Author Topic: Better Swindon  (Read 7514 times)

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Offline Terry Reynolds

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Better Swindon
« on: January 22, 2014, 10:45:15 AM »
I went along to the meeting last night for the Better Swindon group, along with many others, the ideals that were put forward, were on the main very good and certainly worth a second reading, if they can get this town turned around, I for one would be very glad, I was surprised they didn't ask for large numbers of independent members to stand at the next election in their name if nothing else.

I am still waiting for a reply from my local councillor on the issue of the increase in the police precept, but hey, hes got a lot on his plate, with three of them in the ward..

Chris Barry asked us to go forward a year and see what they have achieved, and I will do that, as well as help in any way, but I cant help feeling, that councillors, knowing that someone is stirring the gravy train of life, will get out the long knives and stop it.  At least one councillor turned up last night, so I would expect him to report to his chums on how it went, and what the dangers are.  The man from Devizes was there as well..



Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2014, 11:10:18 AM »
Luckily Ko, No one can stop it.   They can marginalise it, ignore it, berate it, but they cannot stop it.
(Unless that blessed gagging law covers it).

I read your report on facebook yesterday and the aims of BetterSwindon - which you haven't repeated here, and nearly all of them you could find in some brochure or the other where our Council says they are doing that already. 

What we all need is for someone to match up what we/they want, to what is printed by SBC and pick it apart with proven examples of that they are NOT achieving what they think/say they are, and send it to someone more important/higher up who can do something about it quickly. Let's face it we don't need to go further than the pages on Talkswindon to find examples going back for the complete tenure of the council at present.

Failing finding someone more important that WILL listen, send it to Private Eye (hope I've got the right mag this time) 

BetterSwindon are not on their own. 

Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Tobes

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2014, 11:20:37 AM »
I wasn't able to make it along last night (problems in the Tobes household  :bash: )

Is anyone in a position to give a brief write up of what happened/was said?

Which councillor turned up Ko?
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Tobes

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 01:07:14 PM »
This is doing the rounds as a 'share' on Facebook at the moment and seems to encompass the basics of whats being proposed:

Quote
I live in Swindon and want our elected representatives to stand for the following Better Swindon principles.
1.Being committed to raising standards in our town, supporting what's best for our town & challenging what is not.
2.Encouraging more open discussion & shared decision making
3.Treating everyone as an important part of our towns future by promoting openness, fairness and transparency
4.Transforming the relationship between the council and the community to one of equality, trust and respect.
5. Expecting our elected representatives to act with integrity and to be accountable
6. Recognising examples of best practice and promoting positive initiative, to improve the quality of life for the people of this town.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Terry Reynolds

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 02:04:15 PM »
Mr Wright was there, and very welcome, his Devizes mate was there as well,
going on to the point mugs raised, we were given about 10 examples of how this council has worked in the past, and the reply to each question was either a or b, and the answer b was that the council did every time, and yes 99.9% of those present would have gone down the a route..
another point which I would make is about allowances, which was touched on, the answer must be to pay on attendance, as we were told they only have to turn out twice a year at meetings to qualify for the payments and they don't even have to have meetings with constituents.
also stop travel allowances and give them all a bus pass, watch the service improve then.. :coffee:

Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 02:42:28 PM »
Who's the man from Devizes?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 02:52:00 PM »
I had this from my friend who went: It is edited but nothing is really missing. Also the leaflet handed out:   


I attended the above meeting last night and the attachment is a list of their "principles".
 
There were about 40 / 50 people there. They gave a brief presentation of what they are about and each major player gave a brief reason as to why they were there. (Names given)

They then went on to the following presentations

A Question of Standards where they gave a list of reasons why they were there e.g. poor behaviour by councillors and officers towards residents and in meetings, poor council standards and processes etc:  (sorry couldn't write everything down!!)
Key Themes from First Meeting were
          Planning messes
          Lack of good and skilled resources (human and material)
          Lack of honesty by both some councillors and some officers
          Disillusionment with a lot of the decisions made in council offices
          Lack of vision by both officers and councillors
          Lack of recognition of those already having local knowledge (we will do what we think is good for you rather that listen and act on what you are telling us)
          All decisions seem to be party political rather than representative of what residents want.
          The system used does not appear to support good cllrs./officers or punish bad cllrs./officers.
           "Sell off" of leisure facilities some for an irrevocable length of time (99 years) - no heritage for the next generation as all being leased out.

