Saturday, 30 January 2016

Trolls Hit Arts Charity Again!

Regular readers will know that Darren Cooper and his Unite the Union mate, Brian Rickers, started to harass a Birmingham Arts Charity for the simple reason that it employs my wife:

Very shortly after this blog was posted my wife and her employers were repeatedly harassed by a number of vicious troll accounts - all of which Darren Cooper and Brian Rickers publicly associated themselves with and actively interacted with. This blog then proved that Cooper was DIRECTLY communicating with at least two of those troll accounts.

Darren Cooper and Sandwell Council then communicated directly with the Charity to try and get my wife suspended or sacked simply because of what I am exposing in this blog!

My wife made a formal complaint of harassment to West Midlands Police who stated (after many months) that they would investigate harassment in Cooper's own name but that they would NOT investigate ANY of the harassment of her and her employers via the trolls (and even though two detectives at WMP told me the proof that Cooper was DIRECTLY linked to two of the troll accounts was a "game-changer" and merited further police investigation). But Cooper is, unbelievably, Chair of the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel (WMPCP) and so he now knows that, as far as WMP is concerned, he is now above the law and immune from any action via association with troll accounts.

And so, yesterday, a new troll appeared using some of the same wording as the earlier trolls (all now suspended by Twitter) and such is the troll's confidence that WMP will do f*ck all they even copied in the new CHIEF CONSTABLE on one of the abusive and harassing tweets!!!!! (Last year the trolls had also deliberately mocked one of the officers running the fraud investigation into Cooper's Council by setting up a troll account called "Wayne").

I should just mention that a number of non-Labour members of the WMPCP have stated to me that they don't care what Cooper is doing with the trolls and don't want to get involved! I hope this doesn't rebound on them as other action is now being taken by my wife to protect her interests!

The new troll copied in West Midlands Police and the Chief Constable in a familiar trick employed by the trolls Cooper had chosen to interact with, ie falsely claiming that I was also running another account (one that is, in fact, run by a female). He then stated the area where we live - copying in the CC, Dave Thompson:

The trolls that Cooper has been involved with have made numerous allegations concerning my wife's morals - that she sleeps around and is always losing her knickers. And so this abusive tweet appeared yesterday:

Now WMP have made the policy decision that they will not protect Birmingham women from social media harassment but you might think that even they would draw the line on attacks on one of our City's main arts charities:


"@brummytaff @bcrover Any time #cowards #BullsTalk #Knickers #linda Saunders @xxxxxxxxxxx [brum charity] #Keyboardbullies #Tweetstorm".

(As with the other trolls, the threat of much more viciousness to come is made.)

By an amazing coincidence yesterday and with uncanny timing, Darren Cooper's (allegedly) mentally-ill social media spokesman, Andrew Hipkiss, also wrote a blog, er, attacking my wife!

You would think some of the women in the Labour Party would take a dim view of trolls associated with a Labour Council "leader" viciously attacking a woman for the sole reason that she happens to be my wife and that some people are  trying to get me to stop writing this blog. The women in Sandwell Labour Group refuse to condemn Cooper's actions and, in some cases, appear to be actively encouraging him to try to get at me via my family. Last November, when MP's Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips were tweeting about social media harassment of women I emailed them with a copy of this post:

I invited them to condemn Cooper's harassment of my wife. But answer came there none. Right on, sisters!

Addendum 02/02/16:

I have since established that the profile picture on the new troll account has been taken from a Russian dating site! And in a new low the troll put a tweet implying that my wife had gone missing - #lindamissing (in the sick mind of this troll network Norton = Kings Norton):

But as ever with Twitter and its failing business model they cannot see the bleeding obvious and have, once again, refused to take a troll account down:

Addendum 06/02/16 - the return to a familiar troll theme again:



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Confidential phone no: 07599 983737                 twitter @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Fraud , Bent Coppers & Wragges

Question 1 - has there been fraud at Labour Sandwell Council - answer yes.

Question 2 - who is the fraudster? Answer - at least one SMBC employee.

Question 3 - is there a bent copper in West Midlands Police protecting the Labour Council. Answer - it appears so.

Let us dig down into this a little further.

I cannot comment on the land deal involving Cllr Bawa as SMBC are refusing to answer a Freedom of Information request (FOI) until the "police investigation" is over.

Someone in WMP is blocking any investigation into how Cllr Rouf got a council house and how his son got to buy a much sought-after plot of land at Florence Road, Smethwick for much less than the Labour Council used OUR money to buy. The sale was ordered by 3 top [sic] councillors - Hussain, proven liar I. Jones and the talking corpse, Eling. They loaded the gun but someone has to fire it and the councillors ordered the "Area Director for Regeneration & Economy" (Nick Bubalo) to agree the terms and the "Director of Legal & Government  Services" (Neeraj Sharma) to do the legal stuff.

Despite SMBC having a valuation report on three disused public conveniences, Sandwell Labour sold them in 2012 for considerably less to a relative, by marriage, of Cllr Hussain. Sharma's department did the conveyancing.

In 2011, Neeraj Sharma's legal department lifted a restrictive covenant on land at the Plough Inn, Tividale Road, Tipton thereby greatly increasing its value. The happy beneficiary is a close personal friend of Cllr Mahboob Hussain. I cannot tell you any more about this as SMBC are refusing to answer a FOI request pending the outcome of the alleged "police investigation".

Sandwell Labour had imposed a restrictive covenant on property in Birmingham Street, Oldbury. This was the premises of the now defunct Sandwell Muslim Organisation in which Cllr Hussain was a leading light. Mr Bubalo has stated that he had "consultations" with Neeraj Sharma's legal department who helpfully decided that the covenant they - themselves - had drafted was, er, unenforceable! Sharma's department executed a deed of release and, as if by magic, in went a planning application to convert the property to 6 flats.

SMBC KNOW that one of Hussain's daughters owns a house in Oldbury as they have a legal charge on it but SMBC staff have given her a four-bedroom council house.

