Friday, 26 August 2011

Corporate hospitality and the Bribery Act

The Bribery Act 2010 came into effect on 1 July 2011. It is amongst the toughest anti-bribery and corruption legislation in the world.

You can continue to provide bona fide hospitality, promotion and other business expenditure. The intention of the legislation is to catch hospitality which is really a cover for bribing someone.

In a commercial context for there to be an offence, the prosecution must show that the hospitality:

(a) provided an advantage to another person and

(b) was offered or given with the intention of inducing the person to perform a relevant function improperly or in the knowledge of acceptance of the advantage would in itself be improper performance.

It should be understood that improper performance of a function is a performance which amounts to a breach of an expectation that a person will act in good faith, impartially or in accordance with a position of trust. Functions both in the private and public sectors are covered.

The best protection for companies, to ensure they do not infringe the Act, is to publish clear written policies prohibiting gifts, expenses or hospitality which might influence or be seen to influence a contractual or material matter.

My comment: Please contact me if you have any information regarding any potential breaches of the said act by CWaC council members or staff or any of the companies they deal with. 

Read the full story from the source Shoosmiths

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cheshire West and Chester Council: The 'Council From Hell'?

I am Peter Johnson, a Cheshire pensioner who faces financial ruin, the loss of my home and a lengthy jail sentence. All this came about simply because I carried out what HM. Government advised me to do, in order to defend and prevent my property from Flooding!

Since that time the corrupt ‘Council from Hell’, Cheshire West and Chester Council, (formerly the Chester City Council) has pursued what amounts to a personal vendetta against me for the last eleven years.

Read the full story from the source The Council from Hell

My comment: In my case, Cheshire West and Chester Council (formerly Vale Royal Borough Council and Cheshire County Council), went out of their way to bodge a class 3A road at my expense because they had wrongly allowed a developer to build and sell over 60 houses knowing that the developer could never complete the road to adoptable standards. When the developer went bust the council decided to offload their problem onto me (and other road users to a lesser extent) and just bodged the road instead of completing it to the planned and approved standards.

Funny how standards can change when the council is trying to extricate itself from self created difficulties due to earlier incompetence or wrongdoing. 

A planning officer misplacing an important document just long enough for the developer to build and sell all the houses they shouldn't have been allowed to sell before the class 3A road was competed to standard. (Would you believe he eventually found it in the bottom draw of his desk.) You make your own mind up, simple incompetence or something much much worse? 

The highway authority department at the council was even worse, giving the developer certificates of completion when they shouldn't have done. Doing work without planning permission on an unadopted road etc. 

Even now, after adoption, there is still missing lamp posts on the road, no elevation on the bend etc. Loads of stuff they would normally refuse to adopt a road for. Adopting the road to get themselves out of their self created difficulties prove that they have double standards. High standards for others and very low standards for themselves.

It looks like all the skeletons are now falling out of the closet at CWaC Council as more and more stories about them are published. 

UPDATE 25th August 2011: Looks like this post has grabbed their attention :)

Monday, 22 August 2011

CWaC CEO cost taxpayers an extra £17,000 last year UPDATED

Steve Robinson, the chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council, saw his total remuneration rise by £17,000 to £235,000 last year, including pension and benefits.

His total packet took him to 14th place in the list of the country's highest paid council bosses.

My comment: The gravy train keeps on rolling!

Read the full story from the source The Telegraph

UPDATE 24th August 2011: Irrespective of what spin the council tries to put on it (see comment below) the Chief Executive cost taxpayers an extra £17,000 last year.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Councillors should consider the number of empty premises

This is an extract from a letter published by the Northwich Guardian

"Should Cheshire West and Chester Council not be aware, the country is experiencing a period of extreme austerity. Interestingly, neither the article nor in the information available at the Memorial Hall is there any mention of cost for the proposed scheme.

