Monday, 29 September 2014

When you're in a Hole, STOP DIGGING



The Parable of the Bags of Gold. Matthew 25

A Man called his three Servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag.  Then he went on a journey.  The Servant with five bags put his money to work and gained five bags more.  The Servant with two bags of gold gained two more.  The Servant with one bag dug a hole in the ground and hid his Master’s money.

When the Master returned one Servant said ‘Master, you gave me five bags of gold.  I have gained five more.’  Another said ‘Master, you gave me two bags of gold.  I have gained two more.’

To these two Servants the Master said “Well done, good and faithful servants. You have been faithful to me; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your Master’s happiness.’

Then the Servant who had received one bag of gold said ‘Master, I was afraid and hid your gold in the ground.  Here is the bag of gold that belongs to you.’

The Master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy Servant.”  He took the bag of gold and gave it to the one who had ten bags and threw his worthless Servant outside into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.


In 2013/14, the Parish Council received £23,000.  They spent £5,000 on Staff Costs, £6,000 on Lighting, Grass Cutting, Insurance, Subscriptions, etc.  That left them £12,000 discretionary funds to spend on anything worthwhile for residents.  

THEY BANKED IT ALL.  THEY MIGHT AS WELL HAVE BURIED IT IN A HOLE.  WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING CHAIRMAN DREW AND VICE CHAIRMAN McCANN?    

Councillors can redeem themselves by giving £10,000 to the Village Rose Garden Memorial now.  450 local residents want a new Village Memorial.  Councillors have no other approved plan for our money.  Councillors would still have £40,000, almost two full years reserves, buried in their hole.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

Two Lottery Applications claiming the Parish Council OWNS land along Hagg Lane



Dear Parish Clerk

You have had two meetings of Hemingbrough Parish Council plus a week since receiving my enquiry about Last Year’s Accounts.  When can I expect your written reply, please?  

All this unreasonable prevarication encourages people to think the Council has something to hide.

While writing, I offer you the thought that it would have been more professional of you to answer my latest question about whether Hemingbrough Parish Council OWNS the land described as 'Granny Darley's Green' in the Council's successful application to the Big Lottery Fund/BBC for £10,000 with a simple "Yes" or "No" instead of 'we will reply in due course'.  As the Parish Clerk of long standing I believe it is reasonable for me to expect you to know the answer to my question.

Do I have to find local residents to testify to the answers?


“Re: Last Year's Accounts
Dear Parish Clerk,
Thank you for that information after 29 working days and a prompt.
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. 
Thank you,”

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Granny Darley's Green

Dear Parish Clerk

As the Council’s Proper Officer of some year’s standing you should have witnessed the exchanges between Councillors at last week’s meeting about land owned or not owned by Hemingbrough Parish Council with mounting disquiet.

Could you advise me if the Council legally owns the land referred to as ‘Granny Darley’s Green’ in the Parish Council grant application to the ‘Big Lottery Fund’, completed by a currently serving Councillor, that resulted in an award of £10,000 to the Council, please? 

I do not need you tell me that the land is registered as a Village Green.  This is not a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.


I think it is reasonable for me to believe that you know this fact so your willingness to answer my question cannot need a debate by Councillors.

Thank you


Monday, 22 September 2014

Some people call them ‘Moles’, others call them ‘Historians’

I find it increasingly difficult to reconcile historical papers with what I hear at Hemingbrough Parish Council meetings, especially now the Rt. Honourable Eric Pickles has changed the national rules to allow Councillors to be filmed, photographed and recorded.

For example, last week’s meeting included exchanges between Councillors about the ownership of land at Hagg Lane, Hemingbrough.  Does the Parish Council own land there, or doesn’t it? 



It has been difficult to get the Parish Clerk and Councillors to put facts in writing.  Now they are on film, arguing about details but they all seem to think the Council doesn’t own land there.  Some say they know who owns land, and it’s not the Council, others says they don’t know who owns land there.

So how it is possible that Hemingbrough Parish Council was awarded “£10,000 on the terms and conditions you accepted as part of the application” (BRE/1/010222547) by the “Big Lottery Fund” when the hand-written application says:



Question. “Who owns the land that you plan to work on?”
Answer. “Hemingbrough Parish Council

Question. “If you do not own it, will you be getting the following? A lease, written permission from the owner, Please give more details.
Answer. Left blank!

