Saturday, 31 March 2012

More tosh from the sage of Dartford

I'll give it to Steve Uncles, his blogs are consistent.  A recent offering:

For the full post go to:

I asked Mr Uncles for references to the sources of the quotes in the article.  My request, in the comments section has been deleted and surprise, surprise, no response.

Mr Uncles has previously stated that I am economical with the truth.  Doesn't see to stop him.

Death of Kevin Lynes a grievous loss

The death of Kevin Lynes, aged 53, has deprived Tunbridge Wells of its most astute politician.  The three wards which form the county council electoral division he represented are very different in character.  He had the ability to relate to people in each part of his division, to act as their champion and get things done.

Kevin had his critics, on some issues I was one of them, but he commanded respect, not only for the huge workload he carried, but also for making difficult decisions and standing up for deprived people.
A few years ago he lost his seat on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and I believe it was his determination not to lose his county council seat which drove him on.

It is a great pity Kevin did not stand again for a seat on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. He would have made an excellent Leader and we would have been spared the dither and clownish behaviour of some of the current members of the cabinet in Tunbridge Wells.

Kevin Lynes

The death of Kevin Lynes at the age of 53 has come as a shock.  I met him a number of times in recent months and, apart from looking tired on one occasion, there was no indication that anything was amiss.

Kevin was a member of the Cabinet at Kent County Council and some were surprised when he did not contest the Leader election in 2011. 

One abiding memory of Kevin will be his desire to the photographed by the press.  He was attracted to press cameras as a child is to a sweet shop.  Keeping his name in the public eye was important to Kevin as it helped his re-election prospects.  He once remarked on the pain he felt when he lost his seat on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  There was to be no repetition of the pain with his county council seat.

Kevin worked very hard for the communities he represented and was well thought of by people who would not be considered 'natural' Conservative voters.  He championed the communities he represented and had a passion for supporting people suffering deprivation.  In many ways he was not a typical Tory.  When the by-election is contested  the Conservatives will have to be very careful in their choice of candidate.

It may be that Kevin tried too hard.  He was a cabinet member, very engaged with people and organisations in his division and active within the Conservative Association.

I had an exchange of  fierce e-mails with Kevin over the closure of Panda pre-school play group in Sherwood, but we moved on.  I was delighted when he took up the idea of forming a credit union in Kent.  The existence of Kent Savers Credit Union is testament to the work Kevin did.

He will be missed.



Friday, 30 March 2012

Spain and bazookas (2)

The citizens of Spain are paying, and how, for the failure of euroland politicians and bureaucrats.  Massive austerity budget. But will it all be in vain?  Probably.

As reported yesterday the euro firewall has been fixed at 800 billion euros: eye-watering, but suggestions that even 1 trillion euros would not be sufficient:,1518,824808,00.html and,1518,824750,00.html

An item which tells us a lot........

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spain and bazookas

No sooner do sundry eurocrats proclaim that the worst of the debt crisis is over than problems surface in Spain. Not that the problems had gone away.  Top marks for self-deception to the rulers of euroland.
It looks as though the debt-busting bazooka will not be sufficient should Spain turn turtle, but what the hell....

Beware. Serial fiction writers at large.

Not long now until the local elections.  In April we can expect to be bombarded with election literature.  I save the missives I receive:  my collection goes back five years.  Full of broken promises, sham humility from the candidates and statements on national policies which are of no relevance to local elections.  From time to time politicians complain that local elections are decided by national issues - but still they persist in sending out election addresses containing comments on national issues.

Most election literature is very boring,  the content an affront to the intelligence of the electorate.  The Liberal Democrats specialise in  dodgy electoral statistics and graphs, the Conservatives use a lot of verbiage to say nothing whilst Labour engages mostly in bashing opposition parties on national issues.

I look forward (in vain) to election addresses which set out with clarity what the parties intend to do on the following issues: council tax, car park charges, improved public transport, traffic congestion, town centre redevelopment,  public engagement and community safety.  What I do not want is a rose-tinted statement of past achievements.  I want to know where candidates stand on issues of current concern.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Euroland related links

Ok, so a couple are somewhat tenuous.,1518,824313,00.html
Trillion euros permanent bailout fund,1518,824279,00.html
Onward, to the next red-line!,1518,824011,00.html
Athens falls apart.

The 'message' today from the eurocrats is that the eurozone crisis is past the worst.  Have my doubts.  For the citizens of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy the Ireland the prospect is one of years of misery..

Planning: the Tunbridge Wells irony

The MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, has received a good press for his work as planning minister to steer the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to publication.  Not only does the new document replace 44 documents running to over 1,200 pages with a 49 page document, it gives impetus to the government's Localism agenda in which Greg Clark played a major role.  His success is deserving of a promotion: indeed had it not been for the need for the Coalition, he would have been given the environment portfolio, which instead went to Chris Huhne.

Local authorities will now be looking at their local plans to ensure consistency with the NPPF and also to take advantage of the provisions within the framework to deter unwanted development.  Doubtless a body of case law will be created as courts interpret the NPPF and local plans as developers seek judicial review or clarification of the new framework.

The irony is that the planning portfolio in Tunbridge Wells is held by councillor Brian Ransley who was the subject of a Standards for England report earlier this year.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Kerb enthusiasm curbed

So, £9,200 of public money spent on providing kerbs, and there was me thinking we are in a period of public funding austerity.  Shocking waste.

