Wednesday, 21 September 2011

CWaC Councillors come under fire after waste plant meeting

A NORTHWICH man has expressed his ‘disgust’ at the lack of council representation at a meeting to discuss plans for a energy from waste plant.

Both town councillors and borough councillors came under fire from pensioner Harry Rea, of Bowden Drive, who spoke of his disappointment at the lack of representation at the meeting.

 The 71-year-old said: “I have got to express my disgust that some of the councillors weren’t there.  Clr Malcolm Byram and Clr Lynn Riley did attend the meeting.

 SID member Kenton Barker said: “I was slightly disappointed at the turnout from CWAC.

My comment: The promise of a photo opportunity together with free food and drink would have secured a higher number of councillors attending. 

Read the full story from the source Northwich Guardian

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Postal votes in Davenham and Moulton branded 'a scandal'

POSTAL voting for the last election has been branded a scandal by a Northwich councillor after voting statistics were revealed.

Town councillor Brian Jamieson, from Northwich’s Labour group, said only half the expected amount of postal votes were returned in one of the town’s major wards because residents did not get their packs until it was too late.

The average return for postal votes in the Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) area in May was between 60 and 70 per cent but in the Davenham and Moulton ward it was just 31.4 per cent.

The elections were organised by CWAC’s electoral services department.

Clr Jamieson said: “It’s an absolute scandal. 

 “Some people didn’t receive a postal vote and some got it late – we know because we asked them.

A CWAC spokesman said: “Cheshire West and Chester Council remains committed to ensuring everyone eligible is able to exercise their right to vote.”

My comment: CWaC Council can talk the talk (spin the spin) but unfortunately they can't walk the walk (actually do what they promise). More about their election cock ups here, here, here, here and here.

I recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to identify how much CWaC Council paid the returning officer for the last 3 years. Maybe they should consider asking for a refund!

Read the full story from the source Nortwich Guardian

UPDATED 23/9/2011: Response to my Freedom of information request arrives.

2009 – fee for the European Election - £11,963
2010 – fee for the General Election - £12,676
2011 – fee for the Borough and Parish Elections - £31,952.30
Fee for the Referendum - £13,129

Total paid to returning officer over 3 years £69,720.30

My comment: Not a bad extra income on top of a fat cat salary. 

Council pays for CEO's membership of SOLACE

Following a recent Freedom of Information request I have identified that CWaC Council are paying £398 per year for the Chief Executive's membership  of SOLACE.

SOLACE Society for Local Authority Chief Executives. Membership is open to Chief Executives, Senior Managers, Middle Managers and Graduates of all UK local authorities and related public sector organisations.

SOLACE research shows that 60% of the thousands of members who contact us every year are looking for personal advice and support.

The question is, why are Cheshire West and Chester Council paying their Chief Executive's membership fees when it is clear that the main use of SOLACE is for personal advice and support?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Don't rely on CWaC Council to protect our open spaces, parks and play areas

RESIDENTS are being asked to nominate land to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) is joining in a national programme that will see areas of land becoming dedicated Queen Elizabeth II Fields. 

The project sets minimum criteria around quality and accessibility of land as well as protecting the sites as public open spaces. Read the full story from the source Northwich Guardian

The question is, will CWaC Council protect our open spaces, parks and play areas in the future?

Here are a couple of examples of them failing to do so, I am sure there are many more.

Example 1: The First Duke of Westminster gave Edgar's Field Park in trust to the Council for use forever by the residents of Chester, in particular those of Handbridge.   However the Ship Inn, a private business, appear intent on encroaching on the field.

Example 2: In order to obtain planning permission for their Pinetree/Firtree/Linwood estate Barratt had to incorporate an open space and play area into the development. These should have been completed to standard and gifted to the council before all the houses were occupied. All the houses were occupied way back in 2001 yet when I last checked just a few months ago the play area and open space were still owned by Barratt.

So the question is can you trust CWaC Council to protect our open spaces, play areas and parks? I don't think their track record looks good so far! 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Video shows CWaC people how to generate their own electricity

PEOPLE in Cheshire West are being encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by generating their own electricity.

A new video produced by Cheshire West and Chester Council entitled Solar Panels for Your Home features interviews with homeowners in the area who have had solar panels fitted to their houses.

The film outlines how the technology works and shows the installation process, which usually takes no longer than a day.

My comment: This must be wonderful news for solar energy companies and their staff. All the extra business generated through CWaC Council's efforts must be a boon to solar energy companies during this current economic climate. 

I just wish I had the foresight to have started a solar energy company last year so I could now capitalise on all the business this CWaC promotional material will no doubt generate. I wonder if anyone in CWaC Council did.... or has a job with a solar power company?

Read the full story from the source Chester Chronicle The link given in the Chron article is for a CWaC spin video NOT the solar panel video. One of the downsides of accepting council press releases without validation.

And a link to my Freedom of information request in an attempt to find out how much this video cost and who paid for it. Particularly since it appears to benefit solar panel companies.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

CWaC Council reputation management, propaganda and spin

On the 22nd August 2011 I posted the following  

CWaC CEO cost taxpayers an extra £17,000 last year 
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
On the 24th August 2011 I submitted the following Freedom of Information request to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
I would like to know the amount you paid to the returning officer for each of the last 3 years together with an explanation as to what the payments were for.

 PS: I have searched your website for the information but can't find  it.
I am still waiting for a response to my FOI, however,

On the 24th August 2011 Cheshire West and Chester Council left the following comment on my blog post.
Council spokesman, Ian Callister, said today: “The Chief Executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council has not received any salary increase since his appointment in July 2008.
“Total reimbursements recorded in the authority’s Statement of Accounts also include repayment of travel and subsistence expenses; the agreed rise in pension payments as required by the Fund’s External Actuary and the Government’s regulation payment to all Chief Executives who acted as returning officer during the last general election.
“All the above are recorded as ‘salary’ in the Council’s Statement of Accounts, as required by financial regulations. His pay has not changed.” 
On the 24th August 2011 I updated my blog post with the follwoing statement
UPDATE 24th August 2011: Irrespective of what spin the council tries to put on it the Chief Executive cost taxpayers an extra £17,000 last year. 
and left the following response to CWaC

You mean you actually paid someone for managing this years election shambles?

In addition on the 31st August 2011 the following article appeared in the Ellesmere Port Pioneer.

Cheshire West and Chester Council chief justifies extra £13,000 payment.
COUNCIL chief executive Steve Robinson received an extra £13,000 for acting as returning officer at last year’s General Election, despite a fiasco which saw voters denied their right to vote.
Mr Robinson earned his £180,000 annual salary plus £13,000 for organising the election in Cheshire West and Chester according to the accounts. 
The council’s accounts show Mr Robinson’s benefits in kind, including his car allowance, rose from £1,000 to £2,000 last year and his employer’s pension contribution rose from £37,000 to £40,000 resulting in an overall £17,000 rise in his financial package of £235,000 compared to the previous year. 
It would appear that, in common with many other councils, Cheshire West and Chester now prefer to concentrate on reputation management, propaganda and spin.

Still no response to the question I posed in an ealier post.

Does Cheshire West and Chester Council put pressure on our local press? [(1) To promote positive stories and excuses for the council. (2) To ignore any negative stories and turn a blind eye to their pathetic excuses.] Other councils do!