Friday, 30 November 2007


Poor old Morrissey, the iconic lead singer/song writer from The Smiths and purveyor of some pretty fine solo material. Never one to avoid controversy or keep his own thoughts to himself (I can appreciate that) he has once again embroiled himself in the “racism” row. The latest edition of the NME carries an article quoting some less than pleasant views of the Manchurian’s feelings re immigration and the nature of “England”.

Whilst Morrissey threatens to sue, this is to be honest a tirade to far. Sadly, his view point is increasingly echoed on the web, particularly within the better established sites, some of which regrettably post from this Borough.

With a long and unfavourable record on issues relating to the National Front and racism, this has become embarrassing. The Smiths were excellent and his solo material contains many classics. However, that’s were it now ends: his name is removed from the Xmas card list and shall remain so forever!


The Northern Herald has obviously proved to be a success. A quick review of our tracking stats shows we have had visits from the following various locations:


Despite a local Borough predominance, for some reason ISP addresses and related email addresses show the site is particularly popular north of the border.

This only shows that the north east is still a hot bed of political intrigue. The labour Party’s current problems being a good example!


Over the years, I have always attempted to allow free comment on all the sites I have contributed to. On this particular forum I have initiated the “comment moderation” option, allowing me to isolate spurious emails, spam that has passed the filter “test”, and the use of language that would make the Gallagher Brothers (Oasis) blush.

Personal criticism does not worry me: if you want to be involved in local politics, particularly South Tyneside, you need to have skin thicker than a rhino. What is strange however is peoples wish to comment under made up names or false identities. I publish openly under my own name, and so do other people on other blogs. In view of the issues and content of what myself and others cover, it is the least we can do.

I therefore fail to understand then, why other people feel the need to comment under obscure names and descriptions. If you have a view or disagree with me, please feel free to express it; but at least have the dignity and guts to use your real name. Why would you want to hide it?

I notice from posts on the site, that the Councillors run the moderation option and have had problems with abusive posts. It is a great shame that they also have to act on this cowardly approach to posting on their site. Whilst I don’t always agree with what they write, they perform a service to the community they represent and the people who voted for them (for that matter, also for the people who didn’t vote for them). If other Councillors within the Borough also followed a similar approach to the dissemination of information, they would be less liable to the accusation that they do nothing for their wards!

Dubious comments and posts always have an upside; it shows that at least people have taken the time to visit your site and read what you have spouted on about. It’s just a pity they don’t have the power of their convictions and didn’t behave like immature little boys or girls!


Poor old Councillor David Potts, he is becoming a bloggers dream, such is his ability to provide material to post on. Yesterdays Gazette revealed how the leader of the Conservatives in the Council chamber (there are only three: can you actually be a leader of three people?) has backed the fight to oppose the closure of Boldon C of E and St Bede’s RC schools, ear marked under the Boroughs “Transforming Our Primary Schools (TOPS) initiative (where do they get these names from?).

Whilst his support is admirable, his sudden conversion to educational issues will come as a surprise to residents in East Boldon, particularly those who have children at East Boldon Junior School. Two years ago the school lost a teacher due to funding issues and existing classes had to undergo a radical shake up. As a school governor, can you guess how many meetings Councillor Potts attended on this issue? Put it this way, the number begins with “nil”.

No doubt his new found zeal for these matters will have been noticed by his ward members, particularly as none of the schools highlighted operate within the area his represents.

If anybody else would like to raise this issue with him, they can contact Mr Potts at the following address: Councillor David Potts, C/O Scotland.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

TO FEW HOURS...............

Unless due to some obscure new European law stipulates that Thursday, 29th November now has 36 hours to its day, there will be few posts before at least 10 p.m. I am actually typing this whilst ironing, fastening shoes laces (my own. So yes, I can do it) washing dishes, making packed lunches, and all done whilst in the shower! Whilst the latter is not a pleasant thought, have some sympathy for the working man and his desire to side step the rat race!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


No, he hasn’t fallen out with his girlfriend; he was actually having a dig at Alistair Darling, Chancellor and MP. As it is well known, Councillor Potts has hopes of standing against the “Badger” in the next election. However, some of his constituents may be perturbed to find him commenting on national issues when he can’t even solve the problems of his own ward. Many moons ago Councillor Pott’s, a local blog and The Gazette announced to a great fanfare that Potts and his fellow wags had solved the problem of Metro congestion in East Boldon (the illusive Councillors ward). Let me remind you of the article and the Councillor’s quoted words:

“Coun Potts now says he and two other Conservative councillors for Cleadon and East Boldon have the answer, and have pressed council bosses to introduce a number of safeguards.Coun Potts said: "Following intensive negotiations with council officers, we are delighted to have been able to secure these important schemes, which we believe will seriously improve road safety and reduce congestion in the area.

Once legal and residential consultations have been completed, there will be 'restricted waiting' parking outside shops on Front Street and double yellow lines on both approaches to the Metro station.Double yellow lines will also be placed around each junction from Cleadon Lane to Black's Corner, and a pedestrian refuge will be installed where six parking bays now stand.

It is likely that the new measures will be fully in place by the end of the year.

As we approach the end of the year, none of the measures outlined by Councillor Potts proclamation have been honoured. The area has no yellow lines, it has no pedestrian refuge and no car park exists. Indeed, according to local residents, no contact has been made with Nexus on this issue since August 2007 by anybody.

Poor old David does have 31 days to see his self proclaimed vision put in place. In reality, he is going to have to get his skates on to achieve it by the end of the year: that’s a lot of planning permsission to push through by Christmas. I have no doubt that “The Badger” will be extremely happy to read about Councillor Potts promises. At least they have something in common; neither can deliever on what they claim they can!


Poor old Gordon, what has he let himself in for? For over 10 years as the countries Chancellor he earned himself the prefix “Iron”, succeeding Tony Blair with a promise to not only return politics back to the people, but to make it once again the most honest of professions. As of today, he is a rusty old bucket!

How the mighty have fallen. Northern Wreck (which began under his watch), missing Inland Revenue CD’s, an under financed defence commitment, and now, his Party and it’s deputy leader the receivers of dodgy money from a dodgy business man. In a scenario which makes Neil Hamilton look like the Virgin Mary, New Labour has been shown to be rotten to the core.

Thrashed at Question Time by the political light weight David Cameron, Brown is now powerless and without authority. He is also despised by the Country for betraying its trust. In hindsight, he should have called an election in October, at least then he had a fair chance. With his stock falling faster than Northern Wreck shares, he should resign quickly and at least allow his successor some time to recover the Party’s support.

Now which leader did we recently say that about?


With a Gazette headline like “Council Chief Faces Fight For His Ward” you know you’re in for an interesting article. The news centres on former Labour Party chairman Geraldine White, who has decided to stand as an independent candidate in the Fellgate and Hedworth Ward against Council leader Paul Waggot. Two years ago, the ward elected Steve Harrison who stood on the Independent roster, followed the next year by George Waddle, also of a similar political persuasion. If Geraldine wins the election, the Independents will have not only gained control of the Ward, but with the additional kudos of a substantial political scalp. So what are the chances? To be honest, very good. Poor old Paul is not having a good time at the moment: missing ballot boxes, Gypsies Green etc etc etc. There is also the additional residual problem of the Fellgate green belt development, the discontent over this planning issue leading to the initial election of campaigner Harrison. Success in this Ward will be a massive blow for the Labour Party elite which have controlled this Borough for to long.

Taking the opportunity to look ahead to next years elections, what are the Independent’s chances of further gains? The extremely good chances of taking Fellgate and Hedworth could be added to by Boldon Colliery, Whitburn and Marsden and almost certainly Beacon and Bents, where the ballot scrutiny will be on high alert. The one thing you can’t accuse the Independent’s off is not being organised and you can guarantee that they will hit these wards hard on local issues.