Cllrs Hussain, I Jones, Eling and homelessness expert, Simon "Two Homes" Hackett, agreed to sell the large plot at Lodge Street, Oldbury. The terms were to be agreed by the "Area Director of Regeneration & Economy" and the deal executed by the "Director of Legal & Government Services". It just so happens that Bubalo and Sharma then agreed to sell this land for just £145,000 to a SMBC employee who also happened to be one of the sons of Cllr Hussain and who also happened to work in Bubalo's own department. He is building 14 houses on the plot and unless he is very stupid indeed he will clear a profit of AT LEAST £1 million (one million pounds!) Not bad for an humble council employee.

In a notorious committee meeting in December, 2012, Labours Cllrs Hussain and Hackett ordered the sale of the old Coroner's Office in Smethwick. Nick Bubalo had already "estimated" a value. Once again, the task of selling the property was given to Bubalo and Sharma. Even though other parties were interested in this plot, Bubalo and Sharma again sold the land to their SMBC colleague, Azeem Hafeez - Hussain's son.

As well as being head legal honcho Sharma is also the Council's Monitoring Officer. In November, 2013 I specifically raised a query about Cllr Hussain's interest in Five Star Taxis of Dudley (he and his wife own half of the company). Sharma said she had a word with Hussain about this but he did not see fit to amend his register of interests which is odd because Five Star were tendering for a valuable contract with Sharma's Council and duly won a contract which has netted Five Star over £100,000 of OUR money. The question is whether Sharma knew at this time that Five Star were tendering for the contract? Happily, an officer of WMP has blocked any police investigation into this.

There is more but in the meantime there has been an expensive and long-running police fraud investigation into the Labour Council although at least one police officer blocked a number of lines of investigation. Who and why?

It is not always the case that brown envelopes have to change hands in fraud cases. When I had a lengthy meeting with the fraud team in November, 2014 I pointed out that whilst Labour were sacking large numbers of the Council workforce there may well be individuals within the Council who are biddable and prepared to act corruptly just to protect their jobs and status. Nevertheless, one is always led to believe in fraud cases that one should "follow the money" ie see who was the beneficiary of the bent deal in question.

In the case of Azeem Hafeez, and even though he will net over one million pounds from his two deals, the police went public to say that they are taking no action against him. There is a strange rumour circulating that the police did not actually trouble to formally interview him under caution but they won't say, of course (although I am putting in a formal complaint about the conduct of the investigation generally).

The police publicly say that Hafeez is in the clear and free to enjoy his hard-earned riches and so clearly there can be no question of him having supplied bungs to SMBC employees. Accordingly, it is difficult to see which employees have been enriched by these dodgy deals and so we come back to the question of whether staff have facilitated these transactions to preserve their jobs and status (and some employees of dubious talent are actually very highly-paid by their "socialist" masters).

Clearly it is inconceivable that Sharma and Bubalo are guilty of any criminality but how did they come to let their staff execute these deals on their watch and, sometimes, with their DIRECT involvement? How did they not see what was happening? It has got to be out of the ordinary for a Council to sell two valuable plots of land to one of its own lowly employees let alone one who actually works in one of the departments concerned. There is very obviously at least one rotten apple in the barrel but who is it? Why have Sharma and Bubalo and the audit teams not been able to identify the bent employee or employees? It can ONLY be a person or persons employed in either the Legal or Regeneration [sic] departments which narrows the field somewhat! As far as the Legal department is concerned there should be a clear paper trail showing EXACTLY who worked on each file.

Incidentally, I have asked Bubalo whether he has actually been interviewed by the police given his very close personal involvement in most of these matters but he had declined to say. Surely he MUST have strong suspicions as to who the fraudster is that will help the police "investigation"?

Of course, the police should have found this out but the story is that there has been a massive falling out within the Regional Fraud Team concerning this investigation and honest officers have allegedly been ordered not to investigate various issues. The word on the street is that the investigation is dead (although this has been specifically denied in writing by the new officer in charge of what is left of the investigation) but that the police are do absolutely nothing and simply waiting for the Wragge report (see below) to publicly close the investigation down.

We have known the rumour for sometime that an individual directly involved in a number of the above matters is widely-believed to be a police informant. We have also seen that high-ranking officers are very "close" to Labour SMBC. This does not necessarily imply impropriety but we have to ask whether it is leading to a lack of objectivity from senior officers. We still do not know (yet) why Supt Basit Javid was so keen on the deal to destroy The Public and to agree to award a multi-million pound contract to a company without tender or other competition. We still do not know who the SMBC employee was who enjoyed a "golf and spa day" with a senior WMP officer (he is refusing to say).

But there is a bent copper somewhere and it must be someone reasonably high-up to be able to pull the strings! It is not just stuff like the above. Look at the Cashmore situation. A formal complaint was put in years ago - immediately after she was elected - questioning her address. I do not know what secret access the police have to establish an address but, that aside, it would have been dead straightforward to have interviewed Cashmore and asked for household bills, bank accounts etc to check what address she was using in reality. They could have spoken to the school where her children were and to her neighbours. They could have checked what address she gave to her then employers. They could have checked social media (Cashmore quickly deleted a load of stuff on Facebook when I began to expose her false entries in the Register of Interests). Did they do any of this? No. They got a copper to phone her and ask to meet at the address she falsely claimed to be living at and when the meeting took place they said they were "satisfied" she was living there. Can you believe that? Even more incredibly, when I put in additional evidence to the police, including witness information, a police officer somewhere deliberately blocked any further investigation. I made an official complaint to WMP who said, I kid you not, that arranging to meet Cashers at the disputed address and making no further investigations whatsoever was perfectly appropriate! I appealed this to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who are referring the matter back to WMP. They say, effectively, that the pre-arranged meeting MAY have been appropriate depending on the state of knowledge of the investigating officer. As no other investigations had been made it will be interesting to hear what, precisely, his "state of knowledge" was! (Remember that Cashers received taxpayers' cash for four years and a company she omitted to say she worked for was contracting with Labour SMBC.)

There is a new Chief Constable in post and I am writing to him on the above and on the IPCC complaints which have been upheld by them. There seems to be a bent copper somewhere and let's hope he can expose him/her as well as tackling the substantive issues. I will keep you posted.....

And so we come to the Wragge Report.

