Thursday, 24 July 2014

Skidder Shorts No.14 - Albion Foundation Donations

Before some of you Baggies have a go at me again about the amount of taxpayer's money being handed over to The Albion Foundation by Labour Sandwell Council ponder this:

The Foundation's 2013 accounts show TOTAL donations to the Charity of £33,514 but £20,000 of this is stated to have been given by WBA (against £252,000 approx of  public money from The Oldbury Kremlin). That leaves just £13,514 from "the public".

The average home gate for a SINGLE home game at The Hawthorns is around 25,000. Let us say 20,000 excluding away fans etc. That means the total donations for the whole year equate to each Baggie donating just £0.68p at a single game. (Adult match tickets £25 to £39).

Some of you are very free with your criticism but not, apparently, so liberal with your cash!


e               t   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Cashmore - still lying......

Today is the 23rd of July, 2014. My first blog concerning Cashmore's apparent difficulty remembering her address was published on 3rd July. A few days later she removed any reference to her employment from her Facebook account together with a number of photos including one from August 2011 when she was crowing about her lovely garden - which just happened to be at her South Birmingham address. (I should add here that on 7th July, 2014 I wrote to the Chief Executive of Sandwell Council by letter in his capacity as Returning Officer at the May 2011 elections asking to see Cashmore's nomination papers but as yet I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement let alone a substantive reply).

Over TWO WEEKS ago on 8th July I published the second blog pointing out discrepancies between Cashmore's Declaration on the Register of Members' Interests and her LinkedIn profile. Both cannot be true. It is a criminal offence to, in shorthand, give a false declaration on the Register of Members's Interests under the provisions of Part 1 Chapter 7 Localism Act 2011. Regulations were made pursuant to the Act and came into force on 1st July, 2012 via The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 and it seems that Sandwell Council at that time had all the "sheep" complete new declarations and Cashmore signed hers on 12th July, 2012.

On 12th July, 2012 Cashmore stated she was STILL living with her "councillor" parents - the Hortons and did not mention her house in Birmingham (the Register only requires details of property ownership within the Borough on a compulsory basis but there is a section of the form which permits voluntary disclosure of information). As previously stated, she declared in this legal document that she had no employment.

It is over two weeks since Sandwell Council became aware of this (and I assume Lying Lucy herself given the deletion of the Facebook entries). It would be unfortunate indeed if she was committing a potential criminal offence continuously by allowing the Register to remain uncorrected and so I can only assume that Cashmore's Register entry must be correct and that she was NOT, in fact, in employment on 12th July, 2012. This means, therefore, that she is lying in her LinkedIn profile instead - presumably not a criminal offence per se unless she seeks to obtain a pecuniary advantage thereby.

I have checked her LinkedIn profile again today and it remains exactly as before.

And so we must assume that this entry by her is a lie as it covers the period when she signed her Declaration in July, 2012.

May 2012 – February 2013 (10 months)Birmingham, United Kingdom

After a successful 6 months as Birmingham Industrial Branch Manager - I have been promoted to create and Manage a Birmingham Hub as a Locations Manager.
Managing 5 Divisions in one hub allows Primetime to offer a complete 360 degree recruitment service to any company.
My main initial role was to create each division through cold calling and business development to now managing a successful team within each division. Our clients receive a first class professional yet personable service, ensuring that THEIR needs are put first before profit margins.

Incidentally, this is the heading on her LinkedIn profile and it seems that not only does Lucy live at addresses in South Birmingham AND Smethwick but she has "Dudley" connections too:

Lucy Cashmore
Regional Manager

Dudley, West Midlands, United Kingdom.

Citizens within the Borough of Sandwell may feel that a Councillor openly lying might constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members and feel moved to complain to SMBC......This is particularly so given the semi-literate gibberish in another of Cashmore's declarations ie when she applied to The Labour Party to become a councillor (uncorrected):

"Having lived in sandwell for the majority of my life, I believe that I can communicate with the public to ensure that their issues are addressed, thus ensuring continued support from them through honesty and integrity, to defeat our opposition in future elections." * and

"I want people to have confidence in Sandwell and their councillors, and to dismiss claims of underhanded and corruption within politics. I want to show the public that we are here to be an honest and integral voice for what their needs are."

