google count

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Forensic internet detectives sought in cyberspace

Forensic internet detectives sought in cyberspace

Since 2009 Martin Brookes, others and I have been subjected to cyber stalking. I complained in writing to the police on several occasions and was told no crime had been committed, no incident number was given to me and no crime number. Since about 1989 it has become clear that those who identify the wrong in our society are rarely tolerated and often their lives are made impossible, in the hope that they will seek to end it via suicide. See the high profile cases of Katharine Gunn, David Shayler, Julian Assange – but unfortunately one doesn’t have to be famous to be subjected to tactics meted out to well-known whistle blowers.

On 1 March I complained to Sgt Foster at Oakham Police Station about the latest cyberstalking campaign conducted through: ‘oakytaxidriver’ on tweets and blogs at: and As usual the police said no crime had been committed and refused to give me an incident number. On 2 March Martin Brookes said if we sent an email to Davescab and he replied Martin would be able to trace the ip address. In the absence of a law enforcement agency to assist us I sat in the library with Martin Brookes and sent an email. That evening yet more blogs appeared. Martin was very upset and I met him outside Oakham Police station. On 3 March I made a complaint about Inspector ‘Johnny’ Monks, Sgts Collier and Foster and their inaction. On 27 April finally Inspector Mansfield saw me and said he was investigating my complaint and that Oakham Police should have acted on my complaints. However he decided to ask Oakham Police to run the investigation!

On 11th May I was sent three texts of tweets advertising the newest blogs on I rang them in on 01162222222 and have heard absolutely nothing. Leicestershire Police Standards have suggested I complain through the IPCC. The level of police corruption in covering up the poster of davescab.blogspot and his forty-two followers leads me to suppose that appealing to the IPCC is a waste of time and energy. As I pointed out to the police yesterday all the police have to do is to identify the poster of the davescab.blogspot and the tweets of oakytaxidriver and their 42 followers to find those responsible for this protracted cyberstalking campaign.

A Rutland County Councillor, Nick Wainwright, has also suffered fraudulent postings on a face book page, which he immediately closed down. Talking to Cllr Wainwright on 6th May, he said that his home computer was hacked and the facebook page fraudulently reinstated. So there is a history of political cyber stalking in Rutland. The Police have Councillors on the Joint Action Group and seem averse to identifying their online activities, from the Rutland Chat Forum, Planet Neptune through to various malicious blogs. According to a Standards for England Enquiry Johnny Monks appeared to ring Helen Briggs to assist a Councillor when being questioned on an assault charge against Martin Brookes. I did cancel my access to Oakham library when postings were made in my name on Martin Brookes’ blog, so proving my innocence, however one cannot keep proving one’s innocence if that is always overlooked, and a new cyberstalking initiative propagated.

So what is the point? Doubtless there are good people out there happy to be our path to enlightenment and I would ask the computer experts to trace the history, IP addresses of these blogs and tweets and their 42 followers, so that we can, in the absence of any will on the part of Leicestershire Police, bring some light to bear on who these people are.

So, if you’re a computer expert, perhaps you might like to solve a riddle, which eludes Leicestershire Police. If you can trace the IP addresses, names and addresses of those on the Rutland Chat Forums, now closed; Planet Neptune, now closed; - now closed and, so far as I am aware, still open: and tweets from Oakytaxidriver then you’re a better man than any in the whole of Leicestershire Police. Do let me know what you find, in fact if you let Martin Brookes know too at he would also be most grateful.

705 words

cyber stalking, Martin Brookes, Oakham, Rutland, Rutland County Council, Rutland Police, Johnny Monks, Leicestershire Police, Helen Pender.

Feast of the Enlightenment of the Buddha

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Feast of the Enlightenment of the Buddha

Today is the feast of the enlightenment of the Buddha – Gautama Siddhartha who lived about 2,500 years ago. On the Today programme this morning Thought for the Day was given by a Buddhist, who told us that the Buddha sat beneath a tree for one long night and emerged as the latest incarnation of an enlightened man. Which made me wonder, what is ‘enlightenment.’ Collins’ dictionary gave the following explanation:

‘Buddhism: the awakening to ultimate truth by which man is freed from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations to which all men are otherwise subject.’

Then there is the ‘Enlightenment’ – note the capitalised ‘e’. ‘An eighteenth century philosophical movement stressing the importance of reason and the critical reappraisal of existing ideas and social institutions.’

I have to admit being a tad impatient with all those do gooders who insist that they ‘only look for the good in everything,’ knowing that the overlooking of evil, applying size twelve blinkers if you will, allows evil to flourish. This Blog is dedicated to enlightenment, full uncompromising enlightenment, not the partial enlightenment of overlooking evil to concentrate on the good. For by my reasoning that route leads inevitably to chaos and a vacuum of social order as those dedicated to sleaze are allowed to get away with murder, larceny, corruption and criminal dishonesty. If we are to be freed from the endless cycle of chaos in our world should we perhaps enlighten ourselves about the evil which exists in our midst and show a will to deal with it? Enlightenment is not just self-knowledge, it is knowledge of the environment one inhabits. Let’s hope that we can all achieve enlightenment on this the feast day of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

293 words

Buddha, enlightenment, cyber stalking, Oakham, Rutland, Rutland County Council, Rutland Police, Johnny Monks, Leicestershire Police, Helen Pender

Who guards the Guardians?

