Thursday, 30 July 2015

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER PRIZE QUIZ!

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE AN OBVIOUSLY SATIRICAL, LAMPOONING, REFERENCE TO DARREN COOPER HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REDACTED.


And here it is! To celebrate The Skidder hurtling through A QUARTER OF A MILLION views 10 lucky folk can win a free drink (up to £3 each) at Wetherspoons, Oldbury at 1pm on Friday, 31st July, 2015!

Just write your answers down and the first 10 correct entrants at 1pm will get a free drink. (Soft drinks also allowed of course!) If you are unable to come along, please have a go "for fun". The answers will be posted to this blog on Sunday 2nd August.

If you don't know what I look like the moronic bully-boy Labour "leader" of Sandwell Council, Cllr Darren Cooper, has put a covertly-taken photograph of me in Oldbury Wetherspoons on "his" Twitter account for the world to see:


May I take the opportunity to thank all readers and, of course, my (vitally-important) informants. There is INTENSE pressure on me to close this blog down at present but we battle on..... 

Here is the quiz:

THE SKIDDER “CELEBRATION” QUIZ

  1. WHICH LEADING [SIC] SANDWELL FIGURE IS POPULARLY KNOWN AS “XXX XXXXXXXXXXX”? [COMEDIC NAME FOR DARREN COOPER TEMPORARILY REDACTED]

  1. HOW MUCH DID (EX-) LABOUR COUNCILLOR MAHBOOB HUSSAIN’S SON PAY FOR THE LARGE BUILDING PLOT AT LODGE STREET, OLDBURY? WAS IT (a) £145,000 (b) £545,000 (c) £1,145,000.

  1. WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THE LABOUR COUNCILLOR PARENTS OF EX-COUNCILLOR “LYING LUCY” CASHMORE?

  1. WHICH NON-SEXIST LABOUR COUNCILLOR SENT THIS TWEET TO CLLR PREET KAUR GILL? “I SEE YOU DUCKED OUT ON THE POST COUNCIL DRINKS AGAIN! YOU’LL NEVER MAKE THE CABINET GAL!”

           (Clue - think Scottish musician)

  1. SANDWELL COUNCIL SOLD A LARGE BUILDING PLOT AT FLORENCE ROAD, SMETHWICK TO LABOUR COUNCILLOR MOHAMMAD ROUF’S SON WHO HAS BUILT A NEW HOUSE THERE. HOW MANY BEDROOMS DOES THE HOUSE HAVE? IS IT (a) THREE (b) FIVE (c) SEVEN.

  1. WHICH EX-BANKRUPT COUNCILLOR DID THE LABOUR DICTATORSHIP PLACE ON THE BOARD OF ITS MULTI-MILLION POUND SPORTS ARM - SANDWELL LEISURE TRUST?

  1. WHICH NEWLY-ELECTED LABOUR COUNCILLOR HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF AN INSOLVENCY “INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTARY ARRANGEMENT”?

  1. WHICH LABOUR COUNCILLOR WON DAMAGES AGAINST, ER, SANDWELL COUNCIL IN THE SUM OF £157,541.00p

  1. WHICH HIGH-RANKING OFFICER “LEFT” SMBC LAST DECEMBER IN MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES ALONG WITH JOHN GARRATT?

  1. APART FROM HUSSAIN WHICH OTHER LABOUR COUNCILLOR HAS VOLUNTARILY SUSPENDED HIMSELF FROM THE LABOUR PARTY?


Good luck and I hope to see you on Friday!

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

email:  thesandwellskidder@gmail.com              twitter  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737


Sport Wednesbury - The Plot Thickens!

Adrian Goldberg has done two excellent pieces this morning on Radio WM (at 7.26 and at around 8.45 if you want to catch it on the iPlayer) concerning the Sport England grant to Wednesbury Celebrates/Sport Wednesbury and the appointment of Richard Jones's Partner or "close personal friend", Richard McVittie, as a "Sports Activator". Richard Jones is, of course, one of the sons of Labour Councillors Olwen and Ian Jones (although Ian has currently voluntarily suspended his party membership).

The BBC have done some further research on the back of my blogs and were told by the Treasurer of "Wednesbury Celebrates" - who I believe is Labour Councillor Elaine Costigan -  that the recruitment of McVittie was all above board and undertaken by "Health for Living" but when the BBC contacted them they denied this.

The BBC were then referred to the Murray Hall Community Trust but they "refused to comment" on this matter. The Chair of that Trust is, of course, Robert Kevin Lloyd - better known as, er, Labour Councillor, Bob Lloyd.

And so yet another Labour Councillor is being dragged into this shaming degringolade!