To be honest, the elections can’t come quick enough for me!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


All today’s papers have covered the issue of Nick Griffin (leader, BNP) and David Irving (controversial historian) appearances at last nights Oxford Union Debating Society meeting. Invited to contribute on the issue of free speech, their presence was met with protests, skirmishes and demands that they be removed from the speaking roster. Any surprise? Not really, as both are perhaps the most odious characters that currently exist on the extreme right of politics. Their negative reception is therefore expected and justified.

However, the irony is that they were invited to speak on the subject of free speech, yet protestors set out to deny them the privilege. Under Griffin’s leadership of this country, protestors would be living under a regime whereby the ability to demonstrate would be punishable with probable imprisonment, if not death. By giving him the right (within boundaries) to speak openly and engage in a debate, we win the argument hands down every time. As Libby Purves states in the Times “Argument, not howling and half bricks, is the way to beat the racists”.

Yet whilst the protestors on the night were loud and in some cases violent, I can’t condemn them. As a young person I have been involved in anti racist protests, and witnessed levels of violence I never want to see again. As an older person I can see that the debate can achieve more than a fight. This is not to dismiss their conviction, beliefs and dedication on the eradication of racism; their views and attitudes are essential to a better society. At this point in their political lives, they just go about it in a different way. The same can be said of the Debating Societies decision to invite Griffin and Irving; youth courts controversy as a right of passage, nothing more, nothing less.

To throw a little bit of mirth on what is a pretty dark affair, the Times carries a classic by line comment on last nights protest. Describing how only 15 policemen were present, “nervous students waited in the bar for the debate to begin.” Yeah, of course it was nerves that kept them in the bar; it was nothing to do with drink!


Whilst I covered the issue of the recent Labour Party donations scandal on Sunday and Monday, today’s Times offers up a few extra little bits of information on David Abrahams, the man behind the donation. Poor old Mr Abrahams, not only does he have problems with the press, he also has problems with his own identity. Whilst deciding in 1991 to embark on a career in (Labour) politics, David decided to take on William Hague in his Richmond constituency. However, during this period he was going by the name of David Martin, and together with wife and son, turned up at a selection meeting and was dually adopted. One problem did emerge several days later: poor old Mrs Martin was indeed Anthea Bailey, who was hired together with her son to pose as Abrahams/Martins “instant” family. Finding that Martin was indeed not Martin and was not even married, the local party naturally sent him packing. Probably with his birth certificate in tatters, because not only David economical with the truth concerning his name/marriage, he also lied about his age, conveniently knocking a number of years of for good behaviour. For the record, he is 63, and 53 which has been reported.

So there you have it: a fraud, a liar and surrounded by financial irregularities. This man would have been wasted as an ordinary MP, he sounds like Cabinet material to me!


With cut backs not only planned in TV production, the BBC also intends to take its scythe to radio output. Hopefully Radio Four’s comedy output will be spared. With a long and well proven record of giving rise to some well known TV spin offs (Alan partridge, Little Britain and The League of Gentleman being good examples) the station has served it’s more visual cousin very well over the years. One of my favourite productions however, is “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”, which has a better pedigree than a Crufts champion.

Chaired by Humphrey Lyttelton, the panel game is a classic of political and cultural satire. Looking at its web site last night, I came across some classic Lyttelton closing programme comments, something he is famous for.


Well, they do say that time flies when you're having fun, and to prove it I notice my sundial has stopped...
Windsor28 May 1994

Well, with Mickey Mouse's big hand pointing upwards and Goofy's tail pointing downwards, I realise my Rolex is a fake...
02 Jul 1994

Well, a quick glance at the time tells me that it's fast coming up to eighty-one hundred hours, which means, of course, that I've put my digital watch on upside-down again...
Bath05 Nov 1994

Ladies and gentlemen, one glance at my diver's watch tells me that he's probably drowned...
Bath12 Nov 1994

Well, as the burnished chariot of fate is wheeled-clamped by the traffic warden of eternity...
West End26 Nov 1994

...and so, as we rapidly approach the bus stop of the Apocalypse, I notice that the Four Horsemen have all come along at the same time...
Chester03 Dec 1994

...and so, as I notice the eternal flame of hope has just been put out by the fire officer of destiny with the sand bucket of fate...
Brighton27 May 1995

...and so, as the Rock of Ages is cleft in twain by the karate chop of fate, I notice it has 'Souvenir of Watford' written all the way through it...
Watford10 Jun 1995

...and so, as the frisky tom-cat of fate confronts the scalpel of destiny, and the precious natural woodland of time meets the motorway extension of eternity...
ISIHAC 3, Side 2

...and so, as time's winged chariot hurries us off the airwaves, my mind turns to metaphysical thoughts, and the words of the great John Dunn - "That's all for now. Join me at the same time tomorrow here on Radio 2"...
Hackney11 Nov 1995

...and so, as the labrador puppy of time scampers off with the toilet roll of destiny, it's time to bid the whining little child of show-business adieu once more...
Hackney18 Nov 1995

...and so, as the still-warm seat of eternity is lifted by the charlady of time, before she brandishes aloft the Toilet Duck of destiny...
Stratford-Upon- Avon09 Dec 1995

...and so, as the delicate mayfly of time collides with the speeding windscreen of fate, and the angry wasp of destiny flies up the trouser leg of despair...
ISIHAC 4, Side 1

...and so, as the twin buttocks of time struggle onto the photocopier of eternity, and the tipsy secretary of fate fends off the managing director of destiny...
1996 Xmas Special25 Dec 1996

...and so, as Grandfather Time takes an absent-minded swig from Granny Time's denture mug...
Brighton30 Jun 1997


Poor old Gordon Brown. With a Government press conference taking place today, I suspect he may have actually wanted to stay in bed for the duration. The small case of 25 million missing personal details may have been enough to warrant a lie in, but with Northern Wreck and Party donations coming a close second and third, he may want to fake a migraine.

It’s been a long time since we have seen such levels of political duplicity and incompetence. The last leader to behave with such arrogance was…..Tony Blair, which in fact was not that long ago!

I shall be returning to his comments no doubt later today. Then again I may just rehash some of his predecessor’s excuses and get it over with now.

Monday, 26 November 2007


Whilst tonight’s Gazette is a little tame compared to the last week or so, two things did grab my attention. Firstly an article, the second an advert.

The article first, covering my old stomping ground of East Boldon. Every year the shop promenade received a Christmas tree from the Council which was correspondingly draped in lights. No other Christmas lights or decorations for the area were provided. Not so this year. In true Scrooge style, the Council want to hang a set of lights from an existing tree situated on the other side of the road. The reasons stated were objections from traders due to disorder and also the issue of access to the shops.

As an ex resident of the block, I have some experience of the issues. The problem of disorder is valid: the tree became a magnet for young people to hang around. On one occasion they even attempted to set it on fire. However, those living in the area remained vigilant and the disorder remained “controlled”. As for access, the complainant on this front has recently sold his business with a new proprietor taking over. I always personally liked the tree, giving the area a festive feel and highlighting the shops.

I suspect the removal of the tree may have other motives. I do remember for the last couple of years the Council have attempted to obtain funding for the tree from local businesses (who refused to pay) something they do not do in other wards. The disorder problem is also spurious. Are the Council adopting a policy whereby if an area suffers problems of anti social behaviour it can’t have Christmas decorations? If so I suspect many areas of this Borough may have to pass Christmas by and move straight into January.

No, I believe the case may have more to do with the nature of the Councillors political affiliations who represent the area. Whilst I hold no truck with them, they were elected democratically. Why should the area be deprived a Christmas tree when other wards who correspond with the Councils political make up get the equivalent of Blackpool?

Moving on, I’m not a great reader of adverts in papers, but I was half way through the full page spread for funeral directors R S Johnson and Sons before I realized it was actually a commercial feature. Why, because the accompanying picture included the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress for South Tyneside, Alex and Brenda Donaldson. They were also named in the article. Promoting their newly refurbished premises, the text serves to promote every stage of the service provided by the company.