The Electoral Commissioner was sent a copy of my account of the irregularities which occurred during the recounts for Oakham South West – five recounts in all (see below). I received an email from a Mr Nyack at the Electoral Commissioner’s Office recommending that I get the Returning Officer, Mrs Helen Briggs, to investigate herself. Well I’ve heard of self-regulation but is this a joke?

Email received from Mr Nyack at the Office of the Electoral Commissioner:

Helen Pender
View Contact
To: Mark Nyack
What other suggestions do you have when the Returning Officer herself was the offender? This is surely obvious in my account of what took place at the count? As one of my voters said recently, you appear to have all the power and effectiveness of a chocolate teaapot.

Helen Pender

From: Mark Nyack
To: ""
Sent: Thu, 12 May, 2011 12:56:33
Subject: Helen Pender

Dear Helen Pender,

Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission.

The Commission does not have the power to investigate allegations of offences occurring at the Count. If you believe an offence has been committed, you should contact the Returning Officer at your local authority and outline your concerns.

Kind regards

Mark Nyack
Public Information Officer
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0728
Fax: 020 7271 0505

We have moved. Please note our new address.

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Democracy matters

* Please consider the environment before printing this email.

From: Helen Pender []
Sent: 09 May 2011 11:38
To: Midlands Inbox
Subject: Complaint Oakham South West Five recounts Rutland County Council local election 6 May 2011

Dear Sir / Madam

I am formally lodging a complaint about the count / five recounts for Oakham South West, a full account of which follows at the end of this email.

I should like my complaint investigated outside the Midlands area to ensure that those involved are not able to influence the outcome of this complaint.

Yours faithfully

Helen Pender
Shurely not!

Original - sent to the Electoral Commissioner 10th May 2011:

I began to take an interest in the race for second place in Oakham South West after about two or three recounts.

The table, where the recount was taking place, was surrounded by Conservatives, including Cllr Roger Begy, the Conservative Agent – whose name I don’t know, Cllr Terry King, Cllr K Bull, as well as a smartly dressed, pristine, Conservative candidate from Ketton who had won her Conservative seat uncontested. The myth that party allegiances do not have any bearing in Rutland County Council’s local Government was finally put to rest by this gathering of Conservatives at the counting table.

Peter Jones, a Conservative, was one of the candidates, but I had to double back to find out who the other candidate for second place might be. I was told it was someone called Richardson. Stupidly, the name meant nothing to me, but it seems he is an Independent and had no one observing at the counting table on his behalf. Both Peter Jones and Mr Richardson were absent from the count.

I wandered back over to the table where the recount was taking place. Roger Begy, both hands planted palms down on the counting table, with elbows akimbo as he leant in towards the counting officer, was a difficult obstruction to overcome, however I did manage to slip through that hurdle. Having found a place all the Conservatives asked me to leave the table, saying: ‘You are not the candidate, you are not the agent, you shouldn’t be here.’

Remarkably, Mrs Helen Briggs, the Returning Officer, then came over and repeated that mantra, ‘You are not the candidate or the agent, you shouldn’t be here.’ She went on to say that as the Returning Officer she was in charge and I should leave my observation post. One should of course obey a lawful instruction by the Returning Officer.

This was an unlawful order. I would submit that this intervention to support the Conservatives’ ridiculous instruction to me, by The Returning Officer, Mrs Briggs, needs a thorough investigation.

With all the Conservative people on my side of the table asking me to leave and the Returning Officer, on the other side of the table, also asking me to leave, I had no choice but to point out that there were at least four people representing the interests of Peter Jones on my side of the table and one of me representing the interests of Richardson, a man I didn’t know. (Although when he turned up he said that he’d thought we’d met in the Wheatsheaf, but I couldn’t clearly remember doing so, although his face did seem vaguely familiar) I also pointed out that all candidates at the count not only had a duty to themselves, but also had a duty to observe the proceedings on behalf of others, to ensure a free and fair election. This shouldn’t have needed saying, least of all to any Returning Officer.

Then quite stupendously the Conservative Agent said he was: Only here to observe a fair election,’ so implying he was not representing Conservative Peter Jones’ interests!

For the Returning Officer to seek to exclude the only non-Conservative from the counting table was so breathtakingly outside the scope of her statutory duty, that I went over to beg Cllr Richard Gale to come to the counting table too. Cllr Richard Gale seems to play a fairly straight bat.

He came over in time to see that there was a ten vote discrepancy on the reconciliation of votes. (276 – 286 – between pencilled count on the tally sheet for both Jones and Richardson and votes counted on the table for both candidates, yet the final vote for both candidates was double this??? – 277 & 279. Jones’ votes on the pencilled tally sheet were far fewer than Richardson’s.) Before the reconciliation was made Helen Briggs ordered the votes to be taken from the counting table. I was speechless and paralysed for a couple of minutes.

Turning to one of the women counters I asked: ‘Is that correct the unreconciled votes have been removed from the table?’

To which she replied: ‘I couldn’t possibly say.’

