot, were the councillor, with MP Jonathan Reynolds and some other bod, they dragged in to balance the composition. This was to announce to the local residents and taxpayers that the new owners, New Charter, had started to redevelop the site and had chosen to use Tameside Council to carry out the demolition work!’

To give them due credit, it started well.

Carefully painted in New Charter’s corporate colours; a ‘temporary’ wooden fence was erected around the site of the once thriving multi-purpose fitness and leisure complex, which had stood derelict since being gutted by fire in 2005; and now, according to ‘honest John’ this was to signal the start of interior demolition work on the site with exterior work (ie Building something) set to begin in the summer. (That was the summer of 2013)

However, and with the benefit of hindsight, we should have ‘smelt a rat’ regarding the future plans for the site, when Sean Stafford, director of development at New Charter explained: “We do have some thoughts and we have had some initial sketches prepared.”

Invariably these days, whenever we hear or read about ‘New Charter’ it’s because they have achieved yet another ‘award or recognition’ from some nebulous trade sector or Local Government Quangos. For instance a couple of months after ‘erecting and painting’ the corporate coloured fence around the demotion site that was ‘Casablanca’s’ - New Charter’s Building Company achieved their first gold medal award that year - having secured consecutive gold awards for the previous five years, demonstrating its key commitment to carrying out all of their repairs and maintenance work to a high standard of safety.

Since then, New Charter Homes has been awarded a top gong for environmental performance. They gained an anti-social behaviour accreditation with flying colours. They scooped a top prize and four other accolades at a regional contact centre awards shindig. One of their young apprentices from Dukinfield was recognised in the Construction Apprentice of the Year category at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Property and Construction Annual Dinner. They swiftly followed that by announcing that New Charter Housing Trust Group had reached number three in 24 Housing’s Top 50 Landlords survey. Next, the Tameside-based housing association reached number 7 in the 2014 Sunday Times Top 100 Best Not-For-Profit Companies To Work For poll, followed by news that Green Charter, the in house grounds maintenance team at New Charter Homes scooped the top prize at a national customer services awards in London.

Not to be outdone, The Tenant Management Team (TMT) of New Charter Homes, who help to improve housing services for others won a regional award for their hard work. Next award on the shelf was when New Charter Homes received further national recognition for the third year running for the way it looks after neighbourhoods and residents in Tameside. This was quickly followed by The Inspire team at New Charter Homes who were crowned overall category winners for Building Stronger Communities at the Responsible Business Awards.

14th August 2014, saw New Charter awarded the national ServiceMark standard, recognising its commitment to customer service. Come November, New Charter won another national award for helping tenants struggling with debt and cuts to welfare benefits.

One significant announcement came in May 2015 when Moody’s, a well respected, internationally recognised credit rating agency assigned an A2 rating to New Charter.  This judgement gave New Charter the opportunity to move forward in the medium term by raising significant additional cash, meaning that it is able to continue developing new homes for rent.

Following more awards and accreditations, New Charter became the first housing association in the country to receive a new national accreditation for the way it lets its homes, and later won a Green Apple Environment Award in the national campaign to find Britain’s greenest companies, councils and communities.

Following an award for Public Relations and communications they next received the CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) Health & Wellbeing award based on the depth and breadth of work it carries out in relation to the Government’s Health and Wellbeing agenda.

In April 2016, the Inspire team at New Charter Group were recognised again in the Building Stronger Communities category in the 2016 Responsible Business Awards, run by Business in the Community, HRH The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network.

And last, but I’m sure, not for long – earlier this very month (8th August 2016) New Charter Group was awarded the highest standard for the way it looks after and invests in its employees.

A great record of achievement by anyone’s standards!

However, after three and a half years, since their grandiose announcement of revitalising Armentieres Square, we can only hope that this recent flurry of activity results in some form of construction and with a bit of luck, at sometime in the not too distant future, we can all celebrate with New Charter, a special achievement award for actually building something that resembles ‘homes, shops and retail outlets’ in keeping with the urban surroundings of Stalybridge.

Time will tell!

27/06/2016

LOOKS LIKE THE SOOTHSAYERS AND POLITICAL PROPHESIES WERE TRUE AFTER ALL!


Billy no-mates
Before the referendum, the gathered hoards on the remain side, predicted huge job losses and the break-up of Europe!

Up to writing, 28 (and counting) Labour frontbenchers have thrown their toy’s out of the pram and left Corbyn’s unhappy band. If Corbyn is really determined to keep insisting that his large mandate means he has to stay on, the Labour party is screwed. By the end of the day, I doubt he'll have enough supporters in the parliamentary party to actually form a credible shadow cabinet, let alone hold the government to account.

So it’s looking more likely that the Labour Party will break up before the EU does!

And it’s not only Labour! The problem is that the majority of the political classes, whom, it would seem, prefer to salute the European Union flag, rather than the Union Jack, clearly do not want to leave the EU. That would mean that they would have to resume full responsibility for us and they do not want to.