The issue here is not RS Johnson and its business, neither is it their desire to promote their services. The issue centres on the involvement of the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress. They should not be seen to be involved with a private commercial business advertising its services as it could be construed as an endorsement of their product. What sets RS Johnson apart from others? What about other funeral providers in the area, many of whom provide excellent and competitive packages? Indeed, what of all businesses in the area? Why should they not have the benefit of the Deputy Mayor’s apparent commercial endorsement?

If I were a funeral director, I would be demanding equal advertising photo opportunities from our Council dignitaries, and if I were a business considering placing a full page advert in the Gazette, I would also be seeking similar support.

You never know, perhaps a local firm would be interested in supplying election security at next years local vote. Surely that would be something the Deputy Mayor would be happy to endorse.



What is it with Labour and cash donations to party funds? Traditionally the murky reserve of the Conservatives, Brown and Co appear to have the monopoly when it comes to dodgy funding. Less than a year after the “cash for honours” scandal, they are once again embroiled in a series of suspicious payments.

As highlighted yesterday, the issue centres on payments made by Ray Ruddick and Janet Kidd, both employees of one property magnet David Abrahams. Ruddick and Kidd were gifted the money by the latter, who then gifted it to the Labour Party, one particular payment being made six months after the Prime Minister took over, so the controversy falls well within his tenure.

To issues prevail here. Firstly, whether the gifted payments are within the law. The Electoral Commission has demanded an explanation, with donations via third parties being illegal unless the person behind the donation is also declared. The second issue concerns the suitability of Mr Abrahams himself. Poor old David is quite partial to a bit of controversy. He attempted to stand as parliamentary candidate for Labour in Richmond (Hague’s seat) presenting himself as a married man. He was in fact single, which was a bit of an oversight. This omission, together with concerns over his business interests, led to his deselection.

So there you have it, less than legal payments from an equally suspicious source. With a new Brown-ite era of open government dawning, what will his reaction be to issue?

Sunday, 25 November 2007


Most papers today have extensive coverage of the missing Inland Revenue CD’s. Together with the scathing attacks from ex military dignitaries on the government’s commitment to the armed forces, without a doubt Brown and Co have taken a very real dint in approval ratings, something which I think will linger for many months. The tone of articles in the Sunday Telegraph all create the picture of a government riddled with incompetence, indecision and ineptitude. Browns only defence is the Miliband tactic of “if they can’t see me, the problem doesn’t exist”. Let’s see how far that gets him shall we!

Returning to the papers, it is the Sunday Sun which solves the problem of the missing post. The “Sunday Thought” letter comes from the Reverend Michael Webb, St Michael’s, Alnwick. The Rev Webb writes

“The loss of 25 million people’s data is a serious blow to our trust in Government. Holding our personal details safely is a sacred duty, not just to avoid fraud, but because we believe God knows and loves every individual”.

So that’s fraudsters who potentially have our details, and also God because he knows us.

I wonder if he also knows where the disks are?

(As a little aside, I was listening to a local phone in programme on the radio the other day, the subject matter being how you could get the details of 25 million people onto 2 discs. After 30 minutes of discussion on blueray discs, double density layers etc, a local retired gentleman from Ashington rang in with the answer. He “knew” something about computers, and had solved this problem: the Inland Revenue used a very small font when saving the info!)

The Sunday Telegraph also covers the issue of God and politics, with Tony Blair admitting he referred to his faith when making big decisions. There go Labour again; blaming somebody else for their mistakes.

The Sunday Sun also reveals strange goings on with Labour Party donations. Ray Ruddick, a northern builder who never votes, doesn’t like politicians and in particular doesn’t like The Labour Party, is reported as making a £196,000 donation to the party’s funds (he is the third highest donor). Mr Ruddcick, who lives in a £12,000 council house in Blakelaw, is a bit perplexed by his fame. However, he does work with wealthy property developer David Abrahams, a prominent member of the Labour Party in the north and a not unsubstantial donor in his own right. Mr Abrahams is remaining extremely quite as to whether he made to donation in his friends name. The same also applies to Janet Kidd, also a hefty donator and also rumoured to work as a secretary to Mr Abrahams.

With such large amounts being involved, this matter may draw the attention of various audit bodies, for instance the Inland Revenue, who may well want to know where Mr Ruddick suddenly acquired £196,000 to give away to the Labour Party.




Don’t know what has happened to the Private Eye this week, but most of the stuff they have covered also appeared in this paper in some form or other. Never mind, here’s some of the best bits.

65% - rise in staffing numbers of security services since terror attacks

550% - rise in Home Office spending consultants since 2001

20 mph – speed limit London mayor Ken Livingstone wishes to enforce across the capital to reduce accidents

11.8 mph – average speed of traffic in London

3 – major livestock diseases which have struck Britain this year

£300m – Government plans to slash from DEFRA budget

£1bn – extra cash awarded to anti terror measures by Gordon Brown last week

£5.6bn – current estimated cost of introducing ID cards

£9.3 bn – current estimated cost of Olympics


A permanent column featuring stupid answers given by the public on TV and radio quiz shows. The Weakest Link provided this exchange:

ANN ROBINSON: What elite fighting force did Sir David Stirling found in 1941?
CONTESTANT: The Liberal Democrats


Poor old Boris, the day he confirmed he would be standing for London Mayor the script writers at the Eye must have wept with joy. Here’s some of his Cockney Rhyming slang:

DOG AN BONER: Matthew D’Acona

JEKYLL AND HYDE: Bit on the side


DOG AND DUCK: Morning coffee




In an attempt to counter criticism over the Gypsies Green development plans, South Tyneside Council today announced that it was to build a new leisure facility on the coast. Costing £1 million in consultancy fees alone, the project will include a swimming pool and play area.

Councillor Jim C Swell, Chair of the Culture and Well Being Committee, when interviewed by The Northern Herald said:

“This Council has an excellent track record when it comes to consultancy fees. Rather than ask the public what they would want, we have decided to pay somebody else to tell them what they want. A brief has been handed over to the firm involved, stating that the Council needs a facility which includes a vast area of water so that people can swim and dip their feet in at the edge. We also need somewhere for children to play, so a large sand pit would also be desirable.”

When it was pointed out that this was in fact the existing sea and sand, the Councillor mumbled something about “oh no, we’ve been rumbled” and was last seen running towards the Town Hall.


Due to cutbacks and job losses, BBC 1 has been forced to change its previously published schedule’s. Here is today’s TV output:

9.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m.
Councillor Pottsy Pans travels around the world on first class transport, all paid for by the tax payer. With a special gust appearance by Michael Palin.

10.00 a.m. – 11.00 a.m.
Those Geordie scamps Paul Waggot and Ian Malcolm enjoy a couple of pints at their local while deciding on council policy.

11.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m.
This weeks reality tasks involve staying awake, turning up at meetings and meeting ward members. Considered the hardest tasks yet, no survivors are anticipated

12.00 p.m. – 1.00 p.m.
With guest host David MacLean from the Gazette, the panel includes BRENDA, Lady Linda Waggot of Waggsville and a horse.

2.00 p.m. – 3.00 p.m.
Tall tales from the Borough council. This week we have “The Case of the Missing Ballot Boxes” read to you by Ahmed Khan.

3.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Freedom fighters led by Jedi knights “The Independents” take on the evil “Borough” empire, headed by Darth Waggot, in an epic battle to take control of the “Council”. This instalment is set on the planet “Beacon”, with its satellite moon, “Bents”, where 18 ballot boxes containing votes have been taken hostage by the evil empire. May the farce be with you.

5.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.
A soap opera concerning every day folk, happily living in their well maintained council homes or homes they had bought under the right to buy rules. However, along come South Tyneside Homes, sell of the stock, knock the houses down and force people to live elsewhere. New homes are then built for every day folk to live in. This programme will be repeated every 50 years.

7.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.
Boxing from Temple Park, with the Feather Light World Championship (Green) Belt being up for grabs. In the red corner we have Ian “The Itch” Malcolm, weighing in at 600 £’s per meeting. In the silver corner we have Alan Branley. Today’s referee will be the Mayor. Fought out over 10 rounds, Branley may have to miss rounds 4, 6 and 9.

