Disappearing tracks and a livestream murder

Equipped & trained to livestream a hustings to the public but prevented from doing so on 28 May 2019

I don’t remember dreaming last night. I often dream. But last night I slept that dark recovery sleep which comes night after night when you have been sleep deprived for a long time. Like Guinness. Dark and deep. No images. But something important got stitched together in the night. As I swung out of bed I knew exactly why I had got so cross yesterday about the livestream being cancelled during the hustings at the St Johns Hustings on Tuesday. Anger is never a good thing, but  it is the most important directional kick and motivator available. Incredibly powerful. Understanding it and reflecting on it matters: I always try to do that. I was puzzling about my feelings when I went to bed. But it took a whole night’s sleep to alert me to what had made me incandescent with fury yesterday.

I’d been looking in the wrong place for the answer.

Last night’s sleep brought me back to another painful memory. I am very aware of other candidates’ emotions: I’ve been upset several times. The way candidates are treated is very important. One party leader at the Tuesday railed against his candidate’s exclusion from the platform. I couldn’t help but sympathise. Candidates need so much support and help in doing what they try to do. It is impossible not to see the hurt and pain which they encounter on the way. During the night two memories of anger and a feeling of me personally being badly let down connected themselves together. I’d been reflecting on yet another occasion (yes standing for election is full of drama and high emotion!), but of course: it wasn’t that occasion which mattered.

Nearly the same thing happened before. Of course it did. I was told years ago at another hustings that a professional recording would be made and that it would be broadcast but it never was. My performance on the platform was pretty awful. But the broken promise was what mattered to and hurt me.

That’s why I was nearly incoherent yesterday on Twitter. Do go and have a look. https://twitter.com/FionaRadic

This morning I am calm. I realise this is a rerun of what has happened before. There is a pattern. The murderer of tracks may have struck before.

The trouble with getting upset about things is that you can’t always confront the actual problem so you embalm it in a better buried place in your consciousness in order to “move on”. This is especially true if you are a directly affected and traumatised candidate. But as it happens, this week I have a huge advantage. I am not the candidate. True I am in recovery from having been the candidate in two very exciting and over close together elections. But I am deliciously and delightfully free of the specific challenges which every candidates faces: including having to put a lot of very important things on one side in order to deal with the urgent things. And I can sleep. I am looking after another candidate. But I am not him. I can reflect. I can think. Bliss.

A high level of disappointment between what was promised at an event and what is delivered is why I now go equipped with a camera and even a crew if I can assemble one and try to report on the event as well as perform (when I am a candidate) at a hustings. Of course this is entirely because it has happened before. My behaviour is totally conditioned by the occasion which sleep brought back to me. I’d somehow excluded it from my thoughts yesterday even though it was the causative event of my current behaviour. You can only know what it is like to do both jobs if you’ve done it. Candidates shouldn’t need to perform as candidates and as reporter. Multiple reasons why not, including obvious bias.

It isn’t an accident that I’ve never been elected. For me that is never, has never been the most important thing. A functioning democracy is far more important to me. I was aware when I started my blog things didn’t work properly in Peterborough.

Well here’s a very important example of things going utterly wrong. If you have an election, voters need to see the candidates as soon as possible so that they can make as good a decision as they possibly can.

Anything which supports that process is contributing to the workings of democracy. Huge numbers of people not directly involved in the party political processes help the democratic process to work as well as it can. They often don’t get a thank you. The vast majority get absolutely nothing in return. We need more of them and they need to be supported and feel far more empowered.

Anything or anyone which obstructs that needs to be identified and exposed.

Nobody and nothing should have had the power to murder the livestream on Tuesday.  The host of an event is in charge and a candidate at a public event is in a public place. So how was that even possible?

So today I’ve decided to stop yelling frantically on twitter, get out the meditative garden fork which is my blog and ask people what they can tell me about these recordings and who stops them being broadcast and why. And if they are used, who uses them. Comments are open if you can talk openly (you can comment anonymously too). But you are very welcome to use my contact form (see top right) if you can’t talk openly.

I certainly

won’t be

handing over my contact details to an organisation which has no address on its website, whose location is variously the world, London, and whose “editor” refers me to a script writers’ agency. Even if I agreed with the campaign. I think this organisation is just a bunch of shy Tories (Conservatives). Happy as ever to be corrected, of course: just add your comment. If these paid for and targeted facebook ads are indeed only showing up in Labour Party constituency voter feeds, as has been suggested, how can that be done without access to the electoral register, and if you have access to the electoral register, who provided it to you? and why don’t you have the courtesy to provide electors with an imprint (What’s that? See below)? The mini pictures expand if you click on them. Incidentally, Peterborough isn’t a Labour Party constituency any more, because our MP has been ejected from the Labour Party and is currently an independent.         

What is an imprint?

