Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Waste of our money - replacing the cobbles down Market Street

I find that putting information on Youtube can be far more effective that simply writing it on this blog.
Why is this important? I find that if you're on the outside of local government there is a deliberate policy to make it difficult to obtain information or achieve results. (our excellent former Town Councillor Jack Rice had to use the freedom of information act to winkle information out of SLDC  about the revenues taken about various car parks  leading to the reduction in Stockbridge Lane Car Park fees (something John Clough tried to make out he had done himself in the recent County Council election)

It starts with the attitude of the Town Clerk (whoever it is - Jayne Kendal is little different to the previous clerk, David Parratt. There is a deliberate policy of trying the subdue enquiries, allegedly to prevent the public wasting the time of officials. In this case the Town Council and clerk ignored the petitions made in 2008 on the state of the cobbles arising out of poor work done on behalf of United Utilities back in 2005, arguing that they were doing all that they could be done: They weren't - the thinking was confined to working through official local government channels. In this case the Cumbria Highways Department who ignored everyone including the Town Council.

However going directly to the business sector (United Utilities) was far more successful than going to local government (Cumbria County council - Highways Department). Why the difference difference: ?
The business sector is concerned about it's reputation. Local government isn't.

In this case we kicked up a fuss about the arrogant behaviour of Nick Raymond, Head of the local Highways Department, by writing to all the councils he had dealings with: very few wanted to come out in the open and back up their stories of dissatisfaction. However it would seem things became too hot for him in this area - he was loaned to Carlisle then transferred to Barrow. The official line was that he had done no wrong but at least he was eased out of his chair by our local politicians who assisted/encouraged his move.

The main point of this posting is that the democratic system doesn't work and that councillors rare scratch below the surface and leave the civil servants to run the show. In several cases Councillors take on far too much responsibility; reponsibilities they can't possibly cover.

If we are to reduce the cost to us as tax payer, I would argue, we must pay councillors much higher salaries, together with funds for secretaries and researchers. We would then get full time councillors, thus sttracting much more competant people. They would then be able to challenge the behaviour of our civil servants and achieve better work at dramatically reduced cost. Back in 2008 I prepared myself to do this work with money out of my own pocket. I'm glad I didn't get in - it would have been a hell of a job and I probably wouldn't have been able to cope. I find it hard enough to write this blog with all the agro I get even now. Some sympathetic grunts would be appreciated. This would then encourage a few brave councillors that attempt to do a good job and work doing a full time bread winning occupation.

The salient facts and links are given below the video.

July 2008 The decision to run for County Council as an Independent with nearly a whole year ahead before the elections in May 2009 in order reach every householder in the half of Ulverston known as Ulverston East
 October 2008 As a result of a successful compaign, ably assisted by Ulverston born Roz Harris, now working at head office in London for United Utilities. Here United Utilities admit they are at fault in doing shoddy work replacing the cobbles when installing a water mains down the length of Market street but state they were never requested to do repairs by the Cumbria County Council, Highways Department. Something they were legally required to do and make good surfaces they had dug up.
Jan 2011 Video on the state of the cobbles before work started  a few months later below. The reasons for the present problem and the work that does and doesn't need doing.
 March 2011- over two years ago - The workers for Amey who are digging up cobbles down Market Street agree on film that the County Council are "Crazy" instructing them to dig perfectly good cobbles up whilst leaving the ones at the bottom of the street that do need doing, untouched.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surely not paying the councillors, as is the case now, attracts just as competent people - if not more so. They do it out of enthusiasm, love of the town' and desire for change. If they got paid like MP's, with staff below them we would just have another local mini westminster of jobbing career politicians. Local politics is more dedicated because it's in their own time, and at their own cost. They don't have to do it. Admittedly you will get some who are repeatedly voted in and subsequently lose touch with the ground. Maybe you should only be allowed to stand once then not again for next four years, after your stint is over. Councillors are volunteers just like the rest of us who work in the community. Like yourself in fact.

Zoros' lesser popular sugar free brother.