Another day, another problem in euroland

Portugal's banks under stress, Spain in recession, Ireland to hold referendum on the fiscal pact on 31st May and the German parliament to have a greater say on euro bailouts.  Add to this list the need for the debt firewall to be  enhanced considerably  and further doubts emerging concerning Greece's ability to make infrastructure changes to its economy and you have a fine old mess.,1518,824104,00.html

Monday, 26 March 2012

Irish woes and more from euroland

The Irish government is expected to announce tomorrow that date of the referendum to approve, or otherwise, the pact or treaty on fiscal union.  Meanwhile, Ireland remains in economic distress:

Meanwhile, Mrs Merkel has taken centre stage without her puppet, Mr Sarkozy, who has the small matter of winning the Frenbch presidential election next month to keep his busy.
See also:,1518,823737,00.html,1518,823872,00.html
Hidden risks in ECB accounts?

Spaom back in the news:

HS2, runways and a new city.

Rumours abound that Cameron is about to announce a 'U-turn' on the provision of a third runway at Heathrow.  Elected on a 'no runway' manifesto any such announcement will not go down well, particularly in Tory and Liberal Democrat held seats under the Heathrow fly paths.  The Mayor of London has announced his continued opposition to a third runaway at Heathow and is busy peddling his Thames estuary proposal.   There is talk of opening Northolt to civil flights, but no mention of Manston in Kent.

Should a third runway be built at Heathrow, what then of HS2 which has been trailed as the answer to congestion at Heathrow as it would reduce domestic flights?

The answer may be gleaned from the following articles.

The latter of the two reports above mentions that Northampton's population is to grow between 15-19% over the next eight years.  Helps make out my case that the Northampton-Bedford line should be re-opened and the Thameslink service extended from Bedford to Northampton and Rugby.

Coventry will be a major loser should HS2 be built: London-Birmingham traffic will use HS2 and by-pass Coventry.  The Coventy-Euston service will be reduced, or have more stops.

Update: Phase 2 of HST2:

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Twerp of the Year Award

My previous post reminded me that I need to start thinking about serious contenders for this blog's third annual Twerp of the Year Award.  No shortage of potential winners.  The accolade will be awarded to a local, regional or national figure who has received a mention on this blog and is not a previous winner.

It's YUK time again.

'Love Where You Live Awards' time again.  What possesses people to enter these abominations?

Well worth a visit.

Should you be in Pembury I recommend a visit to the King William 1V, or the King Will as it is known locally.,1

Friday, 23 March 2012

From obscurity to obscurity in fifteen months?

Will this be the fate of councillor Bob Atwood, Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, at the May elections?

Elected to the Council in 2008 councillor Atwood was catapulted to local fame as the councillor who replaced Roy Bullock as Leader of the Council following insurrection in the ranks of the controlling Conservative group. 

  • Since then, residents have witnessed Conservative councillors tearing lumps out of each other in the letters column of the local press.

  • Last May, the other seat in his ward was lost sensationally to UKIP.  The Conservative election campaign was abject and this year Councillor Atwood has a fight on his hands to retain his seat.  His cause has not been helped by Osborne's (Osborne Against Pensioners) taxation treatment of the 'grey army'.

  • We have had the unedifying spectacle of the councillor Ransley saga, his deselection and reselection.  A columnist in the local newspaper (The Courier) put it well:

Be it petty squabbles, childish insults, or secret threats, the latest Town Hall scandal is proof that Tunbridge Wells is run by a madhouse.

Quite.  And there is more, but I'll leave it to locals to buy a copy of the paper.

  • We had the Council raise council tax, against the wishes of the central government department in which our splendid MP is a minister.

  • We had the decision to serve notice to quit on the Soup Bowl, which has drawn in the Bishop of Rochester and our MP, and then the decision to defer the notice to evict.

If I was the UKIP candidate in councillor Atwood's ward I would be writing my acceptance speech now.

The Bishop, the MP and the Leader of the Council.

Recently I posted on the disgraceful decision of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to terminate at short notice the Soup Bowl's use of council owned property.  The Soup Bowl provides a hot meal for homeless people and others living on the margins of society.


The local newspaper printed an edited version and also letters from a few other people.

Now, the Council has had a change of heart and has deferred eviction.  But why was the daft decision taken in the first place and by whom?  Really, did it require the Bishop of Rochester, Greg Clark MP and the Leader of the Council to meet to sort it out?

OAP: Osborne Against Pensioners (you read it here first)

Whilst opprobrium is being heaped upon Osborne in industrial quantities for his attack on pensioners' allowances, it should not be forgotten that his actions are in line with Liberal Democrat policies.  Methinks a lot of the 'grey vote' will transfer to UKIP. For the Tories, this is their 10% tax abolition moment which did immense damage to the last Labour government.


Link to the petition:

Meanwhile the problems in the eurozone continue. Bond yields have risen in Italy, Spain and Greece.  Greece, according to the IMF, has a 67billion euro financing gap!.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Irish woes.

I have had a nagging doubt that not all was going well with the Irish economy following the 2010 bailout and imposition of austerity measures.  Today, bad news about the economy.  Having been lauded by Merkel as an exemplar of how eurozone counties should reduce their debt, the news will send shivers through the governments of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Press report on Councillor Ransley

From the report:

A LEAKED document has lifted the lid on astonishing goings-on at the Town Hall and allegations of threats, intimidation and secret meetings.
The report gives a hair-raising insight into playground politics behind closed doors at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the full report, with minor redaction, is available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

No Tesco for Southborough

The decision of Southborough Town Coucil is to be applauded.  However, still work to be done.
From the SEAM website:

Council says NO to TESCO!

