When the going gets tough and the way ahead calls for judgements from council bosses; many of whom are obviously operating beyond the level of their ability; naturally it’s not surprising that councillors and managers, fearing the limited depth of their capabilities could possibly put their lucrative income in jeopardy, will look to set-up a fall-guy; - someone to blame when it all goes disastrously wrong.

It comes as no surprise therefore, that Tameside Council bosses, appear to be up to their old tricks again. This time they are attempting to plant the seeds of discontent into the minds of Tameside residents by shifting some of the blame for the councils future budgetary cutting decisions onto totally unqualified members of the public who have been beguiled by Cllr Quinn’s seemingly innocuous invitation on his 'blog' to attempt to ‘Balance the council’s books’

If you don’t know by now, the council wants to hear your views on how to manage the cuts to their budgets that have been imposed by the Government. In particular what you believe are the priority services where the remaining money should be spent.

To do this, they have developed a 'budget simulator' that allows you to try and balance the budget for yourself. 

As you remove money form a particular service using the sliders, notifications appear to give you an idea of what impact each change would have.

This practice is typical of career politicians who have lost the valuable perspective of the person on the street. Their long entrenchment playing ‘who can get on as many committees’ as possible, means they seem to have contracted a debilitating inability to think “radically” and come up with a bout of new ideas.

If you take the opportunity to access the ‘Budget Simulator’ you will find a section entitled: How we can bring money in. And it reads: We have a number of ways that we can generate money. Choose how you would like us to bring money in. It offers 3 options. Increase fees & charges by 5%. Release more land for business development and Increase the number of new homes being built.

Is that it? Are those 3 options the only opportunities these Council Bosses and 57 councillors can come up with collectively?

No mention of utilizing their assets and manpower (not selling them off) No creative ways of making profits. No cutting out the vast waste? (For instance: There’s a small park in Hollingworth, on the corner of Woolley Bridge Lane and Mottram Moor, whose ‘Christmas Lights’ have lit up the trees each evening from Christmas 2013!)

No mention of stopping spending money on cosmetics and vanity projects (Like the £2000 for two new trees to be planted outside Hyde Town Hall! – How is this a priority?)

And so it goes on with each section of the ‘Budget Simulator’ offering limited options of areas of expenditure/savings, as identified by ‘the council’ - which means anyone attempting to ‘balance the books’ purely using the options on offer will of course find it difficult, if not impossible. 

An outcome these council bosses want you to conclude to justify their political mantra.

Let us not forget that councillors and council bosses are bound by a Code of Conduct which requires them to act selflessly, objectively, within the law and to give assurance for the proper use of public funds and assets.

If they find that task too much for them, they should resign and allow someone more adept to fill the position.

I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it,
there's no way you can prove anything!
At last count, I believe that a couple of thousand people have attempted to ‘balance the council’s books’ – approx 0.9% - a small percentage of Tameside residents.

Once the consultation closes in mid-December 2014, we are told that the council will analyze the responses from the budget simulator will be taken into account when preparing the budget for 2015/16.

So, mark my words, next year, at the first signs of trouble over daft decisions that they may make, or a service that will be chopped, they will point to the public’s response gained from their ‘budget simulator’ and in an attempt to avoid any responsibility, blame the public, saying “Well …that is what you asked for!”

Where, oh where are the wise-thinking councillors with vision, common sense, forward planning and radical ideas?

I kid you not, Bart Simpson could run the council more efficiently than the people we have currently put in charge. 

And when you watch the colloquial soap-opera treatment of the second series of the BBC’s ‘Call The Council’ - Tameside must now be the laughing stock of the UK!



John Taylor - Destined to become Deputy Sherriff
Way back in March, Tameside Council's Deputy Leader, John Taylor described his party’s venture into the Wythenshawe Ward; where they’ circled their political wagons’ in order to get their candidate Michael Kane elected, as a positive sign of them winning the next General Election.

Michael, you may recall was an ‘adviser’ to Tameside council’s leader Kieran Quinn, who'd previously worked for current Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds - as well as his predecessor,the  former Minister James Purnell.