Congratulations to the BBC for shining a light on this issue although Adrian Goldberg will no doubt now be accused of "harassment"!!!!!

NOTE:

The Skidder Prize Quiz will be here at 10.00 am

And - don't forget the Meet the Skidder event at Wetherspoons, Oldbury at 1 pm tomorrow - Friday 31st July!

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

email:  thesandwellskidder@gmail.com         twitter:  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Sandwell FoI Guide!

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE, AN OBVIOUSLY COMEDIC REFERENCE TO JAN BRITTON HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REMOVED.

Jan Britton's Sandwell Council has a cavalier approach to replying to Freedom of Information Act replies egged on by the moronic "leader" who was only complaining yesterday about the operation of the Act via "his" Twitter account.

This blog has pointed out that SMBC have lied in FoI replies in the past but they (and the College) are up to other crafty methods to keep information from the pubic gaze too.

Before I give you a couple of recent examples you should note if you are making FoI requests then SMBC replies are frequently late. If you accept this and have to then appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) then the ICO MAY hold this against YOU! Accordingly, I am certainly not going to allow them slack any more and I suggest you follow suit. If you do not get the reply on the due date immediately request an internal review. If there is still no adequate response put in your appeal to the ICO as soon as the review time expires. It is a shame that it has to be like that but there it is.....

Lesson 1 - make sure your write your request in wide, legalistic, terms or SMBC will screw you. Here is something that I have just realised thanks to someone contacting me.

I was informed that Britain's Joint Laziest MP 2010 - 2015, the secretive Tom Watson, had sent Cooper what he laughably called a survey in respect of the tenants at The Public. This was said to be by e-mail. Accordingly, I made this request (part only):

"I am aware that local MP, Tom Watson, forwarded certain e-mails to
SMBC via Cllr Darren Cooper concerning the closure of The Public
Arts Centre.

Please disclose all e-mails received from Tom Watson MP by SMBC
whether addressed to Cllr Cooper or otherwise and all replies from
any SMBC source to Mr Watson for the period 1st April, 2013 to 24th
December, 2013 that relate to The Public."


Mistake! What I SHOULD have written was something like "please disclose all e-mails, letters, and records of communications of any other description" since SMBC were careful to stitch me up. Here is the relevant part of the reply:

"I have liaised with the relevant Officers, who have confirmed that no
correspondence from Tom Watson MP was received by Councillor Cooper in his
official council e-mail address, or by officers of the Council between the
1st April and 24th December 2013" (my emphasis).

You will see that Britton's team were very careful with the wording - there was no correspondence to Cooper's e-mail address. I duly let sleeping dogs lie until someone pointed out to me that the Nonce-Finder General had indeed sent his so-called "survey" to the thuggish "leader" but had actually sent it by LETTER during precisely the period I had sought information for. Unfortunately, I had overlooked this:




Incidentally, I am not aware if there was a reply....

Don't let sleazy Sandwell get away with this sort of nonsense if you are doing your own requests!

Lesson 2 - Another SMBC stunt is to only partially answer the request (see for example the situation when they pilfered the "Arts Festival" funds to promote Jim Cadman's "private" statue). Again, do not delay if they start this sort of nonsense. Go straight to the ICO.

Unfortunately, the College (where, of course, the aforementioned "xxxxx xxxxxxx" [comedic reference temporarily removed] Jan Britton sits on the Board of Governors) are at it as well. Last year I asked questions about the catering contract for the cafe at the former Public. This was the relevant part of a Freedom of Information reply:

"The College has an existing partner [Catering Academy Limited] for delivering all catering within the College and the cafe/catering provision at the new Central Sixth site will
be provided by this partner.  This arrangement will continue until July
2015 when we will re-tender for these services."

That could not be said to be in any way ambiguous but, as it turns out, this was a grossly misleading reply at best or a simple lie at worst. Was this done deliberately by someone at the College and if so why?

July, 2015 arrived and I could not locate details of any re-tendering. I duly approached the sleazy College again only to receive this the other day (without any sort of apology for the false information given before):

"The catering contract with Sandwell College allows for an option to extend for up to two years from July 2015. This option has been exercised."

No doubt, Sandwell College will be able to show that they have secured best value for the taxpayer from this cosy arrangement and that there is no element of taxpayer subsidy to the catering company in respect of the disastrously empty ex-Public caff. Once again, I shall be writing to Ofsted about their appalling lax governance.

And so we have it again folks. the secret state of Labour Sandwell in all its glory......

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

email:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com            twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Monday, 27 July 2015

Skidder Shorts No. 26 - Holiday from Hell?

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE, A COMPLETELY FACTUAL DESCRIPTION OF DARREN COOPER AND A CLEARLY SATIRICAL, LAMPOONING REFERENCE TO HIM HAVE BEEN TEMPORARILY REDACTED.

