A Strong Leader

June 15, 2011

Nottingham City Council is currently run by a councillor from the ruling party called the Leader (currently Jon Collins), who makes decisions with a Cabinet of councillors, also from the ruling group (currently the Labour Party). Each of these councillors has responsibility for particular services, known as their ‘portfolio’. Nottingham has a Mayor, but this is a ceremonial role without any decision-making powers.

However, under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 the council must change its constitution by December 2010 to one of two options for leadership: either a Leader with stronger powers (a Strong Leader) or a directly elected Mayor.

Many Local Authorities consulted with their local citizens about which model they preferred.

I don’t know if Nottingham City Council has changed their constitution by the required date. And I certainly haven’t seen any sign of consultation. However, the council seems to be moving towards the strong leadership model.

This would mean that instead of Cabinet members being appointed by a meeting of the council, as they are now, between two and nine councillors would be chosen by the Leader, to help him or her take decisions. The other main change would be that the Leader would be appointed for a four year period (or the remainder of their term as a councillor), rather than a year.

I have heard many disparaging comments from City Council officers basically saying that the last thing Nottingham needs is for Councillor Jon Collins to be a stronger leader with more power. I certainly share their views.


Don’t Fight the Dispersal Order in Forest Fields

May 19, 2011

On the Indymedia website there is information about a local fight against a Dispersal Order in Forest Fields.

“A dispersal order will be in place in Forest Fields from Saturday 16th April until 5th Oct 2011. There has been concern from some local residents about what the implications of this will be…information about the dispersal orders on lamposts has been graffitied and a poster campaign against the order has begun.”

“This will allow Police and CPO’s the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people should they have reason to believe that their behaviour has resulted or is likely to result in any member of the public being intimidated, harassed alarmed or distressed.”

I have heard a number of people fighting this order put their view point across and I think they are seriously misguided. I can understand fully the complaint one person raised that dispersal orders will affect property prices. But many of the complaints are from idealists who think that the police shouldn’t be dispersing groups of young people who are just hanging about.

As one comment on the Indymedia website says “what to do about gangs of kids that are threatening people, breaking stuff, and making a total pain of themselves.”

I have spoken to people who are victims of the behaviour that this dispersal order aims to tackle. The people I have spoken to are more vulnerable such as elderly and disabled people. It is easy for young fit people to dismiss the affect intimidation has on the lives of many vulnerable people.

http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/1129

http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/1760

http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/1120


Tesco planning permission should not be rejected

May 18, 2011

The Nottingham Post reports today that “PLANS to build a Tesco at Nottingham‘s Eastside site are expected to be rejected at a council planning meeting next week….

The council received a petition with 233 signatures of objection as well as a petition supporting the plans signed by 118 people and a further 247 letters of support from residents.

Officers at the city council have said the plans do not fit in with the masterplan of the area, which states there should be office blocks with retail units across the site off London Road – not just one big supermarket.”

I understand people’s concerns about Tesco driving out locally distinctive shops, but in this case I think they are wrong. The site Tesco have applied to build on is a site called “the island” much of which has been empty for many years.

Nottingham City Challenge, a Government regeneration programme, cleared the site of toxic chemicals in the mid 1990’s with the aim of developing a mixed retail and office site with public amenities including a marina. I remember seeing artists impressions in the mid 1990’s of a highly attractive amenity for local people.

In practice there has only been piecemeal development of this island site with a large amount of land still undeveloped. As I understand, the vacant land is still held in lease by Nottingham City Council and Eastside. If they were unable to achieve the desired property development and regeneration during one of the country’s economic booms, then I doubt that this will be achieved during the current recession.

In this case I think the planning application for Tesco should be approved.

Follow the links below to read more.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/news/Councillors-set-reject-Tesco-plans/article-3567746-detail/article.html

http://open.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/comm/download3.asp?dltype=inline&filename=20368/eastside.doc


Closure of Hayward House

May 10, 2011

I have been reading about the proposed closure of Hayward House which provides daycare and inpatient services for people with cancer. The aim seems to be to keep inpatient care in the same building, but make it open to patients with any terminal illness.

