are dozens of cases each year where council officers and members fail to
properly consider what is good for the people and the wishes of the
people. These cases do not generally receive any media attention, but
every now and again a news story gains in momentum to reveal the common
practices inside councils like Wealden that consider themselves to be
GUARDIAN FEBRUARY 2009 - NOEL'S RANT AT WEALDEN GETS PERSONAL
I wouldn't want to be Jim Van den Bos right now. He's Wealden district council's press officer. You may know him from such press releases as Compost Awareness Week and The National Lottery: Crowborough's
Christmas Present. Jim liked a quiet life. But then, unaccountably, he did something no sane man should ever do. He played with Noel Edmonds. And Noel Edmonds, it is increasingly clear, does not play.
When dealing with the producers of Noel's HQ regarding the Joe Townsend case, Van den Bos apparently "sneered" down the phone that
Wealden district council did not appear on entertainment shows. Whether or not anything Edmonds broadcasts can be considered entertainment is a moot point, but what is certain is that this rattled Edmonds's cage like it had never been rattled. On Sunday night's show he delivered a blistering tirade aimed at Van den Bos claiming he was at the heart of what was wrong with this country.
Cheered on by a crowd of craven salt-of-the-earths waving pointy foam hands, Edmonds continued: "Do you know something, Mr Van den Bos? I know I'm right," and cited the trifecta of
Clegg, Cameron and
Brown as backing his cause. The consummate orator, he built to the natural emotional climax: an unveiling of a space age all-terrain wheelchair for Townsend - a moment straight out of Phoenix Nights. It made for breathless television. And it was deeply odd.
Poor old Jim must be wondering what hit him. He didn't sit on the planning committee; he doesn't make policy, nor enforce it. He just writes vapid, soul-destroying prose like everyone else who works in publicity. Just by reading his own work every day, he's been punished enough. Now I imagine him living on the run, drinking water from toilet bowls, sleeping in hollow logs, a fugitive living in fear of the wrath of Edmonds's foam-handed storm troopers. He knows he's right, Jim. Don't fight it.
Whatever the shortcomings of Wealden district council in this specific case (and, on the face of it, it seems a horribly cruel and petty decision) can we really be comfortable with Noel Edmonds as a kickass crusader on local issues? Noel's HQ seemed a bit of mad fun when he was just dealing in fatuous truisms and homespun platitudes, but now he's actually calling people out by name, declaring them "at the heart of what is wrong with this country". That is possible, of course, but isn't it more likely that Van den Bos is just a dreary PR twunk who got a bit snotty on the phone one afternoon? It does happen.
Underpinning Noel's HQ is an assumption of a consensus about what is wrong with Britain: health and safety, council bureaucrats and knife crime, and that there's some common thread linking them all together. This is plainly nuts. It has been very entertaining watching his odd behaviour and pronouncements over recent years: the orbs story, the "close the borders" rant, the
TV licence stance, but Edmonds is now the wrong side of creepy.
Sky need to rein in their maverick gunslinger because as the peculiar incidents involving him stack up, a Chernobyl-scale, on-air meltdown feels just a heartbeat away.
TELEGRAPH 8 FEBRUARY 2009 - GORDON BROWN: TELLS COUNCIL THAT SNUBBED AFGHANISTAN SOLDIER TOLD TO RECONSIDER
A local council that refused to allow a soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan to build a specially-adapted bungalow at his grandparents' home has been told to reconsider by Gordon Brown.
The Prime Minister intervened after the case of 20-year-old Royal Marine Joe Townsend was taken up by a television show following criticism of the planning decision by Wealden District Council in
"The whole country owes Joe huge gratitude for the sacrifice he's made for our country. It's unacceptable that he is being stopped from having the home of his choice," Mr Brown said in a statement issued to the Noel's HQ programme on Sky1, hosted by Noel Edmonds.
"Wealden District Council must do the right thing immediately and reconsider this case."