There was more than one successful Lottery grant.  Will I find similarities?   

Perhaps those involved will hold up their hands, and do the honourable thing?

Council Leaders Past It! Our Money in their bank. Not earning much interest.

Memorial Rose Garden

Councillor Strelczenie (right) had to remind the Parish Council Leaders McCann & Drew (left & centre) “We’ve got plenty of money haven’t we?” “Spare money!” as Councillors discussed a £300 Dog Waste Bin for a site by the Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group’s project. 


In line with Council protocol Councillor Chilvers asked the Parish Clerk if she knew the name of the resident asking for the bin.  Councillor Senior (Chairman of the Hagg Lane Green Gang) replied “I can’t remember, not since I brought it up” in that way that sounded to me like a little boy fibbing.

Strelczenie was right about the money.  The Parish Accounts show that at the end of March 2014 the Parish Council had £49,892 Cash and short term investments in the bank, which is more than twice the Council’s annual precept (£21,370 in the last year). 
In the year ending March 2014 the Council increased the cash in the bank by £11,827, probably earning a paltry 0.5% interest a year.

Even the Council’s internal auditor commented on such a huge reserve.  The Clerk fobbed her off with a tale of building a reserve for allotments but a review of the Council minutes reveal virtually no progress by McCann, who is supposed to lead the ‘project’, no recent mention of allotments on any Council agenda, and NO approved plan.


I propose Council Leaders McCann and Drew, and the rest of their Hagg Lane Green Gang majority voting bloc, which blocked the idea of memorial becoming a civic project, should offer a £10,000 contribution to the Memorial Rose Garden Project that we know is supported by at least 450 local residents who signed the petition organised by the local Parish Historical Society.

Residents need a say in how our money is spent.  It can't be left to a Bear Garden clique.
I will write to Drew & McCann asking the Council to debate this idea at their October meeting.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Under the glare of Public Scrutiny .....

..... the evidence is there to see.  Since Eric Pickles M.P. changed the Rules to encourage filming, photographing, recording and blogging of Public Council Meetings, Hemingbrough Parish Council has changed after only two sessions.  The bullying, intimidation, abusing and fighting each other have had to be suppressed, unless they don’t mind their antics being broadcast on YouTube when even the local Monitoring Officer will HAVE to take notice! 

    

Notice of Meeting of the Parish Council – Agenda - Chairman’s opening remarks. 
September meeting.  Councillor Drew: “I think I will stick with just ‘Good Evening’.  I can’t think of anything useful to say at the moment.”

Admitting you have nothing useful to say is far better than raising a cheap laugh at the expense of a female resident. (See: ‘Nitwit’ Post below)


The perpetual ‘Mute Newts’ of the Hemingbrough Hagg Lane Green Conservation Gang, who form a majority voting bloc on the Council in contravention of Council protocols and the ‘Nolan’ Principles, can now be seen in their role of just raising a hand to support Councillor McCann’s ‘Gang’ votes, but are very rarely heard, if ever, in discussions: that’s you, Councillors Harrison, Pickering and Senior. 

I hope Councillor Sedman, who sits next to McCann, was not co-opted this year for his ‘Mute Newt’ voting tendencies.  Is Councillor Kinsella going the same way? 
In a Council of only eleven people why are these ‘Mute Newt’ Councillors taking up seats? Their almost total lack of contribution to Council matters on behalf of residents, apart from the ‘Gang’ votes, is now a matter of public record.  

The same recordings show the most sensible contributions now come from Councillors Chilvers and Proctor. 


Come and see for yourselves before you have to elect a new Parish Council next May; the third Thursday of every month at 7.30pm in the Village Institute, for about 75 minutes. 

Why waste your votes on hand-waving ‘Mute Newts’?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Didn't I just say I wouldn't trust this Council as far as I can spit?

Murky goings-on at the ponds managed by the Hemingbrough Hagg Lane Green Group, again!