It is to be hoped too that Cashmore gave more accurate details on her "CV" to her current employers than she has on her LinkedIn profile. Mind you they must have been mightily impressed if she repeated this from her LinkedIn profile (uncorrected):

"worked in Recruitment for over 16 years. I am a loyal and career hungry person. I love leading by example. Increasing business from new and existing clients is a passion of mine. Whether it be a start up business or taking over the reigns of a none performing office, I thrive on the challenge regardless."

Challenging times indeed....

ADDENDUM 24/07/2014

A new day dawns and still the Register remains unaltered. If Cashmore was not working on 12th July, 2012 she seems to have definitely worked since then and has NOT amended her Declaration.


e                t   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

* Mystic Lucy's application also included this uncorrected gem:

"I have seen the devestation that the previous conservative government has done to this country and that the current government is going to do."

Of course, having two councillor parents who are close personal friends of The Turdmeister himself can have had no bearing whatsoever on the selection panel......

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Another Sandwell Labour Liar? - Tony "Fudgy" Meehan

Labour's Tony Meehan was elected to the one-party state of Sandwell (twinned with North Korea) in May of this year. He gives his address as 8 Vicarage Road, Wednesbury WS10 9BA and the electoral register shows a sole occupant at that address - a Mr Tony Meehan. He was agent for Cllr Costigan when she stood for election and so one would assume he knows the importance of registering everyone in the household to vote.

Tone has recently filed his declaration to The Register of Members' Interests down at The Kremlin and this is one question and answer therefrom:

"Disclosable Pecuniary Interests:

Question 4 - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the relevant authority.

Answer - None".

It is a criminal offence to fail to disclose a pecuniary interest on the Register. I am guessing that Vicarage Road, Wednesbury has not suddenly been "moved" from Sandwell?

And I am assuming, therefore, that Councillor Tony Meehan is no relation to the person listed at HM Land Registry as the freehold owner of  8 Vicarage Road - one Anthony William Meehan? Is he a non-voting, non-rent paying relative I wonder?

Whilst on the subject of "Fudgy", this person has been heavily involved in "Fudgestock" which has successfully promoted music events in the area for many years. It was said in all the mainstream media a couple of years ago that Fudgestock has raised £110,000 for charity over 16 years. Last year I asked why Labour Sandwell Council gave £1,500 of taxpayers' money to "The Friends of Fudgestock" in July, 2012 and their eventual reply was, er, fudgy. It was said that "The Friends" were "a community group" and the "grant" was for a music event in Wednesbury - which I assume was the "charity" event known as "Fudgestock 2012". SMBC refused to say who "The Friends" were, whether they had charitable status and how the grant money was spent. They simply said the grant would have been made following "an application". I am assuming that the payment was by cheque and so "The Friends" must have had a bank account at the time.

Please don't get be wrong. I understand that the people behind Fudgestock are well-meaning and hard-working - giving-up a considerable amount of their time on a voluntary basis to put these events on. Having said that - it is important that people raising money for charities are accountable and play by the rules - especially if they are being given taxpayers' money by a Labour local authority.

I will be blogging separately with regard to the Judgestock debacle in 2013 as I am not sure of Fudgy's involvement in that but suffice to say here that it cost the taxpayer via Labour Sandwell a minimum of £49,000! (Any info gratefully received).

Unfortunately, the good folk at Fudgestock have been scarred by the experience of working with Labour Sandwell and far from organising an annual Sandwell "mini-Glastonbury" have moved their operation out of the Borough altogether - to Bilston. Sad news for the music-lovers in Labour's fiefdom.

But besides Judgestock, our man Meehan was deeply involved in Fudgestock 2013 as this clip shows:

Tone says specifically in the video "every penny of the ticket money goes to the charity" (although I think two charities were specifically mentioned). I am not suggesting any financial impropriety here but I can't find anything on the internet (yet) about the amount raised/donated. How many actually attended the event, how much did they pay and how much went to the charity/charities? The same questions apply in respect of this year's event Fudgestock 2014.