With the votes back on a large overloaded desk in the roped off staff area, at the southern end of the Council Chamber, I asked Cllr Gale to get Richardson to the Count. He rang Richardson’s number and handed me the phone. ‘Mr Richardson, you don’t know me, but my name’s Helen. Where the bloody hell are you?’ I said. Everyone could hear me as, I am told, Joyce Lucas mimed a double-handed pot stirring in her chair at the Western end of the room. ‘I am at the Count,’ I continued, ‘and your unreconciled votes have just left the table with an unreconciled 10 vote discrepancy. You have to get over here now, I can’t represent your interests, I am not your agent and I won’t be able to examine the spoiled voting papers.’ (276 – 286 discrepancy between the marked pencilled tally sheet to number of votes counted. This was for both Jones and Richardson. However the final vote was 277 and 279, so I really don’t understand what was being counted in this 276 – 286 vote/tally sheet count. Clearly all the votes were not on the table at this point.)

This discrepancy was never reconciled or explained to me as an observer. Nor did I see it resolved.

Cllr Richard Gale then gave the phone to Cllr Roger Begy. Begy looked like an embarrassed schoolboy as he giggled nervously into the phone and promptly gave the phone to Cllr Gale mid sentence. By handing me the phone Cllr Gale had given me the opportunity to allow Mr Pook to overhear what was going on and my less than dulcet tones informed the room what was happening. The intimidating Conservatives posse began to melt away. I felt they knew they had been rumbled.

Throughout the count the policemen present sat in an eastern recess of the count and hardly moved from their seats. At no time did a policeman venture out from their chairs at the eastern end of the room towards the count for Oakham South West at the western end of the room. It would be nice to have a summary, from all the officers who attended, of what their instructions were for the count on Thursday 6th May.

Furthermore, before the unreconciled votes left the table there had been a nine vote bundle in which voters had voted for both Richardson and Jones. When the votes were brought back to the table there were now eleven voting papers in that pile. Curiouser and curiouser.

During the next recount I noticed that the Conservative Agent began leafing desperately through the 11 vote bundle. Prompting me to say: ‘Excuse me sir, but you are not meant to touch the voting papers.’ At which point the counter nodded her agreement. Why did the counters not have the confidence to issue this instruction themselves? Were they too intimidated to do so? Should one, as a rank amateur, have needed to say this to a qualified Agent for a major political party?

Both the Agent and Roger Begy should be admonished for repeatedly touching voting papers. For the Conservative Agent to pull the bundle of eleven votes towards himself and begin leafing through it, using both hands, is surely a major infraction,

Mr Begy had jabbed his finger at the papers, on more than one occasion, in a rather intimidating fashion as he leant over the counting table with both hands openly resting, palms down, on the table. I felt his stance and finger jabbing was designed to intimidate the counting staff. The fact that counting staff did not have the confidence to tell the Conservative observers that they shouldn’t be touching the votes at all was indicative that they might have been intimidated.

Richard Gale then spotted that one of the voting papers in the eleven vote bundle for both candidates had one vote for Richardson and one vote for the person above Jones on the voting paper. That vote was removed and placed in Richardson’s pile. As the votes were removed from the table again, the chic Conservative woman from Ketton said, ‘That means there’s another discrepancy so we’ll have to have another recount.’

To which I replied, ‘But it’s clear that one vote was placed in the wrong pile, so that discrepancy is fully explained.’

Through the day Mr Pook sat at a desk at the back of the roped off staff area behind a desk in a recess at the southern end of the Council Chamber. To his right was a large desk (about four small tables planted together) which was full of papers and it could not easily be seen what was going on there when the voting papers were regularly returned to this large desk, which appeared to belong to Mrs Briggs, to the right of Mr Pook in the roped off staffing area.

In front of Mr Pook was another table with a ballot box on it. Most remarkably a pile of votes, placed on this table, in the roped off staff area was found, by Mr Pook, on this table, obscured from sight of the observers, behind a ballot box.

A pile of these votes was returned to Mrs Briggs’ desk to the right of Mr Pook from the desk in front of Mr Pook. Now all the votes were back on the Returning Officer’s large desk, out of plain sight in the recess of the roped off Staff area in the recess at the southern end of the Council Chamber.

Furthermore the lack of reconciliation (276 – 286) discrepancy between the pencilled sheet and voting papers was never explained to me as I watched the unreconciled votes leave the counting table.

Mr Richardson finally appeared. He’d been coaching a Rugby Club in Stamford. The votes were brought back to the table once again and this time they were recounted very very carefully. The counters seated at the table behaved impeccably throughout despite grabs and stabs at the voting papers by Conservatives as the desperate Conservatives sought to verify what the counters had ascertained.

This last recount appeared to be properly done. However the infractions I observed of the Conservative Agent, Roger Begy and most of all the Returning Officer, Mrs Helen Briggs, led me to conclude that up to that point something decidedly odd had gone on. In my view Mrs Briggs does not have sufficient probity to fully understand her role and I do not have faith in her conducting her duties adequately as a Returning Officer in any future election. Nor does she have the intellect to conduct a vote with any degree of finesse. Having observed her at the counting of the postal votes the night before, 10pm 5th May, she clearly relied on Mr Pook’s greater knowledge of voting procedures. I would submit Mrs Helen Briggs was less than professional and at times behaved like a partial amateur. Her determination to order me away from the counting table is ample evidence that although she was clear that she was the Returning Officer, she was unclear as to the legal niceties of her role. In short she sought to intimidate me and was absolutely ignorant of the fact that she misbehaved.