Councillors last month voted by a slim majority to reject the plans incorporating a bathroom and carers room, deeming them "intrusive", despite listening to Mr Townsend's own arguments first hand.
His grandfather David Carter, 72, submitted the application to finance and build the bungalow in paddock land at his home in Hankham Hall Road,
Pevensey, East Sussex.
Mr Townsend, who lost both his legs, one completely and one to the knee after stepping on a landmine in February last year, was said to have been "devastated" by the decision.
He has undergone a succession of operations, with another planned next month, plus rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey, but away from his family.
Tory leader David Cameron also sent a message of support to the show.
"We owe soldiers like Joe a huge debt of gratitude. The military covenant should always be taken into account particularly when dealing with injured soldiers and their families," he said.
"I really hope that Wealden Council will rethink their decision."
Mr Townsend's mother Deborah Hawkins told the show, which will be broadcast on Saturday: "When his Granddad mentioned the bungalow, that was what really kept Joe going when he was at a really low ebb.
"I was absolutely devastated; it's your worst nightmare. I just don't think the council understand what Joe needs."
More than 8,000 people have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling on the council to reverse its decision.
METRO 8 FEBRUARY 2009 - DISABLED SOLDIER'S HOME APPROVED
A seriously-injured Royal Marine who was refused permission by a local council to build a specially-adpated bungalow will be given the go-ahead this week, a senior Conservative source confirmed.
Tory-run Wealden District Council in East Sussex is “going to make sure it happens”, the source said, after both Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron urged the authority to reverse its decision.
Joe Townsend, 20, lost both his legs, one completely and one to the knee, after stepping on a landmine in February last year while serving in Afghanistan.
He has undergone a succession of operations, with another planned next month, plus rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey, but away from his family.
His grandfather David Carter, 72, submitted the application to finance and build the bungalow in paddock land at his home in Hankham Hall Road, Pevensey, East Sussex.
But councillors last month voted by a slim majority to reject the plans incorporating a bathroom and carer’s room, deeming them “intrusive”, despite listening to Mr Townsend’s own arguments first hand.
Mr Brown intervened after the case was taken up by the Noel’s HQ programme on Sky1, telling the Noel Edmonds-hosted show that the council “must do the right thing immediately and reconsider this case”.
“The whole country owes Joe huge gratitude for the sacrifice he’s made for our country. It’s unacceptable that he is being stopped from having the home of his choice,” the PM said in a statement.
Tory leader David Cameron also sent a message of support to the show, calling for a rethink.
“The military covenant should always be taken into account particularly when dealing with injured soldiers and their families,” he said. “I really hope that Wealden Council will rethink their decision.”
is just the tip of the iceberg. In the move to try to make up the ground
they have lost over the last 30 years of non-planning - as in failing to
plan for the future of our young families - Wealden's officers have been
misleading committees as to being able to dispense with rules and
guidelines to push through applications that would not normally see the
light of day.
is of course not true, as was recently challenged in the High Court in
the case of Berwick in East Sussex.
fear that the fact that their local plan was misquoted in this case is
not isolated, but is commonplace, meaning that many planning permissions
that have been approved are in fact invalid in the Spring Image sense,
where the decision reached by
WISHES OF THE MANY
- In our view Mr Edmonds and the Ministers contacted are justifiably
concerned as to Wealden District Council ignoring the wishes of
the public and the needs of our wounded soldiers. Council
officers are civil servants, not gods sitting on a throne
deciding who gets what and the price it is going to cost them.
All to often, councils put a legal spanner in the works just to
hike up those costs to make whatever the proposal is too
expensive to pursue. In this manner they retain their empire and
build their part at the expense of the taxpayer who is more than
likely not being fairly represented by the members of these
Typically, members have conflicts of interest that are
under-reported. Wealden is the only council who refused a
researcher copy of their register when he found an entry changed
with tippex to reflect what should have happened but did not. A
totally different outcome was retrospectively logged in the
register to that which had actually
happened to cover up an officer
breaching Sections 94 and 95 of the Local Government Act 1972.
