Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Anger over veil of 'secrecy' at County Council

With the Conservatives state of the area debates doing the rounds complete with useless information, and no base data to ‘prove’ the source of the £65M black hole the Tories have created themselves since May 2017, Councillors from the administration are running out of scare stories which in some cases, they've been peddling for 8 months, in other cases, they've become a bit of a scary obsession for some councillors.   

In this weeks Courant, new and ambitious Councillor Nick Oliver (who is rumoured to have close links with his local MP) has hypocritically waxed lyrical stating “It is important we are open and transparent as possible as we progress with this process.” Wonderful and possibly admirable, if it wasn’t for the fact reports have been printed in the Times two weeks running, in the Chronicle,Courant and Northumberland Gazette with stories based on the confidential information contained within the ARCH review which was undertaken by the Tories own private investigator (we wonder how much he's costing the taxpayer?).  

The leaks to the press through leaking information that other Councillors are not yet aware of including most Conservatives from the Tyne Valley and the North of the County, is disturbing and very 'dark'. The Tory inner circle of their 'secret society' is simply chugging along regardless, creating innuendo to cover up the financial mess they have decided to saddle the taxpayer with. We say 'decided' and 'saddle' purposefully because its Tory decisions taken by their Cllrs that is creating the council's black hole.
Decisions like starting up 'phantom' departments, halting the move from County Hall, stopping the Portland Park contract in Ashington, scrapping the core strategy and opening up the 'developers paradise', paying off senior officers and worst of all scrapping Labour's plans to save £30m without any plan to put in its place. We've not even mentioned the 8% rise factored in for council tax over the next two years. Is this maladministration or is it just plain incompetence from a Tory team?
It seems the Tory nirvana is to recreate 'Castle Morpeth' district council (a council that struggled financially and had its own penchant for police investigations). Witchunts and dodgy dealings seem to be the order of the day amplified by their dedicated and worshipful band of social media groupies. Innuendo and falsehoods complete the 'toxic' mix.  

What ever it is, it falls outside of the constitution of the Council and we must remember the constitution is the bedrock of the Council. Northumberland Tories are proving that they can’t be trusted with confidential information, taxpayers money and the truth.  

 Nonetheless they have decided, just like Castle Morpeth Council, to steer the ship onto the rocks and they are ducking and diving to hide the truth under their claim to be the 'most transparent council in the country' just because they don't want to be criticised for their poor financial handling of the Council. If you doubt their 'Trumpian tongue' compare this statement by Cllr Jackson, a man with so many secrets, he tries not to open his mouth when speaking.
He said in June 2017 that the outgoing head of finance and CEX of Northumberland County Council, Steve Mason had left a ‘Strong and Stable’ organisation which left the new administration in a good position to implement its policies. Now he says the same man left a £65m black hole. We suggest it can't be both can it?

The whole veil of secrecy is extremely bad for democracy and it's bad for the taxpayer. 


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