Monday, 1 September 2014

You are the Zombie, goodbye!

I have just been told Councillor Mike Jordan (see below) probably got his “Zombie” description from the North Yorkshire County Council lexicon.  

On their Council meeting days approximately 45 Tory Councillors cram into a small room an hour before the official meeting at 10:30 to receive their instructions.  The small Tory Group Cabinet tells Councillors if and when they may speak in the meeting and how to vote for every resolution.  Their reward for behaving as told is a good lunch at 13.00.  Those not allowed to speak feel like Zombies. 

Pigs waiting to get their snouts in the trough, more like.         

I don't wanna be a Zombie

One hour and eighteen minutes. The duration of last month's Hemingbrough Parish Council meeting.  That's how long (or short!) Councillors devoted to the formal part of their responsibilities to discuss matters affecting residents.

Visiting North Yorkshire County Councillor Mike Jordan seems to think it's O.K. to get up, walk about, chat to mates and make a cup of tea during such short formal sessions. (See his email below)

Why does he bother coming to Hemingbrough? Do North Yorkshire County Councillors get basic allowances, travelling and subsistence expenses for putting in an appearance? 

According to Parish Council Minutes, in July “County Councillor M Jordan left the meeting” before the Planning Item started. How long did he stay? An hour? Long enough to get his name in the minutes. 
In June “County Councillor M Jordan left the meeting” before the Planning Item started. How long did he stay? An hour?
In May the Council Meeting lasted for a whole hour and ten minutes. County Councillor M Jordan stayed until the end!
In April the Council Meeting lasted for a whole hour and ten minutes. County Councillor M Jordan stayed until the end!
In March “County Councillor M Jordan left the meeting” before the Planning Item started. How long did he stay? An hour?

“Conservative Mike Jordan, who lost his Sherburn seat to Labour’s Bob Packham with only 11 votes between them, (in the 2013 North Yorkshire County Council election) blamed UKIP for his defeat. He said: “They stood and they’ve taken my votes – it’s as simple as that”

I wonder why?  It didn't take him long to get back in again.  

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Correspondence with North Yorkshire County Councillor Mike Jordan

Dear Councillor Jordan,

Thank you for your explanation which concentrates entirely on the wishes and likes of Councillors and makes not a single reference to the Public.

In a public session of any Council I expect to hear the discussions so I may understand what the Council likes and prefers in local developments.  I may have particular interests in the planning applications being discussed.  I do not recall public Planning Sessions at Selby District Council morphing into a Chimpanzee's Tea Party.  What you do behind the scenes out of the gaze of the public is your own private affair.

My recordings of last month's Planning Session at Hemingbrough show that Councillors paid no attention to the public.  The noise was appalling!  If Councillors wish to make a drink or chat to other Councillors I suggest they go to the separate kitchen; if you have something valuable to say to the Council then stay at the table and ensure everybody hears your contribution.

Despite your training and experience you have a lot to learn about the rules that have been designed to show the Public how decisions are made.

As guests at Hemingbrough, I expect you all to behave accordingly.  The Public can deal with Hemingbrough Parish Councillors at the appropriate time if they fail to respect the local electorate.   

-----Original Message-----
From: Cllr.Mike Jordan
Sent: Sun, 31 Aug 2014 20:06
Subject: RE: Hemingbrough Parish Council
Duly noted. I tried to respond some days ago to the email on the blog but it failed to deliver so I shall try again.
I have to say it must be some time since you attended the Barly and sgodby Town Council meetings because they get up and walk around and make a cup of tea when we come to planning. As someone who has been on the Planning committee and had considerable training I think it useful that I can provide advise. I do not play any part in the voting.
I also have to say that at County Hall we regularly get up and walk around during debate to talk to others without interupting the debate. We do not like just sitting there as zombies and it is part of the process as you will have noted at The houses of parliament. Formality taken to its end stifles debate and we do not want that!