It is that time of year where the fortunate among us head for the beaches. We drink too much, over-eat and are often forced into the company of ghastly people. This is certainly one couple many of us unwillingly find ourselves running into:

Skidder Shorts indeed.....

But things could be even worse. Imagine going on your travels and bumping into "Xxx Xxxxxxxxxxx" [obviously lampooning name for Darren Cooper temporarily redacted] himself!!!!!

The xxxxx-xxxxxxx xxxx [factual description of Darren Cooper temporarily redacted] who "leads" Sandwell Council, Darren Cooper, was on the radio yesterday talking about the new "Greater Birmingham" talkshop. The raison d'etre for yet another tier of politicians is that this will help "market" the region to businesses around the world but, in an ominous sign for future unity, the local councils outside Brum are objecting to the obvious "Greater Birmingham" despite the name "Birmingham" being known across vast swathes of the globe. Cooper's new official social media spokesman, Mr Hipkiss (who, to be fair, alleges that he is suffering from unspecified mental illnesses), has been actively promoting the region as a new building society, "The Heart of England".

Dimwit Darren is not noted as a linguist and has only a tenuous grasp of basic English. His total obsession with the Baggies is worrying in a grown-man and he is risibly parochial but the moron excelled himself in front of the nation yesterday when discussing the name for the "combined authority":

"Look when I go on holiday, you go on holiday, you know people'll say to me where you from? I say, "I'm from Smethwick" er, they'll say, "where's that?". I'll say,er, "by West Bromwich - do you know West Bromwich Albion Football Club?" "Oh yeah". No, it's a brand name isn't it and I don't think calling it Birmingham is the right way to go. You need something bigger than that".

Your guess is as good as mine as to what this gibberish is meant to mean and I would love to know whether all these "people" Dunce Daz speaks to on holiday are actually, er, English but perhaps he goes all cosmopolitan when he gets the bucket and spade out.  Mind you, it seems for global brand awareness the combined authority should start calling itself "West Bromwich Albion Football Club" rather than, say, "Smethwick"! Boing, boing as they so often say in Chongqing!

(Incidentally this xxxxx xxx [factually accurate description of Darren Cooper temporarily redacted] made a Freudian slip on the same programme saying,  "I can go" but then adding "or whoever chairs that new authority can go" into negotiations on behalf of  four million West Midlanders when the extra level of bureaucracy is forced upon us from above. He still thinks Labour are stupid enough to permit him to "lead" the region which is why he is so anxious not to have a mayoral election wherein his many shortcomings will be cruelly exposed).

DON'T FORGET THE "MEET THE SKIDDER" EVENT THIS FRIDAY TO CELEBRATE OVER A QUARTER OF A MILLION VIEWS OF THIS BLOG.

THE PRIZE QUIZ WILL BE RELEASED AT 6 PM ON THURSDAY EVENING.

THE FIRST TEN CLUTCHING CORRECT ANSWERS AT 1PM ON FRIDAY AT WETHERSPOONS, OLDBURY WIN A FREE DRINK UP TO £3.

YOU CAN HAVE A GO FOR FUN IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT TO OLDBURY!

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

email:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com           twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737















Thursday, 23 July 2015

West Midlands Police "In" on Public Closure "Deal"!

A Superintendent of West Midlands Police was an active participant in the deal that caused the closure of The Public. Senior Police Officer Basit Javid, brother of Business Secretary Sajid Javid, was on the Board of Governors of sleazy Sandwell College and attended most of the meetings where the stinking deal was discussed and connived in the College's cover up of it by agreeing that the minutes of the meetings should be kept secret.

Let us not forget that this was a rigged transaction between two publicly-funded bodies to which all other parties were deliberately excluded and Sandwell Labour had already decided to gift the multi-million conversion contract to Interserve without putting it out to tender. Accordingly there was no question of commercial confidentially being relevant here.

Superintendent Javid attended his first Sandwell College Board of Governors meeting on 25th January, 2013. Despite Freedom of Information requests to  the secretive College it is not clear that The Public was discussed at this meeting although it seems improbable that it was not and the Board - including copper Javid - agreed to keep minuted items B13-04 and B13-05 secret.

The minutes of the next meeting on 25th February, 2013 are also opaque but Javid was there and the Board agreed to keep 6 items from the meeting secret.

Thanks to my Freedom of Information requests we now have some of the later redacted minutes but no thanks to WMP's man on the ground. Their Superintendent was at the meetings on 22nd April, 2013, 20th May, 2013 and 25th June, 2013 and agreed that the following minutes relating to The Public - in date order - should also be kept secret - B13.56; B13.65 and B13.83.