Finally the announcement was made – my apologies but the spelling of names may be wrong: ‘Joanna Burrows (Lib Dem) 178 votes, Alfred Dewis 266 votes, Joanna Figgis 285 votes, James Harrison 139 votes, Peter Jones 277 votes, Philips (Lib Dem) 131 votes, Richardson 279. 14 spoilt papers and a turn out of 48.41%’

Various Conservatives, who had said they would stay for the counting of the Parish votes, then high tailed it out of the room and into their cars.

• Mr Begy should not have placed both hands on the counting table and jabbed his finger at votes as he did so.

• The Conservative Agent should not have leafed through votes with both hands.

• I should not have been instructed to leave the table by the Conservative Agent and Mr Roger Begy.

• The unreconciled pencilled tally sheet for both Jones and Richardson should not have left the counting table before it was reconciled.

• I should not have been ordered to leave the counting table by the Returning Officer.

I should like an investigation made into the conduct of Mr Roger Begy; the Conservative Agent and the Returning Officer Mrs Helen Briggs for their conduct during the recounts for Oakham South West on Thursday 6th May.

2,455 words

Helen Briggs, Local Election, Rutland County Council, Roger Begy, Richard Gale, Richardson, Rutland, Oakham, Conservatives, Helen Pender, Multum in Parvo, Peter Jones, Martin Brookes


I drove Martin Brookes, Candidate for Greetham, to Greetham Ward on several occasions and found posters maligning Martin Brookes strewn in public places, one within yards of Roger Begy’s home on Greetham High Street. The most vile accusations were thrown at Martin Brookes on these posters throughout the campaign. One would have thought this was not a very clever thing to do in a two horse race. Wouldn’t one?

At a planning meeting 48 hours before the election Martin Brookes was able to ask his opponent, Mr Begy why he hadn’t taken steps to distance himself from these posters. What was Begy’s reply? ‘I don’t read your blog.’ An imaginative non sequitur!

The first posters were black and white, stapled or drawing pinned to bus stops, wooden poles, fences and most worrying of all in the official Parish notice board in Clipsham. Some of the staples matched those staples on the poster for the Air Ambulance. At Clipsham, on the first occasion we spotted the notice, we thought we might remove it. But this is an official Parish notice board. We decided instead to track down the Parish Clerk and found the Parish Clerk for Clipsham mowing his lawn. We took him to his notice board. He rapidly read the poster and asked whether any of the accusations were true, picking out one particular accusation. I must commend the Parish Clerk for his speed-reading of a document he said he’d not seen before. No doubt Clipsham have a very able and erudite public servant in their midst. What a treasure he must be.

As usual Martin Brookes wittered on at length in a convoluted explanation. Eventually I summed up more succinctly and the Parish Clerk said ‘Well I don’t understand it. There are a lot of funny things going on.’ I am not sure but did I sense a degree of disappointment in the Parish Clerk’s face when I offered my explanation?

We were satisfied that no more posters would appear in the Official Parish notice board in Clipsham. How wrong we were. New coloured posters slightly amended were issued during the week of the election and wonder of wonders there, skewed with just one drawing pin, in the official Clipsham Parish notice board was a new poster! This new poster, presumably in a vicarious distancing of Roger Begy from the poster, proclaimed: “This poster produced by ‘The Friends of Greetham Ward’. It is NOT produced by the RCC, OTC, The Conservatives. The Cabbie nor any individual Society thus accused by Mr Bookes to date.” Well that certainly makes it clear who produced it. Doesn’t it?

However my congratulations go to a user of one of the bus stops in Greetham who had torn down the leaflet. This was found flapping in the hedge at the first bus stop in Greetham. A deep thank you goes to the upright citizen whose sense of fair play led him/her to tear this poster down.

BBC Radio Leicester appeared at the Count in Oakham on 6th May. I bumped into them as they returned from a coffee break and showed them one of the latest anonymous leaflets, which Martin Brookes had removed and cut out his photograph, using the top part as his own election poster. The reporter immediately said ‘Are you Helen?’ Hardly anyone reads my blog, she had clearly been briefed by someone. Who had briefed her and why? She wasn’t prepared to say.

She asked for a copy, so I went to the library and, only having a 20p piece, made two copies. One of which I handed to BBC Radio Leicester. They opened the boot of their radio car and fiddled with a couple of switches, turning off their equipment as one reporter sat reading the leaflet in the back of her radio car. The mike was placed in the boot, but I was not interviewed. Despite this I began to suspect that I was being surreptitiously recorded. Isn’t it amazing how paranoid one can become when faced with an anonymous campaign?

They asked who was behind this campaign. My reply was that I didn’t know but it was funny that the poster had been issued in an area in which there were only two candidates. They asked whom I might suspect. I pointed out that these people hide behind their anonymity, but said that they behaved like terrorist cells, the campaign is coordinated and yet each anonymous cell appears to be acting autonomously and separately. (However I have no doubt that the 42 followers of would be a fair point to start in lining up the possible suspects.)

What I didn’t say was that living through this onslaught of anonymous tweets, blogs, postings and posters is a little like living in a third world country with a despotic and dubious band of autocrats determined to silence any voice of opposition. Shenanigans in the Kingdom of Swaziland sometimes pale into insignificance beside the Kingdom of Rutland.