The Numbers Game
          A presentation on number of councillors, allowances, committees, one party cabinet,.

The Groups Principles (see attached)
           One person suggested that they were too wordy.

What They Have Done So Far
           Attendance at council meetings, cabinet meetings,
           Asking questions (sometimes answered, sometimes not)
           Highlighting issues
           Suggesting improvements

Hopefully Leading to:
            Urgent call for reform
            Better consultation
            Links with other communities
 
And that was it apart from encouraging people to 'sign up'. I hope this gives you an idea what they are about. Found it interesting but think we have all been here before. They have an e-mail address abetterswindon@outlook.com
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 03:02:14 PM »
Who's the man from Devizes?

Chris Watts aka the prospective Labour Party Candidate for Devizes

I think Chris may well be standing in Stratton in the locals in May.
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 03:07:27 PM »
I must say I am surprised this has not been published on TS before as some of the most prominent people involved are regular contributors to TS!

Perhaps, now that they have got their first official meeting out of the way they would now like to say a few words on this very widely read forum.   

It must be widely read as well known clone Empty Car Park says so!!

or was that 20eyes?
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Offline Morsey

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 06:04:45 PM »
On a smaller scale, Dawlish Town Council was taken over by a group of independents fed up with the usual Tory Lib lot. Perhaps some insight there? :laugh:

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 07:38:27 PM »
I also attended last night and found the meeting interesting. In addition to the summary provided by Muggins, two of the messages that came across were:-

1. There is no need for party politics in local government.
2. The public should be encouraged to vote for the best candidate not the colour of their rosette.

I also thought Cllr Bob Wright came across well, reminding us that the poor attitude of some councillors was not representative of all.

At the start of the meeting Chris Barry stated that a similar group was set up in Frome. As a result, an independent candidate stood in every ward and between them they won 10 seats. However, at this stage they didn't seem be trying to recruit independent candidates.

There was also talk of the disingenuous consultation carried out by the borough. No fixed policy for consultation. The consultation for selling off the leisure centres ends on 3rd March, but tenders have already been invited suggesting that it is a done deal. A councillor's position is transient, so should they be allowed to sign over 99 year leases that can not be overturned by the next administration.

My guess is that about 60 people attended. They put out 57 seats and they seemed to be full with a few standing.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 07:46:25 PM »
But there is fixed policy on consultant tion with the community and voluntary sector under which the groups of residents would come it,s called Compact.   

Will look up more about that tomorrow, I am sure that we were told that once the council had adopted adopted it, they were bound to. Keep to it.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Simon

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2014, 12:02:00 AM »
also stop travel allowances and give them all a bus pass, watch the service improve then.. :coffee:

OMG kohima, I'm in danger of agreeing with you on that point  :santa_afro:
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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2014, 07:15:37 AM »

1. There is no need for party politics in local government.
2. The public should be encouraged to vote for the best candidate not the colour of their rosette.


And wouldn't Swindon be a better place if that were the case.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2014, 08:22:22 AM »
Not saying that you are not right but??

Except how would we know, I mean, really know, which one was the best candidate? 

When there were plenty of candidates standing for selection at least we had an half decent chance that their party would know, them, had vetted them (so to speak), and what they were standing for and what support they had to achieve that. 

Take away the 'party'  and the party manifesto and it would all be down to mates standing up and endorsing the person - probably with no after support.   

The problem lately has been a lack of possible candidates coming forward, and a lack of people who have served their fellow man in other capacities, to prove their effectiveness, principals, honesty, etc. sort of serve an apprenticeship.

A choice of one is not much use to us. The system wasn't too bad until they got greedy and lazy, and big headed. And serving their mates instead of the wider electorate.   Not saying they are all like it, but I think the balance has tipped. 

http://www.compactvoice.org.uk/about-compact

Here's the bit about the Compact, it still seems to be valid, and of course it was a national thing, too.  I know it's says the Voluntary and Community sector and that might seem as if it's for a specialist thing, but it's not, to me any group that comes together, sets itself up, say as a campaigning group, becomes a volunteer group and definitely a community group and therefore Compact comes into play in their dealings with the other 'partners'.

Swindon has an adopted Compact - instigated by the Borough, the consultation on that drawn together by borough workers (and some of the better of them).  The councillors voted to adopt it. You/we are entitled to decent consultation under the terms of that Compact.

I wonder how many councillors knew what they were adopting?  How many times has anyone/group challenged the borough and the other partners under it?

