Friday, 18 November 2011

70,000 years to clear social housing backlog in CWaC

MORE than 17,600 families in and around Chester face years of waiting for somewhere to live, a new report has revealed.

It is estimated that it would take more than 70,000 years to clear the backlog of Cheshire families waiting for social housing because of the ‘broken’ housing market, the National Housing Federation has highlighted.

Jon Longden, the National Housing Federation’s lead manager for the North West, said: “Caught in an impossible can’t buy/can’t rent dilemma, families face life-changing years on social housing waiting lists. With the lowest number of new homes for 90 years, the only things we are building up are long-term problems for schooling, health and jobs.”

The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to renew its commitment to building new homes at scale and to restore the £300 million annual funding to regenerate inner-city neighbourhoods across the region.

My comment: So by my reckoning we will have enough social housing by the year 702011. I  wonder how many cock ups CWaC Council will have racked up by then :-)

Read the full story from the source Chester First

Monday, 14 November 2011

CWaC Council: Remembrance Day, Lest we charge!

Yet another example of CWaC’s incompetence or lack of caring… this is feedback I’ve had this morning.

Chester should be rightly proud of the very many veterans, service personnel, citizens and visitors who came to pay their respects at the remembrance service and parade at the Chester War Memorial on Sunday 13 November. However CWaC are being accused of insensitivity by making money by charging for parking at the nearby Princess Street car park early on a Sunday morning.   

One veteran said “the Council makes an exception for free after 3 on weekdays, but did not for this very important occasion in our city at a time when the car park is normally empty?”
My comment: First they charge soldiers on a homecoming parade for refreshments and now veterans for parking to attend Remembrance Sunday services.

What have CWaC Council got against the armed services? Or is it just another example of their incompetence.

Remembrance Sunday screen shot CWaC Council (

If you would like to view some photos of Remembrance Sunday don't bother wasting your time with Cheshire West and Chester Council's Go Cheshire Flickr pages because there aren't any. However, the Chester Chronicle did a fine job even if our council couldn't be bothered.

Neither did the Go Cheshire Tweet anything about it so it's a good job the Chester Chronicle and others did.

Cheshire West and Chester Council lest we forget they forgot!
For further info see what a Google search throws up on the CWaC Councils website about Remembrance Day and then try all other councils. It would appear that CWaC Council are in the minority, if not alone, regarding Remembrance Day publicity.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Dim CWaC Council cock up Xmas lights switch on

Normally the Chester Christmas Lights Switch On is an enjoyable family occasion, but not this year. Instead of holding it in the tradition place of Town Hall Square where there is plenty of space, CWaC, in their infinite wisdom decided to hold it at the Cross.

So imagine, an open top bus adjacent to the wall of St Peter’s Church, a stage in front of that, how much room is left for people?

See some of the comments that were on Twitter:

@MarkCarline: The cross is packed out, people cant see anything, totally stupid place to switch lights on in #Chester. Town hall next year@ChesterChron

@VforChester: Whose idea was it to put the stage at the most inaccessible location ever! What was wrong with outside the town hall like in previous years.

@ChronRachel: Gave up on the Chester Christmas light switch on almost got pushed off the rows as everyone heaved to the front.

@ChesterChron: We have had loads of reaction to the #chester #christmas light switch on on our #facebook pg. Seems like the majority of u weren't impressed.

@JamesFarley: @ChesterChron @MarkCarlin: and don't even get me started on the fireworks! I had bigger bangers for my tea last night!

@ChesterChron Chester Chronicle: @JamesFarley sounds like everyone agreeing it should have been somewhere @MarkCarline said the town hall would have been good.

Chester Chronicle: "HUNDREDS of people flocked to Chester last night for the traditional lights switch-on.

But from the comments we have received on our Chester Chronicle Facebook page and Twitter, many of you were disappointed with the evening.

Wrong location, no celebrity guest and no Christmas tree were the common complaints posted on our Facebook page.

Hannah Turner posted: "I was stood on the corner by Northgate and Eastgate Street. I couldn't hear a word anyone was saying. What we were meant to be doing? What song was being sung - it was so squashed! Lights didn't come on properly (in true Chester style)!" [My emphasis]

Read what spin Cheshire West and Chester Council put on the disaster here
Read more and view the Chester Chronicle Picture gallery here or more pictures from Cheshire West here.