The imprint is the little bit of text which tells you who is sending you this election material (yes, I think it is), on behalf of whom or which organisation, and where you can find them. This enables voters to get in touch. It also enables voters to see how much money is being spent on a campaign and who is donating that money (because election expenses and donations over a certain sum have to be reported after a certain date). Here are extracts from published guidance about imprints. You can find more here .

The almost invisible Holdich Motion

The Motion which was not properly discussed at last night’s Extraordinary General Meeting in Peterborough was this:
Ferris motion
Ferris motion

The full text reads as follows:

EXTRAORDINARY COUNCIL

AGENDA ITEM No. 3

13 APRIL 2016

PUBLIC REPORT

MOTIONS ON NOTICE

The following notice of motion has been received in accordance with the Council’s Standing Order 13.1:

1. Motion from Councillor Ferris, Councillor Fower, Councillor Johnson, Councillor Knowles, Councillor Murphy, Councillor Sandford and Councillor Shaheed

Council notes the announcement by the Chancellor of a devolution deal for the East in his Budget on 16 March; but regrets that the deal, in its current form, is not acceptable to this Council.

Council requests that the Chief Executive write to the Secretary of State for Local Government to bring this resolution to his attention.

The proposed East Anglia Devolution Agreement can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/508115/The _East_Anglia_Devolution_Agreement_FINAL_with_signatures_and_logos.pdf

A hard copy of the document will be available in each Group Room.”

But this was not debated. Instead:

The wishy washy “Holdich Amendment” was passed.

You wouldn’t pick up what happened if you just watched the BBC News at 10pm (which I did and which Cambridge City Council members may have done). And if you looked for what follows on the council’s website, you wouldn’t find it (as I write).
Holdich Amendment not included Website at 10:15 16:04:14
Holdich Amendment not included screen shot at 10:10 on 16:04:14
The council did publish it on its Twitter profile: ***

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The ruling Conservative Party’s Holdich Amendment was discussed and voted FOR. It thus becoming the substantive motion and the only item which could be voted on. This removed any opportunity to discuss the original motion. It also positioned the council as unhappy, but wishing to remain in the conversation. At least one councillor believes that the city would have been excluded from discussions on the “proposed East Anglia Devolution Agreement” #ToryDevolution #EasternPowerhouse or what I think it is: #PseudoDevolution had it voted FOR the Ferris Motion.

 

EGM PCC 16 04 13

Holdich amendment
Holdich amendment
The council published this, but only on Twitter at 7.15pm last night (the meeting began at 7pm). The council has not published this, which is the Order Paper and which shows how the Amendment took precedence over the Motion. I believe it was highly discourteous to Cllr Ferris, the author of the motion to reveal it to him only at c 9.30 on the same day, especially since most people know he holds down a full time job as well as his councillor role.
Cllr Chris York and (I think) Cllr Yasmeen Maqbool did not make the meeting and didn’t send their apologies. The other absent councillors are listed below on my annotated Order Paper.
Nobody asked for the vote to be recorded, so electors cannot identify (nor could I) who voted for what on the second vote.

First Spalding Road. Now Fletton Parkway!

Oh! Spalding Road!
Spalding Road is the A16.

The A16 from Peterborough to Spalding subsided and was closed (if I remember correctly before it opened) until remedial work was completed. It starts in Paston Ward and travels through Northborough Ward in the Peterborough unitary authority area (governed by Peteborough City Council).

It then enters the Lincolnshire County Council & South Holland District Council areas where it travels through county & district wards: Crowland & Deeping St Nicholas, Moulton (Weston and Cowbit) and Spalding St Mary’s

It also passes through the following parishes:
Newborough, Borough Fen (Peterborough)
Crowland, Cowbit, Weston and Spalding South (South Holland, Lincolnshire)

It travels through two parliamentary constituencies: that of Peterborough Borough and South Holland and the Deepings.

The Fletton Parkway is the A1139

The roadworks which are currently underway and which have hit a £4.5M size brick are within the following areas of local government:

parliamentary constituency: North West Cambridgeshire
unitary authority area: Peterborough City Council
unitary authority wards: Orton Waterville, Orton Longueville and Orton with Hampton
parishes: Orton Waterville, Orton Longueville (and an unparished area)

Further reading

New Listerner

http://www.newlistener.co.uk/home/city-announces-massive-cost-overrun-on-infrastructure-project-due-to-unforeseen-circumstances

Peterborough Telegraph

 

30th January http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics/politics-news/contaminated-soil-and-new-works-land-city-council-with-4-5-million-roads-bill-1-6549612

2nd February http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics/politics-news/councillors-hit-back-at-mismanagement-claims-over-added-4-5-million-cost-to-fletton-parkway-widening-1-6556083

Was there a Clerk of Works?

Oh!  Again.  Check out the last frame!