You may also recall 'Deputy Taylor' telling us with self-advocating gusto how he and few of his posse had ridden boldly into unknown territory, with himself leading the hastily sworn- in canvassers’, as their Sherriff! Inferring that because of his added support, Michael Kane had walked the election with 13,261 votes, beating UKIP's John Bickley, with 4,301, into second place.

However, the vocal Deputy seems to have been ‘shot in the foot’ as he appears to have been silenced by the recent Rochdale result. Even though he once again headed into ‘unknown territory at the head of his political posse to help Liz McInnes tip the scales at 11,633 votes, they only managed it by a mere 617 votes with the same UKIP candidate John Bickley securing 11,016 votes!

So, no sign of bragging this time! In fact not a political peep from the usually spontaneous councillor spouting his simplistic beliefs. Instead, his letter this week was based on Historic Battles and fictitious TV Programmes of yesteryear!

It just goes to show how desperate these career councillors are to stop any serious debate that focuses on their actual use!



Up until now I have resisted the invitation to get involved with the council’s budget consultation, but seeing that over 500 residents apparently have, I thought I’d take a look at Kieran Quinn’s “open and honest way to share the issues they face and the choices they must make!”

Taking the council leader at his word, I went immediately to the council’s website to read how residents are required to ‘balance the budget.’

However, on reading the opening politically loaded paragraphs, which bang on about Government imposed cuts, it tells us again that Tameside Council will have £38m less to spend on services for local residents and businesses, on top of £104m that the council has had to cut from its budgets from previous years.

I find it interesting that the council never fails to remind us how they rely heavily on money from the Government. ‘The Council Tax we collect only pays for one third of the services we provide, they say, ‘The rest comes from the Government.’ (Which of course ultimately comes from us in taxes!)

They also can’t resist telling us that they have limited choices in how they cut spending and save or raise money. This is nonsense and is usually a prelude to the unveiling of some half-baked scheme designed to relieve us of ever greater sums of our money, usually without any form of explanation as to why they need so much of it or to account for its use. (The £291,000 they spent on Ashton’s Christmas Market springs to mind)

There is no accountability. Just look at the expenditure sheet for the month of August. 

Out of the £7.237million total invoices paid out. Perhaps someone could explain what exactly are we getting for the £3.722million paid to Inspired Spaces?

Has anyone tried to re-negotiate these long term PPI leases? – If not, why not? And if so, what savings are being made?

Then there’s the question of ‘The Hub’ at Hattersley. Why has the rent risen from £108,707 per annum, subject to the terms of the original lease, to a new figure of £226,510 per annum? - Which means that the council are now committed to paying over £6.795 million spread over the remainder of the 30 year lease instead of £3.261 million? – Whose bright idea was that? Have heads rolled? – I suspect not!

Have you noticed that whenever our career councillors warn us of the consequences of a lower budget they always provide examples of the effects of lower spending on essential services and describe any loss of revenue from the taxpayer as being a ‘cost’ to the council?  Notice also how they never provide examples where essential services are unaffected? Nor, you will find, is there ever any word in the local press telling us how their pet projects (Ashton Market) are being scaled back instead of core services?

They seem to have forgotten that providing basic services are the very reason local authorities exist.

The notion of living within their means is alien to them. You see, their priorities are always put before our priorities.

We should also not ignore how council income has increased substantially through the ever growing list of charges and fees which residents have to pay for services that we already pay taxes to provide.  Councils not only get their central government grant and collect council tax from residents; they also make a fortune in charges that far exceed the cost of administration they were supposedly designed to cover. (Parking Fines for instance)  

The total amount that councils take from residents over the course of a year far exceeds the council tax demand we receive each year.

And while we’re on the subject of council tax, let’s not forget what happened last year.

A year with no local elections. A year when our caring council totally ignored the Local Audit and Accountability Bill which required those councils who intended to increase their council tax bill over 2%, were required to hold a council tax referendum; saying that having to seek our democratic consent to increase our council tax, was ‘unneeded’ and justified their decision by putting the blame on rising in precepts.