Legal Response to Cheshire West and Chester Council Over Issue of New Contracts

UNISON solicitor tells Cheshire West and Chester Council: ‘We believe you will be acting unlawfully if you then take steps to dismiss and re-engage those employees who do not sign up to these new terms.’

Neil Todd for Thompsons, who are acting for West Cheshire UNISON, wrote a letter to Cheshire West and Chester Head of Human Resources, Euan Murdoch-Hollies, last week. In the letter Mr Todd pointed out that what started out as proposals to harmonise terms and conditions following a reorganisation of Councils within Cheshire was being used as an opportunity to make cuts.

Neil has looked at the financial position of Cheshire West and Chester and has concluded that it is very questionable, given the financial reserves that the Council have in place (which have recently been increased by £12 million), that it does have a sound, good business reason to justify such dismissals.

My comment: Sound business reasons don't appear to enter the equation when CWaC Council reach a decision. 

Read the full story from the source West Cheshire Unison

Is CWaC Council turning a blind eye to an illegal market?

MARKET traders in Winsford have voiced serious concerns over what they claim are illegal stalls in the town centre. They say that the eight stalls effectively make up a small market and, as such, infringe local market rules.

Niel Hodkinson, chairman of the local Market Traders Association, said: “Winsford market traders are very concerned at the number of stalls that are setting up in the town centre.

“At the last count there were eight. This constitutes a market and is illegal under present law.

“The market rights are council-held and, as such, markets cannot be set up in the area without their consent. 

My comment: Most well run markets/shopping centres try and protect their permanent stallholders/shopkeepers by minimising the number of 'here for the Christmas trade and gone by New Year' part time traders.

It's the full time traders who are there in January and in all weathers who are the backbone of any market/shopping centre. So it's both short-sighted and unfair to allow part time traders to cream off their business during the best trading weeks of the year.  

Whilst this short-sighted approach gives the management/organisers extra income from stall rents over the Christmas period it has serious repercussions for both themselves and the permanent stallholders/shopkeepers. Firstly the loss of business forces many permanent stallholders/shopkeepers to question their motivation for being there through the all bad trading months and many decide it's no longer worth it. This means the market/shopping centre is only part occupied and loses the management more income than they made through part time stalls/pop up shops.

Unfortunately, when faced with such a crises many management companies/organisers decide to allow even more 'here today gone tomorrow' traders  in an attempt to boost their income to balance the losses from less and less permanent stallholders/shopkeepers. 

Management and organisers end up in a vicious circle. Year on year they allow more and more 'here today and gone tomorrow' traders because there are less and less permanent traders to balance their books.

Put yourself in a stallholders/shopkeepers position, would you like to invest tens of thousands of pounds in stock and rent, spend months barely breaking even only to find that when the best trading days are approaching someone with a paste table sets up in competition just a few yards away?

If the Council and Shopping centre don't get a grip there will be no market or shopping centre left.

I would also like to add before anyone comments, this is not about traders griping about competition, all traders constantly compete with other traders, this is about unfair competition.

Read the full story from the source Winsford Guardian

Friday, 11 November 2011

Will the new CWaC service provide long-term support for stroke sufferers?

New service will provide long-term support for stroke sufferers.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is working with the Stroke Association to provide a new long-term service to provide support for stroke sufferers.

In West Cheshire alone there are around 380 people diagnosed as having a stroke each year and an estimated 3,188 people living with its effects of which 1,020 have moderate or severe disability caused by a stroke.

The new service means that patients are now supported beyond an initial six-month intensive re-ablement programme.

Read the full story from the source CWaC Council 

My comment: Will they live up to their promise or is it just more spin? Read an email I recently received from a correspondent and reach your own conclusions. 

"I'm one of the stroke sufferers (mild one in June 2007) and what support have I been offered? I approached both their predecessor CCC and CWaC and got nowhere. I am MEANT to have an Outreach Worker, according to their spin, but was never offered one. If I hadn't got a supportive wife, children and wider family, where would I be now?

That's my personal experience of the councils. After 4 years, I'm mostly fine but have residual numbness on my left and some minor weakness. The main problem I have now is epilepsy as a result of the stroke."

Councillors Question Cheshire West Gypsy Site Process

The Labour Group of Cheshire West and Chester Council has "called in" the decision by the Conservative Executive to withdraw proposals to establish two Gypsy and Traveller sites in Saughall and Neston.

