Friday, 28 November 2014

"Socialist" [Cooper] Lies to the Poor!

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE, AN OBVIOUSLY SATIRICAL, LAMPOONING REFERENCE TO DARREN COOPER HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REDACTED ALONG WITH CERTAIN WORDS WHICH ARE FACTUALLY TRUE.

May I start by saying this story - like many others in The Skidder - came via "information received". There are many good folk in Sandwell and beyond who are prepared to contest blatant porkies from Sandwell Labour and I am most grateful for their help.

Let me take you back to 21st April, 2014 when The Guardian did a piece about the local welfare provisions which allow councils to provide emergency help to the poor. The article pointed out that some £67m remained unspent by English authorities despite these austere times.

Step forwarded the twittering moron who purports to "lead" Sandwell Labour - yes, "xxx xxxxxxxxxxx" [lampooning reference redacted] himself, Darren Cooper. The Orifice of Oldbury immediately sought to gain political kudos and for those unfamiliar with Twitter "re-tweeted" (RT) the link to the article and added his own quote - shown in bold:

"Councils sit on £67m help for poor (link to Guardian item) < RT Not in Sandwell all allocated to most in need"

This was just after the end of the 2013/2014 financial year and The Skidder team was contacted to say that this was, er, untrue.

I have tonight received a response to a Freedom of Information request (you know - the ones "xxxxx" [lampooning reference to Cooper redacted] loves so much) which says:

1. The total LWP (Local Welfare Provision) budget for 2013/2014 - £1,334,354;

2. The actual LWP spend - £765,462.59. The underspend was reallocated to the LWP budget for 2014/2015.

And so, whilst the oafish Cooper has been bouncing up and down about austerity and Tory cuts, his Labour Group deprived the poorest and most vulnerable folk in Sandwell of over 43% of the emergency monies due to them and then he lied about it!

Of course, he says his ludicrous boasting on twitter is nothing to do with SMBC which is why he puts his twitter name on his official business card! "Xxxxx" [lampooning reference to Cooper redacted] - and Sandwell Labour - you have shafted the poor again (like you did with the CTR fiasco) AND tried to take us all for mugs!


THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                    Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Direct line to Police Fraud Team - DS Wayne Haynes - 0121 251 2175

Bubalo's Statue - You Couldn't Make It Up!

The latest news on the "celebration" statue is something of a Sandwell "classic".

You will recall that this is supposed to be a private project run by "businessman" "Sunny" Jim Cadman (see blogs passim). I have written in detail about that gentleman and also the mysterious involvement in all of this of Sandwell Labour's joke "leader", Darren "The Turdmeister" Cooper, but let's have a look at the planning situation again.

Mr Nick Bubalo, Sandwell's Planning Supremo, is alleged to have taken it upon himself to authorise a £30,000 donation from Sandwell Council for this thing and then decided to make a planning application HIMSELF on behalf of a private businessman - Cadman - for the statue to be erected on land owned by Tesco.

Bubalo not only made the application with his name as the applicant on behalf of SMBC but then went on to decide HIS OWN application HIMSELF!!!! Surprise, surprise - the application was granted! All this was hidden on the SMBC website under the "street record" section for New Square. Bubalo used another SMBC employee - Alan Reynolds - as his "agent".

I have questioned this with Sandwell Labour's £124k per annum Head of Legal, Neeraj Sharma, as all this is clearly tainted with illegality. An underling has responded, appearing to say that although SMBC could withdraw this application voluntarily they have no power to "rescind" it without a Court order. It is too late to apply for judicial review and so Labour appear to be saying they are happy to act illegally and unless they get caught out by the courts they will carry on regardless! They seem to be banking on the public of Sandwell being too poor to take court action against them and so they can act - as usual - with impunity.

In view of the clear illegality I have asked SMBC to voluntarily withdraw the application (and even though this may be academic - see below) this should still be done.

I have also asked who paid the fee for the planning application? Surely the taxpayer didn't also have to pay this on behalf of Cadman?

SMBC have now written to say that because the proposed monstrosity is 3.35m high and, therefore, less than 4m high, there is no need for planning permission anyway - something that seems to have escaped the Head of Planning and SMBC employee Reynolds! It was allowed all the time, they now say, under Schedule 2, Part 12 Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended)!

Again the question of the fee becomes relevant - if it was paid by the taxpayer will SMBC be asking Mr Bubalo to reimburse it?

At least 3 Council employees worked on this application on behalf of a private businessman including two very senior ones whilst being paid by the taxpayer. Now they say it was all unnecessary! "Planning Department of The Year" - don't make me laugh!

DON'T FORGET THE CONFIDENTIAL PHONE NUMBER FOR DETECTIVE SERGEANT WAYNE HAYNES - 0121 252 2175 OR E-MAIL THE REGIONAL FRAUD TEAM INVESTIGATING SANDWELL COUNCIL AT - rft@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

(Incidentally, the moronic Cooper and his Unite pal Rickers have again been mocking the police investigation via Twitter. They claim the complaints of myself and many others are being treated as a joke by "the laughing policeman". Perhaps you can help to wipe the smiles off their faces? Or maybe Cooper thinks Sandwell is immune noting his (unbelievable) position as Chair of The West Midlands Police & Crime Panel whose members no doubt find his "laughing policeman" stuff most amusing and helpful in fulfilling their duties).

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737





Thursday, 20 November 2014

Statue Fiasco Latest - Cadman Speaks! (Sort of....)

Where the Skidder leads the mainstream media are now beginning to follow and it was good to see the Birmingham Mail take up this story (though I haven't seen anything yet from the Wolverhampton arse-lickers!)

Let us just analyse such new information as there is following the Mail article:

1. The statue is to cost £220,000 which is substantially more than previous Cadman/Ibbeson productions;

2. The £95 per head Laurie Cunningham Tribute Dinner - to be held in Birmingham and not West Bromwich - scheduled for 10th November had to be cancelled. It seems good folk were not keen to avail themselves of such a tempting offer or even Cadman's special price of just £900 for a table of ten!;

3. Cadman is still alleged to be fronting this private project (but see my blog of 18th November). As with all his other statue projects he has not produced any accounts to say how much has been raised and where exactly the money has gone to. Sandwell Labour have nicked £30,000 for infrastructure improvements and paid it over to someone in respect of this but have refused twice to say - under the Freedom of Information Act - who exactly the money has been paid to! Cadman won't say either and so I am having to appeal to the Information Commissioner;

4. It is again claimed that this is a private project organised by Cadman which begs the question why Sandwell Council's planning supremo, Nick Bubalo, applied for the planning permission and then granted HIS own application. Clearly the grant of the planning permission is tainted with illegality and I have formally written to Sandwell's Head of Legal to ask that the current permission be rescinded. Watch this space...;

5. Cadman alleges that he has raised £155,000 or the £220,000 so far in cash and, er, "pledges". Once again where is the money? What bank account has it been paid into? Where are the accounts for the public to see?;

6. Cadman claims  that West Brom's own statue to the legendary "Bomber" Brown has "taken priority". This is, er, bollocks. The two projects were mutually exclusive and the Brown statue was nothing whatsoever to do with Cadman;

7. The "dinner" will  - says Sunny Jim - take place next year and "the profits" will so to the statue appeal. Once again it is highly unlikely that any accounts will ever be published as to how the "profit" was calculated - certainly if past form is anything to go by;

8. Sandwell Labour have said they will not be putting in any more money apart from the small matter of £30,000 already handed over and the recent £1,469.90 Labour diverted from the Arts Festival monies to promote it over two days (one sixth of the entire festival budget). Yet Cadman claims that the Council will give "continuing backing". So what form will this take then?

9. The Mail spoke to me yesterday prior to running their piece and said that Sandwell Council were giving them a statement - although there is no mention of them having done so in the article itself. Normally the motormouth Labour leader [sic], Darren "The Turdmeister" Cooper, is pushing this wretched thing for all it is worth but suddenly seems to have gone quiet..... Tell us Cooper - precisely where is the £30,000 of public money now? Who has it?

