31/07/2015

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE PARTY

Seeing as my main target of contemptuous laughter has only been wandering around Blocksages Playing Fields this week, I thought I’d turn my attention to what appears to be a growing financial scam that is becoming rife around Tameside – That of the rise of The Benefit Cheats!

This week, the National Daily’s broke the story of a despicable woman who had been cheating the system and stealing over £36,000 of our tax money, so that she could travel the world with her civil partner.

Cheryl Brooks, 45, of Stalybridge was apparently caught, after 3 years of swindling the system, because she stupidly posted photographs of herself and her partner on Facebook, enjoying elephant rides, feeding koala bears, stroking a leopard, posing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, signing her name at Elvis Presley’s Graceland home and singing karaoke in India.

She had claimed she was single but was living with her civil partner Margaret Brierley, 42, on three separate claims forms, which over the period, allowed the crooked couple to rake in £36,166.81 in overpaid benefits.

But the real injustice here is not so much the crime, but the sentence; which saw the thieving pair cocking a further snook at the leniency of their sentence by Brooks sending a ‘status update’ to her page, which read: “Well for once things went well for me and I'm still here taking my bag home with me thank you for all the good wishes I've had and everyone’s support.”

She then had the audacity to put a further two fingered salute to authority by posting on Facebook about holding a “get out of jail” party. 

Presumably getting shit-faced with all her other benefit dodging mates and other like-minded wastrels who think it's good to support a couple of common thieves.

So much for British justice!

How often do we read the same old line from Tameside Council’s executive member for finance, who’s always quoted as saying, “I must stress that cases like this are rare. However, we will never hesitate to take people to court when we believe it to be necessary."

No wonder our so called financially strapped council is claiming poverty when we have Judges who on hearing these cases for the prosecution, say things like: “I don’t believe everything you said to probation. I think you had a good lifestyle out of that and funded luxurious foreign travel.

“You had a number of bank accounts and although it wasn't fraud from the start, it quickly became so. You have health problems and I give you full credit for your plea.”

So, it would seem that you can steal and lie and cheat the taxpayer out of as much money as you like and provided you have dependent children, you will get a ‘get out of jail ‘ card because financially, it would cost council’s more money if they were to take those children into care.

Last year, a mother-of-five who committed benefit fraud by claiming £76,000 she was not entitled to also escaped jail. The reason as explained in the summing up was, “In a way you richly deserve to go immediately into custody."

“It is true the income support was not from the outset dishonest but your claiming of housing and council tax benefits was wholly dishonest." 

“But you are the mother of five children and I think you are genuinely remorseful. You are also looking after your nephew and your testimonials are very complimentary of you. “I am just about able to suspend this sentence but should you be back before this court for any offence, you will be going immediately into custody.”

The woman was ordered to perform 200 hours community service within the next year and pay £300 in prosecution costs.

The irony is, she is paying back the money she owes - out of the benefits she is still claiming!

So, as for these cases of cheating the taxpayer being ‘rare’ – These examples of injustice follows on from a similar case a couple of weeks ago; again from another Stalybridge woman, Jane Broadhurst, previously of Church Bank, Stalybridge, who failed to inform Tameside Council that she was living as husband and wife with Stephen Broadhurst, who was in full-time employment as proprietor of a haulage company.

She unlawfully received £17,906.20 for the period October 23, 2009, to August 6, 2012.
She was found guilty after a two-day trial at Tameside Magistrates’ Court, and was given an 18-week prison term, again suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work, and to pay the council’s costs of £1,390.

The problem is, this type of fraud is buried; no one wants to admit it’s going on, and because no one’s really taken hold of it, it’s grown to a point where it’s getting totally out of control.

There are literally thousands of cases of benefit fraud placed before the court and the result of most of them is non-custodial!

Whether it was intended as a joke or not, as soon as that message was seen on Facebook regarding ‘a get out of jail free party’ Cheryl Brooks, should have been hauled back to court, charged with contempt and the full custodial sentence carried out.


It is only by making examples of these parasites that the fraudsters will think twice. After all, it’s our money they’re stealing!

24/07/2015

JOHN TAYLOR SHOULD BE CHUFFED TO BITS!

No matter what successes one may find in life, for some people it would appear that certain childhood dreams just never go away.

Take John Taylor for instance; and this week’s nostalgic letter which was published in the ‘Taylor Times’ regarding his longing for a return of the boroughs grimy old railway stations, his love for choking sulphuric smoke and the sounds of shunting from long-gone sidings and goods yards.

Could it be, that for all these years having criticized him for his condescending attitude to anything that is not Labour leaning, that all this time his sophomoric demeanour has been due to the fact that the councillor was nothing more than a closet train-spotter?