Let us assume, for a moment, that we are dealing with a "normal" council rather that the fiasco presided over by Darren Cooper and Jan Britton (and I am working on the assumption here that this pair were asleep at the wheel and were just unaware of what was going on and not directly involved - although it should be remembered that Cooper is very close to one of the main protagonists and is also still refusing to say why he told a number of people that he got the money for his house extension from a well-known "Sadwell" figure).

You would think that Cooper and Britton would have wanted a full, independent, investigation into all this but Cooper (if he didn't actually know what had been going on - and how could he NOT know about the Rouf situation?) pre-judged the issue by immediately taking to his moronic Twitter account and pronouncing to the world that there was nothing untoward and that Hussain was a great man! He then specifically told people (and I have it in writing) that KPMG were being appointed to "investigate" the non-issue (as nothing was wrong). Way back in October, 2014 (in my best read post by a country mile) I pointed out the problems with this:

To save you the time, KPMG are the Labour Councillor's own very highly-remunerated auditors. They had already failed to spot what was going on but Cooper claimed they would be investigating in conjunction with the Council's own internal audit department - who had also missed the blindingly obvious. I pointed out that neither internal audit nor KMPG were very likely to openly admit that they had spectacularly failed in their duties!

Of course, SMBC have been saying they cannot disclose any of this "because of the police investigation". But then the excellent Halesowen News broke the news that big-shot solicitors (not accountants) Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (Wragges) had been appointed to provide a report! And they do NOT come cheap!

Hang on, say I? What happened to KPMG? I duly put in a FOI request only to be told - directly contrary to what Cooper had said - that NO report had been requested from KPMG who were merely carrying out their normal audit duties (no doubt with a keen eye for wrongdoing....)

Let me digress for a moment. My wife has a soft spot for Sadwell folk but despite the fact that there are some great folk dotted around the Borough there are also a large number of f*ckwits - not only the 30% who sustain the Labour Dictatorship and get sh*t on by Cooper & Co over and over again but the 70% who can't be arsed to vote at all and deserve everything they get (or don't get, to be more precise). Whilst 40 years of Labour failure has made the Borough one of the worst and most miserable areas to live in Britain the Dictatorship spout their anti-aspiration and anti-business claptrap. But the highly-paid senior management of the Council mostly choose to live outside the sh*t-hole that is Sandwell (and even the local Chamber of Commerce told the Council that business people wouldn't move to the "socialist paradise" because it was too ghastly).

Cooper, and people like the allegedly left-wing "buy to let" firebrand Cllr John Edwards, regularly abuse "the rich" and privileged and particularly private education (always amusing when the ludicrous Cooper tweets on this noting local Labour MP Spellar went to the same private school as Nigel Farage). The attraction of private education for the well-to-do is that one's offspring are spared having to rub shoulders with scum from the likes of Smethwick and Tipton. And the parents benefit too with nice little social gigs for parents like the one organised by Birmingham's "independent" school, King Edwards (KES) in February, 2012 called "KES in the City" - also a fantastic opportunity for "networking" and perpetuating elitism. But one person listed as a KES "parent" was one Neeraj Sharma of SMBC where she downing the canapes with a partner of, er, KPMG, a partner of old friends of Sandwell Legal Department, Bevan Brittan (who received colossal fees via the disastrous Sandwell BSF scheme), and no less than 8 (eight) employees of Wragges including three partners and the then Managing Partner.

Oh well you might say, it is no problem if Sharma and her ilk hob-nob with the "cream" of local society since they cannot obtain favours from Sandwell Council can they? Contracts have to be won via tender and everything is open and above board, isn't it? Now read on.

We have seen above that Sharma was specifically tasked with executing the dodgy deals set out above. We still don't know how she came to let these bent deals go through and, we have to assume, she simply failed to spot that there was (and maybe still is) a fraudster within the office. Given this oversight it would surely not be appropriate for Sharma to have any input in the commissioning of an allegedly independent report, save as a witness in any investigation?

I should have mentioned that Sharma had a less than glittering career with Walsall Council before bring her skill set to Sadwell. The poor governance and lack of control when she was "Head of Corporate Policy" there was heavily criticised in a damning report as detailed in an earlier post:

but the comrades obviously seemed to think this was no bar to a top appointment in the benighted Borough. There, and despite f*ck-ups of epic proportions like the above, the BT scandal, the CTB disaster etc etc, the absurd Cooper has recently PROMOTED her and given her a pay rise! She was on £128k a year (handy for those school fees) being salary of £108,499 plus pension contributions but Cooper has increased this to £114,187 plus pension - over £130k now.

This blog has been revealing with increasing regularity that Darren Cooper is repeatedly relying in what is called in law "a general power of competence" to override sensible safeguards in respect of contracts and procurement. There is a proper system in place within the Council to protect against obvious abuse but Cooper and his Cabinet colleagues routinely and unanimously vote that, in particular cases, the Council will simply ignore and override those rules. Cooper tried it and failed (so far) with the scandalous ice rink deal but succeeded with the bent Public deal and many others.Thus Cooper and cronies dole out sometimes multi-million pound contracts to people he and his chums happen to like, eg Interserve (nearly £6m in one case alone!). Having deliberately stopped anyone else from bidding for the work, Sharma and her colleagues then refuse to disclose the details via FOI requests saying the secret deals are "confidential"! A potential recipe for large-scale fraud in the future (if not already) if ever there was one! Furthermore, Sadwell Labour are deliberately ignoring a different legal duty which is to always secure "best value" for the taxpayer. I hereby invite Britton or Sharma to write to me explaining how they ensure "best value" when they have deliberately excluded everyone but Cooper and Co's "chosen ones" from those deals?

Back to Wragges. The land sale scandals were first exposed in this blog via the bog-gate scandal in August, 2014 but things hotted-up in shortly afterwards with my revelations about the bent Lodge Street deal. So why has it taken so long to commission an "independent" report anyway? Has it now been commissioned with a view to it exonerating two individuals so that they can rejoin the Labour Party? How "independent" is the report going to be? Who precisely commissioned it - was it Sharma herself despite her involvement (or, seemingly, lack of involvement) in these matters? How much is it going to cost?