In tonight’s  Parish Council meeting, Councillor Chilvers (right) rebutted the “brief summary” of events concerning the Heritage Lottery Fund Award given by Councillor Kenny McCann (left) who is also a Member of the independent Hagg Lane Conservation Group Steering Group (?).

Councillor Chilvers

‘You have got it wrong ...

The other thing is, there was ‘no legal owner’ – it’s Bunkum, Rubbish

The other thing is the Hemingbrough Parish Council was the ‘accountable body’ to get the lottery money and claim the Vat, and that was in the original (Hagg Lane Green) Constitution.

Someone took a paragraph out (of the original Constitution) and that’s when I fell out of the whole thing. I said this all wrong. I’m getting out of this.

There is a legal owner, and I know who it is’

Meanwhile the Parish Clerk claims not to have any Parish Accounting Records before 2009 and says 'It’s nothing to do with me' 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Dear Parish Clerk

I consider your email response dated 16 September 2014 about Meeting Papers to be unreasonable.

Hemingbrough Parish Council still picks, chooses and ignores whatever rules and regulations it wants to thwart members of the public wanting to learn about council events

I have no concerns about when you schedule discussions of the new rules and what you must do to become compliant other than I knew about the new rules long before they were approved by Parliament on 6 August 2014 and so should you, so you could have reasonably scheduled discussions for your August or September meeting instead of waiting for me to request you get on with it.

As a bona fide member of the press I am entitled to a copy of the meeting briefing notes now.  The Department for Communities and Local Government advises you that if Standing Orders are not fully in line with the new rules and expectations in the short term you “simply waive the relevant provisions of those old Standing orders which could be taken to inhibit the new rules, and then take steps to update formally “the Standing orders.  I would consider any other action, including your suggestion of scheduling a debate in October to be unreasonable.

I trust you will reasonably provide me with a copy the briefing papers before the meeting, conduct the Planning session with the formality dictated by Local Council protocols and resolve the matter of the Councillors who are Members of the independent Hagg Lane Green being influenced by that Group during discussions and votes as the Nolan principles require.


Note: ‘Nolan Principles’ require under the Principle of Integrity Councillors “should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”   

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

We don’t want to make it too easy for the public .....

The Agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the Parish Council is still not on the Council’s website.



Dear Parish Clerk

I intend to exercise my rights from time to time under the “Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) as a Member of the Press as defined in the Department for Communities and Local Government publication ‘Open and accountable local government’ publication

Regarding the Government’s encouragement for you “to place copies of the agenda, meeting papers and notice of meetings at offices and on their website, if they have these facilities.”

As Hemingbrough Parish Council has many years experience of updating its own website, I should like to see the Councillors’ “meeting papers” added to it as soon as practically possible however, until they are, I would like a paper copy of them before the meetings take place.  I will collect the copy from the Clerk to the Council’s home at an agreed time or they may be posted through my home letter box, whichever is the most convenient for you.  I am prepared to lodge a sum of money with you to cover the costs of photocopying or pay the requested amount just before the meetings, according to your preference, to help you comply with the spirit of the new National Rules.  Let me know which options you prefer, please.

Copy to R. Drew, Chairman of the Parish Council

“It is a criminal offence if, without reasonable excuse, a person with custody of a document which is required by the national rules to be made available to the public, refuses to supply the whole or part of the document, or intentionally obstructs any other person/s from disclosing such a document.

If a person is found guilty of such a criminal offence, he/she may be fined up to £200.”  
Open and accountable local government August 2014

Sunday, 14 September 2014

8 Months of Enthusiasm, or Misery. October 2014 to May 2015

For one Group, enthusiasm and commitment. 

For another Group, I can’t think it will be any different.  It may be worse.  Every morning on the way to work.  Every evening on the way home.  Friday nights.  Saturday nights.  Sunday mornings.  Grumble, Whinge and Moan, Complain, Whine and Groan.
  


Enthusiasm:
Work has started to create a Memorial Garden at the site of the Hearthstone Filling Station.  Fundraising Officer Robert Procter at the Parish of Hemingbrough Historic/Heritage Society says the team has only just taken possession of the site and its first task is to demolish the structure.  The Society will be consulting village residents as to the work being done and will shortly be delivering a newsletter with details to all residents and will be updating their website shortly http://phhhs.org.uk  Mr. Procter and his colleagues value all the support for this project which they have pursued with great enthusiasm and commitment.