Perhaps the good folk of Sandwell should forget this daft idea altogether and erect a statue to two other local heroes instead:

Muppet on a String!
Finally and on a related theme, cash-strapped Sandwell College are taking such an interest in this thing that the Board of Governors discussed it at their July meeting although the minutes are opaque as to why! The actual minute reads:

"In response to a further query, members were informed of the current position with regard to the "Three Degrees" statue..."

Who asked the question and who gave the information? Surely the latter was not the Labour Council's Chief Executive Jan Britton who has been placed by his political masters on the College Board where he laughably sits as an "independent" member. The College insist they have not put any money in (or been forced by Labour to do so as part of the bent Public deal) and so why are they getting "reports" on the project ahead of the voters who have stumped up £31,469.90p? Maybe ordinary folk just don't count in "socialist" Sandwell......

(Please don't forget the Police Fraud Team direct line - DS Wayne Haynes - 0121 251 2175!)

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:  thesandwellskidder@gmail.com             Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Guest Blog No: 4 - Bob Woods - A Letter from The Lyng.

I am delighted to welcome Bob Woods back to this blog particularly as he is a "man of the left" and provides some political balance to my own witterings. Please fell free to contact me if you fancy writing here on a Sandwell-related theme - political or otherwise - and, as you will see from what follows, you don't have to share my views!

L-R Mo Taj (Pres. TUC); the late Bob Crow and Bob Woods
FEAR AND LOATHING IN SANDWELL - A LETTER FROM THE LYNG by BOB WOODS


Corruption has no place in our society and in our local government. There are allegations of malpractice at Sandwell Council and whether the Leader likes it or not these matters must be thoroughly investigated. It is not appropriate for Darren Cooper and his associates to simply attack those demanding proper scrutiny - especially not a Labour and trade union loyalist such as myself. I am a left loyalist but I’m not tribal, if its wrong I say so!  


It is alleged that there has been, at best, incompetence within the Council and, at worst, fraud. There are clear questions that need answering concerning nepotism, the interference by elected officers in the day to day running of the Council (and the related question of why highly-paid officials have permitted this) and possible corruption. The Skidder has shown time and again that the Council has shrouded its activities in secrecy and despite clear claims from Mr Cooper that this is to change, there is no evidence at all of this actually happening.

There is anecdotal evidence that a few members of staff are directly involved in malpractice. The vast majority of the rapidly diminishing workforce are, however, unsung heroes delivering services in difficult circumstances, but in Sandwell apparently having to also face bullying and intimidation from “above” (something that particularly concerns me as I regularly represent Work Stress at trade union conferences and meetings).*


I have to say that I never personally stood for election in any capacity for the benefit of myself, family or friends. My time as a Labour school governor in East London or as a Unison branch secretary for 10 years was for the good of the community and the workers I represented (including on the Unison Voluntary Sector National Committee). (I did stand for a council twice but failed although this was hardly surprising as this was in Tunbridge Wells - not exactly renowned as a Labour heartland!) There are people like me amongst the 70 Labour members of Sandwell Council and I hope they will come to the fore in the coming months - both to ensure good governance and to make sure that Labour also represents the large percentage of local inhabitants who did not vote Labour (and not least because I also want to see Ed Miliband sweep to victory next May).

With this spirit I “joined” (if that is the right word) an ad hoc group of people scrutinising the activities of Sandwell Council and including The Skidder. Unfortunately this has led to some unpleasantness. Of course, Councillor Cooper has wasted no time in branding me a “disgrace” to the Labour and Trade Union movement and even a “traitor” via twitter. That social media channel has also been used by a senior local trade union figure who appears to have close connections with Cooper to attack me and fellow “scrutineers”. Some very unpleasant “trolls” have also come and gone.


I have had a couple of unpleasant phone calls but, worse, about a month ago was actually confronted by two aggressive young men in a West Brom restaurant who stood in front of me and told me to “shut the f*ck up on twitter”. That incident was reported to the Police but I remain unbowed.

It has to be said in all fairness that if the alleged corruption etc was at a Tory Council the left and the unions would be attacking it all over the mainstream and social media. We cannot permit “double standards” to apply here.


One other matter concerns me is that if Ed is going to make it into No.10 he needs to win the key marginals and whilst the three Sandwell seats appear “safe” the situation is much closer next door in Halesowen (VERY close in a recent Ashcroft poll). To its credit the Halesowen News has bucked the trend of the local media and started to hold Sandwell Council’s leaders to account but I do not want local shenanigans to damage the party further afield. Clean out the stables Mr Cooper and let us go and win an election and take back Halesowen & Rowley Regis!

The public and, in particular, council employees can help in the cleansing process. Of course the latter are afraid (not without good reason) of victimisation but they should not let the activities of a few besmirch the reputation of the many. On the positive side, police outside the Borough are now running the investigation and they can now be contacted direct and in confidence.


Please continue to contact The Skidder with any concerns (even though I disagree with some of his anti-labour sentiments and occasionally florid style) and also the police. Everyone should remember the words of Edmund Burke (including trade unionists, labour members and local councillors):

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (or women) do nothing”.


Please note the confidential line to DS Wayne Haynes of the Police Regional Fraud Team 0121 251 2175.

* http://www.workstress.net/

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com           Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Celebration (!) Statue - Sandwell Labour Keeps Mum!

This is a long blog but I make no apology for that as this episode clearly shows the sick way Sandwell Labour conducts business on behalf of voters and taxpayers. Now - please - kindly read on....

Regular readers will know some of the information about the so-called "Celebration Statue" proposed for West Bromwich. For the benefit of new readers, the planned statue (if the money can be raised) is of West Bromwich Albion's magnificent "Three Degrees" but it is not destined for The Hawthorns and is not funded by the football club. Instead Sandwell Labour want to plonk it in the middle of New Square, West Bromwich and have diverted £30,000 meant for public infrastructure improvements to this allegedly "private" project.

Below the subscription is a list of previous posts on this subject but suffice to say here that a person with a cynical state of mind may have noticed that "anti-racism" is a hot topic in football at the moment and that the Football Association, The Premier League, the Kick it Out campaign etc etc are throwing shed-loads of money at defeating such undoubtedly vile behaviour. But where there is money.....

Step forward serial "statue entrepreneur" Jim Cadman. He sets up various "funds"/"appeals" around the country - which are not registered charities - and raises money for statues to be erected. If you read his materials you will come away with the impression that this is an entirely philanthropic venture and yet, to date, Cadman has steadfastly refused to state the legal status of the various appeals or to produce any accounts to show how much was raised and where the money was actually spent. Why the reticence when most of the money is from the public and/or the public as taxpayer?

Readers will know that Cadman has been involved with a string of dissolved companies and - directly - with one that recently went into liquidation with large debts of over £100,000. Most of his companies have as their "Company Secretary" one Mark James Cadman (who is believed to be one of Jim's close relatives). That gentleman was involved in yet another company that went bump - Media Lights Limited. Whilst Sunny Jim was not the Secretary or a Director of that Company he did hold himself out as being its representative to a newspaper in Lancashire and the registered office address was eventually moved to Jim's address in Stourbridge. Media Lights went bust recently owing over three-quarters of a million pounds. This included £14,091 to the taxman and a mere £246,231.36p to hard-pressed local authorities (including £66,205.75p to neighbours and fellow Black Country basket case, Wolverhampton Council).

Let me just re-wind a bit to look at the history of this matter in the light of a recent Freedom of Information reply. It is known that Jim Cadman had a contract with Sandwell Council a few years ago and that the termination was to be negotiated with boing boing barmy Cllr Darren Cooper - the self-appointed "Voice of the Baggies", plus Cllrs Eling and Hussain.