A Big Thank You to everyone who has written letters and e-mails to our Councillors saying NO to Tesco. Today (20th March 2012) Southborough Town Council issued a statement rejecting Tesco plans for building on the Ridgewaye Fields (see Southborough Town Council)
SEAM says well done to all Southborough Town Councillors for listening to the Community and saying NO. It’s the right decision as the store would have resulted in :- building on the green Ridgewaye Fields, damage to local trading and total gridlock from all the extra cars and lorries - plus the associated deterioration to air quality.
(There would not have been increased employment opportunities as some believe, as there is well documented evidence that supermarkets shut shops within a 10 mile radius with the loss of jobs.)
BUT the fight goes on – Please continue to register on the Borough Council Planning Consultation Portal. SAY – make the Ridgewaye Fields our VILLAGE GREEN and stop designating them for Primary Shopping & Retail / Mixed Development. Only then will this Green Space and Southborough asset be protected forever.

From the Town Council website:

Southborough Redevelopment – The Hub

Following an Extra Ordinary Full Council meeting held in the evening of the 15 March 2012, Southborough Town Councillors unanimously decided to withdraw the Council's support for the potential sale of land owned by Southborough Town Council to Tesco.
Councillors had long waited for draft plans, a retail issues summary and traffic impact assessment to be submitted and upon which to base their decision. Whilst there had been support for the concept of some form of development as a whole, which would have included the Southborough Town Council offices and the Royal Victoria Hall, careful and detailed consideration of the draft plans, as well as other confidential documents, revealed that the scale of the plans, albeit in draft form, would very likely have a negative impact on an already established community and shops.
As well as the potential to hurt local traders, Councillors were of the view that a store of the proposed size would, without doubt, create more traffic on a network of local roads that were already at full capacity, and particularly at peak times.
Councillors further concluded, that their vision to regenerate our Town could still be achieved, even if on a much smaller scale, and that they would work with the local community to produce a strategy that outlines our ambition's for the future and that will include an overview of what needs to happen over the next few months / years and what needs to be carried out to achieve this overall.
We recognise that there were people for and against the Council potentially selling a small piece of land to enable Tesco to build a larger supermarket in Southborough, and that such a scheme would have had brought some benefits, including providing employment opportunities and investment locally. However, now that we have had sight of the draft proposals, and therefore, were able to start to measure the impact of these, our conclusion was that our local roads would not be able to support the increased capacity that a store of the proposed size would bring and that the loss of any green open space in our Town was too higher price to pay for generations to come.
Councillors also unanimously agreed that the desire to enhance our Town centre must not be used as an excuse to back a supermarket development that would otherwise be highly likely to be ruled out for its unacceptable negative impact, and neither did we feel, that without Tesco, that we would not be able to regenerate our town to a smaller degree.

Railway improvements in the budget

More tax on tobacco, but no increase on booze.  As for the rest, about neutral for me.  However, there was some good news on the railway improvement front.


For me, the surprise is the improvement to the Hope Valley line between Sheffield and Manchester. Long overdue, the line was originally planned for closure following the Beeching Report.  Instead, the Woodhead route was closed, even though it had been electrified in the 1950s and a new double-bore tunnel  constructed to replace two single-bore tunnels at Woodhead.  The Woodhead route was also the shorter and quicker of the two routes. It may be that the fact that Mr Clegg represents a Sheffield constituency had something to do with the decision to upgrade the Hope Valley route.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Interesting reports.  Sometimes it is better not to say what you think.

New rail route a step closer.

Chiltern is one of the most forward-thinking railway companies in the UK.  Journey times have been slashed between London and Birmingham and the frequency of services improved. The company plans to build a new line to join two routes at Bicester which will enable through trains to operate between Oxford and London via High Wycombe.  The plan is to is introduce the service in 2014.


See also:
In Wales major improvements are planned for the North/South service and in particular a scheme to upgrade the route between Chester and Wtexham.


More passengers use the railways than at any time since 1945, even though track mileage was reduced and many stations closed in the 1960s.

And yet, East Sussex County Council does not support the re-opening of the Uckfield-Lewes line, indeed its plan for a gyratory road system in Uckfield will destroy any possibility of the line reopening.

Conservative Home

I plan to add links to this post.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ken Livingstone

Two articles for your consideration:

May elections: nomination day fast approaching

Thinking of standing for the local elections?  Not long for you to make up your mind.

Nomination papers must be delivered the the Returning Officer, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Town Hall between 28 March and noon on 4 April 2012.

Major threat to Uckfield-Lewes rail link

A major road construction proposal by East Sussex County Council threatens the route of the Lewes-Uckfield railway.  The proposed scheme would sever the trackbed at Uckfield.

Communities Food Community Interest Company.

Our website address is:

 Our blog address is:

Our logo:

A miscellany.....

....of European news.

For a contrary view:,1518,823318,00.html

See also:

New role for German finance minister?,1518,822147,00.html
German foreign minister annoys European colleagues,1518,822170,00.html
Merkel miffed by Sarkozy rejection.,1518,822344,00.html
Bundesbank on ECB capital injection.,1518,822582,00.html
A new political tenor in Italy.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Investigatory Committee, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (2)

Recently I posted on the subject of the Investigatory Committee of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  I could find no reference to this committee on the council's website.  See:

As I read through the Standards for England report on the finding of that body persuant to allegations made against councillor Brian Ransley I came across the following:

9.2.2. Ms Varney told Councillor Ransley that any complaint he had about the chief executive should properly be made to the Council’s Investigatory Committee. Councillor Ransley replied, as he had done in April, that he was not satisfied with the process for complaining about officers and thought that the standards committee should have direct involvement. Ms Varney acknowledged at interview that she had some sympathy with his position.

