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Knowle relocation and Freedom of Information

27 May


for latest, unsurprising yet critical information

Bert is very busy …

20 May

From Bert: May you live in interesting times

18 May

Hello Mum, it’s Bert again,

Well, it’s been my first week as a “subversive” and what a week it has been! I’m sure no-one has cottoned on – they still think that I am “one of them” – or rather “one of theirs” as, of course, someone as low down the pecking order as I am, just a humble driver can’t be one of the important people. You know, sometimes, they just forget that I am even there. Isn’t that useful.

This week, the minds of the “great and good” in the back of the Bentley have been exercised about how they can make it hard for the opposition. Honestly, Mum, before I got this job I actually thought that councillors and officers worked together for the good of the community! How wrong could I have been! It seems that the party in power spends most of the time working out how to keep the others out .

You know that the government isn’t in Parliament at the moment because they have nothing to do? It seems the same here – they seem to have got into a position now where the public can’t speak at meetings unless they have filled in millions of forms and even then if they don’t get them in to the office in time they don’t get acted on, the developers are just hitting the area left, right and centre and mostly can’t be stopped (and if they are it is often because locals raise funds and get themselves fancy barristers and solicitors) so now the councillors have nothing to say or do except work out what pictures they want on their walls.  The ones in the Thelma Hulbert Gallery apparently aren’t good enough and the Royal Albert Museum won’t let them have any so they have gone to the National Gallery to see if they can do some sort of “partnership deal”).  Or they spend a lot of time fighting about what flower arrangements they want in the reception area that no-one visits – well, the developers do pass through it on their way to the Michelin-star restaurant, but no-one else does. Honestly, you should have heard a couple of our top people having a row about whether to put Calla lilies or Old English Roses on the front desk – they almost came to blows. It backfired though: turned out the Calla lilies made everyone sneeze and they dropped pollen on the priceless Persian rugs and mucked up the polished marble floow so it had to be the Old English Roses after all.

At the moment, the big issue is that it seems that the opposition councillors are being reported for all sorts of things and there are special hearings just about every day – I can barely keep up. The problem is that the hearings, things never seem to go quite to plan. Sometimes the people being prosecuted just don’t turn up and everyone is left twiddling their thumbs until they decide what to do next, sometimes it turns out that they haven’t done anything wrong at all and it seems to be the fault of their colleagues who HAVEN’T been reported. Sometimes, the councillors won’t apologise for what they have done or said because, they say, the councillors who are accusing them of things are doing worse things themselves but not getting reported. Sometimes, even when they are found guilty they then don’t get any punishment and it turns out that is because “we can’t punish them because they were speaking on behalf of the people”. I confess myself totally confused: it’s just as well they have nothing else to do.

Now, it seems that they are gunning for a group called “the East Devon Alliance” and saying that its their fault that they are in the mess they are in with the Local Plan. I looked them up and they’ve only been going about a year so I can’t understand how they could be blamed for stuff that has been happening for years and years. It just seems that, when in a hole they think the best strategy is to blame other people for it.

They are REALLY worried about how the European elections and the council elections in other areas are going next week. They never really had to worry much here before – people just kept ticking their box and they didn’t ever imagine they might lose. But now people are talking about voting for Independents and UKIP this time or not voting at all and they are seriously rattled. There aren’t any UKIP councillors (yet) but it looks like so many people are so upset with them that they would vote for just about anybody but them. And we have our own elections next year.

Who was it said “may you live in interesting times”? According to Wikipedia it could be a Chinese curse. It says “While purporting to be a blessing, this is in fact a curse. The expression is always used ironically, with the clear implication that ‘uninteresting times’, of peace and tranquillity, are more life-enhancing than interesting ones”. Hear, Hear – there is certainly no peace or tranquillity here at the moment.

Well, got to go – the weekly Developers Lunch is over (early today, it’s only 8.30 pm) and got to get one of them back to his Lear Jet over at the airport.

Oh,and please tell Daisy to stop opening my letters to you – she always was a nosey devil.

Your loving son


From Bert, Mum, and please destroy this letter as soon as you have read it!

13 May

Dear Mum and Dad,

I am sorry to say I am not my usual cheery self this week. I still have my job as driver here, where for some reason the people working at HQ have renamed it “Airstrip One” and our Leader is now called “Big Brother” – something to do with a book written by a chap called Orwell and set in the past in 1984 and nothing to do with the TV programme.