I asked a simple question via the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) as to how this project came about and how Cadman came to apply for public funds. You can see the whole history of the request and replies at

 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/legal_status_of_the_celebration#incoming-579062

but the fact is that the crafty comrades have not answered this question either through the initial request nor through an internal review. And so it seems that this was all done by telepathy. Or else there was a stitched-up private deal behind close doors between Labour and Cadman? What do you think readers?

Boing Boing Barmy (as long as it's your money and not his)!
Incidentally, the blog, allegedly written by idiotic Council Leader, Darren Cooper (though not generally in reality, of course) stated: "The Celebration initiative is being led by Black Country businessman Jim Cadman with the help of Sandwell Council".

The FoI second reply makes the extraordinary claim that the millions being used by Sandwell Labour from s106 agreements as a large piggy bank is NOT public money! Once again, and without going over too much of what I have said previously, Labour have extracted millions over the last few years via "planning gain" agreements eg. from the likes of Tesco for the New Square development. They have even had money via Sandwell College - ie us, the taxpayer - and via one of the ruinously expensive PFI schemes they love so much. On top of this they have gone cap in hand to the European Regional Development Fund and had money from them or rather, again - us - the taxpayers. They are making the extraordinary claim that because the money came from the likes of Tesco into their hands it is never "public" money and that they don't have to account for the use of it in the normal way. In other words (and subject to "consultation") they will do with it as they please and they don't have to even discuss the expenditure in tiresome meetings which would have to be publicly recorded.

This is nonsense. Firstly, planning gain monies were meant to be for specific infrastructure spending as defined when planning permission was granted although the law changed to allow for some of the monies to be paid into a "pool" for more general infrastructure improvements. This is (possibly) fine where you have an accountable local council but clearly a disaster in the North Korean clone-state of Sandwell. Secondly, the council receives millions per annum that is not from direct or indirect taxation for which it remains accountable - everything from commercial rents to parking fines. Just because the cash may have come from, say, Tesco, doesn't mean it is not public money the minute it arrives in SMBC's bank account!

But Labour want to hang on to their cash-pile and use it to try and bribe the electorate with a few "fluffy" projects now and then. Well they say - it's OK that we keep secret what we are doing because we have "consulted" the people about it. Do you remember being consulted, Sandwell folk? The Labour liars say that consultation "took place on the policy and strategy that sought to deliver the regeneration of the town centre, including public realm improvements". Surely you MUST remember that, Sandwell folk? (Try going through the huge West Brom Town Plan of late 2012 - you will find no reference to this "effort" there!)

And now it gets really interesting. Although this is clearly a "Darren Cooper project" (not with his money but with ours) there is allegedly no record of any Labour politicians ever discussing this daft scheme. Once again, supernatural powers seem to be at work. Or perhaps not - since it seems from the record that the whole thing was dreamt up by our old friend and faithful public servant, Nick Bubalo! Here is what SMBC say in the FoI reply:

Question:
"3. Please state which person or committee authorised this expenditure and
when, as a search of the SMBC website does not make this apparent. Please
disclose any minute or other record confirming the decision;

Answer:
The disbursement of s 106 funds falls within the remit of the Director of
Regeneration and Economy as delegated to that role through the Council’s
scheme of delegations contained within the Council’s constitution."

Incredibly, SMBC then state that they did not check the legal status of the statue appeal before handing over £30,000 (yes, thirty thousand pounds) because they were not spending public money! (See further below).

Just hold the name Nick Bubalo in your mind for one minute whilst we consider the question of planning permission. The conning comrades have persisted in the yarn that this is a "private" affair when Cooper's grubby fingerprints are all over it and when he has flogged this wretched thing at every opportunity. This turd is supposed to be positioned in New Square which belongs to Tesco and, of course, Jim Cadman would have to apply for planning permission for it.

There was a planning application but you try finding it. Look up "New Square" in the planning application part of the SMBC website and you will find nothing. You will find it hidden under a section called "street record". I wonder why?

Unbelievably, friends, the applicant for planning permission is not Cadman but Nick Bubalo of Sandwell Council although this too is concealed under the "applicants" tag which merely mentions SMBC as the applicant. He is using an agent (!) who is, er, Alan Reynolds of - yes, you guessed it - SMBC. There is the very briefest of brief delegated reports from someone at SMBC called "CP" and then, happily, application DC/13/55766 was granted on 24th May, 2013 by one, er, Nick Bubalo using his delegated powers.

Now I am not a lawyer but it simply cannot be legal for a Council employee to:

(a) use delegated powers to agree to spend £30,000 on an (allegedly) private project: and
(b) for that SAME person to make a planning application on behalf of a private businessman; and then
(c) decide the planning application himself under delegated powers.

There is something seriously wrong here and the current police investigators may wish to have a look at this. In any event, I will be taking urgent advice as to whether this is legal under planning law. It seems certain to me that the planning application will have to be re-run.

Of course, it may be that Labour Sandwell Council are pissing down your leg and telling you it is raining. Perhaps the statue is not private at all but a SMBC/ Darren Cooper project being passed off as private through Jim Cadman to hide the expenditure. There is a "Design and Access" statement from SMBC in its own planning application which suggests that far from the legal status of the statue fund etc being opaque there have already been legal discussions since SMBC ITSELF says:

"Although the New Square development is privately owned (ie by Tesco) the sculpture and the site it occupies will be owned, managed and maintained by Sandwell Council on behalf of the people of Sandwell."

Oh, you are so lucky! But at least this clearly suggests that a deal has already been done with Tesco who also raised no objection to the planning application. Strangely, SMBC have clearly stated that they do not envisage putting anymore money into this other than the £30,000 robbed from the infrastructure fund and the money recently siphoned off from the Arts Festival budget to promote it. It is alleged that it is up to Sunny Jim to raise the considerable balance.... We shall see. And I wonder if Jim will break his habit of refusing to disclose details of the monies raised/spent?

This "no more money" is a lie in any event since you will see that SMBC are guaranteeing to pay the costs of maintenance in perpetuity!

Labour are currently axing hundreds more or their hard-pressed staff and destroying front-line services for the most vulnerable members of society including children and the elderly. Meanwhile they are borrowing and spending a king's ransom on sports centres and sport-related activities. Even though West Brom Football Club are coughing up only relatively trivial amounts to its "own" charity, The Albion Foundation, Sandwell Labour has decided it must pump in colossal sums of taxpayers' money there instead.

A very small number (two so far) have contacted me to say they couldn't care less about cuts to vital services and that they would rather see £30k plus spent on the statue. Even these characters must surely want to be satisfied, however, that Chief Executive Jan Britton is running a tight ship and that the public money is going to the right place? Thus I asked this question in the original FoI request:

Question:
5. Please state whether the payments were made by cheque and, if so, the
identity of the payee. If the payment was not made by cheque please
provide full details of the method of payment.

SMBC refused to answer and so I asked again via the internal review. SMBC completely failed to answer the first part of the question and only stated:

Answer:
Both payments were made by BACS. (ie electronic transfer).

And so I am now having to go to the Information Commissioner to find out. SMBC have parted with the money and refuse to say to whom. But Jim Cadman e-mailed me to say that the bank account "is under the control" of SMBC. If (and I say "if") this is true where is it? What's the secret?

Noting the track record of some of the companies Jim Cadman has been involved with recently, taxpayers may be alarmed if the money has simply been paid to him or to one of his companies. When I accidentally bumped into Darren "The Turdmeister" Cooper himself outside the Kremlin recently and asked him where the money was he pointed at the building and said "in there". When I said this was incorrect he said he didn't actually know and that it might be with the sculptor.