Has anyone thought to ask why we are asked to pay an ever increasing policing precept to the council, yet all we get are restricted-power PCSOs to make up for a shortage of real police on our streets.

Contrast that with this year, with local elections held in June. We had sitting councillors trying to get re-elected prattling on about ‘democracy’ and ‘listening to the wishes of the people’.

In other words, the council should be allowed to demand what and when it likes and to hell with what residents think.

All this ‘pseudo consultation exercise’ proves to me is that second rate councils do not attract high flyers and thinkers. If this collection of overpaid ‘council officers and authoritarian jobsworths’ cannot collectively devise ways to balance the books by utilising their assets and creating extra revenue without initiating ‘dubious fines and extra charges for misdemeanour's, whilst haemorrhaging huge sums of money through poor business acumen, then it proves that in Tameside Town Hall all constructive initiatives, free thought and common sense, is not only frowned upon, but is now being actively discouraged.

And when it all goes wrong; well they can then turn round and say, well, we consulted them and that’s what the residents wanted!



In the middle of February 2013, we were told by a certain career councillor that Stalybridge would soon be rid of its biggest eyesore, when they [the council] sold the site of the former Casablanca’s Health Club in Armentieres Square site to New Charter. 

We were told that later that same month the demolition work would begin on the site, which had stood derelict since being gutted by fire in 2005.

Some may remember the promising words of Cllr John Taylor, Deputy Leader of Tameside Council, who said: "These are great times for Stalybridge. We are finally going to see the end of a building that has spoiled the town centre for almost eight years.”

He went on to tell us that, “Empty buildings are not only a blight, they are a wasted asset, especially at a time when we have to work so much harder in pursuit of prosperity.”

He then went on to tell us that he looked forward to the new owners, New Charter, starting redevelopment very quickly and was pleased that they had chosen to use Tameside Council to carry out the demolition work!

As if we still hadn't got the message that New Charter were at last going to give Stalybridge a much needed facelift, he emphasised their community credentials by adding, “New owners New Charter have already proved themselves to be good neighbours, by acting so quickly and decisively to get rid of this eyesore – and now there is a real opportunity to breathe new life into this canal side area of the town; and finished his piece by claiming credit for the much needed redevelopment by saying, “Members of the town team, including myself, are at the heart of an on-going drive to ensure Stalybridge is an attractive place to live, to shop and to visit!”

Now what has prompted this look back in time you may ask.

Well, flicking through the usual letters page of this week’s Reporter, I happened across a long letter again penned by one Cllr John Taylor.

In it he paints a idyllic picture of his recent Sunday morning activity in Stalybridge.

He tells us, “It was so nice to see one of the local cafés open early on Sunday morning. It’s a nice café situated near the canal.”

Now could that be the same café that not only offers their patrons a ‘nice view of the canal’ but also offers those customers who prefer to take their large mochas al fresco, a splendid view of the 19 month old demolition site, which stands surrounded by a wooden fence gaudily painted in New Charter's corporate colours, as a brazen testament to what the council call a quick and decisive irradiation of an eyesore, and what New Charter presumably call a very quick redevelopment!

Nineteen months ago; as demolition took place, at least the good people of Stalybridge could still visit ‘The Millpond’ where they could still get a pint of JW Lees and a posh overpriced butty, But now that too has been boarded up, presumably never to sell an exorbitantly priced pie and a pint ever again.

Reading on we were then subjected to a few more words of wisdom from that doyen of business acumen, Herr Taylor, who, determined to give us the benefit of his vast experience of fiscal endeavour together with his unique skill and long experience in the field of stating the bleeding obvious, he let us in to a secret. “No matter how much money gets spent, if we don’t use our small businesses then they won’t survive!”

"Hey, I didn't vote for him!"
Could this be the same Cllr John Taylor, Deputy Leader of Tameside council who are currently submitting plans to further populate the outskirts of Hyde town centre with another retail park consisting of ‘branches of National retailers’ who will threaten the livelihoods of every small business in both Hyde and Stalybridge?

So folks, here we must leave him sitting outside this café looking across to the hills, surrounded by Canadian Geese with the late summer sun shining down on him!

...and some people actually voted for him!