I put in a FOI request on your behalf, of course, and Sharma herself has responded along familiar lines. Wragges, you will have guessed, did NOT have to tender for the work but the job was simply given to them by Jan Britton and/or his staff. And yes, Sandwell Council specifically made "an exemption" to the Procurement Rules yet again to gift the contract to Wragges - presumably on the direct orders of Cooper and his cronies. It is not clear whether Sharma herself was involved in the contract negotiations and it would be interesting to know whether any of the people on her canape circuit are involved in this deal. Don't get me wrong, Wragges are a "top" firm but they also come at a "top" price. How did "Sadwell" decide on the level of fees to be charged when they excluded everyone else from the deal? How does this constitute "best value" to the taxpayer?

Everyone knows that lawyers do have a nasty habit of dragging things out if they are not working on a fixed fee basis since they can keep on charging at a very high hourly rate. But Sharma is refusing to say what the deal actually is as it is said to be commercially confidential. It is NOT as everyone else was shut out of a one-off deal - it is just Sandwell Labour trying to keep things secret again!

The contract was from 1st April. 2015 (why was it left so long?). On 21st October, 2015 Sharma wrote to me saying the report was due in three months. That time has expired and Sharma now says the report should be available "in a few weeks".

(Of course, regular readers will know that Sadwell Labour also refused to release the Jones Lang LaSalle reports - which were also not put out to tender - on The Public. Worse, they contested the Ofsted report into Labour's disastrous Children's Services until the pre-election "purdah" period which they then used as the excuse to keep it under wraps until after last May's elections so that Sandwell folk couldn't see how useless they really are!) Incidentally, they also hired their own independent expert to report on the hopeless Labour f*ck-up, Professor Ray Jones, and he delivered a report which detailed the alleged improvements within Children's Services. Darren Cooper, Jan Britton and Cooper's (allegedly) mentally-ill social media spokesman all trumpeted the Jones Report with the imbecilic Cooper saying bring on Ofsted! Of course, SMBC duly received yet another disastrous "inadequate" rating but at least you taxpayers will be relieved to know that the comrades have only paid the good Professor £22,107.25* of our money so far!)

Messrs Wragge's are either incompetent (unlikely) of there is something else going on to delay the report. As above, PC Plod is sitting on his hands to await it (why - what the f*ck have THEY been investigating for 18 months?) and we cannot get the FOI replies until they drop out of the picture. And so there we are.....

Sharma claims that Labours new chums at Wragges will produce an "independent" report (even though "he who pays the piper normally calls the tune") before the election. But will WE see it before 5th May readers? Don't hold your breath!



email                   Facebook  Julian Saunders

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737                      Twitter  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

* £5,303 + £5,210.70 + £7.086.10 + £4,498.45

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cooper and WMCA - Stop Press

I have repeatedly pointed out in this blog how grotesque it is to see organisations in "Sadwell" prostitute themselves before the Labour Dictatorship in return for hard cash. Last night it was the turn of Smethwick Church Action Network who organised a sparsely attended "Darren Cooper Love-In" for him to big-up the new West Midlands Combined Authority. Needless to say that in the interests of balance they did not invite a spokesperson from the opposing viewpoint.

I have repeatedly warned Birmingham of the dire consequences of letting Cooper become involved in its governance and took the battle for the soul of our great City to the mean streets of Smethwick. I have prepared the first of a series of leaflets (below) concerning the real Darren Cooper and dished some out to the few bemused pensioners who turned up. Cooper saw fit to apologise for this democratic action to the small audience!

As with his recent police station visit, Jan Britton laid on a chauffeur-driven car for the strutting egotist and you will be happy to know that the chauffeur was forced to sit in on the meeting at £? per hour to give him a lift afterwards - even though Cooper lives in, er, Smethwick. Remember this when Cooper is spouting about "Tory" cuts!!

Jan Britton forces taxpayer to stump up again!
The vicar eventually let me ask a question (but no supplementary) and I asked why, given his behaviour over the last two years and the shocking performance of his Council - eg the Children's Services disaster - Cooper imagined that he was a fit and proper person to be Metro mayor. After trying to smear me, Cooper failed to answer but made a very surprising statement - in a public meeting - that he has never SAID he wants to be Mayor (which is still not quite saying he is not going to stand). Whilst the vicar was trying to shut me up I did manage to mention the article in his personal propaganda sheet, The Express and Star, and he simply cautioned that I should not believe everything I read in the press!

Accordingly, I am sure he is on the phone to the Editor of "the c*ck-suckers" this morning, Keith Harrison, and asking him to remove this story from 20th November, 2015:

Full article:

Of course, if Cooper stands for Mayor (a ludicrous prospect I know) he will have to give up his Council seat and so the voters of Soho and Vic deserve to be told NOW whether he is intending to bugger off at the first opportunity. So come on then Big Man a nice simple question - are you "throwing your hat into the ring or not"?

And what constitutes Smethwick Church Action Network's "thirty pieces of silver" to promote The Great Helmsman. In the last full financial year, just £18,000 of our, taxpayers', money from Labour Sandwell Council. No wonder these greasers were also happy to put the Sandwell Council logo on the meeting flyer!!!!

Leaflet No. 1



Read: “Cooper Exposed!” 11/04/15; “The Latest Cooper Troll Count!” 03/07/15 and “Another Cooper Troll Suspended” 09/08/15 via:



email  thesandwellskidder|                    facebook  Julian Saunders

Confidential phone no  07599 983737                        twitter  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Sandwell's Stasi

Some of you will be watching the Deutschland 83 TV series about the activities of the old East German secret police, The Stasi, but here is an odd tale a little closer to home with a hint of Franz Kafka too. Or, at least, half a tale since part of the story involves third parties and, alas, cannot be told at this moment in time.....

Sandwell Council have long-taken an interest in my doings even though I am not a resident of Sandwell, not a member of any political party and just a humble scribbler. First, there was a highly paid senior press-officer screaming at people to give him my mobile phone number and then there was the Labour "leader", Darren Cooper, and his associated troll "Odgen", putting covertly-obtained photos of me on Twitter.

It seemed obvious from certain conduct which I cannot go into here that Sandwell Council itself was investigating me and I put in a first Freedom of Information about this but, effectively, received a denial from SMBC.