Patients with terminal illnesses who use the daycare provision will be transferred to other services such as Nottinghamshire Hospice.

However campaigners argue that they won’t receive the same level of service as other providers do not have palliative care Dr’s and Consultants. And that when they are admitted as an in patient, the surroundings are already familiar to patients.

As an outsider it is really difficult to judge these things. It does sound as if daycare patients will receive a worse service. I personally agree that good quality palliative care should be open to all terminally ill patients and not just those with cancer. However, reducing the level of daycare services does not seem the best way to do this.

What is striking though is how the NHS Nottingham Board Meeting made the decision to do this. According to Chris Cann who wrote to the post after attending the meeting –

Dawn Smith, director of delivery and performance, explained to the board that it was not a closure, but a “transfer” of services. She explained that patients were not going to lose their service; it was just going to be transferred “into the community” and “specialist services will continue to be available to all patients”.

She said that this was not about decreasing investment, but changes were driven by the need to extend the range of specialist services to a wider group of patients.”

I have sat on various Boards where the officers have made recommendations and given advice where the issues are fudged and therefore poor decisions are made. It sounds as if this might have been the case here.

Follow the links below to read more about this proposed closure and Chris Cann’s letter.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/letters/consultation-daycare-cuts/article-3514882-detail/article.html

http://www.savehaywarddaycare.org.uk/


Stephen Wakeling the Spiritualist

April 21, 2011

There have been lots of comments on my last post about the Independent Business Association. The Chief Executive of the IBA is Stephen Wakeling. You may not know, although he is very open about it, that he is a spiritual medium.

He provides readings and advice both to larger groups and private consultations. On his website Stephen explains his role as “spiritual mediums receive information in the form of a message, which is given to a recipient.  Put simply; I am a ‘bridge’ allowing the opportunity for communication with loved ones.

This post isn’t a comment on spiritiual mediums, just a post about another side of an individual who has been rumoured to be involved in a range of dodgy deals.

To read more, follow the link below.

 http://www.stephenwakeling.com/


Dodgy use of Future Jobs Fund monies?

April 5, 2011

Just a bit more information about how parts of the Future Job Fund were delivered in Nottingham. This was a Labour Government initiative to try and get unemployed people into work. Various organisations were given funding to deliver this.

To try and make sure people weren’t exploited, one of the criteria for funding was “the work done (by unemployed people) will benefit local communities.” For this reason, many charities were successful in getting funding.

One of the organisations that was successful in attracting funding is the Independent Business Association (IBA). This is a local not for profit organisation that supports and lobbies on behalf of local businesses.

Last night I was talking to a  local small employer who told me that he was unhappy that the Future Jobs Fund had come to an end. I was surprised, but asked him why. He explained that he had had Steve Wakeling Chief Executive of the IBA approach him asking if he wanted to take on a member of staff with the Government paying the person’s wages. Of course he was very interested.

So he took on a part time admin worker for his company and received money from IBA to pay her wages. Okay she had been unemployed, but I really don’t see how being an admin worker for a company working in the service industry, has any benefit for  the local community.

You may not know, but Steve Wakeling the Chief Executive of the IBA, is very friendly with Counsellor Hassan Ahmed. Coincidence?

Below are links to a page that tells you more about the Future Jobs Fund and the IBA.

http://campaigns.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund/pdf/fjf-guide.pdf

http://www.iba-em.co.uk/fjf.php

 


Rumours

March 29, 2011

 

Many of you will have read that Councillor Hassan Ahmed is standing down at the next election in May. They were hints in the Nottingham Evening Post that this was connected to the Future Jobs Fund initiative. The Future Jobs Fund was a Labour Government programme to tackle unemployment.

The rumours – and I stress they are rumours – are that Councillor Hassan Ahmed secured a large Future Jobs Fund contract for PATRA. PATRA are a local charity that helps people to get a job. In return PATRA agreed to send everyone on the Future Jobs Fund contract to a training college  that Hassan is very involved in and has signed letters as the Chief Executive. The college is Central Education and Training.

However, as Councillor Hassan has had a number of serious allegations made against him in the past; I suspect that his agreement not to stand as a councillor in the May elections, means that the allegations being made are much more serious than this.


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