This is particularly relevant as it seems that "The Friends of Fudgestock community group" are no more since "Fudgy" states - again in his declaration in the register of Members' Interests - that they are a proper legal entity - "Friends of Fudgestock Charitable Trust" based at a familiar address - 8 Vicarage Road, Wednesbury, WS10 9BA. A Trust is usually set up very formally via a trust deed.

Unfortunately, if you do a search on the Charity Commission website under "Fudgestock", "Friends of Fudgestock" or even "Judgestock" you will draw a blank and so no accounts are in the public domain for the "Charitable Trust". I therefore invite "Fudgy" to make the legally-required accounts available since the legal formation date of the Trust and to also state what happened to the £1,500 received from us taxpayers in 2012 and how much Fudgestock 2012 actually raised for charity. Fair questions aren't they?


e   the                   t   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no. 07599 983737

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Albion Foundation

£44.99 seems a very reasonable price for a (sleeveless) Baggies shirt - presumably made for a few pence in a far-off sweatshop but QUICK - you must "pre-order" to avail yourself of this marvellous "offer" from WBA! But so what, you might say - West Bromwich Albion are not a charity but a hard-nosed business entitled to make profit from mugs just like any other company. And charity? Well they do wonderful work through a real charity - The Albion Foundation - don't they? Now read on.......

Well before you start having a go at me I AM a Baggies supporter and I DO fully appreciate that the Foundation does good work. The question is whether it should be supported by the taxpayer and, if so, whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. This post carries on from my earlier blogs - Skidder Shorts No. 9 and No 13 noting further information and research.

Labour-run Sandwell Council are inflicting massive cuts upon the good folk of Sandwell and sacking large numbers of their own workers but can always find money for sports-related matters - hence the rash of multi-million pound leisure centres spreading across the Borough and other lavish "sports" spending. Of course, the joke "leader" of the Council is also obsessed with The Baggies and subjects us all to his babyish "Boing, Boing" tweets on a weekly basis. I cannot tell you at this stage whether the Foundation is being especially favoured for Council funds over other charities doing good works for the young, disabled and disadvantaged and I am still awaiting a fuller response to a Freedom of Information Act request as to how SMBC evaluates whether our money is being spent to good effect.*

In Skidder Shorts No. 13 I pointed out that in the last 3 full financial years Sandwell Council doled out £50,593.50 to the Football Club itself (!) and an enormous £476,719.27 to the Charity and large payments ARE CONTINUING.

The financial year ends of SMBC and the Foundation are 31st March and 30th June respectively and so do not overlap exactly. Nevertheless, in the last financial year of the Charity they say they received total grants of £626, 541 and in roughly the same period (2012/13) Sandwell Council gave them £138,129.68p ie a stonking 22%! But wait, it gets worse as the taxpayer is also stumping up via 4 local academy schools (Oldbury Academy, Phoenix, ACE and Bristnall Hall) who have supplied taxpayers' money of AT LEAST £60,500 (yes - sixty thousand five hundred pounds!) in just one year. Oh, and don't forget the sum of AT LEAST £54,172 paid to them from us via Sport England. The 2013/14 figure from SMBC has actually gone UP despite the whingeing about "cuts".

But what else is in the accounts? Of a total income of just under £1.6m - £1m goes straight to employees in pay, NI, pensions etc and one lucky person gets between £60 & £70k per annum. Moreover, this "local" charity wants to expand worldwide (why?) and has forked out for trips to Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. Indeed the accounts say they are planning two trips a year to Australia from now on. Nice!

At this point can I just ask you to take a moment and look at The Foundation's webpage:

With all the blue and white, club emblems, "Sporting Club Albion" etc I would venture to say that it is not immediately apparent that this site relates to an independent charity and certainly WBA's business "brand" and image is enhanced by its association with the Foundation. What do the accounts say? Try:

"The Charity has a clear identity and highlights its charitable status and independence from West Bromwich Albion Football Club. However West Bromwich Albion Football Club remains and always will be, the main partner of the charity."

But then try this (my emphasis):

"The charity has three main strategic principles and they are as follows:

- To make a difference and raise aspirations of the local community:

- To add value to West Bromwich Albion Football Club;

- To grow our own staff and create an inspiring working environment.