8.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m.
Despite problems of missing ballot papers and the issue of Gypsies Green, the Council carry on as usual, almost as if nothing has happened. Starring Paul Waggot as Sid James, Ian Malcolm as Hatty Jacques, and Pottsy Pans as himself.

9.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
George Elsom presents the weather, with an explanation on how hot air works.


Political leaders have been quick to condemn the loss. David Cameron said “How could they be so inept. This leadership should go now.” A spokesperson for the Lib Dems said “To loose things like this catastrophic. It is a dreadful day for the nation”. For Labour, Alistair Darling promised a full enquiry and that no stone would be left unturned when it also came to looking at suspicious emails.

He also added that once he had finished the enquiry into the missing ballot boxes and the BRENDA post, he may address the issue of the 25 million details on the missing Inland Revenue CD’s.


Police Chief Inspector McBribe has been asked to investigate a serious outbreak of “itching” at a recent full Council meeting. Several Councillors were seen publicly squirming after members of the public and Independent Councillors fielded a series of embarrassing questions at this weeks meeting. McBribe in a statement to The Northern Herald said

“We have had reports that somebody has been placing itching powder in the pants of many local Councillors while their backs are turned. These has caused them to squirm and looking distressed when difficult questions are asked of them. “

Health officials were also aware that there had been a consecutive outbreak of the “staring at feet syndrome”, whereby when faced with difficult questions, Councillors heads fall and they stare at their shoe laces, or in this case of Paul Waggot, his slip on’s (laces are difficult you know). Tablets have been prescribed, with long periods of rest between meetings.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Fridays and Saturdays are beginning to follow a pattern; to much work and very little blogging. In essence, posting provides no money, whilst work pays the rent. If it was any different, you would have 10 comments a session! Never mind, you always know you get double the next day!

Mind you, looking at other local blogs, it would appear that nobody else has anything worthy to say. At this rate, I think I will catch up on some sleep tomorrow, take in the news, have my breakfast, then decide on the prose. After that, who knows, but it can’t be any worse than “Bleak Saturday!”

Friday, 23 November 2007


As an update on yesterdays post, according to today’s Gazette the final part of the full Council meeting resembled a scene from “Flog It”, as the mayor’s gavel took a hammering not dissimilar to an England back four!

Croatia? No, South Tyneside Homes, with the forward row once again being the Branleys.

With a deficit last year of £500,000, and a similar short fall predicted for this year, STH may be forced to subsidise its income with sales of the Big Issue, such is the magazines success for the homeless far more influential than the ALMO’s current state of affairs.

The issue here for the Branley’s was not just the ineptitude of the bodies’ executive, but the lack of political balance on its board. Not so for Councillor John Wood, one of 4 Labour members.

“I don’t go there as Councillor John Wood”. Who then does he go as? Surely not Bob the Builder? Sadly not, “I go there for the residents of South Tyneside. We have put in a mammoth amount of work to get the two stars”. Supporting his fellow Labour colleagues, council leader Paul Waggot brought up the rear with the comments that the board did not have to be politically balanced, “It’s the best people who need to be on the board”. Well unfortunately for John, Paul (sadly no Ringo or George) STH failed to gain two stars, and so lost out on millions of pounds worth of funding. So much for the best and so much for the “mammoth” effort! Perhaps a stronger political balance would have been able to foresee these problems and initiated a change of direction before the Auditor dealt the group such a crushing blow.

As a foot note, the Gazette will be covering other issues in Saturday’s edition.

The paper seems to have embarked on a new path with regards to Council issues, with some excellent coverage emerging from the pens of its local reporters. In addition to this, the public gallery has never been so packed. If you think this month’s get together was entertaining, wait for the next one: it will surpass all expectations.

Trust me; I have already seen some of the public questions which will be tabled. If I were a councillor, I would be worried.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Unlike last months full Council meeting, today’s gathering of South Tyneside’s political tribes was a very entertaining affair, with the 7 minute debacle of the previous shindig being added to by a mighty two hours. No doubt several Councillors’ beers went flat as they were automatically poured by expectant barmen in local watering holes: they were after all only following the age long order of “have them lined up by 3.15 p.m. my good man!”

Jokes to one side, today’s public gallery was packed, with the first questions being directed to the Council concerning the Gypsies Green development. I actually opened with a request for details on funding applications, the information emerging that over the last five years no external funding has been applied for to improve the facilities. The implication? Gypsies Green was doomed years ago.

With a strong contingent, the Save Our Seafront Association also fielded some pertinent enquiries. It emerged that no capital expenditure had been accumulated by the Stadium for approximately ten years. The implication? Gypsies Green was doomed years ago.

I note that no "pro's" turned up to field questions to the Council. No doubt they were elsewhere at the time. perhaps walking along our lovely sea front by perchance?

The scandal over the missing ballot boxes also dominated. With the Branley duo asking some probing questions, the Council hierarchy had to mount a classic rear guard action. By putting the Election Officer, the legal evangelist Brian T. Scott in the Mastermind Chair, the elected officials managed to distance themselves from any accountability on this issue. Why put an unelected official up for grilling? Because the questionnaire cannot ask a supplementary question. Very clever, because it also allows the man in the chair to make an irrelevant statement about the whole fiasco! This was a tactic which was ably spotted by Councillor Alan Branley, who with equal dignity and oratory was astute enough to deal with such prevarications. In NHS terms, he knocked the teeth out of defence! However his reasoned and acceptable argument was greeted with equal ferocity by the gum less Deputy Leader Councillor Ian Malcolm, who clearly sitting on hot coals, couldn’t wait to leap up with the “Madam Mayor etc etc etc” argument. Poor old Ian, somebody must have lined your under pants with itching powder, such were your “leaps” over this issue. On so the argument went on……..

(As a side issue, a source close to this newspaper revealed that existing councillors have decided AGAINST any further action on the ballot case, and remain extremely embarrassed that other retail outlets may have indicated otherwise…..especially with regards to the next issue)

On the problem of “BRENDA”, the debate was very quite. Indeed, you could almost hear a “(s)pin” drop! Though the questions were asked i.e. where did the internet address originate from, the reply was always “whilst investigations go on, the Data Protection Act and all that applies”. Luckily, this answer has a short shelf life, so the truth will emerge. However, looking at the amount of shoe gazing by Councillors, “BRENDA” has stood on a “turd”, but nobody wants to admit to the smell! This is an issue which will run till its end conclusion, such is the tenacity of all those involved. When the source is finally revealed, heads will roll.

So what happened next? To be honest and to my shame I can’t tell you. Based on previous accounts, I only took 1 hr 30 mns off work, and by the time I left, the time on my meter were well and truly exhausted.

So let’s have some quick observations:

1. There is no opposition to this Council apart from certain Independents who dominate and challenge contentious issues on a regular basis
2. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives sat like lap dogs whilst the public gallery challenged issue after issue
3. The next meeting? Sources tell me the itching powder will be on every Labour, Conservative and Liberal seat next month. Such is the anticipated level of public questioning, over night allowances may have to be claimed by Councillors.

Now there’s something worth scratching!


Bill for housing prisoners in police cells since October 2006 - £29 million


One of the main criticisms of the Save Our Seafront campaign is the lack of any young campaigners within their ranks. However, last nights Shields Gazette contained an article from the pen of one “Live and Learn” Megan Stanton. I confess to not knowing much about Megan, but she is a clear and concise young writer who the Gazette allows a weekly column. This weeks prose covers the sea front issue and her view is clear:

“There is a protest group who are determined to fight such a blot on the landscape, and I give them a high five for this, at least some people are aware of what is important, our environment”

However, it is the last sentences which will sting the anti’s who follow the “no young people” argument.

From the pen of the young come the words:

“Whatever the politics of this issue, surely preserving our coastline is an investment for the future? For our children and our children’s children?

Don’t you want then to benefit from this natural resource?

Remember, once it is gone, it is gone for ever”.

So there you have it: the public don’t want it, the oldies don’t want it, and by this account, young people don’t want it.