Javid sent his apologies for the meeting on 15th July, 2103 (though presumably read the minutes). He was back for the two meetings on 16th and 18th September, 2103. At the latter meeting Javid connived with his fellow Board members to keep The Public minute B13.118 secret.

The officer then missed the meeting on 4th November, 2013 but was at the busy meeting of 9th December, 2013 when he again agreed that item B13.162 concerning The Public should be kept from public view.

He missed the meeting of 16th December, 2013 when the bent deal was finally agreed though he must have received the minutes and the "two reports" on the shafting of The Public which were apparently circulated beforehand.

I am most definitely not suggesting personal impropriety by Javid here (the rotten deal was a complex one and he may not have known the sordid history behind it nor understood the ramifications) although one has to assume that he was fully in agreement with the College screwing over the taxpayer and the people of Sandwell as there is no record of him dissenting in any of the available minutes. As above, there is also no record of him dissenting to everything being deliberately concealed by the College from proper public scrutiny (and remember that afterwards both the Council and College fought tooth and nail to prevent disclosure of this "great deal for Sandwell"!)

And is it any wonder that West Midlands Police have taken no interest in this multi-million pound scandal whatsoever?

(Despite previous complaints and Freedom of Information requests and formal written complaints to Ofsted the College has still not published the minutes for the last FIVE Board meetings stretching back to 8th December, 2014!!! I have done a further FoI request today and again written to Ofsted in respect of this appallingly poor governance).

DON'T FORGET.....
SPECIAL "MEET THE SKIDDER" EVENT
AND
PRIZE QUIZ!
WETHERSPOONS, OLDBURY
FRIDAY 31ST JULY AT 1PM!

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, 21 July 2015

Sandwell College - You Cynical B*stards!

I have pointed out before that the sh*ts at Sandwell College have been trying to lure thick local kids into their officially second-rate institution so that they can get more Government dosh, by exaggerating their abilities. This is not just immoral but must be actively damaging to other local institutions like Walsall College which genuinely does have an "outstanding" rating.

Months ago I pointed out their poster outside one of their two £70m+ publicly-funded buildings was grossly misleading and was attempting to suggest that the College somehow had an Ofsted "outstanding" rating whereas, in fact, it only had the lower grading of "good". The large print said "outstanding" whereas the small print stated the truth.

The young folk of Sandwell face enough difficult life challenges as it is but these deceitful empire-builders at the College just need bums on seats and are prepared to have the pants down of local kids before they have even got through the door.

Now the officially second-rate College has pushed this sh*tty marketing ploy even further. Type "Sandwell College" into Google and you will get this:



Of course, this deliberately misleading sh*t falls short of saying the College actually is "outstanding" but you will see the con trick they are trying to pull here and they are at it again on their re-vamped website. Here is the header:


Once again the marketeers have been paid serious amounts of taxpayers' dosh to dupe vulnerable young people by purposefully and cynically using the word "outstanding". Yes, it's a desperate, dirty business now education but who cares about the victims - they're just kids....

Now to something else concerning the College and the bent Public deal. And apologies here as The Skidder Team have missed something that was staring us in the face...

Again, I have pointed out on numerous occasions the uncomfortably close relationship between West Midlands Police (WMP) and Sandwell Council. The local plod have taken no interest in the bent Public deal even though Sandwell Council caused deliberate lies about the transaction to be placed in official public records - something that should surely start alarm bells ringing? Of course, as part of the bent deal Sandwell Labour forced the sleazy College to take Jan Britton - the laissez-faire "Chief Executive" of Sandwell Council - onto its Board of Governors and also to pay high rent to the, er, Labour Party in respect of Terry Duffy House (see posts passim)

But if you are going to lie to the people of Sandwell and beyond about the nature of a multi-million pound transaction you don't want people asking questions do you? And so on 26th November, 2012 the search committee of Sandwell College very "conveniently" recommended the appointment of a senior West Midlands Police officer - a Superintendent no less - as a suitable person to join the Board of Governors for a three-year term commencing 1st January, 2013 (at a time when the bent deal was under negotiation). I stress here that I specifically do not make any allegation of improper conduct etc against the Officer concerned but this appointment was an excellent way for the College and Council to "square" West Midlands Police and ensure they kept their noses out.

Beside Labour lying in official Council documents, both the College and the Council then went to great lengths to keep this "great deal for Sandwell", er, secret..... presumably the West Midlands Police officer Board member (whose appointment was confirmed) agreeing whole-heartedly with this stinking policy to keep you and I - taxpayers and voters - in the dark?

Of course, after much difficulty there IS now a Regional Fraud Team investigation into the affairs of the Labour Council but, yet again, WMP want to involve themselves in the murky world of Sandwell politics which doesn't give the man or woman on the street much confidence as to their impartiality.

