Tory Councillor would have faced gross misconduct charge, if he had not retired from the police! #SpyCops

A Conservative City Councillor in Peterborough has made the national news, after a Scotland Yard investigation ruled in favour of a woman after she made a complaint alleging that Cllr Andy Coles had deceived her into a sexual relationship.

Recent media reports

Add YOUR support to the petition calling for Cllr Andy Coles to RESIGN!

Who is Andy Coles?

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Conservative Councillor Andy Coles, represents Fletton and Woodston, was first elected in 2015. He has so far received £48,874 as a councillor and is set to receive even more.

From July 2015 to May 2016 he was also the council cabinet member with responsibility for Children Services, but has since stepped down from this role.

3 years ago, Coles also resigned as the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, claiming media coverage had “significantly impacted his ability” to conduct his duties.

Add YOUR support to the petition calling for Cllr Andy Coles to RESIGN!

So what’s the crux?

As reported in the media, the inquiry said Coles would have faced a disciplinary hearing on a charge of gross misconduct if he had not already retired from the Metropolitan police in 2013.

An officer found guilty of gross misconduct is likely to be sacked.

The woman, known only as Jessica, is also taking legal action against the Met, alleging that Coles “groomed and manipulated” her. She said she was “naive, idealistic, unsophisticated and a very young 19” when she started a sexual relationship with him.

Add YOUR support to the petition calling for Cllr Andy Coles to RESIGN!

What about locally?

Protesting against Cllr Andy Coles

Over the last couple of years, local residents have protested outside and inside the Town Hall in Peterborough, which even led to the Public Gallery being closed by the then Mayor, Cllr John Fox (an ex-Police Officer), for around a year.

Add YOUR support to the petition calling for Cllr Andy Coles to RESIGN!

Worth noting …

Mr Coles has previous blasted the claims as ‘lurid’ and denied he was intimate with the woman …..

Additional Reading:

 

 

 

Peeing in the street or Cycling on Bridge Street ……

Bridge Street Cycling

The background to this, is that the Council is operating under section 61 of the
Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Survey ….

Some of the questions include:

  • Do you support the continued use of the City Centre Public Spaces Protection Order to deter people urinating/defecating in a public place?
  • Do you support the continued use of the City Centre Public Spaces Protection Order to deter begging in the city centre?
  • Do you support the continued use of the City Centre Public Spaces Protection Order to enforce unauthorised cycling?

To take the survey NOW simply VISIT HERE!

Useful Documents

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What does Darren Think?

When it comes to the Cycling side of things, the proposals are a literal embarrassment to the city. Whether its the treatment of hard working citizens, being fined on their way back from 12 hour shifts, punishing people trying to do their bit for the environment or the time tourists got a fined for following the national cycle route, which Bridge Street was part of, it really enhances the name Pottyborough!

Not forgetting the fact that there is a cycle way at one end of Bridge Street!!

The fines are also not fair because, essentially if you are a wealthy person, whop can afford to pay £100 max fines, in theory you can cycle around aggressively, defecate in the street or drink six cans of beer in Cathedral Sq, at your leisure.

If you are working class, you can be accused of something you have not even done and end up paying a £100 fine, that could mean you fall behind on your rent or are unable to pay for your weekly food.

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Something you might like to know…

The proposed order calls for “Cyclists to dismount if requested to do so by an authorised officer if they are of the opinion that the cyclist is riding in a wanton and furious manner.”

…. So I’d suggest that if someone was cycling sensibly etc Then if challenged, they would be entitled to acknowledge the officer and then carry on with their day.

Other bits

  • In October 2012, 444 people signed my petition calling for the Tory controlled City Council to introduce a dedicated cycle lane along Bridge Street, Peterborough – they did not!
  • In 2015, I also did a petition calling for the Tories at the Town Hall to NOT ban cycling on a Sunday. Again they ignored it!

Have Tories handed hundreds of thousands of £’s to their Marketing buddies!?

Your Peterborough

This year, the Tories at the Town Hall have announced plans to share their communication services, including media, marketing, internal communications and their website, with Cambridgeshire County Council – with the aim of saving them £2.6m over the next three years.

Sound sensible? Maybe.

But what they don’t tell you is the millions of pounds they’ve already wasted on unwanted publications and the hundreds of thousands they’ve handed out to “certain” local media or marketing individuals in the city!

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For example, in one year alone, and despite cutting services at the time, they:

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Now, I’m sure that the decision to use these companies was completely above board.