What a very strange guiding "principle" to have - "to add VALUE to West Bromwich Albion Football Club"! And here is another curious comment in their own words:

"Player Development Centres, Baggies Soccer Centres and Future Baggies programmes have been introduced and have proved very popular and now show a clear progression for young players from the age of 3 to link more closely with the Football Club's Academy". And so if WBA can get some young talent on the cheap via the charity instead of paying themselves so much the better! And maybe all these foreign trips are glorified scouting missions for the benefit of the Club?

Until September, 2012 WBA did at least give the Foundation free premises at Halfords Lane but now the Charity has to fend for itself. There is a mystery sum of £30,000 in "sponsorship" for the Charity but the accounts do not say who this is from (no doubt they will hasten to tell us when this post is published). If it is from the Football Club then that is chickenfeed for all the "good" publicity.

Three employees of WBA also work closely with the Foundation and I am sure there is some pooling of resources but what is this right at the end of the accounts:

"During the year the Foundation received £20,000 by way of donation from West Bromwich Albion Football Club".

And so the final score for season 2012/2013 is:

Taxpayer £252k -v- WBAFC £20k! 

The Club just need to find 445 morons to buy the new "home" shirt to get their £20k back. Or perhaps they could just knock on the door of Sandwell's Labour "leader". Boing, boing indeed!


e               t   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

* I say "our" money even though I am not personally resident in Sandwell since the fact is that, unfortunately, the Borough is mired in poverty and so SMBC gets a disproportionate amount of money from the taxpayer at large via Central Government.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Guest Blog No. 2 - Mick Davies

Guest blogs are the thoughts of individual authors.

I am delighted to be able to welcome my second "Guest Blogger", Mick Davies. Here is a short auto-bio and then the post itself.

Mick Davies

I have recently severed my links with Sandwell after a thirty year relationship as an Officer of Sandwell Council, a resident and, for the last ten years, an elected Member. I have been involved in community development for most of my working life and currently manage two Children's Centres. A long-standing and active member of the Labour Party I resigned in 2011, the reasons may well be the basis for a future blog. I am a democratic socialist and realise we may have lost the argument for socialism at this point in time but if we lose the argument for democracy then we all lose out. Hence this posting.

Asinos oves ducuntur.
Over the last few months I have followed the ‘debate’ on social media concerning the ‘goings-on’ at Sandwell Council and, particularly, the antics of the so-called ‘Leader’. I admit this has been slightly one-sided as I do not follow Darren Cooper on Twitter or Facebook nor subscribe to what is claimed to be ‘his’ blog – ‘View From the Gutter’ – although it is, of course, written by an unfortunate officer of the Council. I will not name her to spare embarrassment.
I can see the attraction of Twitter to Cooper as it does not require an ability to write, spell nor have any knowledge of grammar and it allows him to bully and ridicule those who happen to question him and his regime. The recent blogpost here by Bob Woods and his reaction to it showed him up for the boorish, bullying buffoon he is. Having said that, at least his use of Twitter is mostly public (he blocks serious opposition) whereas anonymous back-stabbing is usually his preferred modus operandi.
Take for example, the time when Cooper was in the throes of ousting his predecessor, Bill Thomas. I was, of course, still in the Labour Group at the time. He phoned me to say: ‘I hope you don’t mind but I have got someone to ring Thomas and tell him that you are holding a meeting of the left of the party at your house with a view to causing trouble for him.’
Another good wheeze is that used when Councillor Jayne Wilkinson was bullied and hounded out of the Labour Group as a result of the leadership receiving ‘an anonymous letter from a long-standing member of the Labour Party.’
That is not to say, as will be seen from Twitter, that Cooper is not averse to open bullying too (as recent formal complaints show) and some of his behaviour in the ‘bear-pit’ of the Council chamber has been despicable – notably his treatment of the late Councillor Docker. 