Concerns have been expressed by members of the public in all parts of the Borough about the site selection process, which led to unsuitable sites being proposed in Neston and Saughall, before being withdrawn by the Executive on the 2nd November. The Labour Group is asking the Council's Corporate Scrutiny Committee to take a detailed look at the plans, to ensure that any remaining issues are addressed.

"The Executive has shown no contrition and given no apology for the upset and distress they have caused by the unnecessary identification of these sites. What is even more alarming is that one of the Executive members publicly admitted not reading the report upon which his decision was based." [My emphasis]

"We now face months of uncertainty while the Council find another site. Given the confusion their handling of the process has caused so far, how can our communities be confident they will handle this sensitive matter any better in the future?" he added."

My comment: I think it would be an interesting exercise to plot all the suggested sites against the addresses of the executive / decision makers. I hope they don't turn out to be NIMBY elected representatives.

Read the full story from the source About My Area

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ofsted publishes Children's Services ratings: CWaC Council POOR!

Ofsted has published their verdicts for Council's Children's Services Departments.

It rates 28 councils (including Hammersmith and Fulham) as "excellent" in this area.

Councils judged to be performing poorly are Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Slough, Birmingham, Calderdale, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cornwall, Kent, Peterborough, Salford, Sandwell, Torbay, West Sussex and Worcestershire.

My comment: Yet another CWaC Council failure to add to their long list of failures.

Read the full story from the source Local Government

Also read the Improvement Notice

The report of the inspection of safeguarding and looked after children’s services carried out by Ofsted (published December 2010) which judged the overall effectiveness of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s safeguarding services to be ‘inadequate’. [my emphasis]

Failure to comply with this Improvement Notice by the assessment date may lead to:

The Secretary of State for Education using statutory power of intervention (s497A Education Act 1996) directing the Council to enter into an appropriate arrangement to secure the necessary and rapid improvements required in children’s services.
Also read CWaC Council's response to the report.

Council promises 'decisive action' following critical Ofsted report 

Council leader Mike Jones and chief executive Steve Robinson, who is also chair of West Cheshire Children's Trust, said that "decisive action" was needed following the report. 
During an unannounced visit in September inspectors gave the council's child protection service its most serious grade of "priority action needed".
My comment: Shows what a pathetic job the trust was doing. Also further evidence that you can't 'trust' CWaC Council to do anything right. 

Also read Council promises decisive action

Dr Johns Stephens, Director of Children’s Services, said: “This comprehensive and proactive review of all our cases demonstrates an absolute commitment to do everything within our power to secure the safety of our children and young people.”
My comment: Only CWaC Council could ever describe a reactive review (as a result of a damning Ofsted report) as a proactive review.

UPDATE 23rd November 2011

Read more here (Telegraph article Ofsted: children 'at risk' in fifth of local authorities)

Which also contradicts CWaC's spin.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cheshire West and Chester Council: The 'Council From Hell'? Part 2

Further to an earlier post I have just been informed that the website has just been updated.

Well worth a read if you are interested in how Cheshire West and Chester Council works (and how their predecessor Cheshire County Council worked).

Read the full story from the source Cheshire and Chester West: The Council from hell.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Can you influence how CWaC Council spends its cash next year?

CHESHIRE West and Chester Council is inviting residents to have their say on draft budget proposals for the next financial year. Read the spin here

Here are my suggestions

Stop wasting money producing self promoting videos.

Stop wasting money producing council newspapers spin.

Stop wasting £398 a year paying for one senior staff member to be a member of SOLACE.

Stop wasting money  on reputation management, propaganda and spin.

Stop wasting money paying way over the odds for old cinema buidlings.

Stop wasting £8 million a year on consultants.

Stop wasting £25,000 wrapping trees.

Stop wasting £69,293 on LGA membership 

Stop wasting money on no hope legal cases yes, there was more than one.

Stop wasting £25,937.64 promoting CWaC Council to other councils.

Stop wasting money  sending more people than necessary to events.

Stop wasting money paying councillors more than they are worth.

Stop wasting money on crap campaigns.

Stop wasting money paying councillors when they are in New Zealand.

Stop wasting money paying senior staff more than they are worth.

Stop wasting money allowing  staff and members to use Facebook whilst at work.

Stop wasting money spending millions on repairing and refitting old buildings only to rent them out for a peppercorn rent that would hardly cover notional interest on the money spent let alone a decent return on the investment money thrown down the drain on vanity projects.