Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Beckhampton Mother and Baby Unit

Nottingham City Council is proposing to close the Beckhampton Mother and Baby unit, a specialist centre providing education and support to school age pregnant young women. It is proposed that students should remain in mainstream schools instead, with extra support provided 'when required', presumably by a peripatetic support system rather than one on site.

The Post has an article today including interviews from pupils and you get a strong impression that such an approach will be inadequate. I have also heard from someone connected to the school that referrals to the unit are being blocked to give the impression that demand is falling.

Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North, has publicly criticised the move which is almost unheard of when it is the City Council responsible for a proposal. Normally Labour Party solidarity prevents him from sticking his head above the parapet.

There is a petition against the proposals and you might also wish to respond to the public consultation being run by the Council. We are told that no decisions have been made (yeah right) so if enough people respond maybe they'll change their minds. We can live in hope.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

More Human Rights Hypocrisy

The City Council jumped on the bandwagon today and organised a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks, complete with local bigwigs.

I feel obliged to point out that the City Council took absolutely no notice of the massacre of over 2000 people in Gaza by the Israelis.

Furthermore, the number of people killed in Paris is approximately the same as the number of people executed by the Chinese regime in three weeks, something that Nottingham City Council is falling over itself to invest in.

Fucking hypocrites.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Who Cares About Human Rights? Not Nottingham...

Not a huge amount to say about this that I haven't said already in similar circumstances but Nottingham City Council is proudly (or should that be Proud-ly?) announcing that it is joining a delegation to China to scrounge for some cash.

Once again, no regard for China's appalling human rights record and the international community is left with the impression that Nottingham is a city that doesn't care about such things, as long as we get some Yuan.

Way to go guys, I don't think.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Abuse Victim 'Silenced' By Nottingham City Council

Two posts in one day? Blimey, go me...

Unfortunately it means that bad things are happening. I've just seen a news report that Nottingham City Council has taken legal action against Mickey Summers, a lead campaigner and complainant in the Beechwood Children's Home scandal to shut him up.

The Council has taken out an interim anti-social behaviour injunction against Mr Summers with a somewhat wide-ranging scope -

"The injunction bans him from visiting all "non-residential" council premises or approaching staff and from posting "any material involving anyone from Nottingham City Council, its staff, councillors, employees or agents" on the internet."

Considering that this concerns Mr Summers' experiences of being abused as a child at the hands of NCC (and the County as predecessors) this seems an excessively draconian attempt to silence the victim. NCC is never very keen for people to go around spreading information that undermines its reputation. It often uses the bullshit excuse that staff are affected. You know what I say to those staff? Get over yourself.

I hope Mr Summers is able to challenge the injunction at the full hearing.

Latest Council Tax Blackmail Wheeze

*awakes from slumber, yawns*

Sorry about the lack of postings, this is due to my ongoing mental decrepitude. I had thought of retiring the blog permanently as I don't really have the energy to keep it going on a regular basis but, well, let's see...

For now, I want to alert you to NCC's latest wheeze to heap pressure onto people who can't pay their Council Tax. NCC is proposing to report non-payers to Credit Reference Agencies (CRA), something which they accept that no other council does nor is thinking of doing. Part of their justification is a suspicion that people pay other debts before their Council Tax in order to not end up with a CRA entry.

Ok, well assuming people are that daft, won't that actually make things worse? Dodgy loan companies will be able to see than applicants have been prepared to miss CT payments to pay off low priority debts and will see them as a safer bet. Remember, many lenders do not use CRAs to tell if a person is 'financially responsible' they use them to risk assess whether the applicant is likely to repay that particular debt and whether they are a person they can make a profit from. Hence the fact that you can always get credit, just that the worse your credit file, the less likely your kneecaps are to survive the experience.

Perhaps more importantly, if you sign up for a loan or credit card you sign up to T&Cs that allow the lender to pass your details to CRAs, otherwise they would be in breach of data protection rules. No such agreement is entered into with Council Tax as payment is a statutory requirement i.e. you are forced, rather than agree, to pay. Therefore it is my belief that NCC would be in breach of the Data Protection Act if it were to pass details of non-payers to CRAs.

We should also remember that a big part of the reason for high numbers of non-payers is NCC's decision to widen the paynet to include a minimum 20% charge even to those of us who are on Income Support levels of income. Much bleating about cuts to central funding and how they 'cannot afford' to provide services, while at the same time refusing to accept that we cannot afford to pay despite real terms cuts to our benefits. Hypocrisy to the max and demonstrative of Nottingham Labour's fetish for threatening and punishing the poor.

I strongly recommend that you respond to the 'consultation' on this proposal and tell them what an illegal unjustifiable measure it is.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Contempt For Democracy Part 2 (Subtitle; What's That Burning Smell)

As well as the important stuff as detailed in the last post, we also have the questions the Tory councillors asked which seemed to mirror my own doomed attempts at playing democracy and holding the Dear Leader to account.

Now, I'm the first to admit that you could quite happily replace the Tory councillors at NCC with garden gnomes and it would be some months before anybody noticed. Frankly you could say the same with 75% of the Labour councillors too. I can say stuff like that out loud, I'm just a blogger. If you're the leader of the councillor I think it's traditionally expected that you respect the fact that people did actually vote for them and that you at least pretend to give a shit what they say.

Not JoCo.

Again, straight from the minutes -

"Councillor Georgina Culley asked the following question of the Leader:

Would the Leader of the Council inform the council how many questions for City Council meetings addressed to him by the public have been refused and deemed unworthy of submission and response?