Like my childhood home, Rutland appears determined to silence any opposition. In Swaziland the opposition is regularly locked up and false accusations levelled at political opponents. The newspapers in Swaziland are prevented from reporting anything but censored news. Whereas in Rutland…

Rumour has it that the new editor of one of our local newspapers is a Conservative who tried to stand for election but was prevented from doing so since she had only just moved back into the area and did not satisfy the residential requirements for prospective candidates. If what Cllr Gene Plews tells me is true, this is only interesting as a litmus test of the political allegiance of our local press.

The only independent and free press would seem to be our blogs. At least one of which has been hacked. A local lady I bumped into recently said: ‘You have to stop otherwise they will destroy you. Your blogs and your emails will be changed. You just can’t win.’ She was clearly upset.

The problem as I see it is – if I stop they will just grind me into the ground silently. Whether I blog and use email or take a vow of omerta, I will be silenced. Better by far to go out attempting, however vainly, to speak out, than to be silenced by fear of intimidation, which will continue come what may. Martin Brookes said he received an offer to arrange financial help from Cllr Terry King yesterday, (16 May) which he has now posted on his blog.

In the face of a despotic regime one should always struggle, however vainly, to speak out before one segues into oblivion. In the despotic Democratic Republic of Rutland let’s hope that we can find others with the courage to ensure that eventually the miscreants are traced and brought to justice.

1,132 words

Helen Briggs, Roger Begy, Rutland County Council, Roger Begy, Richard Gale, Greetham, Parish Clerk, Rutland, Oakham, Conservatives, Helen Pender, Gene Plews, Martin Brookes

Monday, 4 April 2011

Oakham North East Ward - Candidate - Helen Pender - RUTLAND COUNTY COUNCIL ELECTIONS May 5th

Helen Pender
Why is our money going to prop up Brent Council?

HELEN PENDER – Independent candidate - Oakham North East Ward.

I’m asking you to help me change the face of local politics on May 5th in order to deliver a more transparent, more accountable, local democracy.


For example, I would like to know how our council justifies giving a two million pound, soft terms loan to Brent Council? Was half a percent (0.5%) really the best interest rate that Rutland County council were able to obtain? Or are the people of Rutland being asked to fork out for overspending in Brent?

We have had various differing reports on what has happened to the money lost in the Icelandic banking fiasco and none of the explanations has been consistent. First we were told that we were going to get all the money back (about a million pounds) – then we were told that we had got all the money back – then we were told that most of the money had been returned – then we were told that we’d recovered just over 50%, but that further instalments were expected. I am not even sure that the members of Rutland County Council (DC), whether Councillors or Officers, know what the real position is – particularly after the local paper reported that our council “found” £1 million recently. No one knows where it was hidden or how it was ‘found.’

To ensure that the money we lost in the Iceland banking fiasco is not repeated we need to be told the thinking behind our investment policies.

This is your money that “they” are misusing and you should be told why approximately 7.5% of our annual budget has gone to Brent Council; when we can expect to see the money returned and why such a small interest rate was fixed.

Had Brent Council gone to a bank for this loan they could have expected to pay at least 6% interest to a bank. Why does Rutland County Council believe that they should use our money to help out a London Council? What on earth induced RCC to make this sort of ‘investment’? Who knows? I don’t. But we should be told. I intend to ask these sorts of questions.


The decision to turn down Sainsbury’s is an economic disaster for Oakham. Tesco needs real competition. Some of their pricing reflects the virtual monopoly Tesco has in the area. By denying Sainsbury’s permission to build at the end of Land’s End Way we have given up 300 jobs (equivalent to 200 full time jobs) and a real competitor to help keep down food prices for supermarket shoppers. One of the arguments was that the land Sainsbury’s intended to build on had been set aside for office use – since around 2001. The fact remains that no one has wanted to build offices on this site for ten years and no one else looks likely to want to build on the site.

Nothing has been built on the Sainsbury’s site and so no jobs are being created.

We are gong to be entering an era of severe local economic recession due to the closure of RAF Cottesmore and HMP Ashwell with the loss of hundreds of jobs and the consequent loss of hundreds of people able to pay Council tax. One of the reasons we haven’t attracted sufficient B1 office use on the site, on which Sainsbury’s wish to build, is due to the fact that offices built on that site will have nowhere for office workers to buy sandwiches, petrol, and essential stationery. A supermarket on the site will ensure that it becomes attractive to would be builders of offices.

(See posting on Sainsbury’s planning fiasco for a more in depth analysis.) Oakham needs to be rescued from the short term thinking which has dogged this Council. I am not connected either financially or in any other way to Sainsbury but will campaign for Sainsbury’s planning application to be accepted and will support any appeal they may make.


The Government has offered substantial economic inducements to build new housing. The RCC new housing initiatives on the Hawkesmead Estate and elsewhere will net the Council well over £500,000 in subsidies from Central Government. However there is a real problem for people who do not drive. Our public transport system is in a dire state. Without a car, residents cannot work on Sundays in either Stamford or Melton (since we have no buses at all on a Sunday and no trains run until the afternoon); mid-week the last bus to leave Peterborough for Oakham is at 4.40 pm. Residents can’t even go to a nightclub, see a film or the theatre in Stamford or Melton, since our public transport system makes it impossible to return on the evening of the performance. Residents unable to drive cannot work or play outside Oakham.

Many households cannot afford to run more than one vehicle and others, especially pensioners and young people, do not have access to motor vehicles. This limits their mobility, both for leisure and for work.