They have even got a new nickname for our Press Officer “Winston Smith”. Apparently, in the book Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth (so the book must be something to do with Harry Potter perhaps) because Winston Smith’s job was to rewrite past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. I can’t see it myself but other people in the offices seem to be amused by it.

Heck, I just looked up the book in Wikipedia and got it from Amazon and it is starting to scare me! It seems that everyone who isn’t “special” eats junk food and has poor quality stuff and if you want a window repaired it can take ages because it all has to go through committees and takes for ever. And all the people who aren’t special live in places with special telescreens which show propaganda and monitor people and you can’t turn these machines off. Mum – now I am getting really worried as the council flat I shared in Sidmouth had a window that didn’t work and which took ages to get fixed AND if we are not on the TV we are on our phones or tablets so we never seem to have any spare time. Are they watching us Mum?

The book goes on to say that the “Inner Party” live in nice places with lots of food, wine and coffee and lifts that WORK and that they have servants. Oh, Mum – that is SO true. The Leader has a valet and all the senior officers have minions to do the work whilst they are off on their “fact finding” trips. And you should see the lifts – oh how the crystal chandeliers sparkle and the marble floor shines!

The book says that photographs are doctored and records rewritten so that some people are erased from history. Mum – here they are going to stop the public and minority parties from speaking if they are the public and from putting motions to the Leadership if they are from the minority parties! It says that the “Inner Party” has things censored and some stuff gets made up just to keep the masses down. Help!

AND it says that there are Thought Police who employ undercover agents, who pose as normal citizens and report any person with subversive tendencies. Mum: I know people like that who I drive every day – they talk about the “people with subversive tendencies” all the time and plot against them. I had thought that they were talking about those awful people I used to have to meet at the “Hubs” now that no-one can get to our offices but, you know, they aren’t all that bad and they don’t deserve this sort of treatment do they? They are just ordinary people like us. Oh, how the scales have fallen from my eyes now!

So, what to do? Well, I have thought about this and I have decided to stay in my job and use it to help the opposition! Yes, the worm has turned. I am going to let them think I don’t know what is going on and I am going to pass all the information I get to the people who aren’t in the “Inner Circle”. Yes, I know it will be dangerous but I have no choice: if I let this go on I will be partly to blame for what happens, and I just can’t do that Mum. I have to be one of those people with “subversive tendencies”.

I do hope you and Dad understand why I have to do this. It’s for US – if I don’t stop them then this crazy world is going to get even crazier.

Watch this space, Mum and Dad – watch this space.

Your loving and enlightened son,




And still our council wants to spend £4 million plus on a new HQ

11 May

Public service cuts deepen as councils near financial tipping point

Now, about disgraced ex-councillor Brown ….

9 May

Not, of course, a fixed penalty notice, but pehaps some action?

Government publishes new transparency code for local authorities in England

8 May

Click to access Local_Government_Transparency_Code_2014_Final.pdf

…..Where local authorities are disclosing information which potentially engages the Data Protection Act 1998, they must ensure that the publication of that information is compliant with the provisions of that Act. The Data Protection Act 1998 does not restrict or inhibit information being published about councillors or senior local authority officers, because of the public interest in the scrutiny of such senior individuals and decision makers.

and, under dealing with land and buildings the following information should be published:

required maintenance – the cost to bring the property from its present state up to the state reasonably required by the authority to deliver the service and/or to meet statutory or contract obligations and maintain it at the standard.


Council Leader and CEO want to cosy up on their own in Museum!

7 May

Now THIS is a new idea!

We can just see Councillor Diviani and CEO Mark Williams in Thelma Hulbert with everyone else at Skypark!

The Exeter Anvil and the West Dorset Axe

7 May

No, not two pubs: East Devon Alliance description of how East Devon is being expected to accommodate overspill from east and west of the county.

Add to that a CEO who has joint allegiance to East Devon and South Somerset and you have a perfect quart attempting to get itself squeezed into a pint pot!

Another “get out of jail free” card for developers

5 May

Recent Changes. to the Community Infrastructure Levy regime:

… developers can now claim relief from liability where full payment of CIL would render permitted ayment of CIL would render schemes economically unviable.