There is an emerging generation of young people who put the environment before commerce. Ignore them at your peril.


Over in Curlys world at the local Corner Shop, the proprietor seems to have been wearing his shades again, such is the clouded vision he used to asses a Council press release on the possibility of a new leisure centre in the Borough.

“Foreshore Leisure Facility Moves Step Closer” is their media header, outlining the appointment of a firm of consultants to evaluate the options for a sea front leisure facility. Now I’m not a betting man, but I know a lame horse when I see one.

Let’s look at some of the phrases used in the text:

1. Assess market demand
2. Give a view
3. Will also look at
4. Report will show what the Council need to do
5. Etc etc etc

No where in the release does it actually say “we will build”, and do you know why, because the intention to create new leisure facilities within the next ten years does not exist. The release is purely a tactic to deflect criticism from the Gypsies Green project. The fact that it was rolled out the day before a rather difficult full council meeting is another indication of the “wool over eyes” syndrome.

Sadly, the tax payer is going to have to foot the consultant’s bill, the result being a report that will be worthless and filed under “worthless”.

Some people may fall for it, but not me. I will happily give odds of 10/1 that this time next year, no further plans will exist for the area, other than those being pushed forward by the SOS group.

Now there’s a good bet!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007



5.30 A.M. – get up

6.30 A.M. – work

7.00 p.m. – finish work

Blogging – very little chance till later

Sometimes you need to have a balance between how much time you spend on posting and all the other elements in your life. Today, however, the pendulum is swinging firmly towards the work side. Roll on retirement.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Those of you who follow this site will know that I have an aversion to the regurgitating of large chunks of newspaper articles. My yard stick is always “if it’s worth reading, get out there and buy the paper yourself”. However, I’m going to break the rule and reprint in its entirety David MacLean’s article in today’s Shields Gazette covering “The Case Of The Missing Ballot Papers”.

Containing a hidden element of humour, it is astoundingly factual and damn well written. Provincial journalism is alive and well!

The thought of Council officials going through the rubbish at Middlefield’s tickles me to the core. I hope they claimed any out of pocket costs, and I expect to see these figures on ward Councillors election expenses returns!

If only this had been known, can you imagine what we could have thrown out that day for the poor blighters to wade through?

On an editorial front, “That Was The Week That Was” has had its thunder stolen, because even with a classical satirical slant, this whole scenario cannot be improved upon.

Read the article and enjoy, but don’t ignore the sheer implausibility of the Councils account!
Well done the Gazette!

Desperate search in skip for lost votes
David MacLean

A FRANTIC search for hundreds of missing votes led to an election official wading through a waste paper skip, court documents have revealed.

Senior council officers also joined the search in the basement of South Shields Town Hall following the 'disappearance' of 18 ballot boxes after May's local elections in South Tyneside.As revealed by the yesterday, police are now carrying out an inquiry.Under election law, the authority has a duty to retain votes for 12 months.It is believed almost 800 votes were rejected – one in every 36 postal votes cast in the borough – then disappeared.

The details emerged as local businessman Ahmed Khan failed in a legal challenge to examine 62 rejected ballot papers from last year's Beacon and Bents election, which he lost by 33 votes to Coun Audrey McMillan.At Newcastle County Court last week, a judge rejected his application for access to the votes.

A statement filed by Russ Cochrane, South Tyneside Council's deputy returning officer, revealed details of the search for the missing postal votes.On the morning of May 23, two weeks after the votes were found to be missing, he went to the Middlefields depot in South Shields.There, he hunted through the council's waste paper skip, but said he found nothing.He said that returning officer Brian Scott and regeneration and resources executive director David Slater also helped in a search of the basement in the town hall, where the rejected votes had been kept in a corridor.However, all that could be found of the 18 ballot boxes was one lid.Mr Cochrane came to the conclusion that a casual porter disposed of the documents by mistake, although the porter denies this.

The papers also claim that some council officers knew the rejected votes were missing as early as the afternoon of May 8, yet it was October 22 before the council revealed that fact, following legal action from Mr Khan.He even received a letter from solicitors Sharpe Pritchard, acting on behalf of the council, on November 7, which asked him to sign a joint statement with Mrs McMillan and the returning officer, preventing him from making further comments. He refused.

Council bosses have put the missing votes down to a "mistake" and vowed to put steps in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.But Mr Khan said: "The council are directly elected by members of the public, we get a chance every three years to give our verdict on how well each councillor is doing their job.If we can't put our faith into the electoral system, then the whole system becomes pointless."

Independent councillor Jane Branley said: "This is no longer an issue just associated with the local election in Beacon and Bents – all of the rejected postal votes for the entire borough have disappeared.In the public interest, all of the details of this story must be made known."


The issue of the “missing Ballot” boxes continues to dominate with some very perturbing facts emerging.

On the date of the Newcastle court case the Council applied for and were granted the decision that proceedings be conducted without the public being present. This meant that those who had turned up to witness democracy in action were excluded. If the Council were convinced that “we have no reason to believe this was anything more than a mistake after the election” than why seek to deliberately exclude the public, many of whom came from the Borough?

The law requires that ballot box contents be kept for at least 12 months after an election. The Council couldn’t even manage a week at most. Knowing that the law had been broken (and a very important and principled law at that) they failed to call the police in to investigate, instead blaming a causal porter, a worker at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to the Council’s hierarchy (the porter denies any wrong doing). The Council also objected to any of their papers being released to the police, claiming the CPS already had copies and therefore no further disclosure was required. My understanding of the legal process (and according to many legal websites) is that police investigate any potential criminal actions, place all the evidence before the CPS who then decide whether there exists a case strong enough for prosecution. South Tyneside Council for some reason seem to think that the opposite is true and they therefore don’t have to involve the police when faced with potential criminal activity. Very strange indeed.

On the issue of costs, I am sure I once read that Councils and their election officers have a form of central indemnity insurance which covers them for potential legal actions resulting from elections. This sounds entirely justified; the election officer named on legal documents at each election is in effect the “named official” representing the Council. He should therefore not be potentially personally liable for any court findings unless he has personally committed a crime etc. However, if this is the case (I am still trawling old paper files and the web to find the details) why is the Council trying to recover costs from Mr Khan. Surely this indemnity covers them?

These issues lead to some very important contradictions. The Council knew the ballot boxes were missing for nearly 6 months, yet with held the information. They were fully aware that the law had been broken, yet did not involve the police. They insisted the Court case be held with the public excluded, and finally they are attempting to seek financial reimbursement when insurance may cover their costs.

Why do I get the feeling that this whole episode is starting to give of a pong all of its own?

HELP !!!!!!!!!!

The Telegraph is today reporting that Mungo and Maude, a London cat and dog outfitters, have developed a perfume exclusively for dogs. It also covers the story of Heather McCartney who is calling for the public to drink rats and dogs milk in order to save the planet.


Monday, 19 November 2007


With good coverage in yesterdays Sunday Sun, today’s Shields Gazette gives front page coverage to the missing ballot box scandal. I will be returning to the issue later, but one stand out feature is that the blame for the debacle is being placed on a casual porter who has been identified by senior council managers as putting the ballot papers in a skip. How convenient. One slight problem, the worker in question has denied any such wrong doing.

Hopefully the full police investigation will get to the roots of this issue. I would however, hate to think a porter had been earmarked to take the blame, thereby detracting attention away from those who were really involved, what ever their position in the council’s hierarchy.


A quick perusal of the net today has shown that either our local political parties are not exactly computer literate, or that they basically don’t have a lot to say outside of election times.

Local sites for South Shields branches of the Labour and Conservative Party’s have not been updated since the last elections (6 months ago). Without a local site of their own, the Liberal Party regional north east pages are also sparse on any news since July 2007. Even the Alliance site, which claims to work for the region all year round, has been under construction longer than the new Wembley Stadium. It is left to the Green Party to show some computer literacy, with monthly posts to let you know what is going on.

As a method of disseminating information, local policies and activities, web sites and blogs are excellent. They cost nothing to run, they are free to read and they have the potential to reach every home in the area, something which an article or advert in a local paper could never achieve.