Now they’re telling us that in the UK, referendums are not legally binding!  - And if there’s a good enough reason, parliament can ignore them! Well let them try it! We voted out, and we want OUT!

They are also trying to muddy the waters by offering all sorts of fudged nonsense. From Associate Membership to a renegotiation of terms and even another referendum (presumably until they get the result they want!)

They set the terms, the rules and the question - It is NOT what we were offered and voted on as well they know. We were offered a straight IN or OUT ! And we chose OUT !!

If the political class cannot deliver on this, then those that cannot accept it must go. They must resign their seats and allow others to take their place. No need for a general election, why should those who would defend British sovereignty risk their seat because they are on the winning side of the argument?

Politicians throughout the country, please listen, the people have spoken; it’s no good trying to change the rules now. Just do what you have been elected to do and put the Great back into Britain.

The time has come for real Statesmen to emerge!

19/06/2016

THURSDAY’S VOTE - ECHO’S OF 1975


The sad and senseless death of MP Jo Cox, days before the IN/OUT European referendum brought back macabre echo’s from a previous European referendum.
In 2003, the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death whilst out shopping four days before the Swedish referendum on adopting the Euro.

This tragic event saw both camps suspend their campaigns, with each  promising to take stock of the voracity of their arguments. 
Today, after both sides of the argument agreed to resume their campaigning, albeit taking a more factual and calmer approach, the first words uttered by the so called ‘neutral’ BBC, was to point out how Boris Johnson had once favoured the remaining in the ‘free trade market’ and now leads the ‘brexit’ campaign for the UK to leave.!
Strange though, they missed the opportunity to remind us of other politicos who appear to have had similar Damascus moments. Forty-one years ago, in Britain’s last referendum on Europe, has plenty of similarities with the current bitter and closely-fought debate.
Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson called the referendum on June 5, 1975, as a way of trying to appease the euro sceptic wing of his fractured party, and urged Britons to stay in after securing concessions from Brussels.
This time around, it is Conservative premier David Cameron who is holding a vote to try to heal party splits, and who is campaigning to “Remain” on the basis of a renegotiated EU settlement.
Back then, the left wing of Wilson’s Labour party wanted to leave the Common Market, among them current leader Jeremy Corbyn — who now advocates staying in.
Earlier on April 26 1975, Labour held a special conference on Europe where Michael Foot made the concluding speech, quoting Nye Bevan and the Leave position won by 3.9 million to 1.7 million.
There was also another Labour meeting in Cardiff organised by Neil Kinnock to campaign for a No to Europe vote. He changed his views and later both he and his wife, became European Commissioners!
So, let’s not get sidetracked by pointing fingers at people who change their minds. After all, during the last referendum, the EEC (as it was known then) had six founding members and membership had risen to nine by 1975. Today EU has grown to 28 members, with others knocking on its door.
Back in 1975, Harold Wilson only had to negotiate more favourable terms with those nine countries. Today, the stakes of voting on EU membership are higher than in 1975!
With 28 differing member states, mostly from within the Euro-zone, with Europe engaged in such a complex and changing number of political priorities and directions, any attempted renegotiations for the UK will obviously become a more difficult task for Cameron than Wilson faced forty one years ago.

 

 

15/06/2016

THE ROBBER BARON'S ARE GETTING TWITCHY


Regular and casual readers of this blog will have noticed that I haven't been commenting since the back end of February.

There’s been speculation and questions asked about my lack of commentary and disappointment at my general running criticism of the usual group of suspects; but the honest truth is this; - writing about the socialist self-servers who have been the main feature of the blog from the outset, together with Cameron’s U-turns and downright deceit over the IN/OUT referendum, has convinced me that whatever political popinjays spring up, they are only different grades of ‘useful idiots’ who have fallen into the Hegelian Dialectic trap, and bringing this fact to the near brain dead, apathetic great unwashed, is like emanating the futile efforts of Sisyphus, who the gods condemned to spend his life ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, only for it to fall back down under its own weight.

And speaking of rocks; unless you've been living under one, you've probably noticed a lot of scaremongering coming from the vast majority of politicians and those faceless power mad leaders within the EU. 

The amount of total garbage that's we're being threatened with is unbelievable!

That's because they are desperately clinging on to the last vestiges of the power they have. The power we have given them! But now faced with vast movements of refugees and economic migrants, they know as well as you and I do that their plans for a federal state of Europe with one ruling elite in Brussels, is in danger of going tits up. -- It's not if, it's a matter of when. 

I just hope that by the end of next week, we are no longer prisoners of the UK elite and, equally important, the EU! Because I simply could not stand the thought of living in a country where almost every liberty and right we have enjoyed for hundreds of years had been systematically destroyed by unelected, unmovable, faceless bureaucrats’ aided and abetted by our own greasy-pole climbing politicians!

I will blog again when I have something more to say!