Oakham’s economic future depends upon having a decent public transport system which will be the key to future growth in an increasingly difficult local economy. Employers like RAF Cottesmore and HMP Ashwell have left and we desperately need to attract new businesses to the area. Without public transport we are rudderless and hopelessly adrift in these difficult economic times.


I intend to really listen to electors. The fact that almost everyone I have spoken to in Oakham has supported Sainsbury’s planning application is a proof of the sad reality that local Councillors neither listen to their constituents nor vote in their interests.

Can you help to change the face of local policies in our local Council? - Yes you can.

Printed and published for Helen Pender care of Finkey Street, Oakham, Rutland LE156AG telephone: 07749571341

Friday, 25 February 2011

Rutland County Council Development and Control Licensing Committee Meeting Tuesday 22 February 2011.

Also Known As: The Sainsbury’s planning application fiasco.

There were three public deputations: Mr Fletton spoke in favour of the officers’ recommendation for refusal of the planning permission for a Sainsbury’s Supermarket to be built at the end of Land’s End Way. Why?

Well this was the elephant in the room. Put at its most simply, if I am right, Waitrose has promised to buy a site on the old Rutland College site when they move to Barleythorpe. Waitrose promise to pay top dollar and the monies will go to RCC, who have to stump up for converting Barleythorpe to a New Further Education College. But no one mentioned this all evening. The clue lay in the fact that Mr Fletton is head of Rutland / Tresham College in Oakham.

BUT – Waitrose have said that if planning permission is given to Sainsbury’s then they will not be interested in pursuing their proposed development on the old Rutland College site. So it seems - no Waitrose, no money for a new College. Ergo Sainsbury’s planning application had to be defeated.

However those are not legal or sufficient grounds for denying planning permission to Sainsbury’s. So instead we were subjected to arguments, from the planning officers of RCC about:

1. Loss of employment land. (Three hundred jobs are to be created)

2. The site is more suitable for B1 Office Development. (This site has been available for B1 Office use since 2001 and remains unused. Why? Because no one wants to build offices in the middle of nowhere if staff can’t even get a sandwich during their lunch break and have to negotiate an increasingly busy level crossing to get into the centre of town during a half hour lunch break – an impossibility.)

3. The employment of a foodstore is not as significant as would be created by the uses specified in the Local Plan. [B1 - Office use] (This is pie in the sky. This land has been available since 2001 and no offices have been built on the site. Undeveloped office land creates a 0% increase in employment. In fact the proposed store just uses up 8% of the whole area set aside for B1 Office Development. It would seem with the closure of Cottesmore and HMP Ashwell we are about to hit an economic slump of monstrous proportions. No company has been induced to build any offices on this site for over ten years. The logic of the officers’ arguments appears to be: ‘We want office jobs in the area, but since we can’t get offices into the area we won’t let anyone create retail jobs either.’ The people of Oakham desperately need bread today and the officers appear to be arguing in favour of a fantastical jam tomorrow project in the teeth of economic reality. I would argue that a Sainsbury supermarket is more likely to attract B1 Offices to the site. An employer is not going to believe it an attractive office site if there are no local amenities for staff to purchase emergency office supplies, petrol and sandwiches.)

4. Refusal is consistent with adopted Local Plan Policy and with Government Guidance in Planning Police Statement 4 [PPS4]. (There is some flexibility in that Planning Policy Statement 4 and anyway the PPS4 is ‘Guidance.’ A persuasive argument can me made that allowing a Sainsbury supermarket on the site will attract B1 office use in the longer term.)

5. The need for a foodstore of the scale proposed is marginal. (So let such a store be put on the margins of the town and attract visitors from rural destinations around the by-pass without clogging up the town centre. Conversely with the housing development at Hawkesmeade the site will no longer be so marginal).

6. PPS4 encourages main town centre uses in central locations. (Well why didn’t they say so earlier? Let’s just demolish the Castle and let Sainsbury’s build there. Or perhaps compulsorily purchase the land between Mill Street and the RCC, demolish the Museum and build a Sainsbury’s there. Surely huge great eyesores like Tesco. Waitrose, Sainsbury, Asda, Lidl, etc are better not polluting the aesthetic beauty of our town centres. No – it would seem that the planning officers have identified two alternate sites in the town – one on the Tim Norton site at the railway crossing and another, neither of which would seem to provide enough space in which to shoehorn a supermarket with petrol station. Anyway Land’s End Way is on a bus route and when the Hawkesmead estate opens, with small retail outlets in an edge of town development, the proposed Sainsbury site will no longer be so much ‘out of town’ as ‘edge of town.’ Quite the best place for an eyesore. Furthermore Waitrose proposes to build at the other end of Land’s End Way, not much nearer to the town centre, and you can bet your bottom dollar that planning permission will be recommended by the officers. I wonder why?)

7. A Sequential Assessment is required with any main town centre use proposed for a non-central location – i.e. are there more central sites that would be appropriate? (Already covered in 6 above – this argument was considered by the officers to be their clincher in turning down this planning application and much was made of it. It is merely a red herring, who wants to destroy our town centre with an eyesore? The architectural value of supermarkets is worse than a ‘carbuncle on the face of a very old friend.’ Supermarket architecture has all the charm of a Soviet bunker – except that Soviet bunkers are hidden below ground.

