Friday, May 28, 2004
I had to tell him that this was not uncommon as I’d already dealt with a number of similar cases. It appears that a standard modernisation package was not available to all tenants. Each was asked early in the process to say what they would like done to their homes. Some asked for new garden fences or drive ways as well as a new kitchen and bathroom. Inspectors then called on each home to check the condition of the property and to look for other items that might need replacing such as roofs and doors. Following this an individual list of modifications was drawn up for each house. This has resulted in each tenant being treated differently.
Having looked at the kitchen I cannot understand why it was not replaced but like any other Council project this one seems driven more by saving money than by providing a decent service to the tenants. I had to break the bad news to the gentleman in question that I thought it very unlikely that the Council would respond positively to his request, as from experience I was always met with the same answer – “We don’t have any money”. Even so I will be taking up the issue with the Council’s housing department!
Thursday, May 27, 2004
If any of the cows had reacted it would have meant difficulties for the farmer. As the farm is beef enterprise he would, after disposing of the infected cow, have been forced either to send the rest of his cows for slaughter or would have been made to keep them on the farm until the tests showed the farm was clear. Either of these options would have affected the farmers income drastically and at a time when the whole agricultural industry is struggling to survive this could have spelt disaster for the whole business.
What is clear is that the Government have no real policy on Bovine TB and far more research must be carried out into its cause and how it should be dealt with. While badgers certainly seem to be in the firing line as the carriers of the disease this has not be scientifically proved beyond doubt and pressure groups on both side of the argument are arguing their cause extremely vocally. The look of relief on the farmers face was clear when he heard the results and Government owes it to him and his fellow farmers to take this matter seriously and make more funds available so the underlying science is discovered and then acted on.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Given the importance of the Council’s planning function I was disappointed that to-nights meeting was attended by less than half the Council and even some of these left before the end! However I suppose I should be the last to complain about the few who left early as I was about 30 minutes late arriving as I’d been held up by a telephone call from a local resident who had a pressing housing problem.
In the end I think the event got across some messages. In fact the 15 minutes left for questions at the end was perhaps the most enlightening, as quite a few new Councillors asked some quite searching questions. It was interesting to watch the faces of some of them as the penny began to drop and I’m quite sure they will approach future planning meetings in a different way.
However I even more convinced that some of the decisions taken by the Council over the past few months are questionable and that some Councillors have sailed very close to the wind or indeed have crossed the line when they voted on some applications. I’ve already raised the matter with the Chief Executive and are now more determined than ever to take the matter further. The Borough Solicitor, who presented part of the evening suggested that the Council could be left open to judicial review or an investigation by the ombudsman if the Councillors did not follow the rules. It looks as if this is the route I now need to follow!
Monday, May 24, 2004
Towards the end of the meeting the position of the Village handyman was discussed. At the last meeting the Council appointed the Chairman and Vice Chairman to form a panel to interview applicants for the vacant handyman post. Well tonight they reported on the outcome of those interviews, which was perhaps a bit late as the new handyman was cutting the grass outside the Village Hall while the meeting was taking place.
The agenda item made it clear the two members were to make a recommendation to the rest of the Council. However during their introduction the bomb shell was dropped. They had offered the job to one of the applicants and had offered him a pay rise over what the last handyman was being paid. You could have heard a pin drop when this announcement was made, as at no time were they given the delegated power to up the pay on offer. Once the news was announced all hell broke loose, as the previous handyman had been refused a rise just before he resigned!
The two panel members tried to say they were only making this recommendation to the Council, but it was pointed out that as the new handyman had started work there was little the Council could do but agree. After about an three quarter of an hours heated debate the Treasurer sided with the Chairman and Vice Chairman to vote to employ the new handyman on the terms the panel had agreed. Three Councillors abstained on the principle that the position was a fait-accompli and I vote again the plan.
This move has soured relationships within the Council which I'm sure will never heal. Perhaps the two Councillors in question should think long and hard about their position!