But then either a third party or Sandwell Council itself  most definitely reviewed my social media and Jan Britton, the man who purports to be SMBC's "Chief Executive", authorised a letter to be sent by the Council to a third party using selected information (some of it wrong) from twitter and this blog and other information received.

 I duly put in another Freedom of Information request since I was curious to know why a public body - a local authority - should be using staff to investigate me and to obtain information about me for its own unspecified and, possibly illegal, use. I asked:

"It is now absolutely clear that I was under investigation by SMBC from, at the latest, early January, 2015 including the monitoring of my Twitter account and the harvesting by SMBC of information therefrom.

This new request covers the period from the date of your initial (false) response dated 5th February, 2015.

1. Please confirm whether I have been under investigation by officials of SMBC at any time since 5th February, 2015 to the present date whether pursuant to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) or otherwise;

2. Please confirm whether SMBC have received information - unsolicited or otherwise - concerning myself from Third Parties (including members) and what use was made of that information by SMBC?"

You will see that the request was for a period from 2nd February, 2015 to the date of the request which was 17th July, 2015 and this date range is relevant to what comes below.

No less than three members of SMBC staff have been in communication with me since including one of their solicitors and some correspondence has, strangely, been sent under the Sadwell Stasi's own "top security" rating. The initial correspondence cannot be gone into here save to say that I was assured that SMBC that I had not been investigated under the RIPA legislation. But you will see that my query was wider than just a RIPA investigation and that I had added the words "or otherwise". As the Stasi were obviously refusing to properly answer my request I appealed to the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO). Clearly Sandwell Council cannot have obtained the information by "magic" and it had come from somewhere or someone. Leaving aside some technical issues, "Sadwell" Council have confirmed "we believe" information WAS lifted from my social media accounts (which are open to public view) but they did not say by whom ie was this done by a third party or by taxpayer-funded staff duly authorised to do this by senior management, nor why (although that last is pretty obvious given the use Jan Britton seemingly authorised his staff to put it to). They have also failed to say whether a third party has been "interpreting" the raw "data" first before supplying it to SMBC or if the taxpayer is paying staff to do this. Again, this will become relevant below.
Is this what it is like?
Please bear with me whilst I go off on a tangent for a minute. Readers will know that I reported five Labour Councillors to Sandwell Police for making false declarations in the Council's Register of Members' Interests ie Hussain, Rouf, Frear, Meehan and Cashmore. It came to my attention that the Council itself had mysteriously referred the cases of Meehan and Cashmore to its own Standards Committee. They took no such action against Rouf and Frear for reasons that are unclear. As we shall see, Meehan and Cashmore claimed to the Standards Committee that their false declarations had merely been "mistakes" and they were duly "let off" by their comrades, Cllrs Lewis, S. Crumpton, Ahmed, Dhallu, A. Hughes (Tory), Underhill and Sandars (see below). But this is odd in itself since Mahboob Hussain had already publicly told The Halesowen News that his false declaration (which led to a company he and his wife own half of netting over £100,000 in a taxi deal) was also just a "mistake" but the comrades kindly decided this mea culpa was enough and that it would be unseemly to also drag the poor old thing before the Standards Committee as well!

As of yesterday, and despite the intervention of the ICO, Sandwell were still refusing to say how they had come by the information from my twitter and social media and what specific information had been extracted therefrom (which they subsequently used for their own purposes). Whilst this further investigation was ongoing the facts about  the Standards Committee whitewash came fully to my attention and, as the date was within the date range set out above in my original FOI request, I also referred this to the ICO. Alas, thanks to Sandwell, all this is ongoing and I will keep you informed of developments but let's have a look at what stunt Sandwell Labour tried to pull via the Standards Committee.

The Standards Committee "gave consideration to two allegations made via social media in relation to two members of the Council". Also,"The Police are aware of both allegations. A formal complaint had not been made to the Council and both matters had not been considered under the Council's arrangements for dealing with Standards matters".

It went on:

"Audit Services had investigated both issues and made the following recommendations....the non-declarations raised to be submitted to the Standards Committee...."

And so the comrades - aware that two of their number were in possible trouble with the police  - harvested unspecified information from my social media, allegedly investigated it and Jan Britton's staff itself decided to refer the matter to the Labour comrades for alleged "consideration".

Hang on a minute you might say, how do you know that the information was from your social media? Well I don't specifically which is why I submitted the FOI referred to above (and am also submitting a new one set out below) but there is a massive clue in the minutes themselves ie:

"Cllr Sandars sought advice in relation to whether he should declare a personal interest in Minute 9/15 on the basis that the complainant had previously made comments about him via social media".

(The Monitoring Officer - Neeraj Sharma - said it was OK for him to participate in the discussion but it is not clear from the minutes whether he did so or not).

Are we there yet? Long distance "lover", Sandars, specifically refers to a "complainant" and this is clearly me and yet the formal minutes specifically stated "a formal complaint had not been made". Get the feeling there is a stitch-up going on here, readers?

It goes without saying that neither the Monitoring Officer (Sharma), Audit Services nor anyone else at SMBC ever contacted me to ask whether I wished to be "the complainant", whether I wanted to give evidence to Audit Services and/or to the Standards Committee nor, indeed, that any of this was even going on! That's the new Sandwell Labour policy [sic] of openness and transparency for you!

It is also noteworthy that the Standards Committee has two allegedly "independent persons" (non-Councillors) co-opted to it so that this sort of grotesque charade cannot take place but, happily, it just so happens that, at this particular meeting, BOTH of them failed to attend. Thus only Councillors dealt with two of their own (all Labour apart from one Tory).

The Committee duly got the whitewash bucket out. Even though there is nothing in the actual minutes stating that the two members had admitted guilt and/or that the audit investigation had established guilt and/or that the Committee had established guilt, they were "let off". All that is recorded is that, er, "both members had...apologised..."?????

It was decided by the Councillors that:

"The Committee felt that it was not in the public interest to formally refer the matter to the Police for further action or have further internal investigation. The Committee agreed to take no further action against them [ie Meehan and Cashmore]."