However, I would add that a) There are quite a lot of other marketing and communication companies in our city and b) Why did they simply not just temporarily use Cambs County Council (or another neighbouring authority) communications team?

And any suggestions that such contracts are agreed over a pint in a Barnack pub, are I am sure, totally unfounded!

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The Council spent local tax payers money, telling them how well they were doing!

Remember Your Peterborough

The Conservative controlled City Council, launched the Your Peterborough magazine, commonly identified as the Councils own propaganda newsletter, over a decade ago.

When it launched, it used to be published 10 times a year, at a cost of around £12,000 per edition.

They then reduced it down to six editions a year. Then, they reduced it to once a year, then they reduced it’s size and now it seems it’s just available on line?

The bottom line, is that since it’s creation, millions have been spent on it and as far as I can see, the only people to really benefit are the people paid to print and design it!?

What I said ….

At a previous meeting of Full Council, I stood up and said to the Conservative controlled City Council:

“In December 2016 you told me you’d paid Athene Communications over £300k in less
than two years to do work that many in this city believe should be able to be done by
your own Media and Communications Team.

“Since this Tory regime took control of this city council, they have wasted hundreds of
thousands of pounds by providing unused and unrequired websites for Members and
regularly advertise well paid positions in the media machine including once offering
£90,000 for a Head of Communications.

“Presently frontline staff are struggling, the average individual in this city are having their money stretched and the Council tax is set to rise significantly. Does the Cabinet Member agree with me and others that the idea of chucking money at your mates and their businesses or handing hundreds of thousands of pounds at external PR and media
companies to do the work that our own comms internal marketing officers should be
able to do must end now.”

Plz, let me know YOUR thoughts below!

#Pboro comes TOP of “Worst places to live in #England 2020” chart …. for the 2nd time!

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What’s happened?

Peterborough has claimed TOP SPOT, for the second year in a row, in the Top 10 Worst places to live in #England 2020 chart, run by ilivehere.co.uk – who claim over 80,000 people took part.

One voter in the survey, said: “The atmosphere in Peterborough is draining. You feel totally isolated from the rest of the world and life in general, as though everything else is going on and you’re not part of it as you’re stuck in this dump.”

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What do YOU think?

Mayor of PBoro Charity Fund issued with warning following “adverse” activity!

Mayor of Peterborough
The Mayor is allowed to travel abroad for civic purposes during his/her year of office, and the Council book and pay for accommodation directly.

Synopsis

The Mayor of Peterborough Charity Fund (MPCF), has upset the Charity Commission. It has now been audited properly, “… in order to bring the accounts up to date …”.

It was issued with a warning in July 2018 stating that the MPCF was in default of its legal
obligations. Seems they relied too much on a volunteer to process financial information?

The Council have now had to take on the work, creating an extra cost for them.

Where’s it say that then?

Mayor of Peterborough
The basic pay for a councillor is £10,302. However, the serving Mayor also gets an Allowance Account worth £12,000 a year.

Here’s the main points:

    1. The MPCF is a registered charity in its own right and is independent of the Council. It was registered in late 2015.
    2. The MPCF is required by the Charity Commission to upload its accounts and a Trustees’ report annually to the Commission’s website.
    3. Prior to September 2017, the role of the MPCF Treasurer had been undertaken for many years by a volunteer. this role has been incorporated into the duties of Mayoral Services at extra cost to the Council.
    4. The Council claims there was a “… lack of awareness within the Council that MPCF was a registered charity and confers the obligation to upload to the Charities Commission website by a specific deadline.”
    5. Council reports claims, “…out of pocket expenses have not been clearly identified.”
    6. According to the Charity Commission website, in one of the financial years, the MPCF “SPENT” £70,223?
    7. The MPCF need only worry about having an external audit if it raises more than £25,000 a year.

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What Darren thinks?

At a time when other charities in our city are suffering, having their funding from the council cut, one charity, the MPCF benefits immensely from the bods at the Town Hall.

To quote the report, ‘The Council provides support to the MPCF in a number of ways. These include administrative support from Council employees, provision of Council venues and equipment for fund raising events and printing of posters and tickets.’

I’d suggest that a good few of the local charities that are trying to do some amazing work locally, would love to receive this level of support for FREE!

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Questions

I’ve now contacted the Council’s Chief Internal Auditor, and asked him, why the Mayor of Peterborough Charity Fund has “spent” more in one year, than it raised and exactly who’s bank account does the money raised get kept in?

