The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'Local politics' Category

25 November
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Rotherham Child Protection – Dumps On UKIP Members But Hesitant About Kebab Shop Groomers…

The row that has broken out over Rotherham Council’s decision to take three foreign born children away from the couple who were fostering them because they were members of UKIP has certainly hit a public nerve. It’s a huge story not just in the tabloids but also the broadsheets and even the BBC, usually keen to avoid portraying UKIP in a sympathetic light, has been leading with it.

Initially the Labour controlled council stonewalled with pravdaesque blandness

Joyce Thacker, the council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, had earlier toured radio and television studios to defend the decision, saying the children had been removed in order to protect their “cultural and ethnic needs”.

But even boneheaded Labour apparatchiks can sometimes sniff the shifting of a public mood and are now promising a review of the decision.

Of course this is not the first time that Rotherham Council has been at the centre of a row over the care of children. It has been claimed that, as in Rochdale, over sensitivity towards “cultural” issues explained why for years the issue of Asian men grooming and exploiting young girls for sex was pushed under the carpet for fear of being accused of “racism” or “islamophobia”

Now Joyce Thacker has some form here as well – see how she contorted herself to avoid committing the deadliest sin of the church of political correctness…

Joyce Thacker, the strategic director of the children and young people’s services directorate at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, has a vast amount of experience in dealing with sexual exploitation of young people. She says that it is “interesting” to note that most of the men involved are Asian but that it is primarily an issue of the abuse of children by older men.
“What about the younger boys who are sent to befriend the girls in the first place?” says Thacker, “Are they also victims of abuse? Certainly we need to ensure that more work is done within all communities that explores positive, healthy relationships, or these young men may end up being the abusers themselves.”

However it could be that as more stones are being turned over as a result of this UKIP story Joyce Thacker and the Rotherham’s Labour political elite might be having to answer a lot more questions….

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05 July
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The Aged P & Neighbours Do Some Real Street Democracy….& Get A Result!!

We did it!

We got West Sussex County Council to abandon their plans to remove the yellow lines and turn Street Hill into a public car park again – and we did it the old fashioned way….instead of sitting on our backsides muttering about it we actually worked together to show WSCC that the real local residents most affected by the dangers of heavy parking on Street Hill wanted the lines retained.

I just wondered who it was locally who wanted the lines removed – were they people who lived along our road of 53 houses? So I composed and printed off a brief flyer and delivered one to every house. It was raining, some houses had feisty dogs who appeared only too willing to hurl themselves at a hand as it pushed a leaflet through the letterbox and almost every house had a letterbox in a different position.

The flyer listed the reasons why I supported the retention of the yellow lines and my e mail address should they wish to comment. Then I went home for a sandwich and waited, wondering if I was just another retired old fart with nothing better to do than get worked up about parked cars.

The rest of the day passed by without any response so I was preparing to shrug my shoulders and admit defeat. Then in the evening my blackberry started pinging as people replied…”totally support”…”thank you for doing this”….”have already contacted WSCC”…….I had a result!

Within two days I had e mails of support from a third of the houses I had canvassed….

I must add that we are a very private, suburban road. We know our immediate neighbours very well, a few others are familiar by sight but about 80% are completely unknown to us. I was swapping e mails with people who I wouldn’t recognise! We came to the conclusion that we needed to reach the 60% who had not replied in order to get a sense of local feeling – otherwise we might fall into the trap of being a vocal minority claiming a false mandate….not uncommon in the UK or the USA, I fear.

So we drew up a petition and a team called on every house to invite signatures.

The response was overwhelming. Every house visited was not only keen to sign but happy to give voice to their own frustrations over WSCC’s intentions. Eventually we had signatures from 51 out of 53 households – and the two who did not sign were on holiday and would not return until after the deadline for responses had passed. But neighbours assured me that both household would have supported us.

I scanned the completed petition and sent one copy to the WSCC official who was implementing the proposal and another to the elected member who was chairing the relevant committee. Then we waited for the next step, a public meeting where the WSCC would report their own conclusions and take comments.

At the start of the meeting it was clear that the news was good. 99% of the public response (which almost entirely came from our road) was for retaining the yellow lines. It was also clear that the county engineer agreed with our view that parking along that hill would be dangerous at any time. So the proposal was to keep the lines as they were.

2.4 The majority of the objections are with regards to a revocation of the restrictions that formed part of the original proposals.
2.5 Road markings installed as part of the original proposals have been in place for approximately four months. During this time WSCC officers have not received any complaints from members of the public with regards to either not being able to park along Street Hill or with regards to displacement of parking into other roads on the network.