Cllr Mike Jordan

McCann funked* it

Things are not always as they seem.  It was bad enough for Parish Councillors to arrive for their meeting and find me sitting there with my camcorder, camera and voice recorder ready to capture their every word and action.  For Councillors McCann and Senior, Councillors & Members of the Hagg Lane Green Gang, the agony must have been excruciating.

They must have soon realised what I had done.  Not only had I reappeared after two years but ‘there it was’.  I had written to the Clerk a week before so my enquiry had to be added to the Agenda:

“Item 13.  Advice of correspondence received, and DECIDE ON ACTION to be taken, where appropriate:-  b) Resident – Note receipt of further correspondence regarding Hemingbrough Parish Council and Hemingbrough Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group.”

“Dear Parish Clerk,
Can you confirm that:

all future costs associated with Hagg Lane Green, such as removal of fly tipping materiel, removal of travellers, Court fees, etc.  will be borne by Members of the independent Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group and not the Parish Council,

the date on which Hemingbrough Parish Council assigned all of its share of the monies, (or the resulting assets) awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to that independent Group following a joint application for funds

that truth of the Joint  Conservation Group/Parish Council Application that states "The land is owned by the Parish Council who will act as the accountable body for the project" and the land is owned "Freehold or other type of outright ownership" which, as statements open to challenge, could be in contravention of the Funds' Rules and Regulations.

Perhaps the issue of Parish Council Ownership of the land at Hagg Lane by Freehold or other type of outright ownership is what you and the Parish Council sought to conceal by your failure to provide any of the information I requested in a properly worded Freedom of Information Act request that was discussed in Council.” 

Essentially I was asking if the joint application by the ‘Parish Council’ and the ‘Parish Council Committee for Hagg Lane Green’ to the Heritage Lottery Fund included a whopping lie, and the Council’s assurance that all future costs are borne by the now independent Hagg Lane Conservation Group as that Group controls everything at the Green and residents have no say what happens there so there cannot be costs with representation.  

As they approached Item 13, Vice-Chairman leaned over to Chairman Drew for a whispered exchange, then Drew rather nervously said:

‘So where are we going now?  We’ve got some correspondence regarding Hemingbrough Parish Council and Hemingbrough Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group.  We are not in any position to give any answers to that tonight.  We need to do some work on that one before we can formulate a reply so we will leave that until the next meeting.’

Against all Council protocol McCann and Drew had announced without any reference to the other Councillors that an agenda item was NOT to be discussed by the Council and that an unidentified group of Councillors and presumably the Clerk would either meet outside the formal Council session or discuss on the phone or by email my questions and formulate a reply away from public scrutiny.  

NO DISCUSSION.  NO ‘DECIDE ON ACTION’. At a stroke McCann and Drew had shown their ignorance or contempt for the new Councils Rules designed to show the public HOW decisions are made.

* funk
1. British - a state of great fear or panic.  Synonyms: panic, state of fear, fluster;
2. British verb: funk; past tense: funked; past participle: funked;  avoid (something) out of fear.     "I could have discussed it tonight but I funked it."  Synonyms: avoid, evade, dodge, escape from, run away from, baulk at, flinch from.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Order! Order! Order!

Without public scrutiny, they do what they want, not what they should. 

Now it's easier with camcorder, camera and voice recorder. 

Dear Chairman Drew

Hemingbrough Parish Council meeting 21 August 2014

Items 10 ‘Consider planning applications received and decide on advice to Selby Council’ is an official session of the Council’s meeting that can affect the social and financial circumstances of parishioners.  It must be treated with the formality it deserves.

At last Thursday’s meeting under your Chairmanship it was a casual, slapdash, uncontrolled, noisy affair in which Parish Councillors and Clerk split into little groups for social chatter while plans were treated like pass-the-parcel objects and the level of noise in the meeting room prevented anyone in the public seats from hearing most of the comments from whichever splinter group had the plans in their possession. 

If your visitors from Selby District Council and North Yorkshire Council cannot sit in their seats at the Council table for the less than 90 minutes of your meeting, and keep quiet during the planning session, then I suggest you ask them to leave before that Item begins. 

Do District Councillors wander away from the Selby District Council table to natter with anyone in the public seats when they are bored?  I think not.   