Let me go off at a tangent here but please stay with me. Sandwell Labour's running dogs - The Wolverhampton Express and Star - have been persistently peddling the lie that the College is paying rent for The Public despite very clear evidence to the contrary - which they are well aware of but are choosing to ignore to help their Sandwell Labour friends. It came to my attention that Labour's bent deal was not only a potential breach of their legal obligations to dispose of land for the best possible price but also constituted a secret subsidy to the College.  In the circumstances, I put in a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asking for the full documentation leading to the then Secretary of State approving the deal. After I bit of a cock-up I was finally informed that Sandwell Council had never applied for central Government approval in the first place!

Accordingly, on 26th March, 2015 I duly wrote to the then Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, copying in my own constituency MP, Sandwell Council, Sandwell College and the two-main funding bodies for the College - the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency. The complete, unredacted, letter is set out at the bottom of this post.

I posted all six letters at the main post office in Kings Heath, Birmingham and actually saw them go in the "bag" but at least one party is claiming not to have received the letter. (I am aware that the SFA has now moved and the mail has been duly re-directed).

Of course, the election was coming up but none of the parties bothered to even acknowledge my letter let alone to respond.

Although, I have a Birmingham address the house where I live is just inside the border of Bromsgrove so that my MP is the Rt Hon Sajid Javid - recently promoted to Business Secretary. Ironically his new Department is responsible for the Skills Funding Agency and so, whereas in my letter to Eric Pickles I had just asked him to kindly keep a watching brief, he has now become a player on this little stage.

In the absence of a response from the DCLG and others I duly wrote to my MP recently asking him to chase matters up and he has now written to Jan Britton.

Clearly the people of Sandwell and beyond are being short-changed again over the bent deal and certainly cannot ever hope that WMP will ever look at what was really going on.

Oh and by the way, did I mention the name of the WMP officer on the College's Board of Governors? He is Superintendent Basit Javid - yes, the brother of the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid who is now partly responsible for making decisions on the College's funding!!!! I have written to Mr Javid pointing out that there is now an obvious conflict of interest as far as him representing me a a constituent in this affair is concerned. Just who CAN Sandwell turn to for help to get to the truth about this bent deal?

In the words of Private Frazer, "we're all doomed, doomed....."

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

e-mail:  thesandwellskidder@gmail.com          twitter  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Complete letter to Secretary of State - 26th March, 2015 - still unanswered after four months:


The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP                                                       
Secretary of State for Communities etc                                           
2 Marsham Street                                                              26th March, 2015
London SW1P 4DF


Cc Jan Britton
     Chief Executive
     Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
     Freeth Street
     Oldbury B69 3DE


Cc (In his capacity as my constituency MP)
     Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP
     18 High Street
     Bromsgrove B61 8HQ


Cc  Skills Funding Agency
      The NTI Building
      15 Bartholomew Row
       Birmingham B5 5JU


Cc  Education Funding Agency
      53-55 Butts Road,
      Coventry CV1 3BH


Cc   Ms Jill Berry
      Sandwell College
      Central Campus
      1 Spon Lane
      West Bromwich B70 6AW


Dear Secretary of State,


The Public, West Bromwich - s. 123 Local Government Act 1972


Some time ago Labour Sandwell Council decided, for political reasons, to shaft The Public Arts Centre in West Bromwich. I cannot even begin to tell you all that went on but am writing about a narrow but very important point.


Sandwell Labour have been flouting the provisions of s.123 regularly as far as I can ascertain (and, indeed, there is a CURRENT Regional Fraud Team police investigation in respect of certain land sales).


In this particular case, Sandwell Labour initially paid £39,000 (ex Vat) for ludicrous reports on possible other uses for the building but did not get the answers they hoped for. In the meantime, the political leadership of Sandwell had been nursing two major grievances in respect of your Government ie. (1) that Mr Gove had cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme; and (2) that the brand-new Sandwell College building at Spon Lane, West Bromwich being - built with central Government funds - was not as large as they hoped for.


Accordingly, and even before the College moved into its brand-new £70m+ building Cllr Mahboob Hussain, Sandwell’s Deputy Leader approached the College and initiated discussions for them to take over a SECOND £70m + publicly paid for building - The Public.


