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gdj last won the day on March 12 2015

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  1. For the record; this is what we're not supposed to have seen. So don't read it! I thought I told you not to read it!
  2. The story was that he is `working` an equivalent of a day a week for a company set up in a tax haven to help new `hedge funds' to avoid paying tax. So a double whammy for his constituents and taxpayers generally. If true, (and any inaccuracies would be a valid reason for pulling it) it would mean that he was taking taxpayers money for full time representation of his constituents (yet not doing it full time) and also helping to reduce the amount of money the government has available to spend on services. Interesting that a man who claimed that his mortgage and other expenses difficulties were caused by a muddle and not by deliberate actions should be so sought after for his financial acumen. It was Jess Phillips whose byline was above the piece. I thought when I saw it that it was a new departure in journalism for the HT - to expose our local movers and shakers to some scrutiny - alas I was wrong - Jess had made the terrible mistake of publishing an important news item that she thought ought to be made public, instead of just publishing Bill Wiggins' press releases as is the normal practice at HT. I wonder how she is feeling. This is an interesting web page. Make sure you scroll right down to the bottom left hand corner. http://www.eam.bm/what-we-do/ I may be able to get hold of the HT piece tomorrow. If Colin is agreeable I will post it on here - but I don't want to do so if there was legal reason for the HT pulling it....
  3. I think the T and F group report represents a huge amount of work and to have produced it in such a short time, due to the urgency of the situation, is a credit to the group members. The large numbers of recommendations on how HC, WVT and the CCG need to improve is also telling. A couple of phrases are, I think, particularly damning of the Directors and Assistant Directors involved: They shouldn't need to be asked. Are these people incapable of accepting that they, personally, made decisions to not comply with statutory obligations. "it wasn't me, guv, it was the system" Well said. There are certain senior managers who's instinct is to push through decisions, knowing that they may be unlawful and to deal with any legal difficulties if anyone notices or has the determination to challenge them. This time they came up against a group of parents, and the T and F group who were willing to do the challenging. The report is really excellent at spelling out the `respite care' legal situation and I learnt a lot by reading it. A couple of questions that I hope won't be taken as criticisms because they are meant mainly as suggestions that may already be being addressed or were not possible due to time limits. The group consulted the former head of one of the special schools (and his wife) - why not consult the current heads of the three special schools in the county who will have a more up to date knowledge of the families and children involved? Did you consult any other local authorities to see if there are models of this kind of care provision that are found to work within current budget constraints - and how they are made to work? I sometimes think that in Herefordshire there is a tendency to just talk to ourselves when an outside perspective can be useful. Did you consult any of the national charities (NASEN, SCOPE, etc) about what happens elsewhere and how the circle can be squared between families' needs and personalised budgets and local government/Health authority budgets? And perhaps more for the long term ... could there be economies by combining provision with a neighbouring county or counties depending on where a family lives? As to the legal challenge - I see the frustration from Cllr Chappell and from the families. They are actually on the same side so it shouldn't be impossible to put any legal action in abeyance until it is seen what progress is made. One of the main themes in the report is the lack of information and communication - so to give an excuse to restrict communication even further seems very counterproductive at this point but there may need to be a time when HC officers need an outside authority to force them to comply with their obligations.
  4. If its of any help, if you use the on line small claims court procedure the papers are served from Northampton, no matter where the claim arises. So research how to defend against 'small claims' and if it is a valid route for these so called fines
  5. I think a separate thread for Ledbury rd would be good, as suggested. Has anyone been watching "The special needs hotel" on Channel5? Residential training for young adults with SEND running a hotel called Foxes in Somerset. Looks good, I wonder if Herefordshire sends young people there or if it could be a model to be copied.
  6. So just over 12 months ago Herefordshire Council thought that Bill Norman's role was so important that he needed to be upgraded to Assistant Director level and had to be paid more in recognition of this fact. In the interim it has emerged that there is to be an almighty battle with Amey with millions of pounds at stake - so legal expertise is going to be vital. Now it seems that the position is `redundant', except for one part of the role that can go to Bill's underling. Redundancy is a minefield for councils. Herefordshire could find itself having to include all his previous `service' years in other councils in any calculation unless his payoffs from those negated any ongoing employment rights. Let's hope that the Hoople HR experts and the scrupulous councillors who recruited Bill were absolutely clear from the outset that they weren't going to be stung for a large contractual sum when he inevitably left after 2+ years (you need to be employed for 2 years to get redundancy so the timing of this is perfect for him to get some money and go off to find another host organism - assuming he hasn't already got one lined up). Perhaps Peter Robinson has driven a hard bargain so ensure a senior manager leaving the council doesn't get more money than they are absolutely entitled to (he doesn't want Herefordshire to suffer like Bristol City council did when their finance director left a couple of years ago).