To the best of my knowledge Clerk of Works is currently not a role within the organisation structure of Peterborough City Council (I can’t find the role on their website). Happy as always to be corrected.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST – FOI-14-0299 A1139 Fletton Parkway

Although it looks from this document as if there were “site supervision and clerk of works functions” identified, it is clear that one contractor to the council appointed another contractor to the contractor to perform the roles. This is not the same as having one qualified person on one’s own team and begs the question who the possibly qualified person was. Happy as always to be corrected.

If Clerk of Works is the role which secures budgetary control (see above video), why isn’t Morson (the contractor apparently covering the role) picking up 100% of the £4.5M cost overrun?  One way to establish the reason for this would be to subject the relevant contracts and subcontracts to scrutiny by a person competent in law of contract.

Personally, if I were the council I’d bring the role of Clerk of Works straight back in-house to establish and secure a clear line of responsibility and management.  A good properly qualified person in this role could save the city a fortune over time.  I know that breathtaking achievements (even if you only count the beans) are often made, quietly and without a brass band, by people doing this sort of job for other organisations.

Information on the history of the role of Clerk of Works within Peterborough City Council’s remit very welcome.

 

Mini Sit-in at Call-in

Last night the committee with a very long name about which I have blogged previously met again, this time to consider a Call-In Request.  It met to decide whether or not to call-in the decision made by Deputy Leader Councillor Matthew Lee (CONSERVATIVE) to make Viridor the preferred bidder to run the council’s planned incinerator (Lot 1).

The members of this committee are:

Cllr Maqbool had given advance notice of her absence and Cllr Dale McKean attended in her place.

At the end of about four hours of lengthy, soporific, off topic but occasionally revelatory proceedings the  committee decided 4 to 3 to reject the request for a call-in.

Voted AGAINST calling in the decision (and therefore supporting Cllr Lee’s decision)

Councillor Marion Todd  (Chairman) CONSERVATIVE
Councillor Graham Casey  (Vice Chairman) CONSERVATIVE
Councillor Mohammed Nadeem CONSERVATIVE
Councillor Dale McKean  (Reserve) CONSERVATIVE

Voted FOR calling in the decision (and supporting reference back to Full Council or decision maker, but unable to vote for either option since the other vote took place first)

Councillor Stuart Martin LABOUR
Councillor Nick Thulbourn LABOUR
Councillor Judy Fox INDEPENDENT

The meeting began at 6pm with Apologies and Declaration of Interests.  No declarations of interest were made.

The Committee voted once again without any discussion whatsoever and without reference to any submission to it to maintain the exemption of key documents.

I could not identify who voted which way nor, without a discussion, why.

The meeting has already been covered elsewhere by the Peterborough Evening Telegraph and Park Farm Neighbourhood News  This morning it was discussed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

At nine o’clock the Chair was persuaded to move to a comfort break followed by a short public session for sharing the “milestones”, (possible timescale for implementation of the decision) followed by the exempt session.

This time excluded members of public and press were invited to use the Forli Room and make themselves a drink.  We were also invited back for the non exempt conclusion of the meeting, so there was an opportunity to observe the vote and further non exempt discussion.

When the committee announced its readiness to go into exempt session some members of the public decided to stay seated.  This would be a protest at the absence of any public interest debate.

The Chair invited the beadles to try to throw us out and a beadle was fetched and duly and politely invited us to leave.  (This has happened before to a couple of us at a Planning Meeting, but on that occasion a beadle couldn’t be found.)

We responded by asking the Chair to follow standing orders and invite a debate on whether or not the public interest might actually lie in sharing the information which is currently hidden and described as exempt.   She cheerfully agreed to this request and invited just such a debate.

No member of the scrutiny committee spoke in favour of disclosure or why it might be in the public interest to disclose exempt information (please correct me if I missed something).  In fact I can’t remember anything any of the committee members said.  I do remember three legal arguments being presented by the council’s lawyer.  No committee member countered these or put up alternative or competing views.

Councillor Lee‘s contribution to these proceedings was to protest his willingness to go out of his way to share more than he was legally obliged to in advance of the moment when he was legally obliged to share it, but he would seriously consider never doing this again if this was the kind of reception his helpfulness got.

Cllr Nick Sandford (LIBERAL DEMOCRAT) who was present and sitting alongside members of the committee by virtue of his position as a political group leader did speak out at this point (and at many other moments) in favour of publication, openness and (a new point) fairness (by then quite a few nuggets of exempt information had been dropped into the public domain by the pro-incinerator team which appeared to be free from the obligation placed on councillors to maintain secrecy).

The Chair seemed to me slightly less hasty to stop people talking than she has been at previous meetings.  Slightly less grim.  And all Tories present seemed entirely confident of the outcome of the meeting.  She didn’t rush to silence so many contributions this time.  With the notable exception of Councillor Nazim Khan (LABOUR), who sat alongside the committee (by virtue of his position as a political group leader).  He was prevented from speaking twice, I think.  I am not sure why, except that on one occasion I surmised that it might have been to allow the committee members to speak first.  But that is another blog.