But they didn't stop there! In a blatant attempt to interfere in my complaint to the Police they added:

"The Committee's decision in relation to the allegations would be reported to the Police for their information."

Leaving aside, for the minute, that Sandwell Police are up the a*se of the Labour Council, note the use of the word "decision". Although nothing has been publicly disclosed concerning the alleged "investigation", and the independent members were NOT at the Committee meeting, the clear implication being made to the Police is that there has been a full and open investigation and there was nothing untoward! Below the subscription I have set out a new FOI request to see what this "investigation" actually consisted of and the Kremlin junkies among you can take a look but, as it happens, all this was in vain anyway as Sandwell Police had in any event, er, totally failed to investigate any of the allegations against all five councillors AT ALL! My complaint about this has now been upheld by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and I am waiting to hear what further action will now be taken (don't hold your breath!)

Just to finish on the subject of Sandwell Police, regulars will know from this blog that a very senior officer there tweeted:

"Great day off today with colleague [at] Sandwell Council golf, spa, lunch and...relax...".

Unaware that West Midlands Police had "colleagues" at Labour Sandwell Council, I asked who the "colleague" was but the officer has declined to say. However, this very senior officer did provide me with this reassurance, "I have friendships with a number of employees at SMBC". Unfortunately, that is precisely what is scaring the sh*t out of the rest of us!!!!


email            facebook  Julian Saunders

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737              twitter @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Freedom of Information Request submitted 16th January, 2016

Freedom of Information Request - Standards Committee

The request (partly) follows on from my FOI/SAR of 17th July, 2015 which has yet to be fully answered by you and which, of course, is also now the subject of intervention by the ICO.

I refer specifically to the minutes of the Standards Committee of 17th March, 2015 including the preamble and minute 9/15.

1  Of “The Committee gave consideration to allegations made via social media in relation to two Members of the Council.” State each and every specific allegation and its social media source as “considered” by the Audit Service, any other SMBC employees and the Committee;

2  Of “Audit Services had investigated both issues”, state how Audit Service came to be aware of the allegations and which specific allegations they became aware of and which they actually investigated. State who within SMBC authorised the investigation and which members of staff undertook the actual investigation. Please disclose all written records, minutes, memoranda, notes of telephone calls made or received, correspondence and other records in whatever form relating to the investigation.

3   There is no reference to it in the minutes but I am assuming that a report from Audit Services was submitted either to the Monitoring Officer and/or to the Committee. Certainly “recommendations” were by your own admission. Please disclose the report and recommendations iin unredacted form.

4   Of “The Committee’s decision in relation to the allegations would be reported to the Police for their information”. Please disclose the report and any covering correspondence to the Police.

Julian Saunders

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Dear Bill...

I actually quite like Bill Gavan. I have bumped into him a couple of times and saw him last night before the "real" Sandwell Council meeting ie the secret Labour Group session where everything is stitched up 24 hours before the proper, public, meeting. Bill jokingly asked if he "should shake me by the hand or kick me up the backside?". I offered either option but we settled on a handshake and a chat. The only problem was that Bill was not completely forthcoming...

Unemployed Bill was only elected on 11th June, 2014 and had no previous experience of being a councillor and yet he has been given a slew of "jobs" by the imbecilic Labour "leader", Darren Cooper.

In a recent post, I pointed out that Bill, and those close to him, have been involved with a large number of companies which have all been dissolved according to Companies House records. Notwithstanding that, the brainbox from Smethwick has appointed Bill as Sadwell's, er, "business ambassador". You couldn't make it up....

Bill does have a significant history of running bars and clubs and was placed on the Licensing Committee. Assuming that he is not still "keeping his hand in" with the trade this looked like one of the lunatic "leader's" better decisions but Bill was, er, taken off that Committee after just one year!

As a tyro Councillor in June, 2014 the SMBC website shows that Bill was immediately placed on the Adult Social Care Scrutiny Board . the Oldbury Town Service Improvement [sic] Board and, no doubt because of his unemployed status , Sadwell's "Youth Employment Commission" whatever the f*ck that is.

But after just one year as a councillor, Bill hit the big time. In May, 2015, and again with his current experience of unemployment, he was placed by Darren Cooper, on the "Jobs, Economy and Enterprise Committee" but as Sadwell Labour loathe business and entrepreneurship this was unlikely to take up much of the time of a man with, seemingly, such considerable talents. Thus he was appointed to Cllr Mahboob Hussain's old fiefdom, the re-named "Land and Asset Management Committee" and not just as a mere member of this important body but AS ITS CHAIR!!!! (Historical note for new readers - this Committee has authorised sundry land sales of our, publicly-owned, land and some very dubious transactions - mostly delegated to SMBC "directors" Nick Bubalo and Neeraj Sharma to finalise - have followed including at least three sales to sons of current councillors).

Even in the fantasy world occupied by Cllr Cooper you might think that even he would have appointed an experienced "big-hitter" to be Chair of this scandal-rocked Committee instead of an inexperienced rookie but not a bit of it. (Yes, I know, experienced big-hitters are in very short supply in the socialist utopia). We will have to keep a close eye on the Committee to make sure no-one is pushing anything naughty through, won't we readers?

As the new Sandwell website is out-of-date with information on Councillors' allowances I wrote to Bill asking him how much he is scoring by way of "special responsibility" payments on top of his normal allowance for being a councillor. For reasons that are not clear, Bill passed this on the the po-faced head of Sadwell legal [sic], Neeraj Sharma, to respond and she has stated that Bill "just" gets a single special payment specifically "as Chair of the Land and Asset Committee", ie since May, 2015, of £5,256.

I did ask Bill another question in the email which his spokesperson, Sharma, refused to answer as it was a "personal" matter and when I saw him last night he also refused to give a straight, unequivocal, answer. The question was whether Bill was one and the same person as the "William Gavan" who donated £5,000 to West Bromwich East Labour Party on 7th April, 2015. Bill equivocated and refused to confirm this but did say that "it was a matter of public record". I said that was only partially true since the public records for political donations only shows the name of the donor and no other details. He then mysteriously said he didn't imagine there was another "William Gavan" in the whole area and challenged me to find one!?!

