Wednesday, 15 April 2009


One thing I totally disagree with is a 'multi hatted' representatives. There are a number of Representatives fitting this category.

If someone is, for example, a District and County Councillor, a Cabinet member at one of the level and a Portfolio Holder at another, just tot up what they may be getting in terms of 'expenses'.

There will be a 'basic' allowance at both levels, a Special Responsibility Allowance with each of the other two positions. These allowances can total a rather substantial amount and the recipient may not even do a huge amount of work, as they know that they're in for the term. So what if they get voted out next time, they've had a reasonable run for your money.

If the job is being done properly at one level, then it doesn't really leave that member much time to do much else. There is the argument that being multi hatted means that you can influence decisions all the way along the line, but that is only applicable if you're a one issue member and once that issue is resolved where do they go from there?

To really be effective and work properly for the community it is preferable that the member hold only one position at a time. The multi hatted member won't take up places on some Committees, well, there's just so many days in a week and they have to sit on Committees of the council that they wish to impress! So one Council ends up with, possibly, a lack of members on some committees.

Where meetings may clash, which one does the multi hatter attend? Which Council gets priority?

There is another problem, if that member knows something that is a Part II item, information not in the public domain, at one level, it could be used to influence decisions at another level. I have seen this happen.

If you have a Parish/Town Council - 15 members, District Councillor for that area - 5 members and 1 County Councillor, that is, potentially 21 individuals to work on behalf of that community.

If we introduce our multi hatted friends that could reduce the number of total members down to 15.

I don't know of any MP/MEP that wear more than one hat, do you? So why do they feel that it is acceptable at local level?

Bearing in mind that many of these members have to go out and earn a crust like a majority of people. Which leaves us with the 'Career Politicians' or the retired 'Party' members who wish to bump up their pensions.


Well, this snowball beats the odds in May 2003, when I took the Gerrards Cross East/Denham Southwest seat. The 'snowball' reference is what was said about my chances of taking the seat.

It was a hard campaign on all fronts, the Parish Council elections were at the same time, but we got there.

I sat on the Licensing Committee and attended seminars. It was a Committee that had its' brief enlarged when the District Councils took on the granting of 'liquor licenses', formerly the domain of the Magistrates courts. Plus, we had to contend with the new '24 hour' opening laws.

Community, Safety and Liesure Policy Advisory Group was just that, and Advisory Group. The Portfolio Holder made the final decisions after recieving the views of the Group members. We covered grants to local groups, CCTV, public toilets etc.

Environment Policy Advisory Group - looking at tenders for waste disposal, doing the whole walk that is under threat by Heathrow expansion plans, anything that helps, conserves and serve our community best.

I also assisted Council Officers in identifying land that was under threat from potential development - land in the Green Belt being sold off in plots. The sellers agents were not always totally truthful in their descriptions of the land use.

A traffic calming measure - pinch point - came up a number of times while I was canvassing and I promised that if I was elected I would compile a questionnaire to gather the views from the residents affected and act as the majority requested. This was a contentious issue, but once I was elected it was my first task to honour the promise.

With assistance I compiled, delivered, and collated all the results from this exercise and met with the relevant County Council Portfolio Holder. The result was that the pinch point was replaced. It was lovely receiving a note from a constituent thanking me for honouring a 'doorstep promise'.

Fly tipping is illegal and a costly problem in many areas. I brokered a deal between District and County Officers to save money and prevent fly tipping. I contacted a contractor who had supplied and installed such a measure and obtained a quote. In a meeting with the County Officer I asked how much he had in the budget for this. I then asked if the District went 50% would he match it, he replied 'yes'.

With the promise of 50% I went to the Officer at District and asked how much we spent in removing fly tipped rubbish from this particular lane. The Officer couldn't tell me an exact figure off the top of his head but agreed that it could be 'thousands'. When I asked how he would like to solve this problem for around £1500, he welcomed the joint venture. Hence, problem solved in less than six months.

Unfortunately I didn't retain the seat in 2007. One comment that came up a great number of times was my meeting attendance record. It would appear that someone had taken the previous six month period and used the figures to say that I wasn't representing my consitituents properly.

It was sad that only half the tale was told. No-one was told that I had attended many unminuted meetings with Officers and constituents, or that I was no a stranger to both Gerrards Cross and Denham Parish clerks, or that if I couldn't make a meeting but wished to comment on an agenda item, that I would call or email the Chairman and make my comments. That's Party Politics for you!

Denham Parish Council Member

I have not been a 'political animal' for most of my life. It started when I moved to Buckinghamshire and mys children entered the education system.

I looked for something that would give my brain a challenge so I answered an ad to fill a Parish Council vacancy. My first application was unsuccessful, but that spurred me on to try again, I don't like failure.

During my time as a Parish councillor I sat on the Planning and Open Spaces Committees. It was interesting learning which Council was responsible for the various services. Like most people I referred to 'the Council' when complaining, not realising that there were several tiers of local council.

For a couple of years I served as Chairman on the Open Spaces Committee, we won Best Kept Village in our section, which was very gratifying to the large number of villagers who really put time and effort into keeping the village in a lovely state.

There is no 'salary' or 'expenses',as a PC, just the desire to serve the community. Only the Chairman is delegated to authorise a minor expenditure, such as a bouquet for for a 100th birthday etc..

Denham Village has often been used for filming by TV and film production companies and they usually offer to 'pay' for the use of public areas. A Community Fund was set up for such payments and the proceeds are used to the benefit of Denham in cases where grants from other Committees may not be available.

My time on DPC was a very happy one and it was only due to my boys needing assistance with learning difficulties that I didn't continue.

Campaigning Update

Apologies for being so late in starting this page. Also apologies for the lack of proof reading on my Jury Team Blog entry.

So far the Jury Team as a group seems to gathering momentum. Initially trying to involve local media had been rather like pulling teeth!

My local paper, the Buckinghamshire Advertiser, should be running a piece tomorrow, let's see if the item makes it and, just as importantly, what page and how many column inches it gets.

Having contacted a few presenters at BBC Three Counties radio, I was hoping to get a positive response, as they are usually quick to present new ideas to their listeners, but they have not yet taken up my invitation to 'air' the Jury Team group.

I am finding that there people who still believe in the old adage 'never discuss politics, religion and sex', not such a bad thing I suppose, but I feel it does get in the way of opening mind to new concepts, I mean in the politics arena, of course

A reminder