Why, oh why have I not recognised the obvious tell tail signs before?                                                                                 
Surely, with hindsight I should have put two and two together, if only because of his negative, inarticulate, grubby high vis’-clad, unfashionable, dreary oddball appearance, coupled with limited social skills and an obsessive personality.

We should also have rumbled the fact by his stereotypical appearance at every conceivable photo-opportunity, together with the tendency to ramble on about totally meaningless sets of unrelated sets of chronological numbers, reminiscent of a man who could quite possibly be mistaken for some poor soul who was suffering from some kind of personality disorder.

Just to think; all these years I have been labouring under the impression that lads usually give up train-spotting when they discover women and football! (And not necessarily in that order!)


So, not only do we have a ‘Fat Controller’ look-a-like at the helm; we've also got a Deputy Leader of the Council who is not just labour’s left leaning attack dog, but in his spare time he appears to have joined a cagoule of train spotters, who frequently display an unhealthy interest in old rolling stock.

20/07/2015

COMEDY WAY BEYOND THE FRINGE

"Eh, you've got to have a lot of bottle to dress up like this
in public!"
You can always tell when summer has arrived in Tameside, because John Taylor’s weekly letters tend to comprise more of the predictable hackneyed and somewhat grating nonsense that would normally be found emanating from a stereotypical comedian from an end of the pier show, but without the comic timing.

Slipping neatly into the role of a modern day "Miles Gloriosus" the archetypal career councillor; who seems to have made quite a name for himself as the council’s principle object of ridicule and satire, has, or so it would appear, taken his obsessions with waste and expectations of our gullibility to a whole new level!

Titter ye not missus – no, no – titter ye not!

Never shirking an opportunity to brag about his accomplishments as a black-plastic bag carrying champion of tidiness and sartorial elegance, he posted this picture on his own blog whilst trying to convince us of the merits of their latest brain wave - the 'bin-swap' scheme!
  
He might well have nearly 32 years of civic experience; during which time he obtained a first-class honours degree from Dumplington University in Refuseology, achieved whilst working as a street champion for Tameside council; the problem is that it appears that in respect of some of his more significant council duties, it looks like he spent most of his time on another planet.

So, what’s next John?

How about demanding that all council litter pickers be given the right to arrest especially itinerant dog owners and be issued with Tasers?

Or giving Council Binmen the authority to carry out forced entry into houses in Dukinfield’s Central Estate on suspicion residents are not recycling their milk cartons?

So next time you read or hear from a politician; like those who have concocted the 'bin-swap' scheme, that, "There are decent people steering local government, who are motivated by notions of public service and improving our lot"

Ask them to specify the country where these decent local government officers might be found. 

It may, however, not be on Planet Earth!


17/07/2015

ANOTHER BOUT OF RHETORICAL POLITICAL CLAP-TRAP!

"The bottom line is, I want to be heard in the corridors of power!"
Reading the ‘open letter’ to the people of Tameside and hearing reports of the Executive Leader and his side-kick’s usual recent speech to the full council, it’s clear that the main man made full use of this ritualised opportunity for another bout of rhetorical, clich├ęd riddled  set-pieces.

For instance, in following his declaration of local political victory, the two main protagonists appear to have conveniently dismissed the fact that the Labour Party were totally blown away in the General Election; the reason being that its leadership was so out of step with the voters, who on the day, showed continuous mistrust in a party who are financially brain-dead which results in them continually leaving the nation struggling under mountains of debt when they leave office.

John Taylor in his usual manner then takes first prize for irony by having a go at the Conservatives saying: The Tory administration thinks that they have a God given right to rule! – Ironically this is from a career councillor of some 31 years! - If it wasn't so tragic it would be worthy of a spot on comedy hour!

It must also be extremely comforting for those among us who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet, to know that Kieran Quinn and his missus, who take home about £70 grand between them in ‘allowances’ and his top 8 executive officers who collectively take home well over £3/4 of a million per annum, are standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with us!

(Strangely though, they are nowhere to be seen when they commission a group of bullies in the guise of council bailiffs to frighten women and children by threatening the removal of family goods and other seizures, which only adds more financial misery on the growing number of fiscally stressed residents, who miss paying their unnecessarily increased council tax bills)
  
He then goes on to say, “Many of us have gone into public service to help create the best possible world for our sons and daughters, our children and our grandchildren, our nephews and nieces.

Well when the family contrive to form a husband and wife or councillor and partner collaboration to jointly ‘get on t’ council’ (and Tameside has more than the average of these couples) it’s not surprising that their sons and daughters and the rest of their families are languishing in the best possible world!

We can all look after our sons and daughters on £70 grand a year Kieran!

He then asks, "Why are 18 million people still unable to afford adequate housing?"

Well, Kieran, could the fact that you and your predecessor sold all the council houses off to your mates and did not reinvest the money in building bigger, better and more suitable houses for the growing population? 