Wish I could find my blessed copy.  It wasn't in a shiny brochure, it was a folder with sheets to cover it many aspects and supposed to be a working document. Found it, Foreword by rosemary Power, chair Swindon Strategic Partnership. 

I quote:  "It is intended to serve all the people of Swindon, on behalf of the community, becoming the standard practice as the  different sectors work more closely together".

She, like me, has recognised the amount of hard work we all put in in trying to ensure that what we need was in it.  She mentions a 'consultancy' so I wonder if they bought in some of that, although I remember the officer that was 'in charge' now sadly made redundant. And again we hit, the historical memory.  Document dated 2007 - 7 years old, hardly back in the dark ages is it?
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2014, 09:06:09 AM »
Look what I came across:  8 years on and things get worse!

Local Government FIRST Mag.  April 2006
Act to empower citizens, LGA tells councils

Councils must empower and win the trust of communities, not hold meaningless consultations that lead nowhere.

This was local government's message at a major conference on empowering citizens in Birmingham this week.

Held to promote the government's 'Together we can' action plan, the event saw delegates from community and voluntary groups, councils and central government meet to discuss how public bodies can work with local people to set and achieve common goals.

Richard Kemp, the deputy chair of the Local Government Association, told the conference how discussion on neighbourhood governance could be turned into real action. It meant first clarifying what the concept meant, he said.

"It is about giving people more power to influence public decisions, whether about the future of the place they live or work, the public services provided in the area or the taxes they pay towards the costs of those services," said Cllr Kemp. "It is not about consulting people on issues where the decision has already been taken, or on things where there is really no choice."

"People are disillusioned and fed up with sham consultation - our actions and our culture must be about setting the conditions for people to hold real power and influence."

The LGA has launched a checklist on neighbourhood governance intended to form the basis of a major campaign.
It asks councils if they are aware of the neighbourhoods and communities of interest that residents identify with, if they know what communities want for neighbourhood in 10 years time, and if this is reflected in the community strategy.

They are also asked if they know what local needs and priorities are, if they have taken action to join up services and improve access, and if they have given ward councillors the power, influence and support needed to do things on behalf of their constituents.

Finally, councils are asked if arrangements are in place to help communities influence policy decisions, funding and other important issues, and whether feedback is being received and acted on.

Cllr Kemp said the questions would be tested with councils, partners and community organisations over the next few weeks.

"Community empowerment can only be driven from the bottom-up, locality by locality," he said. "We aim to ensure that it is - and that we start taking hard action to make things happen."
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2014, 10:56:09 AM »
Cobblers Speak, or How To Be Well Rewarded For Generating Meaningless Drivel.

Muggins, using her experience and knowledge of how things work with local authorities, reminds us once again how the message put out and the reality are quite different.

I decided to take a look at the organisation that she quoted “The Local Government Association.”

On their web-site we have reference to their good works and remember that they have had all the time in the world to choose and edit what they publish whereas I can only bother with these people for a limited time.

http://www.local.gov.uk/home

This is what I found:

Quote
Our Mission.
The LGA is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government.


Some of the LGA publications:

Quote
In good shape – learning and good practice from the early health and wellbeing peer challenges.


Weelbeing peer challenges?

http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/-/journal_content/56/10180/6019883/PUBLICATION#sthash.MVH3cWh4.dpuf

Some quotes:

Page 3.
Quote
As part of the LGA’s offer to the sector, local authorities and their health partners can commission a health and wellbeing peer challenge.


Does this mean employ consultants? I'm guessing that it does.

Page 4.
Quote
We asked the peer team to explore how effective our HWB is, and how well we are tackling issues such as helping children maintain a healthy weight and alcohol misuse.


Just whose child needs help to maintain alcohol misuse?

Another LGA publication:

Quote
Open for business: rewiring licensing.


http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/-/journal_content/56/10180/5884676/PUBLICATION

Now is this document about rewiring? No of course it isn’t, it is about re-organising licensing by councils for such things as alcohol sales etc.

Another "rewiring" LGA publication:

Rewiring public services – rejuvenating democracy

http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/-/journal_content/56/10180/4047947/PUBLICATION#sthash.25LSX22M.dpuf

Now is this document about rewiring? No of course it isn’t, it is about re-organising local government or in their words;
Quote
“It is a proposition which shows how public services can be transformed through local leadership by rebuilding democratic participation, fixing public services and revitalising the economy.”