Let me know your thoughts on this below!

Here’s ONE Council that’s NOTHING like Peterborough ….

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If you rarely leave the city of Peterborough, you might be mistaken to think that all Councils across the UK are the same as the one we have here?

The reality is, this simply is NOT the case.

For example, allow me to introduce you to Hammersmith & Fulham Council:

  • A place with a population of 185,426 (Peterborough’s population is about 202,000).
  • In 2011, foreign-born residents made up 43% of Hammersmith & Fulham’s population (source).
  • In 2016, H&F’s Council announced their councillors had frozen their allowances for the second year, and the salaries remained the same for 2017/2018 and for 2018/2019.
  • In H&F, a Band A property pays £721.68 a year in Council Tax, in Peterborough we pay £896. A Band B property in H&F pays £841.97 in Council Tax per year, while in Peterborough it’s £1044.
  • H&F have a resident-led Climate and Ecological Emergency commission, i.e. more action and less hot air, unlike Peterborough City Council!
  • Hammersmith & Fulham Council is offering local residents of all ages and levels of experience the chance to work as an apprentice. If you search the term “apprenticeship” on the PCC website, you get one link, to an old article, talking about the work of someone else!

Cuts are essential, right?

Remember how the local Tories in our city have been acting like a crazed hairdessers, by cutting services and staff in recent years, and announcing millions more in cuts for 2020/2021?

Well press the play button on the below video to listen to a Hammersmith & Fulham councillor talking about what they are up to!

Why is there a difference?

There is of course one very BIG difference, between Peterborough and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils …… Peterborough is controlled by the Conservatives (has been for 20 years) and H&F is run by Labour!

Guess how many £s PCC got when they flogged their Ferrero Rocher Xmas Tree?

Christmas Tree

When the Tories at the Town Hall in Peterborough, introduced their “fancy” Christmas Tree, which cost £40,000, it ended up being listed by the BBC as one of the most “hopeless” trees in the country!

And now it’s been sold!

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So, from now on, if you “were” a fan of the silver tree you will need to pop along to the Wisbech Town Council events.

You see, because the tree was so lovely, no other Councils wanted it!

But, the Tories in Peterborough were lucky. Their Tory colleagues in Wisbech held “discussions” with them, and agreed to take the tree off their hands.

And the amount they paid? Well, despite the tree costing £40,000 in the first instance, Wisbech Town Council managed to agree a fee of £0 with PCC!

The Wisbech Tories even went to the local media to boast about their coup!!

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When Pboro Conservatives claim to be good with managing taxpayers money!

Two other things …

3 things in the Tory budget, that WILL affect people like YOU in this area!

Peterborough City Council Officer Pay Rises
The other year, senior Council Staff received bumper pay rises. One of them got a £30,000 pay rise!

The latest budget proposals have now been passed by the Tory controlled City Council, despite opposition from the Labour Group, and will see millions of pounds worth of cuts to services for this area.

  • If you’ve not read the Budget Document yet, then you can do so NOW by visiting here!
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The Tories have been running the Council for 20 years ……….!

What Darren Thinks:

There are a large number of cuts and hikes proposed, but here’s the 3 that I think most people in this area will notice:

  1. YOUR COUNCIL TAX WILL INCREASE: The Tories intend to increase YOUR council tax bill by 4% over the next 3 years i.e. 12% between now and 2023. Don’t forget, on top of that you have the Police and Fire Service charges.
  2. DIMMING STREET LIGHTS: Conservatives have agreed to dim street lights in residential areas by 20% between 9.30pm and 5am, on traffic routes by 20% between 9pm and midnight, and by 40% between midnight and 5am.
  3. STREET CLEANING BUDGET CUT: Cons have agreed to cut the street cleaning budget, which will also see a “reduction in city-wide stain washing” and in the response time to a majority of Fly-tipping – People could have to wait a week for its removal.

Is that all?