In the neighbouring Parish of Barlby & Osgodby the same three visiting Councillors are required to sit in the public seats and speak only when invited to do so by the Chairman and obey the rules governing parishioners.  Comparisons between your session and that of your neighbours are to your detriment.  

For the sake of the parishioners at least it is your duty to maintain control so get a grip, please.

Monday, 25 August 2014

53,000 Visitors

The more people who know about Hemingbrough Parish Councillors and their antics, the better!  Hopefully the new scrutiny will force them to behave and put residents at the forefront of their intent, which is what the ruling ‘Hagg Lane Green Gang’ pledged to do when campaigning for election the last time.

Parishioner - Would it help? Chairman Drew – NO!

A parishioner living at Church Farm, Main Street addressed the Parish Council during the Public Forum about her planning application which had been turned down by Selby District Council and the Parish Council.  She hadn’t realised she could have spoken to the two Councils to get help to ensure her application was correct before submitting it. 

She explained her thoughts about the objections, for example, the planned ‘Velux’ windows could only be viewed from the Church roof, and not from street level.

Chairman Drew’s response was less than helpful, “We will discuss it at the appropriate moment.”  When the parishioner asked, “Do I need to come back for that?  Would it help?” she got an abrupt “No!” from Drew so she went home.

If Drew had been helpful he would, with Council agreement, have moved the scheduled discussion of her application to near the start of the formal meeting so she could have heard the Councillors talk about smoke from her property getting into an adjacent property at Sunday Dinner Time and causing a falling out between neighbours (according to Strelczenie) for example.   

Clearly, Drew’s NO! meant her presence would not have helped Councillors.  It would have been very helpful for the parishioner to hear the rabble babble way in which her application was examined again and understand the Council’s concerns before submitting a new application.     

The Clerk asked the Council, “So we are putting through the same objections as last time and we still object to the application?  Strongly! called out a Councillor.

Drew offered the observation, ‘We no doubt will receive a new application in the fullness of time.  I don’t think their description changed very much, but we shall discuss that when we get it.’

These self-centred Councillors do very little to help parishioners, as a survey of the past year's minutes will show.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Surprise email from Councillor Chilvers

Having been made aware of your 'blog 'peek a boo' picture of me, of which (I don't care a toss), please allow me the liberty to make you aware of a few facts

After a very stressful visit to my wife laying (sic!) in a high dependency ward in York District Hospital, I attended Hemingbrough Parish Council August 2014 meeting as was my public duty.  Due to a number of matters relating to the eventual return home of Mrs. Chilvers at some point in time, I arrived at the P C meeting without my agenda so could not follow the same. Although I spoke on a few agenda items, in the main I sat back from the table and kept out of items I could not follow.

I am fully aware you may publish this email or an amended version, but once again (I could not care a toss) as to me there are more important things in life.

Cllr. R.Chilvers.

Dear Mr Chilvers

I was genuinely sorry to hear about your wife's stay on a hospital high dependency ward as I know how stressful that can be for the patient and relatives. I hope she is soon restored to the family home.

About the photographs, I have been told that Councillors thought the first Hemingbrough Parish Council to take place under full public scrutiny with video and audio recording was a marked improvement from the usual Bear Garden when you and Strelczenie and your mates are at loggerheads with the ruling 'Hagg Lane Green Gang' and the parishioners are disadvantaged by your collective bad-tempered tomfoolery.  I am pleased to have had such an effect on the Council and look forward to seeing you all in future.

I am taking this opportunity of thanking you and your clique for your efforts to set up a village memorial for the Great War and hope to see a start on the Rose Garden soon when I will be around to photograph it.

If you really don't give a toss about my photography then I think it would be better for you not to waste your time with correspondence,  Best wishes


More Chilvers Bullshit.

Chilvers could follow the meeting even without his copy of the agenda.  He was sitting within spitting distance of the Clerk so could have asked for a copy, he was sitting between his two mates so could have looked at their copies, and Chairman Drew announced each section as they moved on to it.  See how eagerly he entered the session when they came to the item of Tree Cutting. 