11.18 Mr Benson noted that he has since been the subject of an initial investigation following a complaint from another councillor, Councillor Holden, who claimed that Mr Benson was attempting to interfere with the political process by raising a code of conduct complaint concerning Councillor Ransley. That complaint against Mr Benson was initially examined by the council’s investigative committee whose remit includes considering complaints against the chief executive. The investigatory committee decided to take no action.

The search engine of the council's website same up with no response when I inserted the words 'investigatory committee' nor did perusal of the list of committees prove any more successful.

Who is on this committee, what are its terms of reference, are there minutes of proceedings or agendas?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Another fine mess.

Thanks to a freedom of information request the full report by Standards for England into allegations against councillor Brian Ransley now is in the public domain.  It is regrettable that it took an FoI request for this to happen.  The report is explosive and whilst exonerating councillor Ransley from any breach of the code of conduct, nevertheless makes serious criticisms of him.  The full report (with a few redactions) may be viewed on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's website. The link below will take you to the report.

It is a long report.  It brings into the public domain a fascinating insight into what some of our elected politicians are doing and the damage that has been caused to the relationship of trust between senior officers and councillors.

What has to be understood is that the events chronicled in the report have to be read in the context of the decision of the Conservative group on the council to oust Roy Bullock as Leader of the Council and then deselect him as a candidate.

When councillor Bullock was deposed and replaced by councillor Atwood the following cartoon came to mind.  It is entitled Dropping the Pilot:

It has to be remembered that councillor Atwood was the political leader of the council whilst the events of 2011 unfolded. For my part, I am disappointed to read these sections of the report:

11.1 In July 2011 Mr Benson, in consultation with his senior officer team, approached the leader, Councillor Atwood, to raise a number of concerns about Councillor Ransley’s conduct as a cabinet member. Mr Benson set out those concerns in writing and linked them to the member code of conduct. Councillor Atwood agreed to raise the issues with Councillor Ransley. Councillor Atwood advised Councillor Ransley to be more cautious. The deputy leader, Councillor Jukes, said at interview that the position was akin to Councillor Ransley getting a ‘first written warning’. Councillor Atwood and Councillor Jukes did not want to take any further action in July 2011. Mr Benson and other senior officers were still of the view that some formal action should be taken. Mr Cummins drafted a code of conduct complaint based on the concerns that had been put to Councillor Atwood.

11.2 In early August 2011, Mr Benson and Mr MacDonald received information that led them to believe that Councillor Ransley had been claiming that they had been attending secret meetings with the former leader Councillor Bullock. In the light of this Mr Benson asked Councillor Atwood if he would now co-sign a referral of a code of conduct complaint that Mr Benson and senior officers were going to make about Councillor Ransley to the Council’s standards committee. Councillor Atwood’s initial response was that, in the light of the most recent issue, he would do so. Mr Benson confirmed this to Mr Cummins. However on 18 August, while Mr Benson was on leave, Councillor Atwood wrote to Mr Benson to say he had changed his mind and would not sign a referral letter. He left it open for Mr Benson and other officers to do so if they wished.

Why did councillor Atwood change his mind?

Friday, 16 March 2012

All quiet on the EU and eurozone fronts.

A brief lull in the hand-to-hand combat.  Time for reflection.  Two interesting articles and a report which outline battles ahead.
2012 EEAG report on the European economy.

A cure for insomnia: IMF report on Greece.

John Dutton

Mr. Dutton has been busy: writing a letter to the local newspaper extolling the virtues of the current cabinet of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  In recent weeks he has written letters which include the following:

I sincerely believe that under the good stewardship of  financial portfolio holder James Scholes and leader Bob Atwood, we have the best possible hope for our town and borough.  They deserve our full support, not denigration.

Thank goodness we have our good stewards Bob Atwood and James Scholes in charge of our local finances.

Now, can this be the same Mr. Dutton who features in the Standands for England report which cleared councillor Brian Ransley of all allegations that he failed to comply with the code of conduct?

4.25 In March 2011 Mr Dutton, a well-known local blogger, published defamatory allegations on his blog about Mr Titterrell’s case and the actions of individuals at the Council. He also wrote about the regeneration company and said that the police had received a complaint about Councillor Bullock. The Council instructed solicitors to send a letter before action given that Mr Dutton’s allegations included current officers and members.

4.26 Ms Marshall intervened on Mr Dutton’s behalf with the Council’s solicitors. She told them she was the source of the allegations and put herself forward as Mr Dutton’s representative. Ms Marshall then told the Council’s solicitors that Councillor Ransley, a cabinet member, had told her he did not approve of the Council’s taking steps against Mr Dutton, and that his fellow cabinet colleagues did not approve either.  She said she had been asked to pass on Councillor Ransley’s mobile number. Ms Marshall said at interview that she had spoken to Councillor Ransley about the Council’s letter before action. She said that it was Mr Dutton who then asked her to give Councillor Ransley’s mobile number to the council’s solicitors.

4.27 Councillor Ransley said at interview that he had spoken to Ms Marshall about Mr Dutton, but not until after Mr Dutton himself had asked Councillor Ransley directly for his help. Mr Dutton is a frequent correspondent with Councillor Ransley and many other councillors. Councillor Ransley thought Mr Dutton was a fool regarding the comments he had made on his blog, but that he was not getting a very good deal from the Council with regards to the threat of legal action. Councillor Ransley telephoned the Council’s solicitors, but they referred his call to Mr Cummins, who then advised Councillor Ransley not to involve himself further. In due course Mr Dutton gave a written retraction and apology to the Council.

