Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conway lectures MPs on expenses...

Derek Conway, the Tory MP exposed for caught wrongly paying his sons public money has just had the bare-faced cheek to speak in the House of Commons...in the debate on MPs expenses...!!

Brass neck or what?

Meetings...

Busy evening of meetings last night: rushed home from London in time for Trustees meeting of United Charities, followed by Deeping School Governors which didn't finish until well past ten o'clock. Long day for me, but I suspect not as long as Head Teacher Chris Beckett's. Monthly parish council tonight...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three sacked in council fraud probe...

Three council employees sacked and another three reported to the police in an anti-fraud investigation at Lincolnshire County Council.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BBC picks up story on Chief Exec's departure

Our local Council seems to think how they spend our money has nothing to do with us taxpayers. Isn't that what the following statement means...?

"For reasons of confidentiality we can't discuss the specific details of Duncan Kerr's departure from SKDC."

That was SKDC's response to BBC Radio Lincolnshire who ran an interview with me on Drivetime this evening. The interview followed my official challenge to South Kesteven District Council to reveal the facts that will establish whether reports are true that they have handed their Chief Exec more than £100,000 to quit his job.

In days gone by, a council might have got away with hiding behind an anonymous statement which basically says 'mind your own business'. But now we have the Freedom of Information Act which will force some answers and hopefully prise out the real costs of Duncan Kerr's sudden departure last week.

I'm very disappointed there's still no word on this affair from any of those who were elected to the Grantham-based Council to stand up for residents of Deeping St James.

Holding the Executive accountable is a key role of any councillor and I would urge my colleagues on SKDC to end their wall of silence and come clean with the residents they are supposed to represent.

Certainly, I won't be taking 'mind your own business' for an answer.

After running the interview with me this evening, and SK's bland response, BBC Lincolnshire reported that both they and the Grantham Journal have also put in Freedom of Information requests about the affair.

Hopefully, between us, we'll get to the truth and the real costs.

Keep watching!

Has Chief Exec been handed £100k to go...?

With unconfirmed reports that the Chief Exec of SKDC has trousered more than £100,000 to clear his desk - and with a wall of silence from the Conservatives who run the council - I've today lodged Freedom of Information questions today to try to get to the truth of the affair.

I had hoped the Council would come clean by now and reveal the costs to the public purse. But it seems not even the report in the Grantham Journal that he has collected over £100k has flushed them out.

I'm not a member of SKDC - but as a county councillor I saw first hand the disgraceful behaviour that went on to get rid of the Chief Exec of Lincolnshire County Council following the jailing of Conservative Leader Jim Speechley.

That scandal cost local taxpayers £400,000 in the payoff alone.

This time, with no word either from those elected to stand up for the Deepings in Grantham, more than a week after the Chief Exec of SKDC went, the FOI route seems the only way...

Duncan Kerr apparently cleared his desk last Monday after a secret meeting of elected councillors.

I posted HERE and HERE.

Watch this space!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Could you rescue a St Bernard...?

If you loved 101 Dalmatians, you may like the tale of the 100 St Bernards, who Peterborough RSPCA are trying to find homes for.

It may seem ironic, but 100 of the famous giant mountain rescue dogs are themselves in need of help after being found starving at a local kennels.

Wonder if they're still bred for their brandy?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Determined to ask the awkward questions...

Surprised that I seem to be the only local councillor calling for more information about the cost of the mysterious sudden departure of the Chief Executive of South Kesteven District Council.

I was interviewed for the Oakham-based Oak FM last night and quoted in today's Stamford Mercury trying to get the Conservatives who run SKDC to come clean and reveal what deal has been agreed - and at what expense to the public purse.

Linda Neal, the Conservative Leader of SKDC is denying that Duncan's departure is sudden, claiming she's been speaking with him all year about him going!

But she hasn't explained why the man we paid £105,000 a year to run our district council cleared his desk on the day of a secret meeting of councillors earlier this week, and apparently biked into the sunset.

Given that I'd been hearing rumours that the Tories wanted rid of him, I find it hard to accept that he's walked - or biked - from his £105k a year job without negotiating a generous severance deal.

I'm surprised no other local councillor else seems to be speaking out in the local media - specially as the Tories in Lincolnshire have form on getting rid of chief execs (after Tory Leader of the county council Jim Speechley was jailed for abuse of office, they launched a witch-hunt to sack David Bowles. He agreed to go for a payoff of £400,000- and we're all still paying the price of Speechley...)

Given what I know about the Speechley scandal and the cover-up antics at County Hall which followed his imprisonment, I'm determined to get the the bottom of the cost of Duncan Kerr's departure.

Someone has to speak up on behalf of local taxpayers and get answers about how much Duncan's departure is costing us all...and I full intend to keep asking the awkward questions.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What cost the Chief Exec's sudden departure?

Serious questions need to be asked following the sudden departure of Duncan Kerr from his £105,000 a year job as Chief Exec of our district council.

He was no friend of the Deepings. But in the interests of taxpayers, someone surely needs to ask how much it's costing us to see him 'get on his bike'.

A couple of weeks ago, I was tipped off by a usually reliable source that the Tories who run the Grantham-based South Kesteven District Council were planning to 'get rid' of their chief officer Duncan Kerr by staging a 'vote of no confidence'.

Sure enough, earlier this week, an 'extraordinary' secret meeting of the Council was held, followed by an official press release saying Duncan Kerr he was leaving that very day.

Not even a day's notice?

In fact, it seems he'd already cleared his desk and was no more.

A press release was issued after the meeting saying that Duncan Kerr would be leaving that very day. The only comment was from the dearly departed himself saying what a swell time he's had as boss of SKDC.

What wasn't in the press release spoke volumes. No comment from anyone other than the dearly departed himself, who claims he's decided to 'take his life in another direction'. Answers on a postcard, if anyone knows what that means.
A second press release appeared on SKDC's website at the same time to announce the appointment of an interim chief executive.

In contrast to the first release, Council Leader Linda Neal says the Council's strategic director has 'the council's full confidence and support' and she's 'delighted' that she's accepted the role of interim boss.

In other words, Duncan Kerr doesn't enjoy the council's confidence or support!

I don't know what's led to Mr Kerr's departure. Certainly, eyebrows were raised last year when he was given three months (unpaid) off for a biking holiday when it seems that the council realised they could manage without Mr Kerr.

This time, it seems, he's been told to get on bike and don't bother coming back!

Lincolnshire Tories of course have form in 'getting rid' of Chief Execs.

At the county council, the Chief Exec David Bowles called in the police leading their Leader Jim Speechley going to prison for abuse of office.

The Tories vowed to 'get rid' of David Bowles for his 'treachery'.

The price to the public purse was a massive £400,000 pay-off to Mr Bowles which the Tories tried to keep secret.

After that disgraceful episode, the county council was forced to pay a massive premium to attract top officers to work in Lincolnshire.

Much has changed since then. But every taxpayer in Lincolnshire is still paying the price of Speechley.

So isn't it reasonable to now ask what's the price of Mr Kerr's departure?

It seems that, like Mr Bowles, the Tories wanted Mr Kerr to go.

Are we expected to believe that he just decided to simply walk (or cycle!) away from his £105,000 a year salary without giving any notice?

Or has he done a deal?

If so, what's it costing us?

We deserve to be told.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Boris walks out on Select Committee

Boris walks out of Select Committee, objecting to questions over London Transport snow chaos...Watch his performance HERE