Porter: I’m the man to lead LGA through ‘uncharted’ territory

Copied from the Local Government Chronicle online 

27 May, 2015 | By David Paine
The Local Government Association is heading into uncharted territory and faces the biggest threat to its existence over this parliament, according to the frontrunner to become the body’s new chair.
Writing for LGC, LGA Conservative group leader Gary Porter noted it was the first time in the LGA’s history that it will have worked with a Conservative majority government. He said this, combined with a Conservative led LGA presented “both the biggest opportunity and the biggest threat to the sector being effectively represented by one lobbying organisation”.
He said: “Can we put up a senior team that will be able to work well with central government, and yet still be able to publicly articulate the case on behalf of our members when our sector’s interests cannot be advanced by either the formal or informal route?   
 “That’s why the Conservative group’s choice of chairman is more crucial than it has been at any time and it is for this reason that I am putting my name forward.”
The Conservatives regained control of the LGA in this month’s local elections meaning Labour’s David Sparks is set to be replaced as the LGA’s chair.
LGC reported last week that Cllr Porter looked set to be unchallenged for the role after potential rivals stepped aside to challenge for the group leadership role.
Cllr Porter, who is leader of South Holland DC, said he had a track record of working across the political divide and as chair would want to work closely with government to ensure services are redesigned in the best way to meet the financial challenge facing local authorities.
He said: “If the LGA is looking for someone who cares passionately about local government and about the role the association plays in protecting and promoting it, for someone who can work across political and sectorial boundaries, and for someone who will champion the work that we all do, then it is looking for me.”
Nominations for chair close on 9 June and the new post will be announced by the end of the month.     

Timely and welcome support from my fellow ward member

This is the text of a letter submitted by my fellow ward member, councillor Christine Lawton, to our local press.

“I am pleased that something amuses Mr Cronin, although I did not find his unhelpful attitude at the steering group which looked at the possibilities of building a community centre for Wygate at all funny. On the question of delay perhaps he should consider “motes and beams”.   

As to his central question “Why are the residents being restricted to a building?”, the simple answer is that the 106 money from developer was for a community building.  Like my predecessor (before your time Mr Cronin) I too am a simple soul – I believe that a facility which could accommodate such excellent groups as cubs, WI, dancing classes for children, a meeting place for the retired would be in principle a fine idea.  That is why the Wygate community is being surveyed  (by an independent charity) to ascertain the wishes and desires of the local residents.  That sounds pretty democratic to me!

I value team-work and loyalty and wish to associate myself with the efforts of Cllr Gambba-Jones and others in this attempt to discover the appetite for a centre for Wygate residents.  Let the people decide – it works for me.”

I’ve taken the liberty of adding the link to Wikipedia for those, like myself, who are unfamiliar with the parable, or just read the panel below.  I couldn’t have said it better myself – no actually, my education doesn’t stretch that far, so I couldn’t have said it at all; thank heavens for Christine!

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’ – http://goo.gl/alerts/S4Wl. 

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.

There’ll be no enlightenment from this Dark(ness)

litter chase not text

‘An officer of the district council, should follow somebody they see carrying a drinks can and when they drop it, they should give them an on the spot fine’. Cllr Graham Dark at a full council meeting.

According to this weeks edition of  Spalding Voice Graham Dark wishes to enlighten people on the subject of litter.

Using the letters page, this independent councillor and dedicated navel gazer,  has decided to get an early start to his 2015 re-election campaign.  He does this with a very brief offering of praise for the litter picking efforts of a young Conservatives group, all with Sandra and Tony White, dedicated and tenacious Spalding residents.

However, the real purpose of his politically motivated letter, is to attack the council’s Conservative group and in particular myself, as the cabinet member for waste and recycling.

Councillor Dark appears to be obsessed with use of tickets and fines, obviously a left over from his days as a police officer.  Unfortunately, his time as a cop hasn’t given him any understanding of the difference between having a robust policy and actually having sufficient resources to apply it regularly – certainly not to the extent he desires.  In fact, this desire is so compelling, he seems willing to see other council services suffer, in order to satisfy it.

Cllr Dark, having seen his previous obsession, a bandstand in Ayscoughfee Gardens gain financial support via Springfield’s s106 monies, has now turned his myopic gaze towards litter and the catching of those who drop it.  His repeated references to one thing in particular, enforcement, is becoming a little tedious.

I accept that, some years ago, an undertaking was made to empower certain council officers, to serve fixed penalty notices on littering offenders.  In practice, this was never a realistic option, given that few, if any, of our officers were ever in a position to witness, let alone act, when such offences occurred.  I am of course assuming that cllr Dark wasn’t expecting these officers to do this enforcement in their lunch breaks, but one can never be sure, when it comes to a member of the Independent group, as they seldom allow reality to get in the way of a bright idea.

I may of course be wrong on this last point because, if memory serves, at a recent full council meeting, he made the quite extraordinary suggestion, that potential litter droppers should be ‘stalked’ by suitably empowered council officers.

Graham Dark considers it acceptable for a professional Housing, Planning, or Environmental Health officers, to wander the streets of Spalding, looking out for anybody with a drinks can in hand.  The officer would then follow that person, keeping a careful watch on them and this potentially source of litter.  Should that person discard their can improperly, the officer would pounce on them, book of fixed penalty notices in hand, no doubt crying, ‘your nicked’, or something similar.  How far and for how long this stalking had to take place is unclear.  Suffice it to say, this procedure will not be written in to the council’s robust littering policy, anytime soon.

Incidentally, Graham Dark and his partner in crime Roger Perkins, are both members of a committee that has the role of scrutinising the council’s performance.  Despite this, at no time in their ‘years’ of allegedly banging on about it, have they bothered to get the issue of litter enforcement placed on the agenda of that committee, so that the council’s so called, ‘abysmal performance’ can be properly scrutinised.  I wonder if Graham Dark would care to enlighten me on the reason for this?

Littering is a serious problem and  a blight on our towns and villages. With its larger population and busier streets, Spalding suffers the most problems and presents the greatest challenges.

Finally, can I enlighten you as to what the future might hold.   There has been a major reduction in local government funding, due to the previous Labour government’s mismanagement of the economy.  As such, I cannot promise to commit any more resources to this problem, than those currently available.  We are however, doing our best to encourage and support the sort of community involvement and pride displayed by Jack McLean, young Conservatives, and Sandra and Tony White.  If you would like to offer your help, please do get in touch.