The sculptor, Graham Ibbeson runs two limited companies. One is a very small affair called Freddy Neptune Ltd which is "technically" insolvent having net current liabilities of £5,502 against current assets of just £3,619 as at 31st July, 2014. His main company is Graham Ibbeson Sculptures Limited which as at 30th April, 2014 had £29,794 in the bank (coincidentally close to £30k) but, alas, the picture here is not rosy either as current liabilities were £100,711 against current assets of only £89,779 (and that includes a stonking £55,542 for "stock" which may not be realisable at anything like that figure in the event of a liquidation). Both the current liabilities and current asset positions had worsened from the previous financial year. Perhaps the situation is now suddenly better?

So has Jan Britton of SMBC sent £30,000 of public money to either of these businesses? If so, what checks were done beforehand?

As above, all this nonsense is being wrapped up in an "anti-racism" wrapper connected to football. Just in case you didn't think £30k plus was enough and that the likes of the (admirable) Kick it Out campaign could not get by just with money from those "poverty-stricken" organisations The Premier League, The PFA, The FA and The Football League who should step forward in September with a £1,250 enforced "donation" from the taxpayer to "Show Racism the Red Card". Yes, of course, the cash-rich comrades at Sandwell Labour!

(Additional Note: Arthur Wharton (1865-1930) was Britain's first black professional footballer. Apparently this achievement - as opposed to being the being the first black nurse, doctor, firefighter etc - merits being commemorated by  a bronze statue and not just one but THREE! Arthur has northern connections and there has been a long-running campaign for a statue in Darlington. In the meantime a 16-foot high statue of him was recently unveiled at the FA's new centre at Burton. Finally, there is a campaign for yet another one of him in the area of another Labour basket-case council - Rotherham. A body with uncertain legal status and with no published accounts to date - The Rotherham Sporting Heritage Guild - is attempting to work with the Labour Council to push the anti-racism message that Arthur's career allegedly represents and to raise money for this monument. If you feel like making a donation you need go no further than Stourbridge - to the home and business base of Mr Jim Cadman!)

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com             Twitter   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no:  07599 983737

Earlier Blogs on this subject:

03/08/14 - The Darren Cooper "Celebration Statue" Appeal.

13/08/14 - Jim Cadman - Statue Entrepreneur.

07/09/14 - Arts Council Money Diverted for Private Statue Stunt.

26/09/14 - "Celebration" Statue - All Quiet on the Western Front.

31/10/14 - Arts Council Private Statue Stunt - It's Even Worse Than We Thought!


Monday, 17 November 2014

Crown House, Oldbury - a small planning curiosity!

Thanks for all the calls about Crown House on the corner of Green Street and Birmingham Road, Oldbury which has just come on the market. May I firstly point out that this property is registered as being in the ownership of two gentleman named Dhadda and not with our "old friends".

This building was being used as a cosmetic surgery clinic but in 2013 a planning application (DC/13/55788) was made to SMBC to convert it into 9 flats. In this day and age you would think provision of 1 parking spot per property would be an essential prerequiste. There was an objection from a local resident about parking and also the Council's own "Head of Highways" but when the scheme was reduced to 7 flats the latter felt able to withdraw the objection on the basis that the provision of just 5 parking spaces on site would be sufficient plus 2 on-street parking permits from the Council! (Good job it wasn't our "friends" moving in with their huge fleet!) This was included in the delegated report and planning permission was duly granted by Nick Bubalo.

But then there was an application to vary the planning (DC/14/56804). It is not clear whether the applicants here are connected to the original applicant but a different agent was used. The new applicants wanted to make the property a "House in Multiple Occupation" with 18 (eighteen) rooms each with a kitchenette and shower room. With the new plan there were to be eight parking spaces plus the two parking permits from the Council (ie 10 parking spots for a minimum of 18 residents).

The oddity here is that there is no reference in the SMBC documents to any objection from the original objector and now the "Head of Highways" suddenly had no objection at all - indeed that person thought the 8 plus 2 parking allowance was now "suitable". And so Nick Bubalo granted the application.

Perhaps the secret to this mystery lies in the design and access statement from the developer (which as you will see contains an error):

"The proposed use will provide affordable accomodation and the tenants are unlikely [sic] to have no cars but be more of the type to use public transport".

Clearly Sandwell Labour think this public transport "type" will never amount to much and own a vehicle so that's alright then! No parking spaces for you scumbags! How f'ing insulting is that? (Pardon my French)

(Incidentally, there are a number of Sandwell Councillors and their relatives who have gone straight to the top of the list and been given "affordable accomodation" in the form of council housing but who run cars eg Cllrs Rouf and Frear not to mention Hussain's daughter who not only runs a car but OWNS a house up the road with her husband!)

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Police Fraud Team Direct Contact Details - Sandwell Council

The Police have now supplied direct contact details for anyone wishing to talk to them about the shenanigans at Sandwell Council.

The Regional Fraud Team are now in control of the investigation. They are a section of the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit. The police officer in charge is DI C. Berrow but the contact point is: 

DS Wayne Haynes

Tel: 0121 251 2175

E-mail: rft@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

It should go without saying that the officers involved in this situation have a lot of work to do already. Their primary remit is in respect of asset-stripping but clearly they are already aware of other possible "irregularities". (I can say to those who asked me to do so that I have passed on the information concerning cancellation of parking tickets).

In short, they are only concerned with questions of possible illegality and not any peripheral issues. Please contact them only if you have hard evidence (dates, times, events, documents etc) or DIRECT hearsay evidence.

Of course, the Police will be happy to hear from members of the public and they have received information from myself and others concerning various matters. Equally they are well aware that employees of SMBC are, in the existing climate of bullying and intimidation, reluctant to voluntarily approach officers within the environs of The Kremlin or other Council offices. Hence the direct contact details above.

May I make one or two observations to SMBC employees. I know from communications received that many of you are afraid for your jobs etc (although Cooper and Co are wrecking the workforce in any event) and that you have hitherto been scared to speak out. Here is - possibly - your ONLY chance for some time to come. Take it.

Labour are trying a classic cover-up by having an "audit". Please look at the Freedom of Information reply to a request by Darryl Magher to see what a sham that is. The "audit" is neither external nor independent. They are paying thousands to the Council's auditors - KMPG - who are patently in a "conflict of interest" situation. Why are they being paid handsomely in any event since they cannot "report" [sic] without compromising the police investigation?

As above, it would be best for employees to help the police now to lance the festering boil that has been allowed to develop. But the police are aware of concerns in a number of areas and WILL be coming looking.......

Of course, folk can still contact me with any concerns but direct evidence should really be directed straight to the Police. Whilst the Fraud Team want hard evidence I am sure that they will be perfectly content if you wish to retain anonymity in your communications (certainly initially).

There is still more than enough work for The Skidder team to do on other matters - bent contract details, lying councillors, incompetence etc etc so please don't forget to contact me about any of that sort of "stuff".

I hope Darren Cooper and Jan Britton will ensure that the above details are circulated to all at SMBC.

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                  Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no:  07599 983737


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cllr Rouf - Unemployed My Arse! Another Labour Liar!

Rouf is yet another Sandwell Labour liar who seemingly has no respect for the law and will shamelessly complete false legal declarations.

It was 10th July, 2014 when I first started to point out to Sandwell Police that Councillors may have been making false declarations on the Register of Interests but they chose - for their own reasons - to do "f" all. I am told that a DS P. Gilece is now dealing with these matters in Birmingham but who can say? Perhaps as with Sandwell Police another few months will go by (and, who knows, perhaps even an election) before we find out that it has all been "shelved".

Firstly, we had the Liar Cashmore. Then we had the discrepancy - which has yet to be resolved - with Cllr "Fudgy" Meehan. Then there was the BIG ONE - Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain - who "forgot" to register his and his wife's shareholdings in a firm that won a share of two multi-million pound taxi contracts. (There is a further blog in preparation about the taxi contracts).

To make a false declaration in the register IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE. I gave Sandwell Police and the Chief Constable of West Midlands the precise statutory provisions. Even the documents these liars have signed SAYS IT IS but it seems West Midlands Police now have the power to decide which bits of law they want to enforce and which bits they do not. (Remind them of that next time you get pulled over for a minor traffic matter and see how far YOU get!)