Towards the end of their report, in the dry, unemotional officialise that must always be the signature style of such pronouncements could nevertheless be found the very essence of representative democracy, the leitmotif of 1000 years of law and custom that developed into government by consent rather than diktat.

6.2 If the proposals are implemented some members of the public may not believe West Sussex County Council is acting in their best interests.

At the meeting one or two voices from different parts of our town claimed that they were speaking on behalf of others when they complained about the parking restrictions. But they could provide no hard evidence to back up their claims. Vague references to “chatting to others” was just not good enough when I could honestly say, as I did, that, on this topic, I was truly representing the views of my neighbours.

Strange to say, I felt highly privileged to convey that message and just briefly felt a bond with all those other people, often nameless, who have spoken up for their fellows in years gone by in Britain and North America.

Or am I over egging the pudding?

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19 June
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Residents Anger At WSCC Proposal To Amend Parking Restrictions On Street Hill, Worth……

I know we should be concerned about Syria, the euro and lots of other problems across the globe. But in reality it’s almost always local issues, literally at street level, that get us fired up…maybe because we can actually get a handle on what is happening and the direct impact.

Hence my post on January 26th 2011 was a cri de coeur – yet incredibly the gods smiled upon me..until a few days ago…

When we drive out of our road, Allyington Way, we almost always turn right into Street Hill because that way leads to the main road (B2036) and the M23 or Crawley.

A few months ago turning right would have been a little more difficult

Now once we have turned right we drive about 150 yds downhill along this road to the T junction at the bottom

Previously we just hoped and prayed we wouldn’t meet another vehicle coming up the hill

It’s quite a busy little hill because it acts as a cut through to avoid traffic on the main road so you can see how pleased the residents of Allyington Way were when West Sussex County Council published a notice saying they were putting down those double yellow lines to ban parking at any time.

A bit draconian to do that, you might ask?

I don’t think so.

For many years during weekdays only the odd car parked on Street Hill. At weekends church users might fill the road up but rarely for longer than a couple of hours at the most.

The parking problems came with the construction of a nearby industrial estate by the northbound Jct 10A of the M23. Not only did several employees park all day on the hill but it also appeared to be become regularly used as a storage area for vehicles from the car dealership on the estate. Then at other times it was clogged with Sky vans, either from the industrial estate or maybe from meetings at a nearby hotel. The volume of parking often turned the hill during weekdays into a virtual one way street. The double yellow lines have stopped that. Where these vehicles have gone is unclear (a handful still park in the unlined area further up) but they do not appear, on weekdays, to be parking locally.

You can therefore understand why last week we were astonished to receive a notice from West Sussex County Council saying they were going to remove most of the double yellow lines in the first and third pictures above – thus allowing the return of the inconsiderate parking seen in the second and forth pictures.

Straight away we realised that the restoration of the scene in picture 2 would raise serious issues.

Firstly the pedestrian slope onto the pavement on the east side that is just to the north of the entrance to our road would no longer be protected by yellow lines. Since the upper west side of Street Hill has no pavement this means that, as before, pedestrians who need to cross from west to east might well have to squeeze past parked cars and possibly miss that slope completely…hard luck if you are blind, a wheelchair user or have a toddler in a pushchair….or the grass verge is muddy.

Indeed it would really be going against official guidelines because, at present the double yellow lines opposite our road help to reinforce Para 217 of the Highway Code

217: DO NOT park your vehicle or trailer on the road where it would endanger, inconvenience or obstruct pedestrians or other road users. For example, do not stop
• opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
• where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users

I know that before the lines were painted weekday parking – and some weekend parking – made a mockery of Para 217 yet the WSCC proposals will allow those inconsiderate drivers to inconvenience local residents once again. It just seems odd that WSCC are quite sanguine about this.

I contacted WSCC and our local WSCC elected member, Councillor Richard Burrett, to find out why. It turned out that a number of people living in Saxon Road about 500yds up the hill had claimed that vehicles would move up closer to them during the week and park in and around their road – what they called “displacement parking”.

Fair enough, I suppose. The sensible option would have been to monitor parking for maybe one year to see if that did happen and then make a further judgement on the results. But for some reason there was panic in County Hall and an amended proposal to black out the lines put forward as a “compromise”

This rather cack handed response has made us very unhappy and we are asking ourselves why a so called compromise would actually restore almost everything we had complained about over several years – and why the views of those living further up the hill should carry such weight.

The joke of it is that there is no evidence that on weekdays there has been any “displacement parking” further up the hill and very little at weekends. This is just a big fat nothingburger.

I’m sorry, WSCC, this is simply not good enough. The people of Allyington Way are very unhappy that the residents of another road appear to be able to convince the county council to amend a Traffic Regulation Order by mere speculation rather than systematic monitoring over a twelve month period.

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