8. Refusal is in accordance with government guidance. (BUNKUM – it’s in accordance with the fact that Waitrose will get permission to build on the same road for some very short term financial considerations regarding a Further Education College’s relocation to Barleythorpe.)

The fact that Cllr Terry King, who pretends to sit on the fence, could be seen jubilating with Helen Briggs, the Chief Executive, after the meeting gave us a clue as to the real reasons behind this refusal. It’s time we asked the full Council to consider this planning application and only YOU the public can do that by popular demand. Write individually to each and every Councillor to demand that this application goes to the full Council. With luck that will happen after May and, with a following wind, all the Tory councillors, whipped in to vote against Sainsbury’s planning application, will have lost their seats. Only your letters and your votes can make a change in Rutland.

The meeting on 22 February was a disingenuous fiasco. The Rutland barn is full of foul smelling excrement. Let’s stop calling a spade ‘an excavating implement’ and let’s shovel this lot of ne’er do wells out of office, together with their jobsworth planning officers.


Thursday, 17 February 2011


Wednesday, 16 February 2011 at 7.30 PM

On accepting apologies once again, Cllr Swiffin’s apologies were presented and voted upon. However this time the Clerk and Mayor went to some lengths to say that Cllr Swiffin last attended a meeting on 15 September (having not attended many meetings in 2010 prior to that meeting) and that his tenure on this Parish Council would be subject to Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 after 15th March 2011. That means that the six-month rule on absences from Council meetings will not kick in until 15th March. The elections are in May and I wonder whether Cllr Swiffin will be standing for re-election.

The opacity of the last meeting of this Parish Council a fortnight ago was much reduced. Councillors were on their best behaviour. At the end of my report on the last meeting I wrote:

“I would beg the Standards Committee to ensure that one of their number attends every Oakham Town Council meeting to ensure that such disrespect for the democratic process is not repeated.”

The Standards Committee are to be congratulated on ensuring that a repetition of the wilful and vicious opacity of the last meeting of this Parish Council did not recur. It is a pity that this could only have been due to the presence of Mr Grimes, of the Standards Committee, who was greeted heartily by his first name. It seems that only if a senior teacher is on duty in this unruly playground will these children behave with a little decorum and respect for the democratic process.

However members of the public were again not given access to the appendices on the Council’s agenda and so were still unable to work out the finer points of items under discussion.

In particular item16: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND SITE BACK UP (Appendix II) To consider recommendations from the Council’s I T provider regarding the above and to decide whether to authorise:
(i) purchase of Network Attached Storage
(ii) Off site back up for Council documentation

After the meeting I was shown copies of emails by a member of the public; emails from Andrew Viney of Millenium Ltd, 17 Midland Court, Oakham LE15 6RD; to the Town Clerk, Richard White on the issue of item 16.

Both emails were dated 09 February 2011. The first email was sent at 09.19 and the second at 09.20. The first email gave three options for shared storage options:

1. Windows file sharing - £60 labour excluding VAT
2. Network attached strategy - £206.99 excluding VAT
3. Windows SBS server – cost between £1,500 and £3,000 depending on specification.

You will note that the agenda supposed that the Network Attached Storage - option 2 - was presupposed without considering items 1 and 3 or explaining the options to Councillors, who, I understand, did have a copy of these emails. However I must have missed the vote on (i) of item 16 of this agenda because I do not remember anyone actually proposing to vote for the second option on this email. Of course not having the appendices in front of one makes it very difficult to follow what is being discussed and what is being voted for.

The second email began:

“Richard, Further to your conversations with Nick please find prices for the managed online backup solution…

Prices per month: PC license £2.00
Per Gb £1,40”

The Clerk, Richard White, stated that only about 5Gb of information would need to be shared and stored, whether that was per month, annually or infinitely one could only guess. Cllr Adam Lowe did a quick calculation and worked out that this would mean a cost of around £9.00 per month.

The proposal was put to the meeting and seven Councillors voted to accept the quote with one, Cllr Lowe, voting against. Cllr Lowe did not speak on this item or explain why he had voted against it. But I was able to have a brief conversation, after the meeting closed, and it seems he has reservations on the lack of other tenders or quotes but feels too new to be able to properly grasp what is being done.

I too was more than a little confused and really wonder if the Clerk had made a decision prior to the meeting and just wanted his decision rubber stamped, with no possible quarter for discussion. That would beg the question - why?

But my own reservations go far deeper. Somehow the arrangement all seems rather too cosy. Who, for instance, is Nick? Does Nick have a surname and what is his connection to Millennium Ltd? Who are the Directors of Millennium Ltd, what sort of relationship do they have with Councillors or Officers? How close is Nick to the Clerk, Richard White? Is ‘Nick’ Cllr Nick Wainwright of Rutland County Council (DC)? If not, who is he? Has ‘Nick’ been leaving tasteless messages on Martin Brookes’ blog? Can we continue to tolerate a ‘no names no pack drill’ ethos on this Council?

Having asked for FOI data in the past I somehow doubt that this rather cosy arrangement, with a no surname seemingly local mate of the Clerk’s, can be truly relied upon for properly stored information retrievable for Freedom of Information purposes. Certainly copies of what I was given last year seemed to be incomplete.