We have seven supermarkets in Northwich and for a study to conclude that there is ‘an unmet demand for food,’ presumably supermarkets, is unbelievable. Our politicians should look in the town and consider the number of empty premises and proliferation of charity outlets."


Read the full letter here or use the link above

My comment:  CWaC Council appear to have the money to spend £8 million on consultants and another £2.6 million to buy the Odeon in Chester

What I can't understand is when Cinemas around the country are closing down, ironically the Odeon in Chester is a good example. Who would consider building a new one a few miles away? Similar argument goes for the more shops argument, towns are awash with empty shops at the moment and whilst national companies may be able to afford the fancy rents new build attracts many of the smaller shops, the life blood of the community, can't. 

The $64,000 question is why are our councillors so keen to plough money into consultants and plans for new developments and not into the existing community, especially during a recession? 
UPDATED 17th August 2011: This is an extract from a letter published by the Winsford Guardian.

I CANNOT understand why Cheshire West and Chester Council persists in spending millions of pounds in the present financial climate.

The money involved could surely have been used to reduce council tax or some of it spent on maintaining Northwich. 

JANE BROWN Northwich

My comment:  CWaC Council only appear to have a one track mind, out with the old and in with the new. Selling county hall and replacing it with the HQ premises  was the start, same goes with the Chester and Northwich plans. They appear to have swept away any consideration of maintaining and improving what we have and decided the only way forward is expensive and at the moment, unnecessary grandiose plans. 

Let's face it of CWaC hadn't come to the rescue the HQ building would have been a white elephant for years to come. In addition companies like MBNA could move out of Chester at any time, retail companies are failing at an alarming rate yet CWaC want to build even more capacity rather than improve what we have. 

Mike Jones, Leader of CWaC Council & ASC (Developments) Chester Ltd

UPDATES 28th February and 5th March 2012: below this article.

Register of interests Councillor Mike Jones (6th July 2011)

1. Name of Employer and/or of any business carried out by you.(This includes any self-employed business partnership or company)

ASC (Developments) Chester Ltd

3. The name of any company for which you are a remunerated director.

ASC (Developments) Chester Ltd 

5. Name of any company or body (which has a place of business or land in the area of Cheshire West and Chester) in which you hold (or are held on your behalf) securities that exceed the nominal value of £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of the company (whichever is lower). (NB: nominal value means “face value”, not market values.)

ASC Developments (Chester) Ltd

8. List and describe all contracts for goods, services or works between Cheshire West and Chester Council and:- (a) yourself, or; (b) a firm in which you are a partner, or; (c) a company of which you are a remunerated director; (d) a company in which you have shares that you have registered in Section 5

ASC carries out work associated with DFG and house renovation grants

Cheshire West and Chester Council leader’s firm wins £46K contracts (March 24th 2011)

THE council leader's company was paid £46,000 by Cheshire West and Cheshire Council in 2010 for work done on adapting homes for the disabled.

A Freedom of Information response shows Saltney-based ASC Developments (Chester) Ltd, in which Cllr Jones and his wife Suzanne are directors, received £46,725 in 2010 for that part of the adaptation work covered by a Disabled Facilities Grant administered by the council.

Read the full story from the source Chester Chronicle

Petitions to Wind Up (Companies) (26 May 2011)

("The advertising date is crucial, if the petition is advertised the bank could freeze the company’s accounts.")

A.S.C. DEVELOPMENTS (CHESTER) LTD (Company Number 01890400)

'A Petition to wind up the above-named Company, Registration Number 01890400, of Units 4&5, Facit Glen Industrial Estate, River Lane, Saltney, Chester CH4 8RH, presented on 16 April 2011 by the Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs, of Bush House, Strand, London WC2B 4RD, claiming to be Creditors of the Company, will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, on 8 June 2011, at 1030 hours (or as soon thereafter as the Petition can be heard).' 

The case was dismissed because the matter had been settled.

Chester Chronicle Thursday 11th August 2011 (page 8): Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones’s company has survived a winding-up petition raised by HM Revenue and Customs after a settlement was reached.