No! There’s also the cuts to; Disability Peterborough, youth services, heating grants to most vulnerable, budget for road safety, school transport service, anti-social behaviour team etc

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Don’t forget …

That the same Tories at the Town Hall moaning about not having enough money, are:

  • The same Tories who have increased your Council Tax to the max, over each of the last few years.
  • The same Tories, as the ones in Government, who have made the cuts to local authority grants.
  • The same Tories, who, over the last ten years, have been urging and campaigning for people to vote Conservative, despite knowing full well of the party’s policies of austerity.
  • The same Tories, who now get paid more in allowances than ever before in Peterborough’s history. For example; Council Leader, Cllr John Holdich received £22,739.54 in 2010/11 and in 2018/19 pocketed £42,756.85 (an 85% increase during the period of austerity), Tory Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Cllr Peter Hiller got paid £22,293.98 in 2010/11 and received £25,755.00 in 2018/19 (a 16% increase, PLUS his wife got a job at the Council the other year, which I’m sure is above board, but its extra £’s into the household, plus pension etc) and then there’s Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, who in 2010/11 got £7,962.08 in allowances and then in 2018/19 got £30,907.08 in his bank account (that’s a 288% increase in his Council pay).

Here’s why Councillors get a 96% car parking pass discount⁉️

It was recently reported that “some Peterborough city councillors are using their parking allowance to park for free when they are not on council business…

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Previous message sent out to City Councillors!

Despite this, at the latest meeting of Full Council, the Conservatives at Peterborough City Council voted to keep the cost to elected members at £44 a year.

  • According to the Councils’ website, residents of Peterborough who want a 7-day annual parking pass, must pay £1,176.21 a year.

“The Tory leaders of the council are quite happy to cut £516,000 from youth services and cut back on funding to vital things like the Citizens Advice Bureau, but they want to keep their precious parking allowance that simply adds another £4,000 to the annual budget.” – Cllr Ed Murphy

What does Darren Think?

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I’ve long called for the abolition of parking permits for Councillors. I handed mine back a decade ago when austerity started. Since then, I have also handed back my council laptop and mobile phone.

At a time when thousands of our most vulnerable people in the city are being affected by increased costs and council cuts, there is simply no justification for elected members getting perks that Peterborough people have no way of receiving themselves.

Next time you speak to your councillor, why not ask them if they have one and why the feel they should get such a massive discount?

Worth noting:

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  • Staff at Peterborough City Council, who actually DO the real work, don’t enjoy this perk.
  • Some councillors get paid an extra allowance (on top of their basic) of just under £1000 a meeting (meetings last about 2 hours and happen 8 times a year), so they can afford to pay they fair share.
  • The Tories at the Town Hall have been crowing on about becoming the Environment Capital for years. What sort of message does it send, when they themselves can’t be asked to get on their bikes, uses buses or walk to meetings etc?
  • Over the last few years, the Conservative controlled City Council have increased the cost of residential parking permits, so double standards?

Council back-tracks on Serco contract worth millions of £’s

Serco in Peterborough
Cllr David Seaton (Tory), who is standing down in May 2020, celebrating PCC’s 5th anniversary with SERCO in 2015!

Under a 10 year contract started on November 28, 2011, Serco took on the responsibility for a range of frontline and back-office services for Peterborough City Council (PCC), including customer services, business services, HR and payroll, shared transactional services, ICT, procurement and business transformation.

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So what’s happened now?

The contract for Serco to deliver IT services to Peterborough City Council, is due to come to an end in September 2020.

The Tory controlled City Council have now announced they will NOT be renewing it and instead will be moving IT services back to the local authority when the contract ends.

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It seems strange, when ….

At the end of 2018, SERCO announced they’d agreed a 10 year contract extension with PCC, worth £105,000,000, to continue providing Customer Services, Business Support Services, Shared Transactional Services (including Revenues and Benefits), Transactional HR and Payroll, Procurement and Business Transformation services until 2031!

  • In the press release, SERCO boasted they’d “delivered £10m of savings to the Council.”

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What does Darren think?

Anyone with any common sense, has long since come to the view that handing over council services, is a shite idea.

Despite all the spin, press releases, self created awards ceremonies to give the impression the concept works, most people in Peterborough are fed up.

They realise, such actions by the Tories at the Town Hall have resulted in lesser services, job losses for local people and tens of millions of pounds leaking from public funds into the hands of private companies, and presumably the pockets of CEO’s and board members?

The Conservative controlled City Council has already announced plans to bring waste services back in house, now it’s the IT services and, I have no doubt, we can expect a lot more of these announcements, as the political pack of cards begins to collapse!

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Extra Bits:

  • Last year we discovered thousands of £’s a month was being spent by Peterborough City Council on mobile phones which were not being used. A report by Serco identified a “staggering 300 mobile phone numbers showing zero usage over the last two months”.
  • In 2019, we were told that an extra £3.687m had to be found for the deal between PCC and Serco! The reason? A: “… savings targets from Serco which had been included in the budget, but now show little likelihood of being achieved.”