So far as I was concerned Councillors voted on an expenditure of £9.00 per month and I completely missed a vote for item 2 on (i) of the agenda. Although Cllr Lowe voted against this item of expenditure he didn’t tell the meeting why he voted against it. Surely Cllr Lowe, having started so well in demanding fiscal probity with proper tenders and quotes, is not going to be cowed by an entrenched tradition of maladministration. Is he?

Item 12. LIBRARY TO CLOSE EARLY. It seems that RCC is proposing to cut the opening hours of Oakham library by two hours per week. A letter has been received asking for £2,500 from Oakham Town Council to subsidise the loss of these opening hours and continue to open during evenings when, through bad public transport, those who work outside the town might visit the library during the week. Oakham Town Council refused to augment the loss in budget and suggested that the library close an hour earlier on two of the three days when the library closes at 7pm. Since Mondays are unlikely to have a heavy footfall it would seem better to close at 5pm rather than 7 pm on Mondays in order to allow those who get back to Oakham after six pm to visit the library on Wednesdays and Fridays.

THE CLERK’S REPORT, under item 8, told us that there is to be a march past on 31 March for the two flights left at RAF Cottesmore as a final farewell. True to form Cllrs Dewis and Lucas made a bit of a song and dance over something the RAF itself seems to want to keep quite low key. We were told that the RAF is keen that this is not a repeat of the Freedom of Entry parade.

Cllr Lucas said: “My concern is that we have such a lot of armed forces retirees in Oakham… Such a shame for my husband and my neighbour.” I gather her husband and neighbour are both ex forces.

Frankly there is a sense of entitlement in those retirees from the forces who have settled in Oakham. The presence of people like ex-commando, ex-Councillor Paul Beech has been nothing if not a stain and a blot on the political complexion of Oakham. If men like that, who seem to think that being ex-forces allows them to transport the bullying ethos and anarchic thuggery of service life into the life of this town, had not been involved in local politics we might have a better run Parish Council.

I have recently been told by Martin Brookes, who assures me that he has blogged and has evidence that Rutland County Council’s ‘investment’ of M£2 with Brent Council (at half a per cent interest) coincided with, local business, Jeakins Weir’s contract payment from Brent Council. It may be remembered that a recent prize from the Conservative Association’s fund raising draw went to Col. Weir. When do coincidental loans or ‘investments’ of this order become political dynamite?

With our dilatory local press it seems this will never even become a political bone of contention.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Why is capitalism failing?

That we are in an economic recession, there is no doubt. That right wing politics and politicians come to the fore in times of economic recession is attested to by the History of the Third Reich. There is a laager mentality which ensues; “I’m alright Jack, blow you,” which becomes prevalent during such times. That corruption becomes rife, authorities deliberately wink at sharp practices, is attested to by the lack of political will to regulate the banking sector properly and of course the Andy Coulson debacle; where even our Prime Minister was prepared to wink and give Andy Coulson a ‘second chance.’

Our Government tells us that we all have to bear the burden of the economic recession. However, our Government fails to see the obvious; that the ordinary worker never benefited during the economic boom. Labour imported migrants, which kept profits high and wages down, so playing into the hands of the fat cats who tried to keep wages to £6.00 per hour or below. These workers, many of whom are working for viable business which the banks are refusing to give loans to, are facing redundancy, higher fuel prices and higher VAT on those fuel prices. Can this Government not see that the burden cannot be borne by the poor? They bore poverty during the boom years and have no fat to cut during this recession.

In a rural area, like Rutland, there is no Job Centre at all. It is considered that £65 per week is sufficient to keep body and soul together, whilst trying to heat that body. Those on the poverty line are trying to live on cold food to save electricity, turning off their fridges to save electricity, giving up their televisions to save money and still they are not able to make ends meet. This Government, having decided that the minimum to keep a person alive is £65 per week, rising in April by some £2.00, deliberately winks at the policy of having closed Job Centres, so making the rural poor pay from £6.00 to £10 in travel costs to sign on in order to receive their paltry subsidy. These travel costs are not taken into account by any Government, so each person who has to travel to sign on is surviving on less than the bare minimum the Government considers it possible to live on - of £65 per week.

I joined the Conservative Party under Ted Heath and frankly that Party would now be considered unconscionably Socialist in its care for the poor, its commitment to the National Health Service and a level playing field in education. Our best Universities are embracing academic decline as they raise their fees to £9,000 per annum, so making an education, once more, a privilege for those who can afford it, rather than merit it. It is time those who do have fat to cut are made to acknowledge that too many people are being made to live well below the poverty line, the real poverty line which means that at the end of a fortnight there are three or four days in which even pasta at 28p a packet or stale bread reduced to 30p a packet is beyond their means. It is time we addressed the endemic corruption, which relegates more and more people to the ‘sin of poverty’ and started demanding that we no longer wink at the felonies of capitalism stripped, as it has become, of moral virtue or ethical considerations.

Corruption impoverishes us further and it is time we took action against companies who gain insider information about PFI contracts for say the Air Ambulance Service; ex-military or corrupt police types who set themselves up as ‘private eyes’ and tap our phones and correspondence; banks who pull the rug on viable companies and cricketers who bowl no-balls for profit. These are just the visible tip of a very destructive ice-berg which is holing the Ship of State. We are closing our eyes and ears to all the alarm bells in the hope that the holes won’t sink us.

We are sinking and, whilst the first-class passengers are jumping into the lifeboats, the rest of us are facing a very bleak future.