Criticising without a shred of evidence – it’s the UKIP way

A letter published on the SpaldingToday website and probably in next Tuesday’s Freepress, is so

 breathtaking in its hypocrisy, contradiction and nonsense, I am driven to challenge it.  This is the link to it.  ‘We could have a council non-political on local issues’ – 

Normally, I would ignore much of what a UKIP’er has to say, because once you scratch the surface, it’s either airy-fairy wishful thinking, have little grounding in reality, or simply makes no sense – this letter is no exception. 

 Paul Foyster of UKIP, writes claiming that his party’s way is the right way and the rest of us are wrong and failing to serve the taxpayers.  He claims that having a political group running the council, somehow inhibits good decision making on behalf of those taxpayers.   However, he fails to offer a single example of any such failings.   Perhaps he’s referring to the reduction in council tax we’ve made, for the fourth year running.  Or maybe it’s our policy of collecting household refuse and recycling every week – unlike many other councils – that’s providing poor service to South Holland’s taxpayers.

Having criticised political groupings, he goes on to suggest that a group of independent people working together, can make a difference!  What is it Mr Foyster – everybody independent and doing their own thing,  or everybody working together to make a difference?  You can’t have it both ways sir!

The fact that he even refers to a group of people ‘working together to make a difference’ is comical, given UKIP’s farcical performance at Lincolnshire County Council.   One minute the UKIP ‘group’ is holding the balance of power, as the largest minority grouping, giving them them the opportunity to influence the decision making process.  Next, they’re showing their inexperience and amateurishness, by having an internal cat fight, that sees their so called ‘group’ fragment into two ineffective and virtually pointless minority groups.  So that’s the UKIP version of people working together, for the benefit of the taxpayers is it Mr Foyster?

Finally, Mr Foyster suggests that the amount of publicity being put out by the Conservatives, is an indication of our concern about the threat posed by his political group.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  We don’t panic in elections, we just work at getting our message out, something that his party seem to think they don’t need to do, based on my own experience during the county council elections.  Is this arrogance on their part, or are they just too lazy to do the work and therefore leave it to a beer swilling, chain smoker, fag packet policy maker to do their publicity for them, via the tabloid press and TV ?

My message to the voters of South Holland is a simple one.  Look at the record of UKIP in South Holland to date and how they’ve been disfunctional and virtually invisible at the county council. Now decide if you want the same outcomes for South Holland District Council over the next four years.

Scrutiny is no more than whistling in the wind


Nearly every other day now, councillors are being told that they are, ‘key to driving forward the innovations needed to transform local government, so that it can weather the current financial storm being visited upon it by Westminster’.
Along with this often junior government minister uttered blurb, which is actually code for we’re passing the buck – they wouldn’t describe it as a ‘financial storm’, but rather, local government doing its bit – comes advice that the scrutiny process is an integral element in any transformation strategy.
It’s somewhat disingenuous to identify scrutiny as the way forward, given the abysmal record it has even when richly resourced and supported, as in the case of the Parliamentary scrutiny system.
Almost every other week we hear and read statements from various Parliamentary committees, with Keith Vaz and Margaret Hodge having a seemingly insatiable appetite for appearing on our TV screens, with the opening words, “The government needs to….”, yet what difference does it make to what the government actually does?
Translate this to the amateur, volunteer ‘scout master’ world of the local government councillor, where officer support is always at a premium and constantly under threat from the slash and burn economics of deficit reduction, and scrutiny looks more like whistling in the wind, than an insightful process, that can beat a path to innovative service delivery.

By way of a footnote, I would point to the recent revelations regarding the Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust. Lincolnshire County Council has a health scrutiny committee, with South Holland District Council represented by an independent councillor, who takes every opportunity to tell us what the committee is, or more accurately, isn’t doing. I say isn’t doing, because, in theory, if LCC’s scrutiny of our local hospitals was in any way effective, Lincolnshire hospitals wouldn’t have one of the highest abnormal death rates in England would it? Unfortunately, they seem to have gotten themselves completely hung up on the proposed changes to our local ambulance service instead.

Leaders blast Lewis over councillor pensions

Pensions for elected members or not is not the issue here. The barefaced arrogance of this 5 year politician is. He has no qualification to be in his job, other than success at the ballot box, just like elected councillors. Yet he is telling those councillors, with exactly qualification as an MP, they have no right to

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online

7 January, 2013 | By Mark Smulian

Most council leaders have rejected government plans to ban councillors from joining the Local Government Pension Scheme, an exclusive LGC survey indicates.

More than half of 105 respondents said they disagreed with the proposal, our poll reveals. Local government minister Brandon Lewis suggested councillors should be stripped of the right to join the scheme in a consultation paper last month.

The idea has already met with strong opposition from prominent Conservative councillors. And LGC’s survey found that 53.3% of leaders thought councillors should remain eligible for scheme membership.

Respondents were particularly annoyed by Mr Lewis’ claim that while councillors should see themselves as volunteers rather than professional politicians, there was an expectation that being an elected mayor was a full-time job.

Almost 70% of leaders rejected this distinction while almost 60% disagreed that councillors were not full-time politicians.

Anyone who thought metropolitan leaders do “less work than – for example – the elected mayor of Doncaster must live on a differed planet to that inhabited by normal people,” one said. Another noted: “The position of mayor probably requires less work as the power of decision lies completely with one person.”

“Any leader worth their salt not only has to direct political direction but work very closely with group members at the same time.”

The most popular alternative to barring councillors but allowing elected mayors to remain scheme members was to ban both councillors and elected mayors from the LGPS, with 17.1% backing this approach. Meanwhile, 14.3% thought only leaders and cabinet members should remain eligible.

LGC’s survey also indicated anger towards Mr Lewis. One respondent, identifying themselves as a member of “one of the coalition parties”, accused Mr Lewis of “scandalous political opportunism on the part of the government, nasty, vindictive and anti-local government”.

Many respondents said their roles’ demands made it impossible to also take up pensionable employment.

“I was a project manager for an international credit card company and there is no way I could have continued in that role,” one said.

A metropolitan leader said anyone who considered the role as part-time was “detached from reality”. A unitary leader said they were “losing money through having to give up my regular job”.

Several also predicted that excluding councillors from the pension scheme would deter new candidates from coming forward.

Last week, Gary Porter, LGA Conservative group leader, told LGC he would ask Mr Lewis to row back on the proposal. “I’ve received a large amount of lobbying on this from Conservative councillors to resist the idea,” he added. “I expect to be putting it to Brandon and [communities minister] Eric [Pickles] that they shouldn’t make savings in this area.”

Councillors have been able to join the LGPS since 2003. According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance some 4,548 were members of it in 2010-11.