All this grousing and groaning about ‘cuts in funding’ has been the mantra of this group of creatively challenged councillors for well over 5 years now, and frankly, it’s becoming boring!

If they cannot function within their means or create and recognise the many opportunities presented to them in order to bolster their coffers by maximising the many fantastic assets they hold, then they should retire and let others who have sufficient acumen and business foresight and who possess the know-how of how to fill the void, operate the borough in their stead!

Just to finish my thoughts, I came across this other gem of wisdom from Andrew Gwynne MP, who said, “Boosting productivity is a much better guarantee of increasing the amount people earn.”

Never a truer word was said, Sherlock, but I was talking to a start-up company the other day who told me that when they told the council they were wishing to expand their operation to add more staff and encourage more trade, they were immediately slapped with threats of an extra £1600 per annum on top of their existing business tax bill, which meant that the company’s expansion plan was cancelled!

That’s how our council encourages business expansion in Tameside!

01/07/2015

TAMESIDE - A 'wheelie stupid' council

Here we go again!

Not content with turning our towns and villages into recycling slums by allowing multi-coloured wheelie bins to become permanent fixtures on the crowded pavements in most neighbourhoods, the ‘brains trust’ who inhabit Tameside council have now decided that following a trial scheme, it will be a jolly good wheeze to swap the colours and sizes of the recycling bins throughout the borough!

In a feeble effort to show us how much they will save, they have once again spouted figures that my 4 year old grandchild could ride his toy tipper truck through!

In the councils own press release it claims:

“Every year Tameside puts nearly 40,000 tonnes of waste into landfill. This is bad for the environment and it costs local taxpayers £12 million.”

The same crap was echoed by our intrepid Leader in his Blog.

 "Every year in Tameside we spend £12 million putting 40,000 tonnes of waste into landfill."

Well no wonder the 'powers that be' are cutting their budgets if this is how they chuck our money away!

Landfill may very well be ‘bad for the environment’ but it’s the council’s figures that make one worry as to who is working the calculator!

Let’s look at the figures.

Kieran and the council claim that they collect and dump 40,000 tonnes of waste in landfill sights at a cost to Tameside tax payers of £12 million per annum.

But according to the latest Government figures, the Standard tax rate for landfill is: £82.60 per tonne.

£82.60 x 40,000 = £3.304000 (Three million, three hundred and four thousand pounds)
That’s £8.696 million less than the council is claiming!

So what does the bulk of the money actually get spent on, Kieran?

Could it be the repayment of the interest on the £631 million PPI contract with Viridor Laing?

Could it have something to do with the combined authorities’ waste increase in annual GROSS EXPENDITURE from £146.978m to £159.715m?

Perhaps some waste expert could get his backside back to the Radio Station and explain where all the extra £8.7 million really goes. If the council want to cut down on expenditure in the waste department they need to ignore the (£3.3 million) Government Tax on landfill because they have to abide by the European directives, so no amount of bin swapping will reduce that figure. However, they could look at where the bulk of their alleged spend goes (£8.7 million) - the bit that they have omitted to mention!

And while this ‘expert’ is getting his/her ducks in a line over that little conundrum, they might also tell us how one intends to get a quart into a pint pot?

Because according to the council’s bean counters; they believe that the ‘Bin Swap’ means simply swapping the use of the green and black bins. So, the larger black bin is used for glass, plastic, cans. The smaller green bin is then used for waste that can’t be recycled and goes to landfill.

The problem being overlooked here is that a family with 2 kids, who currently fill the Black Bin over a two week period, will still produce the same amount of general waste to fill two Green bins over the same period of time.

Therefore in those circumstances there’s no reduction in general domestic waste.

So, as this daft scheme rolls out, one of two things will happen.

           1)      They will need two green bins to hold the same amount as was in the black bins; which incur extra work for the waste management operatives (Bin Men)

           2)    Finding the bin full after one week, they will put the extra waste into plastic bags and leave them on top of the green bin where they will be ripped apart with the contents scattered by the elements, vermin or other wild life!

Another small insignificance is the fact that the Black bins which have been in use for much longer that the others, will now be totally contaminated with all manner of waste, ranging from dog faeces to left over curries and every conceivable example of detritus in between.

Are these bins now not to be steam cleaned to allow this ‘fresh start?

Will extra bins be provided for larger families?

If so, where are householders supposed to store this multiplication of bins?

If they must continue with their ridiculous pre-occupation with waste, why not conduct a proper survey and issue different sizes of bins to suit either commercial or private sector requirements.

Or, to put it another way, an elderly couple or a singular occupied household will probably only need a small bin whilst a household with 4 children will obviously require a larger bin.

As for colour coding, well so long as they are all uniformed throughout the borough, the scheme couldn't be simpler, er' or could it!