Contrary to rumour, there are some Councillors who do work hard for their wards, and I only wish they would let the electorate know of their activities outside of the boundaries of seeking our votes. The site is an ideal example of a success story. Set up by the two Labour Party ward Councillor’s, the site is updated regularly and information freely passed on. This is something which should be replicated on a ward to ward basis.

Mind you, I disagree with their views on Gypsies Green, but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Due to work commitments I was unable to attend the latest Gypsies Green protest at The Nook, South Shields. However, after speaking to the organisers I am happy to report that it was a resounding success. Over 5000 signatures in total have now been collected registering their opposition to the Tavistock proposal. I notice that despite indications that planning details were going too be lodged in November, the Councils own website shows that this has still not taken place.

Cold feet or a mere hick up? Who cares. The longer the planning application is delayed, the more organised protesters become, and the more avenues they are able to explore in their desire to halt the development and propose an alternative plan for the area.


Feeling a bit troubled about recent events in South Tyneside, I have been trawling the web for jokes relating elections etc. However, I discovered the following genuine answers to GCSE exam questions.

A little light relief is just what is needed:


Q: Name the four seasons. A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink. A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.

Q: How is dew formed? A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

Q: What is a planet? A: A body of earth surrounded by sky.

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans? A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.


Q: What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on? A: If you are buying a house, they will insist you are well endowed.

Q: In a democratic society, how important are elections? A: Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.

Q: What are steroids? A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.


Q: What happens to your body as you age? A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty? A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes. A: Premature death.

Q: What is artificial insemination? A: When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour? A: Keep it in the cow.

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? (e.g., abdomen). A: The body is consisted into three parts-the brainium, theborax and the abdominal cavity. The branium contains thebrain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O and U.

Q: What is the Fibula? A: A small lie.

Q: What does *varicose- mean? A: Nearby.

Q: What is the most common form of birth control? A: Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

Q: Give the meaning of the term *Caesarean Section. A: The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

Q: What is a seizure? A: A Roman emperor.

Q: What is a terminal illness? A: When you are sick at the airport

Q: Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature? A: Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.


Q: Use the word *judicious- in a sentence to show you understand its meaning. A: Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q: What does the word *benign- mean? A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.


Q: What is a turbine? A: Something an Arab wears.








A South Tyneside press release today confirmed what many of us already suspected. Outlining a series of unfortunate events, Council executives confirmed that they have lost the “trust of the electorate”.

Quotating direct from the release:

“Shortly after the May elections the Council managed to happily, sorry, sadly, misplace the “trust” which the electorate place in the democratic process. The “trust” was placed in a corridor for pinching, sorry, safe keeping, over night, but when returning in the morning Council officials found that it had been hidden, sorry, disappeared. We have no idea where the “trust” has gone, and frankly, don’t care, sorry, are devastated. It has long been held that during election periods this Council is the custodian for the democratic process and the trust which the public place in us. We would like to apologise for this false impression and are happy to set the record straight.”

Inspector McBribe of the Serious Bungling and Inept Council Squad has been called in to investigate the matter. He has already restricted access to the corridor in question, and brought in mechanical diggers, x-ray equipment and sniffer dogs. However, due to the length of the period the Council kept the information from the public, any results are expected to be limited.

“The chances of finding the ballot boxes are very small. After all, the Council has had 6 months start on my officers. There are also financial implications; the use of specialist equipment is very expensive. However, the Council have made it clear they would like Mr Khan to pay for their incompetence.”


The Northern Herald would like to apologise for quoting from the following South Tyneside Council statement;

“The returning officer is pleased that the court dismissed Mr Khan’s applications and ordered Mr Khan to pay the costs of the proceedings.

It is to be hoped that this is now the end of these proceedings and so avoid any further costs”

The statement should have actually read;

“The returning officer is absolutely over the moon that the Council got away with this. How dare Mr Khan try to bring this to the attention of the public. As a punishment he will have to pay the bill for our incompetence. Hopefully, this will also deter any other members of the public from taking similar action.

It is hoped that this is the end of these proceedings, as to get away with it twice would be expecting too much from Lady Luck.”


Following the collapse of the Tavistock Hotel Development, South Tyneside Council have announced that the Gypsies Green Stadium is to become a “Carrier Bag Reserve”. Banned to the point of extinction, carrier bags are now missing from many Boroughs’ in the country. Hence the Councils desire to create a safe haven on the sea front.

Irene Daktari, the reserves Chief Executive, told The Northern Herald;

“There are only a few carrier bags left in the country, and even then they are under threat. However, by putting them in Gypsies Green stadium, they will be free to blow around in the wind, get caught in fences and be used as bin liners. We have tried to recreate their natural environment, so every morning we fill them up with cans of beans, soup and Special Brew, and walk them around the track. We have carrier bags here from all over the country, including Tesco’s, Asda and Sainsbury’s. We even have a rare breed from Curlys Corner Shop.”

Elsewhere in the country however, carrier bags are not so welcome. Police have also reported an upsurge in carrier bag related crime, with members of the public meeting in secret to hold “carrier bag parties” and collect take aways from back street restaurants.

Inspector McBribe of the Serious Plastics Squad said “Carrier bags now have a higher street value than crack cocaine.”


BBC North East today launched its own reality series to challenge ITV’s “I’m A Celebrity.. Get Me Out Of Here!”. Entitled “I’m A Councillor…..Get Me In There”, the programme features local dignitaries and Councillors, brought together to face “trials”. Bussed in exclusively on the E2, the contestants will spend the next six weeks away from public contact and without any knowledge of the real world: yes, they are based in the Town Hall.

Here is a list of contenders and their “trials”;







Many thanks to the posters at for sowing the seeds of sarcasm. You line em up, I’ll knock em down!


Looking more closely at the Sunday Sun article, I would like to bring readers attention to a quote from South Tyneside Council.

“The returning officer is pleased that the court dismissed Mr Khan’s applications and ordered Mr Khan to pay the costs of the proceedings.

It is to be hoped that this is now the end of these proceedings and so avoid any further costs”

Firstly, let’s look at some FACTS

1. The Council make no reference to the fact that they have LOST 18 ballot boxes, amongst them the disputed votes.
2. They make no APOLOGIES for breaking the public’s trust in the election process.
3. They make no reference to the fact that they KNEW the boxes were missing at the LATEST 72 hours after the election.
4. They make NO reference to the fact that they withheld this information from the public for nearly SIX months
5. They make NO reference to the fact that they failed to inform Mr Khan of the loss immediately, thereby allowing him to UNKNOWINGLY accumulate nearly six months of legal bills.
6. Despite the fact that they KNEW they had lost the boxes, the Council allowed six months of THEIR own legal bills to accumulate, money which belongs to the TAX PAYER.

Despite all these discrepancies, the Council is “PLEASED” that Mr Khan has been asked to pay costs. There would have been NO costs for all parties if the Council had been honest and open in its approach. If they are prepared to hide the fact that 18 ballot boxes went missing under their control, what else have they not told us?

The public must now ask themselves 6 very serious questions:

1. Why did the Council not come clean as to their ineptitude sooner?
2. Who allowed the ballot boxes to disappear?
3. Why were they stored in a corridor and not under dual control?
4. Why did they let Mr Khan accumulate legal bills?
5. Why did they continue to spend tax payer’s money when they knew they had lost the votes?
6. Why are they seeking costs when the blame is theirs and theirs alone?

With an internal probe currently going on into the use of Council facilities to make fraudulent claims on local web sites, the Borough is further shamed by possible criminal activity in the destruction of ballot box contents. Further, the Council has embarked on a path that could theoretically financially ruin a member of it’s electorate who merely pursued one of the most sacrosanct principals of the democratic programme; the security and infallibility of the system under which we cast our vote.

The only comment from the Council? It is “pleased”. Sadly, this is endemic of the attitude of those who govern this Borough at executive level.

Today is a very poor day for both South Tyneside and for the democratic process.