Misery:
Such is life in Hemingbrough with the incessant, factional infighting at the Parish Council that concerns the Hagg Lane Green Ponds.  The ‘Mute Newts’, otherwise known as the ‘Hagg Lane Green Gang’ lead by Councillors Kenny McCann and Kristina Wilkinson with the other Mute Newts, Neil Pickering, Glenis Harrison, Richard Drew and Martin Senior, blocked a proposal for a Memorial to the Great War of 1914-1918 from becoming a Parish Council initiative without offering any formal explanation.  It didn’t take long for the village grape vine to carry the ‘news’ that it was blocked because they didn’t like any proposal from Councillors Chilvers and Strelczenie.   

The blocked Councillors turned to the village Historic/Heritage Society for support.

If village history repeats itself the Mute Newts will go through the same purgatory as they did when Councillors Chilvers and Strelczenie were erecting the village entrance sign.  The Mute Newts will have to endure all the publicity the blocked Councillors will get in the village and local newspapers in the lead up to the Parish Council elections next May when the Memorial Garden should be coming into bloom very nicely.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Do they think I am stupid? I know they are!

10 September 2014

There was an immediate jump in the Bear Garden Blog viewing figures as Councillors scrambled to view the 'Carter Jonas' Post immediately below.  Do they think I don't have viewing statistics? 

11 September 2014

This morning, the Parish Clerk sent me a copy of the 'Carter Jonas' letter I requested more than two weeks ago despite her not even acknowledging my request.


I shall be interested to read how the Clerk and Councillors minute the issue as I have a recording of the 'discussion' and decision.  Rewriting Council history, and even making it up, is more difficult when you are being filmed, photographed and recorded.   

About their stupidity; the former Clerk, a gentleman, told me Councillors weren't smart enough to remember what lies they had told me.  They haven't changed.  He knew, and so did I.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

McCann & Drew conceal Turbine Community Consultation Letter from Residents

I don’t trust Hemingbrough Parish Councillors as far as I can spit.  In particular I don’t trust Councillors Kenny McCann and Richard Drew to fulfil their duties of Vice-chairman and Chairman respectively.

Is a 77-metre Wind Turbine development a sensitive issue?  Noise, flicker, blot on the landscape, wild life, is a single application the forerunner of a Wind Farm, a thin end of the wedge, and so on.  Emotions run high.  Parish Councils must dread Turbine applications.

Sensitive Developers, like Carter Jonas Property Services, understand the issues.  They know that getting local residents involved early can benefit everyone.  They can express their opinions before plans are finalised and if they then address the issues Developers can expect their planning application to be processed more quickly.  Potential Developers let residents, businesses and regular land users know about proposed developments by a COMMUNITY CONSULTATION LETTER which is sent to the local Parish Council as Councillors are charged with the duty of advisingconsulting and representing residents.


It doesn’t work that way at Hemingbrough.  The two Council factions are ‘bullies’ and ‘cowards’.  They don’t work together.  Looking at their record and expenses for the past three years suggests they don’t do much work at all.  ‘Let’s get the meeting over as soon as possible’ seems to be the motto of the Cowards.  It was the majority faction Cowards who pledged to put the interest of residents at the forefront of the intent when they sought your votes! 

When they received a Community Consultation Letter, McCann and the others agreed with Drew’s suggestion “I think we are best leaving that whole subject until we get the detailed proposals.”  By that time it will be too late to advise and consult residents. 
Never mind the residents, to express it politely.  Drew’s remarks and McCann’s willingness to go along with them were not off-the-cuff reactions.  Carter Jonas had sent their Community Consultation Letter to the Parish Council on 22 July 2014.  Councillors had received the meeting Agenda and briefing notes on 17 August 2014.  The Agenda item was described as ‘Proposed development on land to the north of the River Derwent, Hemingbrough’.  The Clerk had not described ‘the letter’ as a Community Consultation Letter.  There was no mention of Wind Turbine.  There was no suggestion of the topic that may have encouraged residents to attend the Council meeting.  They could have been muttering about a stable block, house, estate, anything.