Councillor Jon Collins replied as follows:

Thank you Lord Mayor. I'm happy to say I've answered all the questions from the public I've been asked in this chamber."

I bet JoCo thought he'd been REALLY CLEVER with that. You can see what he did there, he said he'd answered every question he'd been asked 'in this chamber'. So presumably, he meant not including the ones he'd been shielded from by ever obliging and sycophantic Lords Mayor. I bet he got many congratulatory pats on the back for that piece of low cunning.

But, whatever you think of the Tories, it's clear that he didn't answer the question that he was actually asked so JoCo* is clearly guilty of LYING by omission. So, as I said before he is a LIAR and the burning smell is his PANTS ON FIRE, the lying liar.

*If I get sued I will just state that when referring to 'JoCo' I was simpply referring to an obscure clown without a moral compass.

Contempt For Democracy Part 1

So, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign got to present their petition, with over 5000 signatures, to full Council. Sadly it's almost as if they needn't have bothered.

Because the petition reached the magic 5k the council was required to actually debate the petition motion. I'm not sure that this has ever happened before (I'm prepared to be corrected so do write in) so it's a significant matter to be considered.

Anyway, here's what Nottingham City Council considers to be a debate.

Firstly, an extract from the standing orders concerning petitions that require a debate due to having received the required number of signatures -

"The relevant Portfolio Holder(s) will present a provisional written response to the petition to inform discussion and to help full Council agree a response."

In this case it was the beloved Leader, so 'inform the discussion' and 'help...agree a response' is pretty much a direct instruction. An d here's the 'provisional written response' he provided -

“Nottingham City Council acknowledges receipt of the petition collated by Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which accumulated over 5000 signatures from Nottingham residents.

Nottingham City Council’s petitions scheme requires that a petition will be debated at a meeting of the City Council if it receives 5000 or more signatures from Nottingham residents and is presented to the Head of Constitutional Services at least 12 working days prior to the next Council meeting. This scheme was introduced by the City Council in June 2010 following national legislation which, at that time, required Councils to have a petitions scheme.

The City Council recognises the hard work of the Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign in gathering over 5000 signatures, which were counted and verified as representing Nottingham people.

As a local authority, Nottingham City Council has responsibility for local services and influence over many issues of local concern. From cleaning streets and caring for the vulnerable, to job creation and encouraging investment, the remit of the City Council is wide and varied. As a City Council these are our primary concerns and we should focus most of our time on these issues where we can have direct control or influence. Nonetheless, we also recognise that international issues such as this are of great concern to many local people, and it is therefore important that they receive due consideration when representations such as these are made locally.

Nottingham City Council takes seriously its responsibility to promote community cohesion. Our recent ‘Citizen Survey’ shows that 90% of those asked feel that Nottingham is a place where people of different backgrounds and opinions get on well together. The Council will continue to do all we can to maintain and improve this and are therefore happy to transparently work with the Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign to  address the concerns raised in the petition for further consideration within our local context.”

Note the complete lack of any concrete commitments there.

Oh and the debate? From the minutes -

"The petition and the written response were debated by Councillors, and the response was supported."

Words fail etc. And so does democracy.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Think the Tories Are Reading the Blog

Today is the full council meeting which pals from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be attending. Good luck to them with that.

On looking at the agenda, and in particular the questions to be asked by councillors, I came across this -

Think they might have been reading the blog...

Just for the record, it did cross my mind contacting one of the opposition councillors to see if they'd be interested in asking questions about the issue but I kind of draw the line at working with Tories. I also briefly considered contacting one of my local (Labour) councillors but ... yeah right.

My guess is that JoCo will answer this by throwing a few insults, claims of 'needlessly' re-openiing 'closed' issues and not actually answering the question at all. Bonus points if I get a mention by JoCo as the inspiration, probably as a 'sad blogger'. Be interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Petition Goes Before Full Council

The local branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has submitted its petition asking NCC to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel and to call upon the government to generally pressure Israel into obeying UN Resolutions and the Geneva Convention. The full text of the motion before the Council is as follows;

“We the undersigned request the City Council to undertake the following action:

To transparently work with Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign to draw and pass a motion affirming its official support and calling upon the UK government to support the following against Israel until it complies with international laws:

1.  The “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign;

2.  An end to attacks against Palestine

3.  An end to Administrative Detention;

4.  An arms embargo.”

As with any petition/motion on an essentially national issue some will wonder why the council should bother; in fact expect Zionists to campaign against the motion on that very point, along with the usual empty accusations of anti-semitism. However, the agreement of the motion will send a strong message of support to the Palestinians and a further message to central government that the fate of Palestinians matters to people in Nottingham and that we can no longer sit on the sidelines as we have done up to now.

At the end of last year Leicester City Council agreed a motion condemning Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and resolving to boycott products from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to traditional furore. Nottingham's petition goes considerably further, asking for full adoption of the BDS campaign. This includes removal of any investments in Israel and a boycott of ALL Israeli goods, not just those from illegal West Bank settlements. In truth, this probably means the council is even less likely to agree to it.

NCC doesn't have a particularly good [recent*] record on condemning oppression abroad, enthusiastically lapping up Chinese investment despite the illegal occupation of Tibet. This past record would open the council up to charges of hypocrisy, with more justification than those faced by Leicester. 

I strongly recommend that you contact your local councillors and urge them to vote in favour of the motion.

*Addendum; back in 1984 Nottingham City Council DID have the political courage to agree a comprehensive policy to boycott and divest from South Africa, see p20 of this report.