  7. I thought some of you might be interested in this new project by Private Eye. They have produced an interactive map showing land and buildings owned by offshore registered companies (a well known tax avoidance tactic). You can zoom in and see which bits of Hereford and Herefordshire are owned in this way. Who'd have thought that the Imperial in Widemarsh St, leasehold, would be owned via the Cayman Islands, for example? Here is the link. They also allow anyone who knows a bit more about any of these to let them know the details. http://www.private-eye.co.uk/registry
  8. I'm sure if Paul Cardin was still active here he would have something to say about Bill Norman's attitude to unlawful treatment of the disabled. So I hope he doesn't mind me posting this link in which our legal director finds an ingenious way to get his then employers (Wirral Council) off the hook regarding disability discrimination - arguing that the unfair treatment was not because they were disabled, their disability was just a unrelated issue. This link taken from Paul C's webstie: https://easyvirtualassistance.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/bn-to-jg-letter-15-10-2010-discrimination.jpg (Paul also has a letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to an MP, essentially saying that Bill Norman was wrong) https://i1.wp.com/www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/Angela%20Eagle%20Mike%20Smith%20Disability%20Discrimination.jpg Perhaps our councillors will remember this track record when considering the legal advice that we are all paying handsomely for.
  9. Why don't they have some kind of tracking device. A £100 smartphone can be tracked - surely when you have something costing as much as a landrover a device could be fitted in a place that thieves couldn't immediately get at. Especially when they are being targeted.
  10. gdj


    I agree. And what a beautiful picture. Do any organisations make sure that new roads (SC2 etc) have ways for hedgehogs to cross? I think I once read about tunnels for them.
  11. Thank you Chris, The reason for my comments are that Geoff Hughes was a trustee during the time that the ROF was acquiring the council assets. Bearing in mind his role in the council, and who pays his wages, he should not have been part of an organisation that was damaging council interests. If, as you say, all people connected with education and within the council were opposed to the school, then again he should not have continued to be part of ROF at that point. You say he is is not a trustee `now'. The Charity Commission and Company Check websites still have him as a trustee - when did he actually leave that role? I would also point out that Blackfriars was vacated very fast and before the staff had anywhere to go in order to facilitate the school. I don't believe that the council was obliged to declare it as redundant and if they had not, then the school which you say the council opposed, would have been at least delayed - someone chose not to oppose it then. Also, as the school is no longer resident at Holme Lacey, has the council made any moves to recover that asset? I know that you (and, to be fair, Graham Powell) have opposed free schools, but the council as an institution has not publicly made any statements to that effect. A council statement stating that the two MPs had forced through the school against the wishes and advice of local education professionals would be the brave thing to do - but I suspect that Tory political tribalism overrides the wellbeing of local children. ps Did you take on board the Legal points about the Ledbury Rd closure in the other thread?
  12. I would be pleased if this works, but the financial implications look worrying for local students. This is one of the lowest wage areas in the country but students would need to find a lot of money to attend. From the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/11449486/NMITE-Britains-newest-university-all-you-need-to-know.html So higher fees and lower loans - students may need to find up to £6000 per year whilst they study. And the comparable New University of Buckingham isn't doing all that well. http://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2015/may/25/university-league-tables-2016 Let's hope, if things progress, they emulate Warwick and Bristol.
  13. ..and that is one of the areas that would undoubtedly be raised in a proper consultation - and it is consultation that is being suggested (with women only carriages also being part of that consultation). And I don't think anyone is suggesting `placing' women in a separate compartment - just giving women the option if they want to take it.
  14. This story is again national- in the Times Educational Supplement. The school did badly in the GCSEs. To be fair, many of its students are only there because they struggle with academic subjects and the idea is to teach them more employment skills. However as the Conservatives stick rigidly to the 5 GCSE (A*-C) criteria for every other school, it has to be used to judge this one as well. Just remember: Over £3 million build costs (taxpayer), 22 staff including principal and deputy (both well over £50k), Blackfriars land and building (over £1million lost to the council and therefore to other local schools). Half the predicted pupils, three Heads on 2 years etc https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/exclusive-just-one-pupil-hits-gcse-benchmark-free-school The HT has this in the printed copy but hasn't dared to put it on line yet (they have been cheerleaders for the whole project and even deleted comments that questioned it - banning at least one poster for daring to suggest that they should ask more questions ) So, Jesse Norman, Bill Wiggin, Geoff Hughes - would you describe yourselves as "disappointed" like the school does, or "embarrassed, ashamed, and apologetic"? Is this a better use of money than Blackmarston and 1 Ledbury Road? Children let down, taxpayers let down and local schools undermined for a Conservative political experiment facilitated by Herefordshire Council.
  15. A few points on the original question: - It wasn't Corbyn's idea - he was asked if he would consider it as a way of making women feel safer on public transport and he said that he would be open to consulting and talking to women about the idea. As a male, I have no right to argue against it, - It is good that a politican is able to acknowledge that there is a problem, that women do often feel threatened and vulnerable (for good reason) and to be ready to consider and consult on measures that might improve it. - I think that there is a world of difference between giving women a place where they may feel safer, and an oppressive segregation imposed and enforced by men - and it is the former that is being suggested. To start likening it to enforced segregation in strict religious communities is nonsense.
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