A spokesman for ASC Developments (Chester) Ltd said: “It is common knowledge that the recession has not been kind to many small companies in the building industry. However whilst this company has experienced some problems these were successfully resolved some months ago.

My comment: Petition presented 16th April, advertised in the London Gazette on the 26th May, resolved by 8th June. This suggests it was resolved between the 26th May and 8th June 2011. If it had been resolved earlier surely the advert would not have gone ahead. The London Gazette publishes each working day. 

Company House information suggests that ASC is wholly owned by Hargrave, another company wholly owned by Mike Jones and his wife. 

Register of interests Councillor Mike Jones (6th July 2011)

Last year Councillor Jones revealed he dealt with the sale [of County Hall] and the purchase of part of the HQ building as he would as a business. “I AM DEALING with the council finances as I would as a business,” says Cllr Jones. My comment: WOW! 

What is a winding up petition

"A winding up petition is by far the most serious action that can be taken against your company. Often the company has broken any trust the creditor had, payment deals have failed, cheques bounced and generally the directors have not kept their word to pay".

UPDATE 28th February 2012 Suzanne Jones, a Director and Company Secretary, resigns from ASC.

Image from Company House re ASC

UPDATE 6th March 2012 Unconfirmed rumours are circulating that Mike Jones has told other councillors he intends winding up ASC. More when I obtain confirmation.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Chester becomes one of the first to have a 'Responsible Drinking Zone'

Chester has become one of the first in the country to have a designated ‘Responsible Drinking Zone’.

Backed by law and Cheshire West and Chester Council, it aims to tackle alcohol-related crime in and around the Chester area.

My comment: All we need now is a responsible Councillor zone, may I suggest County Hall.

Cheshire West and Cheshire Council buys ex Odeon Cinema building

Cheshire West and Cheshire Council are buying the Odeon Cinema building in Chester for around £2.6 Million with no firm plans for it's end use.

A defunct Cinema, just what every Council needs when times are hard, the previous owners must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Who you gonna call........ when you can't sell an asset?.............. CWaC Council.

I wonder if one of the consultants they spent £8 million on  suggested the idea?

Cheshire West and Chester Council paid £8m in fees to consultants

A TOTAL of £8m was spent on consultants by the cash-strapped Cheshire West and Chester Council last year.

The council had originally refused to answer a Freedom of Information request about consultancy fees, saying it would cost too much to compile the data, but was forced backtrack after The Chester Chronicle, the sister paper of the Pioneer, won on appeal.

My comment: If their staff need consultants to do their job they should sack the staff and recruit those who are capable of doing the job without recourse to consultants.

Read the full story from the source Ellesmere Port Pioneer

Chester West and Cheshire Council have wasting money all wrapped up

Cheshire West and Chester Council spent £25,000 wrapping trees and lampposts with polyester.

WRAPPING Chester’s trees and lampposts with colourful stripy polyester cost £25,000, but brought a ‘festival feel’ to the city, a local authority has revealed.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has revealed that the colourful material decorations, used to entice visitors to the city centre, cost the authority £25,000.

My comment: Please consider a councillor wrapping event next year, I am sure many people would offer to do it for free.

Read the full story from the source Chester Chronicle

UPDATE 5/10/2011: Common sense prevails.

Tree wrapping has been rejected as part of festivities for Chester.

CONTROVERSIAL colourful tree wrapping will not be returning to Chester after councillors decided it was not in keeping with the city’s festivities.

The decision comes less than a month after the trees and lampposts lining the streets and roads of Chester city centre were stripped of the stripy polyester for an initiative which cost £25,000.

My comment: Note the spin, 'not in keeping with the city's festivities' when all they had to say was it was a crap idea and we won't be doing it again. Whenever will wrapping trees like the one above be in keeping with a historic city. They ought to wrap the person responsible for wasting £25,000 in the first place and send them to Timbuktu.

Read the full story from the source Chester Chronicle