And so we come to another of his leadership traits. Shortly after he became Leader a ridiculous video was prepared at public expense – 38 minutes long – glorifying his accession to the throne. Of course, there is no truth in the story that this was originally to be called ‘Lie Story’ until someone suggested putting an ‘f’ in the first word. Nevertheless, there are clear examples of Cooper being ‘economical with the truth’......
The most serious incident I was involved in shows him and his protectors in all their glory. I was particularly concerned about the abject failure of Sandwell’s most vulnerable citizens via the disastrous Children’s Services portfolio. Cooper had, of course, once been the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People but was completely out of his depth. He was, for example, instrumental in appointing a ‘saviour’ for the Service from Bournemouth who was thankfully poached by Birmingham only to be suspended and eventually leave under the terms of a confidentiality agreement.

When Councillor Bob Badham took on the Children’s Services role I asked him a number of formal questions about the dire state of the provision. Cooper’s friend and political ally, Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain, was, at the time, supposed to be politically responsible for carrying out improvements recommended via external inspectors. But things weren’t improving in this critical area as a series of Ofsted inspections proved. Enough was enough and I called for resignations including that of Cooper himself.
This was all too much for ‘The Eternal Leader’ and he attacked me at the next full Council meeting stating that: ‘he wasn’t taking lessons from a champagne socialist who lived in a house worth £400,000, whose socialism came from text books and not from the street as his does’. The crowning glory of his bullying and ridicule was to hold 3 chubby fingers up – counting them twice – and announcing to the baying members: ‘I have personally done a trawl and found THREE questions from Councillor Davies’. This was totally untrue and I publically called him a liar whereupon I was stopped from responding further by the Mayor and officers.
Next day I proved my case by e-mailing all members with the TWENTY-NINE questions I had asked Bob Badham and a number of former colleagues expressed regret at the actions of Cooper and his cronies. But he was not done yet. Next, Sandwell Council’s Head of Legal and Governance, Neeraj Sharma phoned. Despite the fact that I had proved Cooper ‘wrong’ an unspecified number of "other" Labour members had, allegedly, complained about my use of the word ‘liar’ and I was invited to apologise. I demanded to know the identity of the complainants but surprise, surprise they wished to remain anonymous. I refused to apologise stating that the word ‘liar’ was not an insult but a description. It all went quiet for a few weeks and then Neeraj phoned again requesting an apology. Once again I declined having proved the facts and I again requested details of the anonymous complainants as I wished to consider a complaint of harassment against THEM. I offered to go before any tribunal to show Cooper up for what he is. Silence descended again then yet another call from Neeraj but this time (several weeks after the event) saying that (still) anonymous members were now alleging that I had actually called The Great Leader ‘a fat liar’. I may be many things but I am not ‘fatist’. By this time Ms Sharma was sounding distraught and despite her offer to ‘sort the matter out amicably’ I declined to apologise again & heard nothing more.
I have now stood down from the Council. It is to be hoped that highly-paid Ms Sharma will stay with SMBC for some time to come as a suitable reward for her loyalty to the ‘leadership’.

And so, it seems that all this will continue as the ‘Leader’ and his circle have an iron grip on the Council and Labour Group with virtually no opposition. Thus other strange anomalies arise. On 24th April, 2014 I did see a tweet from Cooper mentioning an article in The Guardian relating to councils sitting on their emergency funds for the poor and where he added:
‘Not in Sandwell all allocated to most in need’.

This was not the information I was getting at the time and I asked an officer who informed me that only some £800,000 of £1.3m had been spent. I am sure Councillor Cooper will now disclose the full monthly breakdown of this expenditure over the financial year so as to clear up this curious discrepancy.

Ahh Happy Days – although there are times in the long reaches of the night when a strange recurring image of Gepetto, the grey-haired puppet-master Councillor Hussain, and a curious little wooden top with an expanding nose haunts my well-earned repose.


e              t   @bcrover  (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737


I am looking for interesting people of an independent frame of mind to supply a guest blog post to “The Skidder”.