 

 

 

 

26/02/2016

QUOD GRATIS ASSERITUR, GRATIS NEGATUR

"It's not fair! They're messing with our version of democracy!"
Reading the usual deluge of verbal diarrhea contained within the Readers Letters page, it now seems irrefutable to me that the quality of forensic reporting and questioning, with the exception of one or perhaps two, appears now to be a lost art.

How much longer can Cllr John Taylor’s alleged correspondence be published verbatim and go unchallenged by journo’s and readers?

Here is a shining example of a career councillor, who through the shear manipulation of the Labour councils voting system; reveals, when analyzed, that he and his cohorts have used the so called ‘democratic’ electoral system to their own maximum political advantage over the last 30 years, in such a cruel and manipulative way.

And now, finding that the current government are reassigning ward/borough boundaries, he gets on his soapbox and accuses them of ‘messing about with our democratic system’ - claiming ‘they are out of control!’

The sad truth is, that as it stands, our local council election system has merely provided comfortable places for some councillors to rest their bums for life, whilst suckling on the public tit.

Ideally, given our current situation, we need people to enter local government with a view of neither political left or right, just some plain bloody common sense for a change, who’ll work towards the betterment of the borough and most important, all its people.
 
* Headline: WHAT IS ASSERTED WITHOUT REASON MAY BE DENIED WITHOUT REASON
 

22/02/2016

HOW MUCH?

The local government transparency code was issued to meet the Government’s desire to place more power into citizens’ hands, in order to increase democratic accountability. It is intended to make it easier for local people to contribute to the local decision making process and help shape public services.

Without any ambiguity it requires all Local Authorities to publish details of each individual item of expenditure that exceeds £500. This includes items of expenditure, consistent with Local Government Association guidance, such as:

·         individual invoices

·         grant payments

·         expense payments

·         payments for goods and services

·         grants

·         grant in aid

·         rent

·         credit notes over £500, and transactions with other public bodies

 
For each individual item of expenditure the following information must be published:

 
·         date the expenditure was incurred

·         local authority department which incurred the expenditure

·         beneficiary

·         summary of the purpose of the expenditure17

·         amount18

·         Value Added Tax that cannot be recovered, and

·         merchant category (eg. computers, software etc).

 
It really couldn’t be clearer, however if one had cause to seek out the transaction details incurred by Tameside Council (See under COUNCIL SPEND on the council website) you’ll find on opening the latest expenditure report, (July to September 2015) it is now only available in CSV format, with more redacted information than a farfetched Tom Clancy espionage thriller!
 
In this limited format, the reader is also left none the wiser as to what the payments were for, and makes it impossible to ascertain the overall spend.

However, if one has the patience to wade through, you will find a few eye-watering sums that have been/and continue to be paid out on a regular basis.

Of course, the usual suspects are there, sucking vast amounts out of the coffers, but there are a few others, which need a second look too.

Remember the ‘bin swap scheme’ –that’s the one which we were told would save us money. The one that 1001 people ‘voted for’ on the budget simulator.

But, nowhere on that simulator did it mention the cost of replacing domestic bins!

Would it surprise you to learn that on October 2015 a total of £289.325.90 was paid to a company called SSI SCHAEFER LTD to supply domestic bins?

Perhaps someone could explain why, when the council claims to have ‘no money’ for lollipop crossing attendants to keep our children safe on their way to and from school, they need to spend £300 grand on all these extra bins?

And whilst they are thinking of creating an excuse for that, perhaps an explanation as to why £25,000 was paid out on the 23rd October 2015 to New Image (Public Relations Ltd) for the design, manufacture and storage of 30 'market stalls' and the organisation and management of a Christmas Market, when, one would assume that the 'market stalls' had already been designed, built, stored and paid for and featured in 2013's expenditure records?

13/02/2016

TAMESIDE CHIEFS - ARE THEY WAVING OR ARE THEY DROWNING?

Judging by all the toing and froing going on over the closure of the Tameside swimming pools, an article in the local press recently seems to imply that the left hand and right hand aren't talking!

The article reported of a 'sporty student' from Tameside College, (that's the same college, who in close collaboration with the council, have created 'Vision Tameside') who has been awarded an ASA Level One in teaching aquatics and is using her talents to teach children in Tameside how to swim!

The article goes on to say that the former Saddleworth School student plans to go to uni' after finishing her course at Tameside College to study for a degree in nutrition with the aim of starting a business in health and wellbeing.

I wish her well, but with Tameside closing our swimming pools whilst our college; who are supposedly working hand in hand with Tameside Council; are churning out students who have set their sights on working within the health and leisure industries, one can only wonder where they are to find work?

The last words came from the Sports Development officer at Tameside College who said, "We are so lucky to have a fantastic advocate for female sports and physical activity at the college."

It's just a pity by the time she and all the other sports students qualify, there will be 3 less swimming pools for them to ply their vocation.

Maybe, residents and sports students from Tameside should write to Cllr Taylor, the man responsible for most situations in Tameside, and ask him to come up with a solution on how to teach children to swim, without them getting wet.

After all, he seems to have mastered most things, without first putting in the effort.