Thus I do not have 100% proof that Bill WAS the donor but IF he was then let me remind you of the timeline:

11/06/14 - unemployed Bill, with no previous experience, elected as a new Labour councillor;

07/04/15 - "William Gavan" - a "private individual" donates £5,000 to West Brom East Labour;

26/05/15 - Bill Gavan leapfrogs colleagues to become not just a member but CHAIR of the Land etc Committee which will pay him back £5,256 per annum.

You will not be surprised, readers, that I am sending a copy of this blogpost to dear Bill and asking AGAIN for an unequivocal answer about the donation. I will let you know the response!

Of course, I am not suggesting anything untoward in the above timeline. I just find it "interesting", don't you folks?


email              facebook   Julian Saunders

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737                 twitter @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Resign Britton!

I have to be careful criticising the person who purports to be Sandwell Council's thin-skinned "Chief Executive", Jan Britton, since he has already tried to have me arrested for an offence which could, potentially, have led to my imprisonment simply for calling him, in this blog, "the giant am****" [currently censored by Order of the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police] and for also putting in an obviously humorous and parodic picture of an obese, bearded doppelganger in a pancake costume [currently censored by Order of the Chief Constable of WMP]. Curiously, Britton made his complaint immediately after dog-excrement aficionado Cllr Darren Cooper had made an identical complaint about me, inter alia, calling him "The T***meister" [currently censored by Order of the Chief Constable of WMP]. Britton made his complaint to the same officer dealing with Cooper's nonsense and WMP have so little to do they spent hours trawling through my blog for "evidence" and I was interviewed under caution for two hours at Brierley Hill nick. Happily (for me), WMP finally saw the "stitch-up" that was under way from the Chair of the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel (the imbecilic Cooper) when he took to Twitter openly exhorting others to make identical complaints to the Police to destroy both me and this blog.

£157,192 per annum Jan Britton  has risen to "the top" with great ease in scandal-ridden "Sadwell". His post-school education was primarily related to environmental studies and he had some minor council jobs before becoming an environmental services manager for rural Buckinghamshire Council. He joined Sadwell in the Highways Department and did that for a while plus a bit of urban regeneration. Then, despite this very "thin" CV for the CE of a large, urban, Metropolitan Council he was mysteriously given the top job on an interim basis in September, 2010. Of course, Cllr Mahboob Hussain was not the Leader then but was pulling the levers at that time and so we must assume that Britton was his "pick". He took the full post in 2011.

Addendum 10/01/16 - I have been reminded that Britton was the "mastermind" behind the massive Serco contract (where Serco have happily employed some friends and family of Cllr Hussain including the husband of Noreen Bi - see below - and a person with a criminal record for violence). I don't know why staff at SMBC bother paying union dues since union officials are very happy to do the bidding of Cooper and Co. Of course, the Unite members who were transferred to Serco were led in the negotiations by Brian Rickers who is a very close personal friend of, er, Darren Cooper and regularly claims to be his Sunday luncheon companion. Rickers has also been heavily associated with the twitter troll accounts abusing me and my wife and is a proven liar - see for example my post about his direct harassment of my wife's employers and check out his absurd twitter account for his false claims to be on foreign holidays etc.

(Incidentally, we have seen elsewhere that a poor record is not a handicap to advancement to power and riches at sleazy Sadwell .....)

Sandwell was recently found to be the second most miserable place to live in Britain and one might expect some "leadership" from Britton (compare and contrast with Mark Rogers, CE of Birmingham, who works so hard to boost the image of the city). I was sitting in the public area of the Oldbury Kremlin last summer when Britton shambled past me twice, his shirt hanging out over his gargantuan buttocks and eating a bag of crisps - a truly sad visual metaphor for "couldn't care less" Sadwell.

Unlike most other councils, senior Councillors such as Darren Cooper and Mahboob Hussain were allowed by Jan Britton to have "access all areas" security passes so that they could roam the offices and interfere in the daily running of Sadwell. Why? And why does the taxpayer need to pay for a very highly-paid management team [sic] if the Councillors are doing their jobs for them?

As the Police have taken no interest in many rumours of security lapses involving removal and/or shredding of documents there can have been no truth in the numerous allegations of such activity including from SMBC staff (ahem!)

Britton has done nothing to correct false information contained in important Council documents eg surrounding the bent Public deal. Just by way of example (from many), I have been pointing out for sometime that some of the most senior officers of the Council - Adrian Scarrott, Melanie Dudley, Neeraj Sharma and the now departed Stuart Kellas - lied in the so-called Fundamental Review document at paragraph 6.9 that the College had initiated the theft of the Public whereas the truth (as admitted by the College in a Freedom of Information request) was that Hussain (and Cooper?) started the process. Britton knows this but has not taken any steps to arrange for the lie in official documents to be rectified. (Incidentally, it is not known whether the above mentioned officers lied deliberately or were themselves deceived by Hussain (and others?) and unintentionally passed the lie on but none of them have seemingly attempted to put the official record straight).

When the land sale scandals started to emerge in 2014 the ludicrous leader, Darren Cooper, said that the Council's own auditors KPMG (hardly independent) were to investigate the sales but now Jan Britton's paid service deny this and say that Messrs Wragges, Solicitors, of Birmingham are being paid very handsomely to produce a whitewash, er sorry, report (he who pays the piper calls the tune). The police Regional Fraud Team claim they are STILL investigating the scandal but rumours abound that they are not actually doing anything and are simply waiting for the Wragge report so that they can then bury the investigation.

Two of the land sales at a clear undervaluation signed off by Britton's top management team were to a Council employee (surely not a normal occurrence in any event?) That employee was, of course, also the son of then Deputy Labour Leader, Cllr Mahboob Hussain, and the son stands to clear over £1 million profit from the transactions. Yet the Regional Fraud Team have very publicly stated that he is no longer part of the investigation even though the money is going his way. This begs the question of who the hell they are investigating?

Another land sale was to a close associate of Cllr Hussain and the infamous bog sales were to a member of his extended family by marriage. Britton's staff are also refusing to answer a Freedom of Information request concerning Cllr Bawa pending the outcome of the police investigation.