Will Sussex Police investigate?
Bet they won't - AGAIN!
RIGHTS AS THE VOTING TAXPAYERS
would think that citizens
have a number of rights in their dealings with the Council. In
theory the public may ask public questions, enquire of the Monitoring Officer as to
the legality of any decision, action or refusal to take action - as in
the case of Anne Harris, where this
council were found guilty of failing to protect this vulnerable farmer
where masonic links existed to her
then landlord, a Mr Anscomb who was later convicted of VAT fraud. You may lobby the members and these
members have a duty to properly investigate issues - but will not
normally do very much because of the dazzling brotherhood of officers -
many of whom have mason connections that are not declared as they should
be in the Register of Interests. You will find some
members less than useless, you may get fobbed off, told lies, etc.
Occasionally though, you will find a very active councillor. In
fact, there are more members than ever, prepared to ask awkward
questions and get to the truth of a matter - despite officers fudging
replies and misleading them.
fact is that where there are mature members that have been on councils
for many years, they should not be allowed to stand for more than two
terms, to flush out any cozy relationships
Planning Committee South supersedes the Planning Sub-Committee
South and determines planning applications, tree preservation orders and enforces
planning control for the south of the District.
is possible to register to speak on planning applications that
come to Committee, and information is available on how to register
Speaking at Committee meetings. We recommend that you do this
- for if you don not, the officers could and as we have shown, do
not tell the truth.
Committee meets regularly every four weeks on a Thursday –
please see the calendar of meeting dates for further information.
The meetings are open to the public and are held in the Council
Offices in Hailsham.
more detailed information on the role and functions of the
Planning Committees - see the Constitution
or contact Democratic Services on 01892 602720 or e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Stedman (Chairman)
Dianne Dear (Deputy Chairman)
Charles R Peck
Lin Clark (Reserve)
Ronald Cussons (Reserve)
Jan Dunk (Reserve)
Chris Hardy (Reserve)
Barry Marlowe (Reserve)
Daniel Shing (Reserve)
David White (Reserve)
Ann Newton (ex-officio)
Vicarage Lane, Hailsham,
East Sussex, BN27 2AX T: 01323 443322
Pine Grove, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 1DH T: 01892
IS LEADING WHO - Councillor
Robert Standley is still the Leader of this Council. How is that
possible in a democracy? The Representation of the People and Local Government
Acts have this to say about pecuniary interests and banning from
standing at local elections:
Representation of the People Act 1983
- 1983 CHAPTER 2
Section - 159 Candidate reported guilty of corrupt or illegal practice
(1) If a candidate who has been elected is reported by an election court personally guilty or guilty by his agents of any corrupt or illegal practice his election shall be void.
(2) A candidate at a parliamentary election shall also be incapable from the date of the report of being elected to and sitting in the House of Commons for the constituency for which the election was held or any constituency which includes the whole or any part of the area of the first-mentioned constituency as constituted for the purposes of the election—
(a) if reported personally guilty of a corrupt practice, for ten years;
(b) if reported guilty by his agents of a corrupt practice or personally guilty of an illegal practice, for seven years;
(c) if reported guilty by his agents of an illegal practice, during the Parliament for which the election was held.
(3) A candidate at an election under the local government Act shall also be incapable from the date of the report of holding any corporate office in the local government area for which the election was held, or in any local government area which includes the whole or any part of the area of the first-mentioned local government area as constituted for the purposes of the election, or, if the election was in Scotland, of holding any corporate office in Scotland—
(a) if reported personally guilty of a corrupt practice, for ten years,
(b) if reported guilty by his agents of a corrupt practice, for three years,
(c) if reported personally guilty or guilty by his agents of an illegal practice, during the period for which the candidate was elected to serve or for which if elected he might have served,
and if at the date of the report he holds any such corporate office, then the office shall be vacated as from that date. In this subsection " corporate office " in England and Wales means the office of chairman, mayor or councillor of a county, London borough, district or parish or community council or of chairman of a parish or community meeting; and in Scotland the office of councillor of any local authority.