Another LGS document:

Quote
Making Safeguarding Personal 2013-2014 - Report of findings


http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/publications/-/journal_content/56/10180/6165278/PUBLICATION#sthash.GT6u5qtJ.dpuf

Quote
The prologue:
Making Safeguarding Personal is a sector led initiative in adult safeguarding. It has arisen in response to findings from peer challenges, the response to the ‘No Secrets' consultation and other engagement with councils and their partners. It aims to develop an outcomes focus to adult safeguarding work and a range of responses to support people to improve or resolve their circumstances. This should result in safeguarding being done with, and not to, people. Here are the full report findings.


Is this "Cobblers Speak" or what. Perhaps these clowns should have a course in plain and accurate English before they are allowed a crayon to write their thoughts down?

I couldn't read any more as I have a personal limit to the amount of "Tosh" that I can handle. Was that their intention?







What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2014, 03:11:33 PM »
When dealing with our council, I have found it a good idea to see where their various 'projects' come from, and what if any difference there is, from what is sent from Government and how it is interpreted locally.

As the piece I put up is copied from the Local Government First Magazine, I think it's a good point of reference as to what our local government councillors and workers are reading.

It's not really aimed at you or me Outer, but it is worth trying to find out from where and how the 'promises' differ from the reality.  That it does locally, is evident.

I agree that it is not written in plain English, in fact on a busy day and maybe only half interested a councillor might read one paragraph in and throw it down.  Maybe that's it. 

So is the conclusion that the Mag, and web site are at fault, or that the reader isn't dedicated enough to read it?
Discuss and inwardly digest? 

That piece I read and digested.  Then I wait for it to appear in practice. Silly Me!

Your first quote: "Our Mission.
The LGA is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government."

They probably would work with etc. etc. but they wouldn't tap on the door of our civic offices without invitation, and if our council thinking it's doing just fine, they won't invite them in.

Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Karsten

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 04:46:20 AM »
Didn't the LGA award Swindon Council and DigitalCity for a 1st class City wide internet?

Lots of hype nothing solid..

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2015, 09:25:14 AM »
Maybe they did Karsten,  I'm reminded that a the time everything that came out of SBC was written in the future tense.  i.e. in (whenever) Swindon has a vibrant (whatever). No the 'has' instead of 'will have' or 'plans to have'.

To anyone, judging anything and not aware of this , it would look like we already had it.

Beware of what looks like internal awards.  Developers do it a lot, give themselves awards I mean. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Karsten

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2015, 08:43:40 PM »
...  Developers do it a lot, give themselves awards I mean.

Not to mention the 'Gifts', like a million pounds to councils just prior to hearings about handing over public land for development.

Developers certainly are 'charitable' people.

What happened to Forward Swindon?  Have we stopped to get Better or pick up some more 'charitable' consultants?
 :weed:

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2015, 09:30:56 PM »
Developers do it a lot, give themselves awards I mean.

I take industry awards with a pinch of salt. In the construction industry, companies nominate their own projects and then members of the professional body get to vote. Typically around 4 companies will nominate a project and then management will email their own staff urging them to vote. Pointless really.

I can remember SBC nominating Brunel North Car Park for an award. It never stood a chance and was beaten by the EMI building (now Car Shop).

Swindon Library also won an award. It is a reasonable building but isn't ground breaking in any sense.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2015, 09:15:25 AM »
I discovered this when a plot was going to be built on locally, the blurb said the developers had won such and such an award, so I Goggled it and discovered they had indeed won the award, but it was a totally internal award, the design was deemed  the best of their own designs/plans.

No external competition in that whatsoever.

I look forward to see who is left to be nominated for a Pride of Swindon Award.

Could we nominate Talk Swindon?? Go on, dare you.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2015, 03:43:13 PM »
I think that the presentation of an award to something means, that it needs looking at in detail:

Quote
Ruckus Wireless Recognised for Wireless Broadband Access
deployment for Swindon Borough Council


Ruckus wins public sector project of the year at Networking Computing Awards 2010

Using its next generation 802.11n Wi-Fi solutions, Ruckus Wireless helped Swindon Borough Council become the first community in the UK to provide free Wi-Fi for all its residents.
What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Better Swindon
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2015, 06:07:08 PM »
What is it we say, when we just want to remind ourselves of previous writings?

Time for a pre-election reprise.

Bumpety, bumpety BUMP!!
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)