Well, well.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Standards for England report. Allegations made by......

The allegations about the conduct of councillor Brian Ransley were made jointly by 7 senior officers of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council as listed in the extract from the report reproduced below.

1.1 On 15 September 2011 the standards committee for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [the council] referred a number of allegations about the conduct of Councillor Brian Ransley, a member of the Council. The allegations had been made jointly by the council’s chief executive, monitoring officer, director of change and communities, director of regeneration and sustainability, head of finance and governance, head of policy and partnerships and the interim head of policy and partnerships. On 5 October 2011 Standards for England referred the matters to me for investigation.

The conclusion in the report:

I note that Councillor Ransley’s behaviour has undoubtedly damaged the trust that should exist between senior officers and senior members.

Has this damage been repaired?  The council cannot function properly without that trust.  Someone should have been banging heads together.

Not out of the woods yet - Spiegel

Interesting article from Spiegel.,1518,821404,00.html

Indeed, the euro crisis is far from over.

Formal IMF approval for Greek bailout:

Lifting the veil on the Town Hall

The Standards for England  (SfE) report on allegations made against councillor Brian Ransley lifts the veil on life within the town hall in Tunbridge Wells. What a sad and disquieting spectacle is revealed.

The starting point has to be that councillor Ransley did not fail to comply with the code of conduct in respect of the eight allegations made against him and that he acted in honest belief and without malice.


However there is material in the report which is of concern and I shall be posting on this in the days ahead. Two examples to be going on with:

7.31 I acknowledge Mr Cummins concern that Councillor Ransley’s conduct failed to comply with the Council’s own protocol. I consider that the protocol requiring cabinet members to avoid interfering or attempting to interfere, with decisions that are excluded from the powers of cabinet, was adopted for a good reason. I consider that the kind of rhetoric employed by Councillor Ransley at the committee meeting was inappropriate, especially given his particular portfolio. I consider that for Councillor Ransley to suggest that committee members had a ‘duty’ to reject the application was wholly inappropriate. It is my view that Councillor Ransley’s conduct could be perceived by an objective observer as an attempt to use his position as Cabinet member to impose his own interpretation of planning policy on both planning officers and members of the planning committee. I note that this approach could expose the council to a real risk of a legal challenge, given that the development control function is excluded from the powers of the council’s executive.

9.50 I do not condone Councillor Ransley’s conduct. I note that during this investigation Councillor Ransley has strongly protested the unfairness of anyone giving uncorroborated evidence or expressing opinions that could suggest any misconduct by him, even when that evidence or opinion was given in confidence and can be tested against other evidence. At the same time Councillor Ransley appears absolutely unwilling to recognise the unfairness of his own behaviour when he circulated uncorroborated claims about Mr Benson and Mr MacDonald’s alleged misconduct to other people. Again I consider that a reasonable member of the public would think less of Councillor Ransley as an individual given such a lack of care for the reputation of other people when he is so concerned for his own reputation. I note that Councillor Ransley’s behaviour has undoubtedly damaged the trust that should exist between senior officers and senior members. However, in the light of my finding of fact concerning Councillor Ransley’s genuine if mistaken belief in the likely accuracy of Ms Marshall’s report, and in absence of cogent evidence of malicious intent, I do not consider that Councillor Ransley’s conduct was so serious as to be capable of reducing confidence in his ability to fulfil his role as a councillor. I do not consider that Councillor Ransley failed to comply with paragraph 5 of the code of conduct.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

All of a dither

My mole informs me that councillor Brian Ransley, having not been selected to be the candidate for Capel at the forthcoming Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections, now has been selected.  Hokey-cokey politics.

In a further development, the full report of Standards for England into the allegations made against councillor Ransley has been published following a freedom on information request. There is minor redaction.

Read the report here:

Eye-opening stuff.

Euroland updates.

The Greek bailout looks shaky.  A third one will be needed.

The fiscal pact may not be worth the paper it is written on:

See also:,1518,821544,00.html

As I mentioned yesterday, the Financial Transaction Tax is the subject of much disagreement on the form it should take.,1518,821317,00.html

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Council slow to update website

Perusing Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's website I note that Cllr. Ms Claire Brown is listed as a councillor, even though the notice of vacancy pursuant to her resignation appears elsewhere on the site.

When I retired as a councillor in 2000 I was surprised, after the elections, to see on the Council noticeboard  my name and photograph included on the list of councillors. The councillor who had replaced me did not appear on the poster.

Update: 14.03.2012
I note the Council has deleted Ms Brown from the list of councillors.

A conveyor belt full of woes

Many years ago  there was a television programme  entitled The Generation Game.  Towards the end of each show the successful contestant sat in front of a conveyor belt along which moved the prizes. Once the prizes had been removed from view the contestant received the prizes he/she could name.

looking at the travails within the EU and the eurozone I feel like one of the contestants in The Generation Game. Instead of prizes, problems pass in a procession before our eyes: Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, ECB balance sheet, fiscal pact, Hungary, Tobin tax, French presidential election.  There may be others, which I cannot recall.