I note that the spirit of s. 123 is that procedures for the disposal of land by Council’s should be open, transparent, competitive and market related. That was not the case here. The Office of the Information Commissioner still has a live case in respect of the failure of either the Council or the College to disclose the terms of their “unusual” deal even following Freedom of Information requests. The whole matter was (and to a certain extent still is) shrouded in secrecy but from the information in the public domain the story is a disastrous one. In short:


1  From Day One the College deal was the only game in town. At no point whatsover (unless done secretly) was the building marketed or subjected to any competitive disposal process. There was a feeble suggestion by the Labour Council that at one point “another College” was interested in the building but again, this was either just a pathetic negotiating ploy or simply an outright lie. Unfortunately, the publicly-funded College took full advantage of the Council’s ineptitude and played hard-ball on the negotiations as will be seen below. Whether this was done in the best interests of taxpayers is a moot point.


2  The Labour Council has not - as far as can be discovered - ever ascertained whether the building had a commercial use and/or enhanced market value IF MILLIONS WERE SPENT ON DESTROYING THE ORIGINAL LAYOUT - which was what actually happened. (This was never properly canvassed in the £39,000 reports from the property consultants). Of course, this may have led to further expenditure from the public purse but Labour were dead set on one solution and one solution only ie that the building would become the College’s second £70m+ building in 12 months! (Ironically, the SPECIFIC expert analysis in the outdated reports from the property consultants was that the building was most definitely NOT suitable for use as a school or college!)


3. Labour then used the old and defunct Building Schools for the Future EU procurement notice to avoid putting the contract for conversion out to tender and gifted the deal to Interserve (there are other serious issues surrounding that). They then borrowed somewhere in the region of £6m to pay Interserve on the basis that the College would pay them the loan back over 25 years. (I am assuming that central Government would not have allowed the College to take on this debt themselves). The Council has routinely lied to the local media saying that this loan repayment is “rent” when it is clearly no such thing.


4  For want of a better expression Secretary of State, the College and its lawyers then had Labour’s pants down as they knew the Council were committed to one deal only. The fact is, however, that this was a very substantial building in issue paid for from the public purse. Before conversion the square footage was a whopping 122,891 sq ft which at even a low figure rental figure of, say, £11 psf (considerably less that the Council itself was paying BT for  offices in the same town) then a tenant should be paying AT LEAST £1.35m per annum for the lease. Even without rent increases that is getting on for THIRTY FOUR MILLION POUNDS over 25 years.


(Incredibly, the College even managed to stitch-up the Council into paying for 25 years maintenance of the expensive building which, I don’t need to tell you, is virtually unheard of in a 25-year lease!)


5 It would appear that whilst the College are to pay back the conversion costs over the period of the 25 year lease they are actually paying either NO rent at all or just a peppercorn rent. This constitutes both a breach of s.123 and a colossal hidden subsidy of some £34m by the local Council to the College!


6  My understanding, if I have understood things correctly, is that pursuant to s.123 and Circular 06/03 Local Government Act 1972 General Disposal Consent (England) 2003 your consent is required where a disposal other than by way of a short tenancy (which is not the case here) is made and the undervalue is in excess of £2m - which is clearly the case here. Accordingly I put in a Freedom of Information Act to your Department to obtain the correspondence and to ascertain the reasons behind your decision to allow the transaction to proceed. After an unfortunate delay by your Department I received the FOI reply saying that no s. 123 application has ever been made to you! How can this be when there has been such a huge undervaluation on the lease?


7 This section is addressed to the SFA and EFA only. My understanding is that a further education college such as Sandwell gets the vast bulk of its funding from Central Government. As Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council have chosen to make a multi-million pound subsidy to the College instead will you please confirm that you will be decreasing Central Funding by an equivalent amount so that the taxpayer is not “paying-out” twice and so that Sandwell does not gain an unfair advantage in funding over other colleges in the area, such as the local Ofsted outstanding Walsall College. It has already gained a second £70m building just a year after the taxpayer paid for the brand new Spon Lane campus.


Please note that although I have a Birmingham address I live just inside the constituency of the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP. I am not requesting at this stage that he, as my MP, involves himself in this matter but am copying him in so that he may ensure, if applicable, that I receive a proper reply.


If it is simpler to reply by e-mail please do so to thesandwellskidder@gmail.com


Yours faithfully,


JULIAN SAUNDERS

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

SMBC Slammed by Charity Commission

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE A FACTUALLY ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF DARREN COOPER HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REDACTED.

Fresh from two hammerings by High Court judges, screwing-over the Arts Council by pilfering money from the joke "Sandwell Arts Festival" for Jim Cadman's private statue appeal and the shafting of Sport England in the Sport Wednesbury scandal, Sandwell Labour have now fallen foul of The Charity Commission.

Labour SMBC are the sole charitable trustee of Hadley Playing Fields and Recreation Ground but failed to submit annual returns and accounts to The Charity Commission over a number of years! The Commission was forced to take action against this serial offending and in a report dated 6th July, 2015 concluded:

"The charity’s trustee (Labour SMBC) was in default of its legal obligations to file proper accounting information with the commission. This was mismanagement and misconduct in the administration of the charity and a breach of its legal duties."