And now we have Councillor Mohammad Rouf. In recent blogs I have pointed out that Rouf has claimed to be unemployed. Indeed his compassionate Labour comrades have even sorted him a council house (even though he has apparently "sold" two properties he used to own). I also pointed out that whilst Rouf was claiming to be unemployed in the Register of Interests at Sandwell Council he was telling Companies House via a separate legal declaration that he was actually self-employed. Which seemed nearer the mark as there were people phoning me to say he was, in fact, a taxi driver in Birmingham.

Well here we go. In 2004 Rouf did declare himself to be a self-employed taxi driver but then started to lie. Here are his declarations of 10/07/2008:

"3. Any employment or business carried on by you"

"None"

"4. Any person or body who employs or has appointed you"

"None"

Well you can't get much clearer than that! But take a look at this! He filled in another legal declaration again just weeks ago dated 25/09/2014. Notwithstanding the spotlight I have put on this subject over the last few months he was obviously confident that Sandwell Police were taking no action on the other cases and that he could continue to lie with impunity. Maybe someone in Sandwell Police told someone in the Council there was nothing to worry about? Thus we get this (there is a new-style form):

"1. Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain (including employment outside of the Borough of Sandwell)"

"None".

Well Mohammad Rouf has had - and still has - a Private Hire Taxi Licence with Birmingham City Council number P09405. He first had it on 18th December, 2002 and the present licence is valid until 12th January, 2015. Not the sort of thing you forget - unless he is suffering from the same unfortunate affliction as his Councillor relative.

We know the idiot Cooper has lost control (if he ever had it) and that the senior staff at the Council like Jan Britton and Neeraj Sharma will do nothing. Clearly the Police MUST now act on these matters as must HM Revenue and Customs, the DSS etc. How has this bloke been given a council house? What happened to the sale proceeds from other properties? How did his son get the Florence Road plot? Is Rouf involved in the Midnight Pharmacy business? Who is ACTUALLY getting the income from 88 Shireland Road? Is it being declared? Is his taxi income being declared for that matter?

May I take this opportunity to encourage Sandwell Council employees to contact the police with ANY concerns. I hope to be able to supply a direct confidential means of contact shortly via this blog but I can give you some details if you contact me confidentially. There is a huge, pus-ridden, boil festering here. I am trying to lance it. Will you help me?

(I am told Rouf worked for Oak Tree Cars and Falcon Cars at one time or another but any info gratefully received - in confidence).

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Confidential phone no: 07599 983737


Skidder Shorts No.20 - Darren Cooper's Business Card

When I bumped into Sandwell Labour's leading triumvirate the other day, Council "Leader" Cooper presented me with one of his business cards - which are presumably paid for by us taxpayers.

Regular readers will know that The Turdmeister constantly claims that his nonsensical twitter feed is "purely personal" despite its title and his constant use of it to "advertise" Sandwell Council, The Labour Party and, most of all, himself as "leader" [sic]. Sensible people can see that this puerile torrent of hate and gibberish can only bring the Borough of Sandwell into disrepute and is hardly likely to encourage the area to be viewed in a favourable light by those who may wish to invest there. Just by way of example, it is interesting to note that he is now leading the headlong rush for a "Greater Birmingham" (although he won't call it that) and so I wonder what his new "friends" make to his comradely tweet of 21/12/13:

"I really don't care whats [sic] happening in Brum my focus is on #sandwell & the people who live here".

No doubt national and multinational companies who might provide vital jobs in Sandwell are equally bemused with his incessant "boing boing" stuff (maybe just about OK on a personal account but from the leader of a large public authority?) No doubt he can tell them he is:

"fed up with these as Beens [sic] giving it the big one" - whatever that actually means! (20/04/14).

You might think that Cooper would not wish to broadcast just how moronic he is to people outside Sandwell but not a bit of it. Here is his official Sandwell Council business card - complete with the link to what was famously called his "barely literate stream of invective"!


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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Ed Miliband's As Weak As P*ss!

Ed Miliband has failed to condemn the covert photography of me in the Wetherspoon's pub opposite the Kremlin which was then splashed over social media by Sandwell's Labour joke "Leader", Darren Cooper.

I can do little better that let you read the letter I posted (first class) to him on 10th October. And answer came there none. The boss of Wetherspoons has also failed to respond - maybe he is hedging his bets in case Red Ed wins the next election.........

(By the way - I have yet to address the question whether public money was used to have me followed and photographed in the pub.... No doubt Sandwell's Chief Executive will wish to contact me to reassure me on that score!)

Letter:

Rt Hon. Ed Miliband MP,
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA                                                                                 10/10/14


Cc Mr Tim Martin
     Wetherspoons House
     Central Park
     Reeds Crescent
     Watford WD24 4QL

Dear Sir,

Sandwell Council Labour Leader - Cllr Darren Cooper

The Sandwell Skidder - thesandwellskidder.blogspot.com - is a community blog in Sandwell scrutinising the actions of  your Labour Council there. Your local “leader”, Darren Cooper, takes grave exception to this and uses the medium of Twitter to attack myself and others with great regularity.

Cooper uses the Twitter account “@Sandwellleader” under the name “Cllr” Darren Cooper but claims it is a purely personal account. The local Council bats away all complaints about his tweeting and trolling on the same basis. (I will leave aside his possible connection with various other trolling accounts for present purposes).
   
 A while ago I went with a colleague and sat in on a Council cabinet meeting in Oldbury. This lead to Cooper abusing us both via twitter that same night (even though my colleague is a long-standing member of the Labour Party).

In September, I attended a cabinet meeting alone. Cooper took a photograph of me in the room. When the meeting went into private conclave I went to the Wetherspoons pub across the road. Cooper was not there but knowing that I was attending the meeting he arranged for someone to use Wetherspoons’ facilities to have me secretly photographed. It would appear that this may be “tit for tat” for me putting photographs of a councillor on the blog which she and her husband had themselves placed on the internet and not just via one site but via at least two different methods. Cooper does not seem to see a distinction between using publicly available photographs and covert photography.

Needless to say Cooper could not resist using the covert photo which he placed on twitter that night. I enclose same herewith (apologies for print quality - you can also view it on Cooper’s twitter feed).

Bearing in mind that Cooper is aware that my wife and I have received threats as a result of the blog (some of them from HIM) the placing of my photo on twitter was clearly a provocative and intimidatory act. Incidentally the colleague I referred to above was confronted on Tuesday night and threatened about his use of twitter to criticise the Council. That incident has been reported to the Police.

I would be very interested to hear whether you condone this sort of activity by a senior Labour figure - indeed one you chose to have on-stage with you at last year’s Labour Conference.

I would also like to hear from Mr Martin whether he condones the use of one of his establishments for this sort of covert activity. I appreciate that he receives a lot of business from Sandwell Council (although that will all change when the planned move of the offices from Oldbury to West Bromwich occurs) but the public needs to be confident that his usually well-run pubs are safe and secure environments.

Yours faithfully,



End.

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Bog-Gate - Some Old Familiar Faeces....

Remember the scandalous sale of three former bogs by Sandwell Labour for just £35,000 to Abdul Naeem Quyum against Labour's own valuation of £130,000. There was no marketing nor auction offer. A sh*te deal indeed and a clear example of the comrades taking the, er, p*ss. One of the bog blocks at The Shambles (very aptly-named) in Wednesbury was sold for £10,000 and then sold on for £40,000.

On perusing the Sandwell Council website I noticed three planning applications for this property. The first two were for outline planning permission and were not proceeded with. The third was submitted on 04/11/13 for (thankfully) a change of use but there was certainly no bog-standard service from SMBC with this one since on 19/12/13 (just a month and a half later) our old mate Nick Bubalo was granting the permission! Phew, that was a relief.

