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By Samuel Brakespeare , Diarist (esteemed)
Friday, February 24, 2012
THOSE waiting to see whether a rescue plan has been successful to keep an extra public loo in Wisbech will, I hope, not be inconvenienced by having to wait a bit longer.
What’s happened to the petition started by Councillor Samantha Hoy and Councillor Carol Cox is anyone’s guess but is probably residing, for now, in that draw marked “tad embarrassed, please go away soon”.
The trouble for the councillors, both Tories, is that official Tory policy was determined last summer, unanimously, at one of those nice little gatherings presided over by Fenland Council Leader Alan Melton. His –one town, one loo- held firm until some town councils broke rank and objected.
In Wisbech the battle therefore is either on or off to keep the loo in Wisbech Park, which has been identified by the protesting councillors as the one they want to save in addition to the St Peter’s car park loos which are staying anyway.
“It is short-sighted to close toilets in a park that holds a festival every year and already has problems with people urinating in public,” both councillors trilled before announcing and then postponing a meeting of the Wisbech Toilets Working Party.
A discreet period of silence has now ensued with Cllr Hoy hoping for a resolution and I know that for sure since she tweeted on Tuesday night that “all I will say is I saw Alan Melton today.”
AN on line poll being conducted by Cambridgeshire County Council to gauge reaction to allowances for councillors is, most might agree, a Good Thing.
So quite why it also insists anyone completing the questionnaire is asked if they voted in the last election is beyond me.
FAVOURITE headline of the week is that “Hounslow Council nabs Andy Allsopp from Cambridgeshire” which can only come from, you’ve guessed, a magazine devoted to public relations.
PR Week reports the movement of Mr Allsopp from Cambridgeshire County Council to Hounslow but the idea of the great communicator being ‘nabbed’ generated much ribaldry amongst his former colleagues at Shire Hall.
Mr Allsopp continues to bestride the local government comms stage and does so with considerable aplomb (his analysis) and I am sure he will be greatly appreciated by the team of nine he will oversee in the London suburbs.
PR Week boasts proudly that Mr Allsopp last year oversaw a review of Cambridgeshire’s comms team and reveals the plan to “merge with the comms department of neighbouring Cambridgeshire district councils.”
Unlikely in Fenland, however, who prefer their own men (and women) in charge even though Cambridgeshire’s new man at the top comms table is a former reporter on this paper, Mark Miller, who has been slipped, effortlessly, up a rank into the top slot at Shire Hall.
ONE of the joyous moments allowed us under the belt tightening regime of the Coalition Government is a nifty new policy which ensures local councils publish details of what they pay their top people.
So next week Fenland District Council will be reviewing a report entitled ‘senior manager’s pay policy statement’ and produced by HR head Sam Anthony.
Thanks to Sam we learn that the six members of the corporate management team are on pay scales of between £55,500 and £105,000 and that 11 heads of service earn between £39,858 and £55,222.
Then, of course, there’s the chief executive Paul Medd whose salary we learn is between £125,000 and £137,600 who, in addition, gets £2,000 a year healthcare provision.
Mr Medd also earns occasional emoluments as Returning Officer in respect of county, district and parish council elections.
However those who recall the bonuses paid to one time chief executive Tim Pilsbury will be relieved such payments are no more.
“There are no bonus arrangements payable to the chief executive, the corporate management team or heads of service,” Ms Anthony reassures us.
The report also notes the lowest pay point on the council’s pay scale is £12,145 per annum which means, says Ms Anthony, the current ratio between the lowest and highest pay points on grade 1 is 1:11.3.
“The council does not have a policy on maintaining or reaching a specific pay ratio between the lowest and highest paid staff,” says Ms Anthony.
Whether it should have such a policy she doesn’t say.
A COLLEAGUE reporting on matters at Cambridge magistrates was intrigued that a couple of Fen boys up on a charge of theft promptly disappeared once they realised a district judge was hearing cases.
“They probably, and rightly, thought he’d send them to jail so they scarpered for the day and presumably will be re-arrested on a warrant,” she said.
“In all probability when they do return there will be magistrates back sitting who are less likely to send them to jail.”
SO to Roddons Housing Association where Debby Bunn is safely installed as the new £75,000 a year managing director and ex Chief Supt Mick Gipp will, from Monday, is the new £52,000 a year assistant director.
A correspondent from within Roddons is unhappy with both appointments and breaks rank with a series of thoughts and opinions. The bona fides of the correspondent have been clearly established but for journalistic ease I shall refer to them as Roddy.
“I can tell you that the appointment of Debby Bunn was met with dismay by a fair number of employees at all levels,” writes Roddy.
“I believe she talks a good fight but unlike the iceberg there is nothing underneath.”
Most unkind Roddy, who goes on to mention the staff who were asked for feedback on her appointment were told “she was the best person for the job” if they expressed any reservations.
“This was made even worse by the email informing us of the appointment of Mick Gipp.”
Roddy also talks of possible thinning of the ranks which involves formal consultation with staffing beginning at the end of next month.
“Hopefully us drones will know what we are consulting about by then, what jobs are available, and what we can apply for,” says Roddy.
“More lottery tickets might be a sensible option.”
DAVID Moules writes to a colleague on the sports desk to try and dig up a report of a long forgotten football match.
“After watching Brighton conceding three own-goals on Sunday against Liverpool, I told a friend that I had once played in a game where one player scored a hat-trick of them,” writes David.
“He did not believe me and so I would like you to see if you could dig out the report in the Standard and send it for me to prove my story.
“The match was between Walton Highway and Marshland Rovers. I cannot give an exact date but it must have been between 1964 and 1968. The hat-trick scorer was, I think, Arthur Fitzjohn and the article was headlined “Heads up for a hat-trick”
“I hope that you are able to deal with my request.”
Unfortunately David we don’t have an archive for that period but should any reader have kept a copy we’d be delighted to photo copy it and forward it on.
THANKS to those lovely chaps at the BBC you can often find transcripts of some of their better interviews, and interviewees, on a website called New Listener, and I am an avid fan. Try it. You too can scoop up the enjoyment from reading, rather than listening, to people like Peterborough councillor Ray Nobbs and his views on the ruling Conservative group on the city council.
“I think there’s been a witch hunt,” he said. “There is a divide in the Conservative Party, and there are those who support Marco, and those who don’t.
“I’m seen as being a Marco man, and seeing as how the selection committee is made up five members who don’t support Marco in any way, what chance have you got? .. “South of the river are predominately Marco’s men. And anything north of the river, they would prefer another Leader. .. They never stop bickering, and trying to score silly political points, although we are one Party.
“And we should act as one Party. ... It’s not a case of sour grapes. It’s reality.”
Most certainly it is and only space precludes me from sharing the considered thoughts, too, of another councillor Mike Fletcher, on council leader Marco Cereste.