The Council operates under rules to make its work more transparent and to be accountable to the local community, whether they like it or not.  Those rules must help any member of the public who wants to know about, view or report its work.  But not in Hemingbrough!
In two minutes Councillors had disposed of the Item in what seemed to be a prior arrangement between Chairman and Clerk.  There was no explanation by the Chairman, Vice-chairman or Clerk for the benefit of the public.  In fact, their avoidance of the topic was exceedingly suspicious.

Clerk: We’ve had this letter giving us information about the proposal and offering the opportunity to comment but my advice to the Parish Council would be to wait until the formal application comes in before looking at anything and submitting any comments and I will just reply to them thanking them for the letter but we will comment once we have received formal application.  Is everybody in agreement with that?
Councillors Yes
Chairman Drew: I think we are best leaving that whole subject until we get the detailed proposals.  Is everybody in agreement with that?
Councillors Yes

There was no mention of advising the public, no suggestion of getting the opinions of anyone and no Council comments at all for Carter Jonas Property Services. Why didn’t they put the Consultation Letter on the Village Notice Board so anyone with an interest could ask for more details and offer comments?  McCann and Drew just don’t seem to care about keeping residents informed, like they can’t be bothered to ensure the Clerk puts minutes on the notice board.

After the Meeting I asked the Clerk for a copy of ‘the letter’.  Two and a half weeks later there was no copy from the Clerk.  I am entitled a copy and so are you.  It is a public document now, it was listed on the Agenda and it was ‘discussed’.  The Council rightly demands residents obey their Rules when attending meetings, but they don’t follow the rules.  The Clerk forgets that she works for the residents as well as Councillors and we pay her salary!



You would think she would have been smart enough to learn by now.  I know the rights of residents so asked Carter Jonas for a copy of their Community Consultation Letter.  I received it in twenty-four hours.


The obvious question is why did Councillors treat the Turbine Community Consultation Letter in such a way?  By their decision that night they reserved the right to themselves of receiving the formal Planning Application from Selby Council at some time and deciding amongst themselves what remarks to make.  Residents would learn of those remarks five or six weeks later.  These particular Councillors don’t seem to give a toss for Residents except for a few weeks before the Parish Elections; the next election will be on 7 May 2015 when no doubt they will make empty pledges again.

I won’t be voting for Kenny McCann, or Richard Drew, or Martin Senior who made the same pledge at the last election and sat there silently throughout as the archetypal ‘Mute Newt’.  Do they still think the Parish Council is a back-street club where they can do what they want with our money?

Is there a younger generation in the village that fancies a real fight with these $*^%$£&(*£s at next year’s elections?     

I can’t spit very far.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Residents want to know about the whole subject ....


Dear Parish Clerk

You just don’t get it, do you?  

Your new national rules have been changed to make the Parish Council more transparent and accountable to the local community.  They are designed to help any member of the public who wants to know about, view or report your work.

I hereby give you notice that a meeting of Hemingbrough Parish Council will be held in  Hemingbrough Village Institute on Thursday 21st August 2014 commencing at 7.30pm.  Item 10e e) Note receipt of letter received from Carter Jonas regarding proposed development on land to the North of the River Derwent, Hemingbrough.

It is two weeks since I asked you for a copy of that letter and you have ignored my request.  Residents are entitled to know about the proposed development at the earliest opportunity and I am sure that is why Carter Jonas sent it to our elected representatives.  

I am legally entitled to a copy of that letter, a Parish Council Meeting Briefing Paper, under the new rules and because I am a member of the Press

I have no concerns about Councillors preferring to reserve their comments until the formal plans have been received but I object to the manner in which Councillors referred to the letter in Council without enabling the Public present to know anything about the proposal other than “It’s where ferry used to go ... “ and “It’s best leaving the whole subject until we get .....”

Without further ado, please “Please email me a copy of "letter from Carter Jonas regarding proposed development on land to the North of the River Derwent" that was listed on last week’s agenda at Item 10e and mentioned by you in the session of the Council open to the public.  If email is not convenient for you, then you may deliver a copy to my home or arrange a time when I may collect a copy from your home.

Thank you,   

Copy: york@carterjonas.co.uk

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.