Following the spectacular Greek default, which Sarkozy stated had 'solved' the problem, comes more bad news.  According to Reuters:

Greece is going to need to make even deeper cuts to public spending to meet targets agreed with the EU and IMF in its latest bail-out, according to a European Commission report seen by Reuters.
The news agency reports that the Commission's report says Greece needs to cut spending over 2013 and 2014 by a further 5.5pc of GDP.
The financial crisis and government cuts in Greece have already driven the country's economy into a deep recession and sparked a wave of public protests, and led to many economists questioning whether the scale of cuts required by the bail-out package can ever be achieved.  Source: Daily Telegraph

See also:

The EU is seeking to penalise Hungary. EU finance ministers are preparing to freeze half a billion euros in financial aid to the country, as a punishment for Hungary failing to adhere to budget rules.  It is reported that a final decision on this may be deferred until June,

The big issue today is the proposal for a Tobin tax or Financial Transactions Tax.  Quite apart from UK opposition to this tax proposal there is no consensus amongst other EU countries.  Should the tax be EU wide or limited to euorzone countries? Two interesting articles from Spiegel:,1518,820965,00.html,1518,820779,00.html

and this:

However the major issue is how the EU/EC will respond to Spain.

Eurozone finance ministers also turned their attention to Spain's deficit, saying in a statement that the country should strive for a 5.3pc deficit target this year, cutting it some slack from the initial goal but keeping the pressure on.
Spain was supposed to cut its deficit to 4.4 percent of gross domestic product this year, but said it would only aim for 5.8pc as it heads into recession. Its deficit in 2011 was 8.5pc, far above a 6pc goal.

"The Spanish government expressed its readiness to consider this in the further budgetary process," it said.  Source: Daily Telegraph.

Note the difference in language used towards Spain than that used towards Greece.  Spain has a far bigger economy than Greece and is not to be bullied.  The following article is well worth perusal as it sets out the Spanish position well:

Should Hollande win the French presidential election he will be an ally of Spain.  Hollande has stated he wishes to see a major revision of the fiscal pact.

Just come across this interesting article in The New York Times.

Cited, sited or sighted?

A gem from the minutes of  the January 2012 Rusthall Parish Council meeting.

The Council continues to sprout committees and working parties. 

However, no news on the progress of the parish plan, nor on the results of the survey of residents' views.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Would you Adam and Eve it? Well, yes!

Germany failed to meet its austerity targets in 2011.,1518,820828,00.html

Ah well, do as I say, not as I do.

Not even on the stage.

There is a saying: it's not over until the lady sings.  As far as euroland is concerned the fat lady has not made it to the stage.  Problems abound, not least the Germans fretting about the outcome of the French presidential election.  Sarkozy is well behind in the polls.  The forecast winner, Hollande, is keen to  amend ( tear up) the fiscal pact and ensure there is an emphasis on growth.  Not music in the ears of Merkel who has refused to meet Hollande.

Of course, much can happen in the run-up to the April elections.,1518,819602,00.html
A weakened Sarkozy,1518,820660,00.html
A tetchy Spiegel interviews Hollande

The pressure is still on Greece.  The newly issued bonds have the highest yield in the eurozone.  This reflects lack of confidence in the ability of Greece to resolve its economic problems.


Attention will now more to Portugal and Spain, not forgetting Italy which is now in recession.  See:


Holders of Greek debt to sue:

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The fat lady has to sing...

According to Mr Sarkozy the Greek debt problem has been 'solved'. His opinion must be for internal consumption, after all he wants the French electorate to think of him, along with his pal Angela, as the saviours of the eurozone. 

Sadly, Mr Sarkozy is wrong.  Many believe it is likely a third bailout will be needed.  I think it is a racing certainty.,1518,820302,00.html

Railways re-opening?

Interesting article in today's Daily Telegraph.

A  government inspired 'pigs might fly' article to deflect criticism of fare rises for commuters?

My current hobby-horse is for the Bedford-Northampton line to be re-opened and for Thameslink trains to be extended from Bedford to Birmingham or along the Trent Valley to Crewe.  Would take pressure of the West Coast route and for many, St Pancras/Kings Cross is a far better station than Euston for connections across London.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Tory turmoil continues in Tunbridge Wells

The turmoil within the Conservatives in Tunbridge Wells continues in a very public fashion across the pages of the local newspaper.  And there was I thinking Bob Atwood was elected Leader of the Council to bring peace and calm.

To recap.

In December 2010  the Conservative Group on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council ousted Roy Bullock as Leader of the Council, later to be replaced by Bob Atwood.  Early in 2011 Roy Bullock was deselected as a Conservative candidate.

The chairman of the Conservative Group, John Smith, was deselected, but he stood as an Independent at the May 2011 elections and trounced the Conservative candidate.

A Conservative councillor for Pembury ward resigned in protest at the treatment meted out to Roy Bullock.  At a by-election in March 2011 the Conservatives lost the seat to the Liberal Democrats, mainly as a result of a strong showing by UKIP.  The successful candidate has just resigned from the Council.  The Conservatives held Pembury at the May 2011 election and will be hoping to regain the seat lost to the Liberal Democrats.

On election to the position of Leader of the Council, Bob Atwood made a number of changes to the cabinet, ousting pro-Bullock members and bringing in, amongst others, Brian Ransley.

One casualty of the cabinet changes was Tracy Moore who was later subjected to a personal attack by councillor Linda Hall in the letters column of the local newspaper.

The May 2011 election produced  a shock, a win by UKIP in councillor Atwood's ward.

In June 2011 councillor Ransley made some eyebrow raising comments at a planning committee meeting.  Later councillor Ransley was the subject of eight complaints to Standards for England.  Although he was exonerated on all counts of claims he had breached the code of conduct, his actions and behaviour were criticised in the public summary version of the SfE report.  The full report has not been made available for public consumption.  However copies of the full report are circulating to a wider audience than intended.  I understand the full report makes for uncomfortable reading.