Today's Sun Sunday has broken the news surrounding the scandalous goings on at South Tyneside Council. Northumbira Police have been called in to investigate the disappearance of 18 ballot boxes connected to a recent court case pursued by Ahmed Khan, the Beacon and Bents ward candidate who lost the election by a mere 33 votes. Mr Khan was unhappy with a batch of rejected postal votes and asked that they be reexamined. Low and behold, these are amongst the votes which have gone missing.

To make matters worse, they disappeared within hours of the election and hours of Mr Khans first verbal complaints. Yet despite knowing this, the South Tyneside Executives and legal Representatives let Mr Khan run up six months of legal bills, and they are now seeking reimbursement for their costs.

British justice is on trial here. For 18 ballot boxes to be kept in a corridor, some containing know disputed papers and subsequently disappear is scandalous and reeks of foul play. To then pursue a man for money who is in effect the "victim" is even worse as it discourages other people from standing up for both their own and other peoples democratic rights.

The wall of silence has now been broken by Mr Khan, but the Council continue to hide behind it. However, this issue is going to dominate for weeks, and I shall be posting later with further information.

Keep in touch.

Friday, 16 November 2007


It would seem from todays Times that it is not just London police who have a trigger happy attitude when it comes to suspected terrorists; they also have a reciprocated agreement with their fellow officers in Leeds.

Nicholas Gilbert,34, slipped into a diabetic coma whilst on the top deck of a bus in Leeds. The driver of said bud, seeing Mr Gilbert slumped over holding his bag, naturally phoned the police. On arrival, armed police were unable to get Gilbert’s attention (he was in a coma remember) so shot him twice with a Taser gun. Sadly the only shot the victim needed was of insulin.

As he came round in the back of a police wagon, Nicholas managed to persuade police officers that he needed urgent medical attention. He was rushed to hospital for treatment, but police still insisted he remained handcuffed while he received treatment.

And what was the police excuse for shooting Mr Gilbert. Well, to be honest, it was a heinous crime: he looked Egyptian!

The Independent Police Complaints Authority conducted a lengthy investigation into this incident which occurred in July 2005, admittedly shortly after the London bombings. However, Leeds has no track record of racial tensions, and has never been a hot bed for international terrorism. After the incident, a West Yorkshire Police spokesman justified the shooting by explaining: “Officers made repeated requests for the man to get off the bus or acknowledge them, but he did not respond.” Of course he didn’t, he was in a coma.

Ifti Manzoor, of Irwin Mitchell, the law firm that is representing Mr Gilbert, said that he had been instructed “to take legal action against the police for unlawful arrest as well as the unlawful use of excessive force”.

Sadly, Councillor Potts missed this one. He could have added an innocent Egyptian to his innocent Brazilian quips!


That Was The week That Was has now moved to a Sunday, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, work commitments have meant that Friday’s are becoming increasingly busy and time is limited. The other reason is the Sunday papers often provide great fodder for a sarcastic look at the week’s news. So see you in a couple of days!

Thursday, 15 November 2007


The Gypsies Green affair rumbles on. A meeting has been arranged tonight between interested sporting bodies and the Council. I shall post as soon as I find out the outcome.

Those against the development may be interested in referring the whole matter to the Local Government Ombudsman, as I have posted on before. Below is the outline to the relevant sites:

I have also made it really simple. The complaint form is outlined below in its full text. Cut and paste it to your word processor programme and send it off. I have already posted mine, based on the argument that the land has been sold for less than its commercial value. If the Council won’t reveal the full details, then they have not acted in the Boroughs best wishes, as they are legally charged to do.

I cant give you the full text of my complaint for obvious reasons, but you get the idea. This is only a first step, but make sure you lodge your complaint on the back of mine.

Local Government Ombudsman

Complaint form

If you have not already done so, please read our leaflet Complaint about the council? How to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. You can download it from this website (see the section ‘How to complain’).

When you have filled in this form, print it and send it (with the monitoring form, which follows) to the office of the Ombudsman who deals with your area. The addresses are at the end of the document. Or you can send it as an email attachment to the email address given.

Please delete or cross through options as appropriate.

1 Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss or Other: (please insert)
First name:

2 Your address:

email address:

3 Daytime contact phone number:

Note: Please put in the telephone number where we can contact you between 9am and 5pm. Tell us if it is your home or work, or the number of a neighbour or friend. If you do not have a daytime contact number, please put down a number with an answerphone where we can leave a message during the day. If you do not have any of these, please leave this section blank

4 Your special requirements: If anything makes it difficult for you to use our service, for example if English is not your first language or you have a disability, please use the space below to tell us how we might help you.

5 Which council or authority are you complaining about?

Note: Please write the name of the organisation you want to complain about. It may not be a council. The list of organisations and authorities we can deal with is on page 3 of our leaflet ‘Complaint about the council?’ This is in the How to complain section of this website.

6 Have you complained to the council or authority? Yes/No

Note: In most cases, before we can investigate a complaint, the council must have a chance to answer it. If you have not complained to the council, please do so. You can find out how to complain from the council’s offices or you can ask a councillor to help. If you are not satisfied with the answer, or if the council does not give you an answer within a reasonable time, you can complain to the Ombudsman for your area. In some urgent cases, including education admission appeals, we may be able to deal with your complaint straight away.

7 If you know, please say when you complained to the council or authority.

8 What do you think the council or authority did wrong?

9 How has this affected you?

10 What do you think the council or authority should do to put things right?

It will help us deal quickly with your complaint if you send us copies of any letters or documents about it. Please say if you would like them returned when we have finished looking at your case. Yes/No

Your signature: Date:

To be signed by the person making the complaint

Monitoring our equal opportunities policy

We want to find out if we are giving as good a service as we can to all complainants. To help us do this, please fill in this form and send it to us. If more than one of you has made the complaint, it would be helpful if only one of you fills in the form. The information we get from all replies will help us decide how we can assist as many people as possible. This information will not be sent to the council and will not affect the way your complaint is handled.

Note: Ethnic groups are not about nationality, place of birth or citizenship. They are about colour and cultural background.

Please tick the circles as appropriate (or delete other options)

1. Ethnic group:
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2. Sex:
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3. Age:
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5. How did you find out about the Local Government Ombudsman service?
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Despite my indications to the positive, I have been unable to secure an interview with Ahmed Khan, the Beacon and Bents candidate who recently found himself in the courts over the issue of a series of disputed ballot papers.

If I hear “no comment” or “cant deny or confirm anything at all” once more I am going to patent the replies, and that way I will make a lot of money every time it is uttered.

Northumbria Police have been asked to investigate the matter of certain irregularities, but other than that, the door on this issue is firmly shut. As to who has the key, Mr Khan isn’t telling me or confirming any information put before this paper.

As to the likely legal actions of the local Labour Party and senior officers which were confirmed recently on a local site, Mr Khan appears to be happy to defend counter claims. At least this way all the relevant facts will be examined in an open court, something he was denied earlier this week.


Hugo Rifkind in The Times reports that “famous” actors Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Ben Stiller and others have given their support to the Writers Guild of America who have gone on strike. When asked to comment, Rifkind assumes they all said “…”!

Well, I thought it was funny!


Going to work this morning, The Times caused the blood pressure to reach dangerous levels when it reported that that favourite issue of mine, the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games, had once again raised its head. Government officials have reported that the contingency fund of £2.7 billion is virtually all gone. Now there’s a surprise.

Reporting to the Public Accounts Committee, Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, was accused of “grossly under estimating” the costs of the Games, and “sheer incompetence” and “deceit” by coming up with such a low figure when the original bid was first won.

Naturally, Labour has washed their hands of any blame, pointing instead to construction inflation and the high risk nature of the project. This does seem strange, when only two weeks ago we were told that European labour was leading to reduced building costs and that a boom was only round the corner. As to the high risk, Brown only told us yesterday that Britain was a fortress and we had nothing to worry about as long as we were vigilant.