The applicant for all three applications was another "name" we have met before - Bobby Jandhu of 22 Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton (home to Futures Estate Agents and, curiously, next door to the "Rickshaw Balti") and his agent was good old Anthony Barrie Hope of Kinver who, as we know, does a lot of work for the Mahboob Hussain family and connections!

As I said in my blog yesterday nothing seems to happen in Sandwell without taxis somehow becoming involved and even here there is a curious connection. In the planning process there was a suggestion from Environmental Health that the opening hours of the proposed unit should be limited but the officer who prepared the report happily knocked this on the head by reason of the fact that next-door was a 24-hour taxi office! How very "convenient".

The taxi firm was (1) Choice and Wednesbury Cars Limited which was very recently dissolved on 07/10/14 (having only been set up in 2010). Some of the original directors/shareholders were named Hussain but are not names I recognise as being connected with our amnesiac friend in McKean Road. Curiously, one director (whose address is not stated) is a Mr Abdul Qyuum (note spelling) - DOB 30/01/76. The other taxi firm at the address is (2) Choice Cars UK Limited (NOT Choice Cars Limited as stated in a SMBC document). The Facebook page boasts that this company was set up in 1999 but if that is true it must have been an unincorporated company since the limited company was only set up in June, 2013 - just in time to bid for the same big taxi contract that Five Star Taxis bid for. Happily they were successful and now boast the Sandwell Council logo on their website. The sole director and shareholder is one Basharat Hussain (DOB 08/04/73 - address unknown) but, once again., I have no evidence that he is connected with the beloved Deputy Leader.

Well we know that "City Living" is all the rage but the new owners of the Wednesbury bogs have dropped the original plan and applied for and obtained planning permission for "Shitty Living" ie to extend and convert the lavs to 3 residential apartments! Lets all hope the project doesn't go down the pan.....

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sandwell Labour's Rouf on Skid Row!

Is Labour Cllr Rouf a liar? Maybe he is just a victim of the fickle hand of fate? Perhaps we should take a look at his. er, misfortune......

Back in 2004 Rouf filled in a legal Register of Interests Declaration with Sandwell Council saying that:

(a) he was a self-employed taxi driver (why does everything in Sandwell Labour revolve around taxis?); and

(b) that he owned 23 Wellington Road, Smethwick (who he bought it from, I cannot say just yet).

Maybe I should just mention here that in sundry documents Rouf is described as both Mohammad and Mohammed Rouf. I will use the former from now on.

Rouf legally declared that he owned 23 Wellington Road but perhaps he was forced by circumstances to sell it on at a poor price? My team are looking into this since the current owners paid £125,000 for it in April 2013.

In 2008, Rouf completed a new legal declaration saying that he was now unemployed. Well I have had a bit of that myself and it can, unfortunately, happen to us all. Fortunately, however, despite his unemployed status he now declared "a beneficial interest" (in short, an ownership, interest) in not one but TWO properties ie the aforementioned 23 Wellington Road AND 88 Shireland Road, Smethwick (ground floor currently occupied by Faz's Barbers with one or more flats above). Lucky fella!

There are persistent rumours that, despite declaring an unemployed status, Rouf actually had (and perhaps still has) a private hire taxi licence not with Sandwell but with Birmingham City Council. Clearly this cannot be true given Rouf's legal declarations (although readers of my recent blog dated 04/11/14 " Now What's Labour's Councillor Rouf Up To?" will note the curious and very recent declaration by Rouf of "self-employed" status to Companies House - contrary to his legal declaration via SMBC. One thing we can say about his former taxi-driving days is that he was clearly one hell of a popular guy! If you look at the Sandwell Council website you will see that he is almost constantly (and perfectly properly) excusing himself from his position on the Licensing (Miscellaneous) Committee when it comes to dishing out taxi licences etc to his wide circle of "acquaintances" in that milieu.

Lets give poor old "Mo" the benefit of the doubt. The poor chap has apparently been out of work for years and subsisting purely on his generous allowances from his Labour comrades at Sandwell Council. He has had to sell his home at 23 Wellington Road and move to 33 Trafalgar Road. Fortunately, it seems the family has been saved from destitution my Rouf's son, the entrepreneurial pharmacist, Mohammad Shauib (ring any bells, readers.....?) Not only did Rouf lose his home but,in these austere times he also lost his second property at 88 Shireland Road too - apparently in 2005. I don't know how much he got for his declared "beneficial interest" but it seems he didn't have to go far for a buyer since the current registered owner is one, er, Mohammad Shauib! I feel sure Cllr Rouf will want to say how much he got for both properties and I will be happy to publish that for him.

Addendum - 12/11/14 The curious thing here is that Rouf seems to have disposed of 88 Shireland Road in 2005 and his son put in a planning application in 2007 claiming to be the owner and yet Rouf was declaring a beneficial interest in the property in a legal declaration dates 10th July, 2008. Mohammad Shauib is the sole owner on the legal title WR26867 at HM Land Registry and so what exactly was Rouf's beneficial interest in 2008? Another one for DS Gilece to investigate?

Now I'm an old-fashioned sort of a guy and (until my recent experiences with Sandwell Labour) I assumed that councillors generally told the truth (or at least a version of it). Thus when I checked Rouf's current and VERY recent legal declaration in Sandwell Labour's Register of Interests I accepted on trust that, despite his - again - declared statement of unemployed status, he owned his current property at 33 Trafalgar Road, Smethwick. What else could I do? He specifically answered the question about whether he had:

"Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the Borough of Sandwell"

"33 Trafalgar Road, Smethwick, B66 3SE".

Remember, if you will, that this was a legal declaration made just weeks ago on 25th September, 2014. Now there is another question of the same legal form and here it is with Rouf's answer:

"[State] Any tenancy where (to your knowledge) (a) the landlord is the Council and (b) the tenant is a body in which you and/or your partner have a beneficial interest".

"None"

(Bit of an odd question, I know.....)

Well good for our "socialist" mate, I thought. He is on the rock'n'roll but has survived by slimming down from two properties to one. I am indebted to "Mr X" however, for being even more cynical about Labour Sandwell than I am and checking things out. Thanks to the information he supplied to me today I can tell you that Rouf does NOT own 33 Trafalgar Road as the registered owner as at 28/10/14 under title number WM946677 is, er, "The Borough Council of Sandwell".

Oh well, I suppose if the poor chap has not worked for years and has hit hard times it is only fair that his compassionate comrades should look after him and his family (despite his basic council allowance of £10,619.04 per annum AND his special responsibilities payment of £8,751.96p on top). Clearly it is absolutely right he should go straight to the top of the Council housing list and get a Council House. With a bit of luck he will qualify eventually for "right to buy" and I am sure the family will then rally round to ensure he has a "rouf" over his head into old age. If, however, the downward spiral continues, I am confident and relieved that Mohammad Shauib will be able to accomodate him in the 7-bedroom mansion he is building at Florence Road - on land sold to him by, of course, Sandwell Labour!



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Friday, 7 November 2014

A Few Sandwell Oddities.

Before I start - PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SKIDDER PHONE WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR TEXTS ONLY SATURDAY AND NOT CALLS. NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED SUNDAY MORNING.

WOULD THE CALLER ON WEDNESDAY LUNCHTIME RE "2004" PLEASE CALL BACK!

On 6th November I made my way to the Kremlin to spend some happy time with the electoral registers. On my way out I happened to bump into Labour's top triumvirate - Messrs (!) Cooper, Hussain and Ian Jones and an amusing time was had by all.

Cooper, posed in front of the chauffeur-driven Range Rover which ferries him around (I had seen him speeding off in it the day before when I was also in Oldbury/Smethwick on a research excursion (and when I received three extremely threatening telephone calls). Quite how much is spent by the "socialists" on chauffeurs & vehicles will have to wait for a future blog......

Sandwell's Labour Leader travels in chauffeur-driven style!