Councillor Ransley now has been deselected as a candidate at the May 2012 elections by the Executive Council of the Conservative Association, although he can appeal to be reinstated.  Meanwhile he continues as a member of the cabinet: one assumes he has the full support of councillor Atwood.

Meanwhile the local press carried today a riposte by councillor Sean Holden (Conservative) to the attack on him by councillor John Smith the previous week.  Councillor Holden mentions that John Smith was deselected, but fails to mention that the electorate in John Smith's ward preferred him to the Conservative candidate.

Taking a hit

Suppose I lend you £1,000  for ten years at an interest rate of 10%, interest payable annually, the capital to be repaid on maturity.  Then you inform me that you have debt problems and want to do a debt swap,  You propose cancelling my loan and in its place repay me £250 after a fifteen year period at an annual interest rate of 5%.  Try asking your bank to agree to such a proposal.  Yet in essence this is what the Greek debt restructuring is about. No matter what gloss is placed on the restructuring it is a default. Worse still, under the arrangements liability moves to the taxpayer.

The belief in the markets is that there will have to be a third bailout of Greece and that the strategy to turn the Greek economy round is optimistic.

Raoul Ruparel, Open Europe’s Head of Economic Research:
QuoteWith the use of CACs Greece has entered a coercive restructuring or default – something which Greece and the eurozone have spent two years trying to avoid. While the financial markets can handle the triggering of CDS that this will entail, at some point serious questions need to be asked over the amount of time and money which policymakers have wasted on what has ultimately amounted to a failed policy. Instead, Greece should have undergone a full restructuring combined with a series of pro-growth measures... This deal could end up being a pyrrhic victory: the debt relief for Greece is far too small which means that another default could be around the corner, while the austerity targets are wholly unrealistic and kill off growth prospects.

See also:,1518,820343,00.html
Greece pulls off deal,1518,820302,00.html
The problem has only been deferred.

Interesting graphic:
It is a default: official

Thursday, 8 March 2012

D-Day for Greece?

Will Greece default?  We shall know soon.,1518,820078,00.html

And now to other  serious issues:

Over to you Councillor Atwood

The decision by Tunbridge Wells Conservative Association's Executive Council to deselect councillor Brian Ransley is to be applauded.  To be frank, I didn't think they had the balls to do it.  Now it is over to the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Bob Atwood, to be decisive and dismiss councillor Ransley from the cabinet. 

Failure to act will be seized upon by his opponents at the May elections. Councillor Atwood has a battle on his hands against UKIP and we can but hope that he follows the lead set by the Asssociation.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Too many fires?

Ok, so the heading is 'too many fires'. We have a torrent of bad news from the eurozone:

That is the moment when the creditor core will face the decision they have "ducked" for the past two years: either accept an EMU reflation strategy, along with debt pooling, fiscal union, and transfers; or accept a break-up.,1518,818966,00.html
The Hundred-Billion-Euro Bomb,1518,819430,00.html
Divided Italy?

Tunbridge Wells Mental Health Resource

Staff and Volunteers support local Half Marathon
On Sunday 26th February MHR staff and volunteers turned up bright and early to assist race organisers Tunbridge Wells Harriers with marshalling duties at this year's Lifestyle Renault Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon. Each year local organisations are approached to help with marshalling around the course which we have thoroughly enjoyed supporting over the last few years.
Perfect weather conditions greeted the runners taking part in this great local event which was started and supported by Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes.
Ethiopian Yared Hagos, currently representing Wallsend Harriers, stunned the rest of the field and spectators alike with a blistering new course record of 64.15, smashing the previous record of 65:33 set by Barry Royden in 1999.
A record number of 2107 runners finished the race which was organised by volunteers from Tunbridge Wells Harriers and is considered one of the leading events in the South East, supporting local charity the Pickering Cancer Drop in Centre and also the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.

For more about the work of the charity go to:

Monday, 5 March 2012

Conservative Association reselects candidates tonight

To-night, the Executive Council  (EC) of Tunbridge Wells Conservative Association meets to approve the reselection of candidates for the May elections. Last year Roy Bullock ran foul of the EC and was deselected as the candidate for Lamberhurst.  Will anyone suffer the fate of deselection this year?  I think not, but then I am a cynic.

Sock it to 'em Rajoy!

At the very moment many commentators are reading the last rites over Greek debt, suggesting a default is imminent, the Spanish premier, Mr Rajoy, pops up to wave the proverbial two fingers at the EC, the fiscal pact and Mrs Merkel. You can hear the gears crunching in eurozone capitals  and in Brussels.

Allied to this Mrs Merkel has problems within her government:,1518,819275,00.html

The French presidential election is casting  a dark cloud over euroland as the likely winner, Hollande, is expected to tear up the fiscal pact.  More on the French election:,1518,819297,00.html
Meddling in France

Adding to the woe:

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Tescoborough: the battle continues

From the Southborough Environmental Action Movement website:


You’d never know if it was left to our elected representatives to tell you, but from tomorrow (Monday 5th March) until 27th April 2012, you are being consulted about the future of our Town and the use of the Ridgewaye Fields.
The Town Centres Area Action Plan (TCAAP) [just trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?] is the process by which you can feedback to the planners and councillors your views on their latest vision for the Town.
We know it is a pain to logon to the Councils website and write emails/letters, but if you don’t you cannot affect their decisions, you cannot say on the day the bulldozers roll in that you didn’t want this to happen and you cannot say when you are stuck in endless traffic jams that no one asked for your views or when your kids are breathing in even higher levels of toxins that no one asked you what you thought it the prospect.
It is human nature to put things off and convince yourself it will never happen, we ask that you think for a moment about your true feelings about losing the fields and having a whopping great supermarket in the town.
Now is the time to do something. We will update this notice with links to the Borough Web Site as soon as they post the Consultation.
In the meantime – just write to direct with your views to Councillor Mike Rusbridge (58 Yew Tree Road – Tel:- 01892 537784) -