The “rules” are pretty simple:

1. ANY subject/theme but with some sort of relevance to Sandwell (so politicians need not necessarily write about politics unless they want to!). Not just about you unless a story has a wider resonance. Obviously nothing illegal, libellous or too rude;

2. You MUST supply an e-mail which can (and will) be publicly-published with the blog (so that folk can contact you direct with any complaints etc rather than me). If you cannot do that, I am afraid that is, literally, end of story. You can always set up a new account so that your main account remains private;

3. I will take a “light” editorial view and make suggestions if applicable. I do not intend to interfere if I disagree with your views but only to make suggestions, correct possible errors etc. I will not publish any amendments unless they have been specifically agreed with you first.  Thus if we cannot agree, that is the end of it and the piece will not be published. As, ultimately, I am responsible for the blog I am afraid I have to reserve the right to reject any piece submitted.

The piece should be fairly short and definitely not longer than would fit on one ordinary page (unless you have something VERY special to say).

A one or two line “autobiography” will be helpful (as long as it is true!)

The blog must be your own work (so that rules out one prominent local figure!)

Julian Saunders aka “Vernon Grant”.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Resign Councillor Cashmore!

More shenanigans from Lucy Cashmore, Sandwell Labour Councillor and daughter of Councillors Roger and Linda Horton. In my post of 3rd July, "An Unfortunate Error by Councillor Cashmore?", I pointed out the apparent difficulty La Cashmore had in remembering her address when she stood for election in May 2011. And now there is more.....

Cashmore signed her declaration for the Register of Members' Interests on 17th July, 2012. The declaration reads, inter alia:

"I understand that:-

(a) I may be committing a criminal offence if I:-

(i) fail to register or declare disclosable pecuniary interests as required, without reasonable excuse;

(ii) knowingly or recklessly provide information that is false or misleading.

(b) I will be in breach of SMBC's Code of Conduct for Members if I:-

(i) fail to meet the requirements in relation to disclosable pecuniary interests;

(ii) fail to register or declare other pecuniary interests as required;

(iv) provide information that is materially false or misleading.`

This is the first question on the form under "Part A Disclosable Pecuniary Interests":

1. Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

To which Cashmore has given the absolutely unequivocal answer: "None".

Following my earlier blog an anonymous source referred me to a photo of Cashmore's garden at her home in South Birmingham dated August 2011 just months after she was allegedly residing as a "non-paying tenant" [sic] at the home of her parents in Smethwick. As an aside, The Hortons are massive pals of The Turdmeister himself, who lives just around the corner.

When I looked on Facebook I was immediately surprised to see Cashmore describing herself as "Regional Manager at First Personnel". Upon checking LinkedIn I found a Lucy Cashmore of "Dudley" (!!??) also purporting to be "Regional Manager at First Personnel" since March, 2014. But of greater significance is the statement that she "has worked in recruitment for over 16 years" and, more importantly still,  she states that from May 2012 to February 2013 she was "Locations Manager - Birmingham Hub" for Prime Time Recruitment. Sharp-eyed readers will note that Cashmore signed her declaration in July 2012 when she was clearly in employment. This is what is called, in old-fashioned language, a lie.

Leaving aside any action the Police and Sandwell Council will take in respect of all this, the honourable thing to do would be to resign immediately but then I don't suppose the word "honour" features in the lexicon of Sandwell Labour.

Addendum: 08/07/14 Since posting this blog this morning the Facebook pages have been erased.
I should just mention that the March 2014 breakdown of Councillors' allowances are not yet (July!) on the Sandwell Council website but the 2013 list shows Morecash receiving £10,619,04 basic allowance plus an extra £2,041.65 for her "special responsibilities".


e                    t   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Thursday, 3 July 2014

An Unfortunate Error by Councillor Cashmore?

Regular readers will know that I have recently been trawling through the Register of Members's Interests for the Labour Group of Sandwell Council and seem to have hit on a strange anomaly.

The Register for Councillor Lucy Rachael Cashmore is dated JULY 2012. In it she states that she is a "non-paying tenant" of xx Hall Road, Smethwick which is the address of her parents - Councillors Linda & Roger Horton. Councillor Linda Horton has, of course, just retired as Mayor of Sandwell.

I was perplexed at this unusual description and investigated further. There is no voluntary registration of any interest in any other property outside the Borough of Sandwell.

Now computerised Voters Roll checks can throw up inaccuracies but the Company I use shows a Lucy Cashmore occupying an address in Lindsworth Road in SOUTH BIRMINGHAM from 2008 until 2013 and not an address within Sandwell where she is an elected Councillor.