All is not as it appears to the casual observer.  ‘Mark’ and ‘George’ are code words for the Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group and the ‘Chilvers Gang' respectively.  McCann (top left) and Senior (bottom right, sitting where they can signal to each other) want Mark to do the tree work as he is part of their Conservation Group while Chilvers and Strelczenie (sitting together so Strelczenie can remind Chilvers what they are talking about) oppose anything the other two want.  

The ineffectual Clerk can be best described as “all at sea.” You would think she would know more about the Parish Contractor so she could avoid a silly statement  

Eventually ‘Mark’ loses out to ‘George’ by way of a seconded ‘Proposal’ that nobody voted for.

For a detailed account of the loathing between the two factions, see “Toxic Treachery” below when McCann and his mates described Chilvers as “never seemed to be able to follow the meeting, nothing different there, and did not understand what had been asked.  He was probably wandering off at a tangent as usual.  His resignation letter from the group was as usual not the true facts,” (See 6 May 2014 Post).

What the eye doesn’t see – now gets recorded.

It is usual for Parish Clerks to record proceedings as an aid to preparing accurate minutes.  The Council’s recorder is visible on the table.  

What is unusual is someone making a recording without informing Councillors and courteously asking for their approval.  

Watch the You Tube video of Councillor Jan Strelczenie, who is also the Chair of the Selby Branch of the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations, and the Parish Clerk slip a voice recorder in front of the Chairman early in the meeting and what looks like the Councillor’s subsequent ‘naughty boy – I hope I haven’t been caught’ behaviour.

Strelczenie has learned over the years that other Councillors try not to see or hear his behaviour in the hope of avoiding a bad-tempered row if they mention it.

The ‘Mute Newt’ Councillors often told the story of how one had called the Parish Clerk’s home and left a message with someone who asked “Is that Uncle Jan?” which affected their trust in the impartiality of the Clerk.

Council Chairman Drew refers to lady Parishioner as a Nitwit

Maybe Councillors forgot they were being recorded and filmed for the first time. Thank you, Eric Pickles.

To get a cheap laugh at the expense of “a somewhat irate lady” Parishioner who had contacted the Parish Council after receiving an anonymous letter about the state of her front garden, Councillor Drew amused his fellow Councillors with his unnecessary description after he had been to her house, ‘There are two sorts of nitwits in the world, those who write them and those who read them’.

The Parish Council Chairman should know some people, especially the elderly living alone, find anonymous letters psychologically difficult to deal with because the writer is not morally bound by society’s rules.

Hemingbrough Council is still plagued by an anonymous letter writer who may be a serving Councillor and is certainly very familiar with the Council’s financial records.  

Last year, Councillor Chilvers was publicly associated with a scurrilous anonymous web site by posters in the village and both he and the Council refused to comment on the anonymous allegation.

If I had been accused of writing such anonymous, outrageous comments, I would have been quick to deny any association.  

The Parish Council has two warring factions. Lies, deceit and retaliation against Councillors and Parishioners who ask awkward questions have been a regular feature.  Councillors set the tone for the village. Is this the best we can do?       

(Transparency and openness should be the fundamental principle behind everything councils and other local government bodies do, and new rights have now been introduced by the Openness of Local Government Bodies 2014, which will enable members of the public to know how decisions are made.)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Hemingbrough Bear Garden

This is the first photograph of Hemingbrough Parish Council operating under the new national rules allowing the public to record, film and photograph Councillors in action.  The Parish Clerk, Julie Leighton-Eshelby has Chairman Richard Drew on her right sitting next to his Deputy Ken McCann.   Jan Strelczenie sits to her left next to Roland Chilvers who spent most of the meeting trying to dodge the cameras.

Strelczenie was his welcoming self as he and his sidekick exchanged comments about me “He’s had a haircut.  He should have had his throat cut.