The Olympic Games is a massive opportunity for this country on a cultural, political, sporting and tourist levels. Sadly, it is also a cash cow for consultants, executives, managers and ex athletes who all should be thinking of their country before their wallets. When the dust has finally settled on the finishing lines, it will be interesting to see how much money has been leeched to these sources.

As to the final costs? I have a bet (£10) with my father that it will reach the lofty high jump heights of £25 billion. He favours £15 billion. Either way, the current £12 billion maximum is quickly approaching, and we have five more years of training left!

When it comes to making money, its gold medals to the pen pushers, and wooden spoons for the rest of us.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Here’s a little snippet I missed out of the latest edition of the Private Eye magazine. When considering the plans to shed 2500 jobs and concentrate on more repeats, perhaps BBC governors should look at the output of BBC3, a channel which cost £250 million to launch.

Here’s a list of recent programmes:


Now I understand why I read a lot.

My recommendation? Close down this insult to broadcasting and use the money to create innovative new programmes. Especially ones without the word f**k in them.


Fancying a change of reading matter I bought the Independent newspaper this morning. Its bold headline revealed the details of an endangered species…. the carrier bag!

Highlighting numerous areas that have already banned the use of plastic bags, apparently 33 London councils have signed up to a pledge to make their wards bag free zones. The paper also lists towns planning to ban bags; the nearest in the north east region is Durham.

Perhaps it’s just me, but shouldn’t these authorities be concentrating on more important things like provision for old people, schools, regeneration etc. I’m personally committed to doing what I can to save the environment: I recycle most of my rubbish, I watch the electric and heating bills and try to buy organic and local produce. However, whilst the likes of McDonalds, Asda and Tesco produce enough rubbish themselves to fill a land fill site, I don’t want my council devoting tax payer’s money to banning plastic bags. So far South Tyneside have not jumped on the band wagon, but I fear it will be a case of “watch this space”.

Anyway, I’m off to put my Spar carrier bag in the loft for safe keeping. Thirty years down the line you can see the kids on the Antiques Road Show “No, we don’t know what it was used for, but Dad kept it in the loft with the family silver”……


I know I shouldn’t be amazed any more, but the hypocrisy surrounding various government departments is astounding. Every year millions of pounds are spent promoting Britain, British meat, diary products and other related produce. Whole sections of the tourist industry are geared up to advertise the message that Britain is a pretty fine place to eat and drink. Sadly, the message has not reached the desks of certain Whitehall mandarins.

Figures recently outlined by the Times show that just under 50% of all food served in hospitals and public institutions comes from aboard. Prisoners get no fruit of British origin, and those fed by the NHS only 5%.

Who would be a British chicken? Whilst the public demand nearly 100% British meat, no home grown poultry bought by Whitehall (64%) goes to prisons. As for other food products, well forget it. Even the good old British bacon buttie comes from abroad!

Sadly, whilst Mr Benn phones supermarkets asking them to buy from British farmers and Gordon Brown trawls the phrase book for a British motto, good old Whitehall is feeding troops on low grade meat and flying apples half way across the world with big carbon boots on.

To make matters worse, the detailed breakdown shows that £1.8 billion a year is spent on meat, poultry, vegetables, potatoes and fruit for civil servants and ministers across the Government. So whilst the rest of us support the countries food industries, Whitehall departments spend millions on foreign produce, most of which could be sourced from this country.

Not very good practise is it?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


The fall out from the Ahmed Khan court case is pretty extensive this morning, with my email box full of requests for confirmation. I shall be trying to contact Mr Khan today in an attempt to ascertain further details and perhaps do an online interview.

I notice that Councillor Potts has posted on a local site his desire that the Council be awarded costs. Clearly ignorant of the facts, it will be extremely interesting to hear and read the views of other Councillors when they find out how incompetent their Council is.


A couple of days ago I posted on the public meeting to address the issue of the Gypsies Green development.

One method under consideration was to refer the Council to the District Auditor.

Below is the text of a letter which many people are sending under their own names. If you are against the development cut and paste the contents, and send it off as soon as possible.

I shall also post a letter and complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman asking them to look at the matter. Keep checking the site for its publication.

Paul Woolston.
89 Sandyford Road
Newcastle upon Tyne


Dear Mr Woolston


I am writing to you in your capacity as District Auditor for South Tyneside Council.

It is my understanding that South Tyneside Council is to dispose of a parcel of land to enable development to take place on that land. The land in question is known as Gypsies Green Sports Stadium, located at Gypsies Green Sports Ground, Sea Road, South Shields.

It is my belief that the Council has in its deliberation on disposal of this land failed to give full and appropriate consideration to obtaining the best available consideration for the land both in terms of usage and disposal.

It is my view that to obtain best consideration in the disposal of the land the Council must and should have taken into account the value of the land for amenity usage as well as merely its disposal value. The land in question is at present used for sporting, leisure and recreational activity which includes public usage of the land thereby giving the land a high recreational and amenity value. The land also includes a number of facilities, namely a sports stadium, running track, football pitches, changing rooms and car parking.

I would therefore request that you investigate this matter under your various powers to ensure that the South Tyneside Council is in fact obtaining best usage and best consideration for the land in question.

Yours sincerely


Monday, 12 November 2007


This morning I outlined how Ahmed Khan was in court to challenge South Tyneside Council over the recent Beacon and Bents Ward election held earlier this year. Those of us with long memories will recall that as an Independent candidate, Ahmed filed court papers claiming that a certain amount of rejected ballot papers had been erroneously classed as inaccurate, and that these votes may have changed the outcome of the election (he lost by 33 votes). He also highlighted some other related irregularities.

Like many such cases, people may have assumed with the passage of time this matter had simply gone away and Mr Khan had let the matter drop. Wrong, the whole issue came to a head today and what a nasty head it has indeed! Always fighting against the odds, Mr Khan finally saw his battle draw to a close when the presiding Judge decided that there was no case to answer. However, local claims that Ahmed lost his case are being perhaps too quick of the mark. The reason? Because the only thing that was “lost” was the ballot papers in question, and can you guess who lost them…..South Tyneside Council and its election officials. Now there’s an unfortunate event! A court case involving disputed ballot papers and suddenly they have all been lost!

After months of prevarication, South Tyneside Council were warned by Mr Khan’s legal team in October, that if they did not submit their evidence, they would have the evidence excluded. The Councils response to the request was astonishing:

Immediately after the election, all ballot boxes were removed and placed in the Town Hall for safe keeping. This is in accordance with current legislation which calls for ballot papers to be kept for a certain length of time should they ever need to be examined i.e. a criminal investigation. In a scenario murkier than a stagnant pond, it seems the boxes containing rejected ballot papers have all gone missing and cannot be found. Just in case that wasn’t clear, I’ll reword the sentence; all 18 wards rejected postal votes have gone missing and nobody knows where they are. Sadly, Mr Khan only wanted to look at the disputed ones for his ward, but they’ve gone. To make matters more problematic, the papers went missing very shortly after the election (May) but the Council failed to tell him and his legal team for 6 months.

The words national scandal, disgrace, cover up and banana republic are all phrases which I have heard being used to describe this situation.

To make matters worse, the Council applied and demanded that the case be heard in private with the public being left outside the court. I leave you to draw your own inclusions as to why.

As a member of the public with an interest in democracy, this is a matter for the police and the Electoral Commission, and a full investigation by an external body into the conduct of the Council must ensue.

I will follow this post up with further information when it becomes available. However, nobody can claim that Ahmed failed today. The only people who lost were the people of South Tyneside who as a pretty astute bunch, assume that when they cast their vote through whatever mechanism, it is counted correctly. However, by “loosing” such a number of known disputed ballot papers, South Tyneside Council has made this assumption null and void. No longer can we assume that our votes will be counted, and if there is a problem, legal recourse will allow them to be re examined.

Shame on them for casting such a shadow over the democratic process.

Shame on them for letting this matter drag on for so long before they had the honesty to reveal the truth.

Shame on them for letting an honest candidate face such legal costs when the matter could have been resolved in days rather than months

More importantly…….

Shame on them for casting such a shadow over this Borough’s integrity.