Click on the link for the SEAM website:


From the SEAM website:


The Tunbridge Wells Borough Council public consultation on its plans for the Ridgewaye Fields is in delay. It was due to start today (5th March 2012). A new date will now be set by Council Leaders on 19th April. We will then post new timetable. In the meantime KEEP THOSE LETTER ROLLING. Keep writing to Mike Rusbridge (Chair of Planning Committee) 58 Yew Tree Road -
REMEMBER - The Council has declared that all of the Ridgewaye Fields be designated for Retail / Mixed Development. Only you can stop this by making your views known.

Greek default looms?

Downbeat report from the Daily Telegraph.

Who will be shedding crocodile tears should it happen?

See also:

For a different opinion on the Greek position see:

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Come on Atwood, sack Ransley.

The paragraphs below are taken from the summary document published by Standards for England following a number of complaints against councillor Brian Ransley.  This document is in the public domain.  However, the full report is not in the public domain.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am intrigued by this minute from the Standards Committee meeting held on 9th February 2012:

Councillor Weeden considered that the public summary was misleading when compared to the facts that had emerged in the full report. The Chairman clarified that the public summary had also been provided by SfE.

I could speculate on what councillor Weeden meant by 'misleading', but what we need is for the full report from Standards for England to be made public so that the people of Tunbridge Wells and the electorate in Capel in particular may have access to the complete picture.  It may be that a hint as to what provoked councillor Weeden to make his comment may be garnered from this minute of the same meeting.

In conclusion of the public session, the Chairman confirmed that Councillor Ransley had been found not to have breached the Code of Conduct in respect of each of the eight allegations that had been made. She said that, despite criticising CouncillorRansley’s actions in terms such as ‘inappropriate’ (4th complaint),‘discourteous and unfair to make remarks about named individuals when they were not present’ (5thcomplaint), ‘serious lack of judgement in repeating hearsay and rumour to fellow councillors’ (6th complaint) and in breaching Council protocols established under the Council’s Constitution, SfEbelieved that Councillor Ransley nonetheless acted in good faith in all the actions complained of, including those where he relied on information provided by others.

The following from the Standards for England summary report is of interest as it refers to a matter I posted on this blog in June 2011 (See blog post below).

'Conduct at planning committee in June 2011

The complainants alleged that at a June 2011 planning committee and in correspondence with members of the planning committee, Councillor Ransley made disrespectful comments about officers and attempted to put improper pressure on officers and members regarding a development control decision.

Councillor Ransley attended a June 2011 planning committee and spoke in his capacity as the portfolio holder for strategic planning. He disagreed with an officer recommendation to approve a planning application concerning the green belt. He told the committee members he considered they were duty bound to refuse the application. He added that it was their decision. The planning application was approved. The following day Councillor Ransley wrote to all planning committee members and criticised the officer advice and the decision made at committee. His comments at the committee meeting were reported in the press.

The council’s member protocol states that cabinet members generally should strictly avoid attempting to interfere (other than by exercising their constituency member role) or appearing to interfere with decisions which are excluded from the powers of cabinet, for example development control. This reflects the legal position that the council’s development control functions cannot be exercised by executive members.

The ethical standards officer considered that Councillor Ransley’s criticisms of the officer advice did not amount to a personal attack on officers and that his conduct was not disrespectful. He did not fail to comply with paragraph 3(1) of the code of conduct. She considered it could be perceived by an objective observer as Councillor Ransley as cabinet member attempting to impose his own interpretation of planning policy on officers and members carrying out the council’s development control function. This could expose the council to the risk of a legal challenge. The ethical standards officer considered that Councillor Ransley’s conduct was a breach of the council’s member protocol. However she noted that both at the committee meeting and in his subsequent correspondence Councillor Ransley recognised that it is for committee members themselves to reach their own decision when considering planning applications. She noted that the code of conduct was not intended to prevent councillors expressing appropriate and robust criticism of the performance of a council function. Taking all relevant circumstances into account the ethical standards officer considered that Councillor Ransley’s conduct was not so serious as to amount to a failure to comply with paragraph 5 of the code.'

In the light of the justice  meted out to the former Leader of the Council it surprises me that the current Leader, councillor Bob Atwood, has not removed councillor Ransley from the Cabinet.  Indeed, a councillor who shows serious lack of judgement (sic) should be considered for de-selection by the Conservative Party. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

You couldn't make this up

Spain makes a mockery of the fiscal pact it signed on 2nd March.

Councillor Ransley

I have had cause to mention Councillor Ransley on a number of occasions.  Thought I would resurrect an old post:

EU and euro snippets

Busy time in the EU and euroland.  The fiscal treaty has been signed by 25 nations.  See:


More on the Greek bailout and the default that wasn't.

Finally, an interesting article from Spiegel.  Basically, things cannot go on as they are.,1518,818807,00.html

Chancellor Killjoy.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

A recommendation

Should you be in the vicinity of Faversham, Kent  I recommend you tarry at the Sun Inn.  Excellent food (I enjoyed particularly the battered Whitstable fish).  The draught Guinness was in tip-top condition.  Wooden floors, no excruciating background music, attentive and efficient staff, good atmosphere and busy.