And to rub it in:

"The reasons the trustee gave for non-compliance were not a legitimate excuse."

Full Report (thanks to "Anon"):

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/442133/hadley_playing_fields_and_recreation_ground.pdf

Unfortunately this is what you get when you have a vicious, bullying dictatorship led by a xxxxx xxxxx [factually accurate description of Darren Cooper temporarily redacted] who continue to sack good people whilst retaining a rump of Labour party members and/or other assorted arse-lickers. Something the new "Greater Birmingham" Authority will have to get used to!

At least outside organisations and the courts are now beginning to suss Sandwell Labour out!

FORTHCOMING SPECIAL SKIDDER EVENT

There will be a special chance to meet The Skidder at the Court of Requests - Wetherspoons - pub in Oldbury on  Friday 31st July, 2015 at 1pm. Celebrations are in order and there will be a special prize quiz....

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

e-mail  thesandwellskidder@gmail.com              twitter   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Monday, 13 July 2015

Sandwell's Shafting of Sport England - Part 2

In my earlier blog, "McVittie Takes the Biscuit", I set out how the comrades at Sandwell Council managed to shaft Sports England for £152,800 of which £105,000 was earmarked to pay Mr Richard McVittie £35,000 a year for three years. Mr McVittie is the partner of Richard Jones, the son of Cllrs Olwen and Ian Jones and brother of Cllr Stephen Jones. Richard Jones seems to be already receiving remuneration via Cllr Olwen Jones's and Cllr Elaine Costigan's social fiefdom, the highly secretive alleged community organisation "Wednesbury Celebrates" [sic].

http://thesandwellskidder.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/mcvittie-takes-biscuit.html

Since the publication of my last blog neither Cllrs Olwen nor Elaine have sent me a copy of the Wednesbury Celebrates accounts. They are receiving public funds for their "activities" but are seemingly reluctant to make any figures, er,  public.

Readers to my earlier blog will know that Sports England failed to send me the supporting documents for the "Sport Wednesbury" application but they have now done so. I won't burden you with them all in detail but will provide you with a handy summary!

Although this grant application was allegedly in the name of the "independent" Wednesbury Celebrates it was actually prepared at taxpayers' expense by Sandwell Council. The free-spending comrades went into great detail about the role of the "Sports Activator" and set out a detailed job description although they conveniently forgot to mention the "family relationship" of the person they intended to appoint to Sport England.

They then attached no less that FOUR letters of support form, er, themselves - Sandwell Council! Firstly there was one from John Middleton, the Director of Public Health. Secondly, there was one from sports-mad Cabinet member, "The Cipher" Paul Moore. Then the third one was Hussain's old mate, Adrian Scarrott - the "Director of Neighbourhoods", no less. And fourthly, Gemma Ryan chipped in - the "Assistant PE and Sports Strategy Manager" for her Labour masters.

Just in case, Sport England had not got the message, Labour wheeled out its big gun - or at least water-pistol - in no less a person than Adrian "Invisible Man" Bailey MP!

There were TWO letters of support from Wednesbury Water Polo Club. The first was signed by one Karen JONES (any relation anyone?) and the second was signed by the great man himself  Cllr "Peeping Ian*" Jones even though his extended family was directly going to benefit with Mr McVittie scoring £35K a year!

Correction  14/07/15 - the letter from "Karen Jones" was from the Midland Water Polo League. The Committee "President" of the League is a certain Mr Ian Jones......

Addendum 16/07/15 - I am informed that the said Karen Jones is indeed the daughter of Cllrs Ian and Olwen Jones and sister of Richard Jones. I wrote to Cllr Ian Jones asking to confirm this but he has declined to respond so far

Just to keep things in the family, Richard Jones is shown on Sport Wednesbury documentation as the "coach" for the Water Polo sessions for which I assume he is also remunerated.

And there is more, since Wednesbury Celebrates also wrote to Sport England with the letter being signed by one "Cllr Olwen Jones" although she too failed to mention that her extended family were directly going to benefit from the grant.

"The Black Country Consortium" (whoever the f*ck they are) then chipped in to help the sleazy socialists and perhaps Sport England might have questioned why their letter of support was addressed to one "Richard Jones, Sports Wednesbury". Yes, of course - that is the same Richard Jones who is the son of Olwen and Ian and partner or, er Richard McVittie who was to be paid so handsomely from the bulk of the grant monies.

Addendum 16/07/15 - Although Sandwell Council staff wrote the bid at taxpayers' expense Richard Jones also solicited and obtained help and advice from Mr Simon Hall of the Black Country Consortium who has kindly confirmed that neither he nor the organisation were informed of the identity of the "activator" at that stage. He did confirm, however, that he himself used to work for Sport England......