Oddity 1 - Cllr Hussain briefly mentioned the land at Lodge Street sold to his son for £145,000. He opined that this was a reasonable figure as the site was "a fucking shit-hole". A slightly odd comment noting that HIS Asset Management Committee originally resolved that our old chum Nick Bubalo must "consider marketing the land for bungalows and/or accomodation for elderly people in the first instance". I'm not sure if it is official Labour Party policy yet that our senior citizens should be "zoned" for housing in fucking shit-holes but, in any event, the crafty comrades dropped this requirement to enable the sale to Hussain Junior. Quite what he makes of his Father's description of the site where he is building 14 (or 15 if Nick Bubalo agrees) luxury houses at an advertised sale price of just £2.78M is, alas, unknown but I am betting he won't be hiring Mahboob as his marketing manager down at the show home anytime soon.

Oddity 2 - when a Councillor is in the soft and smelly do the honourable thing - blame the staff! Thus when I challenged Ian Jones about his very public lie on BBC local radio that the Bog-gate valuation had been done AFTER the sale of the bogs he stated that it was not his fault and that he had simply been given this - false - information in "a briefing paper". I wonder whether the Groveller-in-Chief (sorry, Chief Executive) will be launching an immediate investigation into which member of staff allegedly got this so spectacularly wrong! I doubt it, don't you readers? (If you think I am being a little harsh on Mr Britton read his arslikan comments this week on what purports to be the "Leader's blog").

Oddity 3 - I reproached the "Gang of Three" for doing huge deals without tender or open competition and then keeping the details secret. Cllr Hussain assured me that this was a legal requirement which I disputed. I have challenged him to e-mail me the relevant statutory provision and if I am wrong, I have offered to wash one (but only one) of his cars! Watch this space....

Three avid readers greet The Skidder!

Oddity 4 - leaving all this jollity aside, the definitive proof that Labour Sandwell knew that Hussain's daughter was co-owner of 7 Century Road, Oldbury is in the title at HM Land Registry where the owners are shown as Mohammed Gulfam (aka Gulfam Mohammed and aka Muhmmad Gulfam) and Noreen Bi and a Charge dated 27th November, 2008 is protected by a restriction. The proprietor of the charge is Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Title number WM789969.

Oddity 5 - even my many Muslim callers have been confused about the relationships surrounding Abdul Naeem Quyum. I did mention the Warley Road connections of this gentleman in an earlier blog but the situation still remains a little opaque. Nevertheless, having personally perused the CURRENT voters roll, I am able to confirm that there is an Abdul N. Quyum at 42 Warley Road AND another Abdul N. Quyam at the related family property at 52 Warley Road.

Oddity 6 - someone else was out photographing the huge house being built on Florence Road, Smethwick last Wednesday about an hour before I got there. I wonder who the two gentlemen were? If you know, please get in touch.

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Now What's Labour's Councillor Rouf Up To?

Councillor Mohammed Rouf has graced this blog before as it is his son who is building the seven-bedroom mansion on the plot of land in Florence Road, Smethwick which was conveniently sold to him by, er, Sandwell Labour!

Raise High The Rouf Beams, Carpenters!
But what is this - surely not ANOTHER Sandwell Labour Councillor making false declarations on their Register of Interests (a criminal offence)?

Rouf's previous Register declaration was that he was unemployed. He declared a Directorship with no direct financial benefit with the charity - Smethwick Pakistani Muslims Association Limited (SPMAL).

That now appears to have been a false declaration since Rouf has made a separate legal declaration to Companies House in the annual return of SPMAL that his is NOT, in fact, unemployed but actually self-employed! The annual return was completed very recently on 15th August, 2014. Of course, he could just be telling the truth on his Register of Interests but lying to Companies House......

DS Paddy Gilece of West Midlands Police is alleged to be investigating other concerns with regard to the Declarations of some Sandwell Labour councillors and will no doubt wish to ask Rouf what form this self-employment took.

Now the strange thing is that Rouf has just completed a NEW Register entry with a NEW legal declaration dated as recently as 25th SEPTEMBER, 2014 when he has once again claimed to be unemployed. Thus we must assume he was self-employed as at 15th August (or lying to Companies House) but has become unemployed by 25th September or else he has LIED AGAIN on the Register. There are forms to fill in relating to self-employment and the cessation of that status with HM Revenue and Customs which Rouf will no doubt wish to disclose to DS Gilece and/or the public forthwith.

ADDENDUM 05/11/14 - Sandwell Labour are always banging on about helping the unemployed whilst wasting millions on rubbish. In their "smoke and mirrors world" they recently committed £1m to a so-called "job guarantee" scheme from the Council which sounds good until you realise that it is running simultaneously with the comrades sacking another 200 plus of their "real" and hard-pressed staff. Fortunately the shifty "socialists" have been happy to help one particular "unemployed" person. In addition to his basic allowance of £10,619.04* Councillor Mohammed Rouf collects a "special responsibilities" payment of just £8,751.96p! Perhaps this is for his specialist knowledge of planning matters in the Smethwick area!!!!

(The flock all receive this basic allowance for just 7 full council meetings per annum ie £1,517.00 per meeting - just for being able to turn up (or not!) and say, "Yes Darren". In fact, one of the seven meetings is the "mayor-making" which does little actual business and is followed by a knees-up. Most meetings do not last an hour).

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Monday, 3 November 2014

Sandwell's Turdmeister Needs a Maths Lesson!

It is unknown why Sandwell Labour held back the list of councillors' allowances for so long since the end of the financial year on 31st March. Perhaps they were hoping to get the details out without anyone noticing given the pronouncements of their oafish "leader" [sic] Darren "The Turdmeister" Cooper.

For the financial year ended 31st March, 2013 the total basic allowances were £765,512.81 with the joke "special responsibility" payments amounting to a colossal £454,358.47 - making a total of, er, £1,219,871.20p!

But what is this! On 15th April the brutish and semi-literate character who uses the "private" twitter account named "Cllr Darren Cooper @sandwellleader" replied to someone concerned about cuts to council services and staff:

"Members have done there [sic] bit with around a 10% reduction".

(If you are not familiar with local authority lingo "members" is another word for councillors rather than an insulting description of them....)

Well what do the figures at 31st March, 2014 actually show following this "around a 10%" reduction", I wonder? In fact, the basic allowance total is down slightly to £764,570.88 but the cunning comrades have upped their "special responsibility" allowances to £463,931.74 making a total of £1,228,502.60p!

Rather than any sort of reduction the allowances have, in fact, gone up by £8,631.40p at a time when Sandwell Labour are slashing services and hurling staff out of work.

Fortunately any complaints about The Teflon Turd twittering are batted away on the basis that they are nothing to do with the Council but simply his own warped views. Accordingly, he can lie with impunity - "in a purely personal capacity" of course!

(By the way, the "members" also enjoyed slightly higher pension contributions up from £67,360.86 to £67,968.67 - so no reduction there either!)

Trebles all round!!!

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Curious Option on Councillor Bawa's SMBC Land Purchase!

May I say that I can only write this blog with your help and this line of investigation arose from a phone call from a delightful senior citizen with a razor-sharp memory. Thank you for this and the other information!

There is a complicated situation here but the gist of the story is that Sandwell Council ITSELF applied for outline planning permission to build three houses at Bridge Street, Oldbury in 1998 (application DD/98/34867). Happily Labour felt able to accede to it's own application.

 It is not possible for me to unravel the exact chain of ownership yet and there are a couple of oddities that arise but there was most definitely a transfer of one of the three plots to Labour Cllr Babu Singh Bawa on 7th April, 2000. Some time ago Bawa was involved in a limited company called the Self Builder Association (Oldbury) Limited which has long since been dissolved. The reason I mention this is that the Land Registry title referring to 17 Bridge Street says that the same transfer contained an option for Labour Sandwell Council to repurchase the land. It is possible (and I put it no higher than that) a self-build was mooted. It is also at least possible that this odd arrangement was designed to suppress the sale price but it is improbable that someone now with the Order of the British Empire would have been involved in anything untoward. You will see at the bottom of this page a Freedom of Information request I have submitted in respect of this "deal".