As the meeting progressed, Strelczenie turned his usual shades of Pink to Scarlett and Crimson as he looked first at me, then my colleague then the camcorder presumably knowing anything he said out of order would be recorded for all to hear.  Moments after the meeting finished and the cameras were turned off he burst out with a comment directing at me “THEY TELL ME YOU HAVE CANCER. IS THAT RIGHT?”

I ignored his ignorant remark but saw that he looked like a person having just emerged from the lavatory, at last, after keeping his runny innards in check for two hours.

 Councillor Chilvers plays peek-a-boo all night.

Some Councillors get down to serious business as it should be.

More to follow about the agenda topics and some surprising remarks. 

Smoke and Mirrors, A Pack of Lies, or Same Old, Same Old McCann?


January minutes.  “It was agreed that the quotes received for the land valuations would be discussed at the March meeting and the Parish Council would look into the funding for this.”

February minutes. “It was agreed that the Parish Council would apply to the Community Engagement Forum for a grant towards an assessment of the potential allotments sites. It was then proposed by Councillor McCann, seconded by Councillor Drew and unanimously agreed that subject to receiving a grant from the Community Engagement Forum the Parish Council would part fund the assessment.”

March minutes. NOTHING

April minutes. NOTHING

May minutes. NOTHING

June minutes. NOTHING

July minutes. (I bet it was Nothing)

McCann has been ‘managing’ the Allotments project for a couple of years!!!  (Three exclamation marks were introduced by the previous Clerk to convey a particular meaning – ask Brian)

Now, let see what the present Clerk declared to the Auditor this year about the Council reserves, of which more later.

Can anyone show me where the Council has passed a resolution to fund allotments?  They haven’t even completed an assessment of possible sites after two years plus, and they can well afford it!!!

‘Deep Throat’

With an intimate knowledge of affairs and records at Hemingbrough Parish Council someone, perhaps a serving Councillor, fancies them self as a purveyor of allegations of questionable Council events unless that  individual is just living out an elderly, frustrated, sexual fantasy complete with ‘anonymous’ letters. 

So far, whatever information I check appears to be true.  I have not yet checked this particular allegation, but I will, with the help of the VAT office.     

Thank you, Eric Pickles (2)

Open and accountable local government: plain English guide

A guide for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government

Transparency and openness should be the fundamental principle behind everything councils and other local government bodies do, and new rights have now been introduced by the Openness of Local Government Bodies 2014, which will enable members of the public to know how decisions are made.

These rights allow members of the public including citizens and professional journalists to:

•           use modern technology and communication methods such as filming, audio-recording, blogging and tweeting to report the proceedings of the meetings of their councils and other local government bodies

•           see information relating to significant decisions made outside meetings by officers acting under a general or specific delegated power.

The national rules have been changed to make councils, including parish and town councils, more transparent and accountable to their local communities.

Part 1 Your rights to attend and report meetings

We now live in a modern, digital world where the use of modern communication methods such as filming, tweeting and blogging should be embraced for enhancing the openness and transparency of local government bodies.

Who do these rules help?  These rules help any members of the press and public who want to know about, view or report the work of local government bodies. The “press” is defined in the widest terms – including traditional print media, filming crews, hyper-local journalists and bloggers.

The new national rules have increased your rights to film, audio-record, take photographs, and use social media such as tweeting and blogging to report the proceedings of meetings that are open to the public.

Councils are required to allow any member of the public to take photographs, film and audio-record the proceedings, and report on all public meetings. While no prior permission is required to carry out this activity, it is advisable that any person wishing to film or audio-record a public meeting let their local government staffs know so that all necessary arrangements can be made for the public meetings.

Do I need to have advance permission to report the meeting?  No.  Whilst we would encourage people to contact staff in advance if they want to film or record, equally, we would discourage any system which “vetted” journalists or restricted reporting to “approved” journalists. Councils should support freedom of the press within the law and not seek to restrict those who may write critical comments.

It is a legal duty for the local government body to follow the new provisions. If a local government body’s existing Standing Orders are not fully in line with the new legislation, in the short-term, we recommend they simply waive the relevant provisions of those old Standing Orders which could be taken to inhibit the new reporting rules, and then take steps to update formally its Standing Orders.