And then Sports England didn't notice the Sport Wednesbury Activator Partnership Agreement (prepared at public expense?) where the partner "Sandwell Sports Council" was represented by its Chair - Cllr Ian Jones (yes, you know the family tree and the McVittie link again).

Then to cap it all, even Wednesbury Rugby Club chucked a letter in - signed by Labour Councillor Peter Hughes!

Still you might say, the highly-experienced Mr McVittie was nominated for one award and WON another at the mutual masturbation session that is Wednesbury Community Awards Night and so he must have been doing a grand job getting the Wednesbury lard arses to go and play rounders with Costigan etc. (Such a shame that there was another outbreak of "Turdy's Disease" in the Borough and these morons could not even spell the name right on the wonderful certificates!)


But hang on a minute? By some strange magic Mr £35k per annum McVittie has suddenly managed to submit the belated "first six months monitoring report" to Sport England after saying he has had difficulties completing it! His apologia is set out below but to save you the trouble the project has been, like most things in the socialist paradise, sh*t so far and £35k a year McVittie is whining about "lack of support" etc etc. I am crying in my beer as I write. He even moans about lack of facilities even when various bodies allegedly offered free space as part of the ramped-up "bid" that Sport England fell for.

About the only success story is an event run by The Albion Foundation (see blogs passim) into which Sandwell Council is already paying huge sums whilst the last accounts show that the wealthy WBAFC paid in a nice round figure ie ZERO! At least this time Labour are (mostly) shafting the lottery fund rather than the taxpayer!

Sport England say they will be closely monitoring this project - let us hope so as Sandwell and Wednesbury Labour have had their pants down already!




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

e-mail   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com               Facebook:  Julian Saunders

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

* If you want to know more ask Sandwell Council about it spying on its own staff.....

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sandwell's Glenda Slagg!

DUE TO AN ONGOING LEGAL DISPUTE, SATIRICAL AND LAMPOONING REFERENCES TO DARREN COOPER HAVE BEEN TEMPORARILY REDACTED.

For those unfamiliar with the brilliant Private Eye Magazine, the Glenda Slagg column satirises female columnists in a vitriolic style riddled with inconsistency. Now Sandwell has it's own male version in the form of the xxxxx-xxxxxxx xxxx [factually accurate description of Darren Cooper temporarily redacted] who "leads" Labour Sandwell Council, Darren "Xxx Xxxxxxxxxxx" Cooper.

[Xxx Xxxxxxxxxxx and Xxxxx are lampooning names for Cooper which are temporarily redacted].

Here are some of Xxxxx' thoughts of West Bromwich Albion Chair, Jeremy Peace:

Peace 1 - Xxxxx [ie Cooper] 0

Indeed given what's happened to the Wolves. But JP knows what he's doing. Need RH to sign up now.

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 0

WEST BROMWICH... ALBION ! WEST BROMWICH....ALBION ! Boing ! Boing ! ..............Bring on the Hats off to JP & team !

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 1

JP needs to explain himself instead of hiding in his office.I been a great supporter of his losing faith with him at moment.

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 2

(Xxxxx [ie Cooper] is a greedy little man always whining about other people having money....):

I know as do alot of Fans and u want your team to have a chance. But JP will still be paid big bucks up or down

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 3

And don't forget "We are Championship club" over achieving not said for fun, but cover. JP not a fan it's a business to him.

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 4

I'm pleased I'm wrong & my source for the sake of the Baggies Still a big mess though. I don't blame Pepe only JP. No plan

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 5

Who's up for around of sack the board song on Sunday? JP should be sent a clear message or nothing will change

Peace 2 - Xxxxx 6

I will as will most fans get behind the head coach. Point is JP knows that. But treats us like mugs

Peace 3 - Xxxxx 6

I'm pleased JP as shown some interest & invested in the team. Also I'm right behind AI despite the disappointment early on

("Al" was, of course, a disaster).

The ludicrous Cooper once accused Peace of being "fraudulent" and last year attempted to organise a "peaceful" [sic], er, anti-Peace protest at The Hawthorns which collapsed into ignominious farce. In a rare moment of insight Xxxxx [ie Cooper] called it right for once:

Lol JP don't like me Chris.

But now, in true "Glenda"-style, Xxxxx can't resist a bit of c"ck-sucking to the Chairman:

Indeed. JP done a great job, and I'm sure he would have undertake a robust look at the new potential owners. Exciting times :)

Never mind, Mr Peace - you will still be rich in the morning whilst Xxxxx [ie Cooper] will still be a tw*t.

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

e-mail: thesandwellskidder@gmail.com twitter @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737