(4) The provisions of this section as to the consequences of the report that a candidate was guilty by his agents of a corrupt or illegal practice have effect subject to the express provisions of this Act relating to particular acts which are declared to be corrupt or illegal practices.
Local Government Act 1972
94 Disability of members of authorities for voting on account of interest in contracts, etc.
(1) Subject to the provisions of section 97 below, if a member of a local authority has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any contract, proposed contract or other matter, and is present at a meeting of the local authority at which the contract or other matter is the subject of consideration, he shall at the meeting and as soon as practicable after its commencement disclose the fact and shall not take part in the consideration or discussion of the contract or other matter or vote on any question with respect to it.
(2) If any person fails to comply with the provisions of subsection (1) above he shall for each offence be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [F1level 4 on the standard scale] unless he proves that he did not know that the contract, proposed contract or other matter in which he had a pecuniary interest was the subject of consideration at that meeting.
(3) A prosecution for an offence under this section shall not be instituted except by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
(4) A local authority may by standing orders provide for the exclusion of a member of the authority from a meeting of the authority while any contract, proposed contract or other matter in which he has a pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, is under consideration.
95 Pecuniary interests for purposes of section 94.
(1) For the purposes of section 94 above a person shall be treated, subject to the following provisions of this section and to section 97 below, as having indirectly a pecuniary interest in a contract, proposed contract or other matter,
(a) he or any nominee of his is a member of a company or other body with which the contract was made or is proposed to be made or which has a direct pecuniary interest in the other matter under consideration; or
(b) he is a partner, or is in the employment, of a person with whom the contract was made or is proposed to be made or who has a direct pecuniary interest in the other matter under consideration.
(2) Subsection (1) above does not apply to membership of or employment under any public body, and a member of a company or other body shall not by reason only of his membership be treated as having an interest in any contract, proposed contract or other matter if he has no beneficial interest in any securities of that company or other body.
(3) In the case of married persons living together the interest of one spouse shall, if known to the other, be deemed for the purpose of section 94 above to be also an interest of the other.
[F1(4) In the case of civil partners living together the interest of one civil partner, shall, if known to the other, be deemed for the purpose of section 94 above to be also an interest of the other.]
- That appears to disqualify a large number of our members from voting,
but will the voting stop? We doubt it. Members should be in no doubt
that they should leave the chamber when an item they have an interest in
is next on the Agenda.
YOU ARE CONSIDERING RELOCATING TO WEALDEN OR A CAREER IN LOCAL
GOVERNMENT YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW MORE OF THE ADMINISTRATION THAN THE
COUNCIL WILL LET ON :
The residents of Wealden District
Council (WDC) are obliged to pay one of the highest rate levies
in the country.
This council's Monitoring Officer refuses to report his
administrative errors and other reported injustices to the members
of the council as required by law. Ignorance is bliss for the councillors and
hell for the electorate.
council has been found guilty of maladministration several times
council has been severely criticised by Planning Inspectors, the
County Court and the High Court for its unreasonable behaviour.
Committee recommend no
council officer serves more than 5 years to prevent cosy
relationships forming. In Wealden DC most senior officers have
served 15 years or more and enjoy working with outside consultants,
who employ ex council officers. Clearly, this is a recipe for disaster.
Committee recommend a new
crime: "misfeasance in public office" should be added to
the statute books.
cases would be so damaging to this council, if they came into the
public domain, this council have obtained gagging orders when
settling claims of compensation.
the 2nd World War, the Pevensey Levels hosted an underground radar tracking
station. The emplacements seen in the photograph above were to protect the
early warning station from land attack. The underground installation was
flooded the last time our local historian visited. These remains are of
historic importance. The above ground buildings on the adjacent hill have
been converted to residential use. This is archaeological evidence of the
fight against fascism that our forefathers carried to eradicate dictators,
that we may enjoy our land peacefully and without interference from local
authority with Nazi like agendas.