Cllr Bawa then applied for full planning permission for a detached house. The Sandwell Council website has this under 19 Bridge Street but the application was in respect of land adjacent to number 19 - what became 17 Bridge Street (DC/00/36687) and, unsurprisingly, this was granted by the comrades.

But then things take a peculiar turn again since our esteemed Councillor did nothing and let the planning permission lapse. He then submitted a new application (DC/07/47638) in 2007 which, again, was granted. But what was this option to repurchase and why did Labour Sandwell not exercise it if the land was simply a vacant plot for SEVEN years. I think we should be told, don't you?

Curiously Cllr Bawa appears to then drop out of the picture. I am assuming that the shifty socialists didn't actually buy back the land and that Bawa sold the land on since a Mr H.S. Aujla then re-applied for planning permission for the same plot. The house was then built. Whether Bawa made a tidy profit is unknown. Perhaps he will hasten to tell us?

There were two other plots with outline planning permission and, again, the position is complicated since there appear to be two separate transfers by SMBC but suffice to say here that at least a part of these plots was transferred to a Mr Menlap (possibly Melap) Singh and a Mr Simon Richard Foster on 4th May, 2001. But it seems that there was a quick shift in ownership since a planning application was jointly made by a Mr M. Singh and a Mr XXXXX (a property professional) (DC/01/37955) which was varied in 2002 by application DC/02/39340. Planning permission was granted for two houses which were subsequently built as Nos 11 and 15 Bridge Street (there was no "unlucky" 13). Mr M. Singh seems to have dropped out of the ownership chain at some point but it is specifically stated in the planning applications that he is not related to Cllr Bawa.

Here is the FoI Request dated 23rd October, 2014:

Dear Sirs,

On 7th April, 2000 you conveyed a plot of land at Bridge Street, Oldbury to Babu Singh Bawa. Curiously the transaction appears to have included an option to repurchase the land.

Please state:

1. The extent of the plot sold;
2. The sale price;
3. Whether Babu Singh Bawa was a Councillor as at the date of the transaction;
4. Whether SMBC did, in fact, repurchase the land. If not, why not?

This event was some time ago but please state any efforts made to market the land, details of other offers received etc.

Yours faithfully,

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Hussain Family - Bits and Pieces.

Sandwell Labour are now refusing to deal with Freedom of Information Act requests relating to the land sales to their Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain's son, Azeem Hafeez, on the basis that there is alleged to be an ongoing police investigation. They are also refusing to say when Azeem Hafeez worked for the Council and what he was supposed to be doing to be paid taxpayers's money - noting his other "business" interests.

ADDENDUM 02/11/14 - as at 17th April, 2012 Azeem Hafeez was working in Nick Bubalo's Regeneration and Economy department. Handy!

With regard to the police the bad news is that the enquiries are still being conducted by West Midlands Police (and appear to still be of very narrow remit - not, for example, looking into the Five Star taxi contract) but the (possibly) good news is that matters have been moved away from Sandwell Police who appear to have an unhealthily close relationship with Sandwell Labour and some of its leading local figures. Accordingly, bringing in outside officers is, at least in theory, a good thing. We shall see.....

If you have information please now forward it to:

DI C. Berrow, Aqua House, 20 Lionel Street. Birmingham B3 1AQ.

Of course, if you are a SMBC employee take appropriate steps to protect your identity. I understand the SMBC phones are now being "monitored" for what is deemed to be "inappropriate use" and so do not use a "work" phone or computer to contact the police.

LAND AT JOHN STREET, OLDBURY

Another good bit of business by Azeem Hafeez. I am not sure who he bought the land off but he bought an L-shaped plot at the side of and behind The George pub in Oldbury which was a cleared site previously used for the storage of concrete road barriers. The Land Registry title number is WM437931. He paid £45,000 but then got planning permission to build three houses on the rear part of the land on John Street (planning application DC/13/55827). The application is difficult to find straight away as it is stated to be "land to the rear of 38 Birmingham Road, Oldbury". He then obtained planning permission for the front part of the land for two shops and two flats (DC/13/56514).

The interesting thing here is that Sandwell Labour refused planning permission for this site for residential use in 2000 under application DC/00/37073 as this was an area zoned for commercial use. Happily, Labour brought in a new planning scheme or SADD plan in late 2012 relaxing this requirement. Soon afterwards Hussain's son bought the land on 22nd March, 2013 and applied for planning permission to build 3 houses on 23rd April, 2013. Can you believe it - by 21st June, 2013 Nick Bubalo for Sandwell Council was signing off the approved planning permission! All sorted within two months - a fantastic planning service indeed!

The houses have been built and one of them is believed to now be the home of another of Hussain's sons, Naveed Hussain and his wife, Nigat Loreen. The other - front part - plot is up for sale with Derek Spires Estate Agents as a building plot with planning permission for £55,000. With the three houses a tidy profit indeed. I wonder why the previous owner sold it so cheaply?

THE WELLESLEY ROAD FACTORY

I have mentioned this property before in my blog of 09/10/14 "Bog-gate - The Stench Gets Worse and Worse...". Regular readers will know that for a long time I was trying to make a link between the Hussain family and both Abdul Quyam and Abdul Naeem Quyam. Here is another link in the chain...

The factory is officially owned by Abdul Quyum and Abdul Qayyum and when they applied to demolish the factory and build two apartment blocks they used the same architectural consultant as used by Abdul Naeem Quyum in the Bog-gate scandal and as also used by Hussain's son Azeem Hafeez. Please hold in your mind for one moment that the initial planning application for 12 flats was in 2004 but not granted until 2007. But then the applicants got greedy and put in a new application in 2007 for permission to build no less than 35 flats. Unfortunately for them, they had over-egged the pudding and various official bodies objected - including the Health and Safety Executive. Technically, the application appears to be still "pending".

If you try and search for the planning application you will find it listed as "land adjacent to 88 Wellesley Road" but on the documents the consultant, Anthony "Barrie" Hope, has helpfully supplied the actual postal address ie "Units 1 - 7 Wellesley Road, Oldbury".

Remember, that this property is in the name of Quyam and Quyyam and, on the face of it, nothing to do with the Hussain family. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you a little story about this just yet but suffice to say here that someone of impeccable character told me a very different story. And what do I find today? In January 2006 a company called Car Crash Direct Limited (no 05665553) was set-up with a registered office at, er, Units 1 - 7 Wellesley Road. The Company Secretary was Hussain's son, Naveed Hussain, and the sole Director was another son,  the multi-tasking Azeem Hafeez!

No doubt Mr Hope, Mr Quyum and Mr Quyyam will say that they were merely letting out the buildings to a local business pending the outcome of the planning application(s). One sincerely hopes so since Mr Hope signed a legal declaration on 17th February, 2007 as part of the second application:

Question: "Is the applicant or the agent submitting on behalf of the applicant a Sandwell Council employee or Sandwell Councillor or the spouse/partner or relative of a Sandwell Council employee or Sandwell Councillor?"

Answer: "No".

Car Crash Direct was struck off and dissolved by Companies House on 6th July, 2010. There was a fire at Wellesley Road.

RICKSHAW RESTAURANT, DUDLEY

Talking of fires, I would be grateful for any information about the above.

HUSSAIN'S WORK ETHIC

People tell me that Mahboob has, over the years, spent a huge amount of time in various council offices assisting with the smooth running of the Council's affairs and, as an elected officer, doing his bit to help out the hard-pressed pressed staff who Labour have been sacking in such large numbers. In case you missed it, I am sure you will be relieved to note that his efforts on behalf of the community have not gone unrewarded and in the last financial year he picked up allowances of just £34,629.

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