Surely this cannot be the same Lucy Cashmore who stood for election to Sandwell Council in May 2011 using the address of her Councillor parents rather than her own address? Strangely, she does not appear to have registered to vote at the Smethwick address!

A Land Registry check of the Lindsworth Road address shows that at today's date the property is owned by David Anthony Cashmore (who I believe may have been an employee of SMBC - don't know if he still is but one might assume that if he was then at some time his address would be "on the record") and, er, LUCY RACHAEL CASHMORE. They bought the property with title absolute with a registration date of 11th December, 2007.

Interestingly, Lindsworth Road is in the Brandwood Ward of Birmingham City Council and so it will be fascinating to discover whether Cllr Cashmore cast a vote in Brandwood on May 11th, 2011 where there was also an election.

I am sure there must be a simple explanation for all this which I await with interest!

(With grateful thanks to "Anon").


e              t  @bcrover  (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no:  07599 983737

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sandwell Council's Enterprise Culture (Not....)

Council's exist in a world of increasing complexity hemmed in by charlatans on all sides peddling rip-off PFI deals and the like which are so byzantine even many qualified accountants can't understand them. The public needs to be confident that council officers and elected members are up to the task of getting best value for the taxpayer and protecting the public purse generally.

I have already raised the spectre that in the Pyongyang-style regime operating in Sandwell the current mass redundancies overseen by Labour will exclude the "favoured ones" ie those with impeccable Labour/Trade Union connections or the feeble functionaries who will simply bend to the will of the Politburo - thus leaving a rump of docile apparatchiks on deck whilst HMS Cooper crashes onto the rocks.

As for the elected members, I have previously described how what passes for policy in Sandwell is all agreed by "the flock" in secret sessions of the "Labour Group" and simply "rubber-stamped" in the official Council meetings. So let us have a look at these characters in a little more detail and what they actually do for a living.

What follows has been gleaned for the Register of Members' Interests. There are 70 Labour Councillors out of a Council of 72 but the website has not yet put up the declarations for 9 of the new members so that I can only refer to 61 individuals (though it will come as a surprise if one of the nine, that sweet-talking guy Bill Gavan, turns out to be "The Branson of The Black Country"). I should add that I have formally written to SMBC asking that these nine declarations be disclosed asap.

The frightening thing that becomes immediately apparent is that some of these people - responsible for multi-million pound budgets - can't even fill in the most simple and straightforward of forms. Many cannot differentiate between, for example, paid work and sitting on various public bodies. Take a look yourselves. It certainly fills one with confidence........

There is one Councillor whose form is so confusing whether she is in paid employment or voluntary work that I have counted her as working.

I will digress slightly here, if you will permit me, to note the number of husband and wife and other family teams within the Labour Group. There are, of course, the genuinely excellent Linda and Roger Horton whose daughter, Lucy Cashmore, is also on the Council. They are keeping up with the Joneses - another family trio - Ian, Olwen and Stephen. Then come the pairs - Crumpton x 2; Davies x 2; Hosell x 2; Hughes x 2; Price x 2; and Underhill x 2. Further, the Register shows declarations of 6 (six) family members working for SMBC or associated bodies (and it is of course, to be sincerely hoped that those individuals have been spared redundancy in the current cull......)

And so what of this group who take every opportunity to mouth-off to Sandwell folk about entrepreneurship, enterprise and "jobs". Well of this enterprising 61 -  a stonking 37 say they are NOT working in any form of paid employment (60%)!

There are two self-employed persons.

This leaves 22 who appear to work but 5 - yes FIVE (!) of those are working for Labour MP's. A further 4 work for other councils. I do not mean to demean any sort of employment but it is fair to say that some of the remainder are "at the lower end of the scale" - supermarket/shop work etc and one of the self-employed is a taxi driver. There is one doctor and a tiny group of people with business connections.

Happily, down at the Kremlin, none of this matters. The simple ability to toe the party-line and to place the tongue between the quivering "royal" buttocks will suffice.


e               t   @bcrover  (Vernon Grant)

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