All these sales have happened whilst Jan Britton has been in charge and he must take ultimate responsibility. It is noteworthy that the thuggish Cooper was calling for the head of Jeremy Peace, Chair of WBA FC, recently for perceived "faults" and yet he tolerates everything that has been going on in The Kremlin? I wonder why? Not only that, but as part of the bent Public deal Cooper and Hussain forced the struggling College to accept Britton onto their Board of Governors so that the Labour Dictatorship could try and exercise power there too! Clearly if Jan is bringing the sort of sh*t with him that has happened on his watch at Oldbury, the College is in for an "interesting" ride.....

Britton was in charge when Hussain secured a lucrative taxi contract for a firm which he and his wife own half of and even though Hussain had failed to mention this interest. The police have been asked to investigate this (and issues surrounding a possible xxxxxxxxxxxx scam linked to it which I can't publicly disclose just yet) but once again have failed to do so. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have upheld my complaint about this and it remains to be seen what the new Chief Constable will do about it.

The Express and Star recently reported (!) that over 6,000 (six thousand) needy people are on the council house waiting list in "Sadwell" and some have been on the list for 10 years! Two of my Muslim friends in Smethwick told me that "a monkey" to the right people was the "going rate" for a council house in Smethwick but I have no idea what they meant by this. There are also very many rumours that the trick is for friends and family of councillors to be given a council house and then for the lady of the house to claim to be the victim of domestic violence so that she is then moved into a separate property. Thus the family now have two homes which they eventually purchase under "right to buy". The Police know all about this but have decided not to investigate it and so it obviously can't be true (ahem!)

For a blogger like me, the law does not permit me to find out information about Council tenants but we do know three lucky recipients of council houses, Cllrs Rouf and Frear and Cllr Hussain's daughter, Noreen Bi. What is the point of a Labour Council if they sh*t on "their own"?

The Police have now confirmed that they have not investigated Cllr Rouf despite the revelations in this blog and this has been the subject of another now upheld complaint to the IPCC. I am hoping the new Chief Constable will now be ensuring some investigation as to how Rouf was given a council house after he had sold his un-unmortgaged house and also had interests in a property on Shireland Road! Whilst not strictly relevant to the council house point, regular readers will know that Jan Britton's top team sold Rouf's son a large building plot on Florence Road for considerably less than us taxpayers had paid for it and despite interest from other potential buyers. The son, whose income is unknown but who had, in recent times, run a failed takeaway in Smethwick was able to afford to build a huge seven bedroom house on the plot (no problem with planning permission from Sandwell Council despite its vast bulk overshadowing all other homes around it). Rouf had claimed in the Register of Interests to be unemployed but had a private hire taxi licence in Brum. He gave that up and now claims to be doing (very extensive) "voluntary" work at another son's shop. He is presumably not claiming benefits despite being unemployed and so where did the money for the mansion come from?  Of course, Rouf has friends in low places.....

The multiply-named Cllr Steven Frear was believed to be in private rented accommodation and receives over £23k from the taxpayer by way of councillor allowances. He seems to have moved in with a woman in Whyley Walk, Oldbury but then seems to have been fast-tracked by Jan Britton's staff to a council house with his brother/half-brother - potty-mouthed Paul Kerton. Darren Cooper associated with Kerton for a bit of social media trolling but claimed in writing he didn't know him even though he has known Frear (or whichever name he was using at the time) all of his life. Jan Britton must know that Kerton has a well paid job as he would only need to look at his employment file to find this as Paul Kerton is an employee of, er, Sandwell Council!!! Clearly this pair, with £50k (?) coming in a year, must have been far more deserving than the 6,000 others on the waiting list. (Oh, and Frear lied about living in a council house in a legal document - the Register of Interests - claiming that he actually owned the house!)

A lovely old lady - and, incidentally, lifelong Labour supporter - lived in a four-bedroom Sandwell Council property at Judge Close, Oldbury. Her family told me that Cllr Hussain personally spoke to her at the address on two separate occasions as to whether she might like to move to a smaller property. When the lady died, the Council renovated the property but despite the 6,000 waiting list, Jan Britton's team let it to one Noreen Bi who just happens to be the daughter of Cllr Mahboob Hussain. Now Jan Britton does not need expensive solicitors from Birmingham to piss down our legs and tell us it's raining since his Council KNEW that Noreen and her husband actually own their own property up the road in Century Road. They specifically knew this because the Council had a charge on the Century Road address for a renovation grant made to, er Noreen Bi and her husband. So come on Jan The Man - let's have a public statement about all that!

As the so-called "Chief Executive" Jan Britton is also the Returning Officer at the elections. I have it in writing that he was satisfied that there were "no irregularities" in the address given by the former Labour Councillor and proven liar, Lucy Cashmore. One has to question how extensive his enquiries were since, once again, he only needed to look at the employment files to determine the Cashmore family address, the liar's husband being another "Sadwell" employee!

Britton has also been responsible for signing-off huge "gagging" payments to certain departing Sandwell employees to make sure they never spill the beans about his scandal-ridden circus. This is our money he is using for this but he makes sure the details are not disclosed even pursuant to Freedom of Information requests on the basis that the information is "personal" to those receiving our hard-earned dosh!

Even - and I repeat EVEN - The Express and Star are beginning to see through the myth of Darren Cooper's "socialist paradise" and are finally beginning to report what is going on. They are beginning to highlight the fault lines that are appearing eg. the Children's Services catastrophe (see below), the fireworks fiasco, the history of accident payouts etc. Long may it continue since if they join the Halesowen News to hold the Dictatorship to account, The Skidder can hang up his keyboard!

If you don't believe me about how pathetic Britton's regime is take a look at adverse judgments from the Charity Commission and the courts of late. Just look at the Council Tax Benefit disaster when Britton and Sharma let a crackpot and illegal scheme, promulgated by Cllr Steve Eling and pushed through the secret Labour Group meeting, to sail through the full Council meeting. Sandwell Labour decided they wanted to f*ck-over some of the most vulnerable people in society and it took a High Court Judge to absolutely hammer them for this:

- the scheme was ultra vires and thus unlawful;
- the Labour Council failed to take into account material considerations;
- the Labour Council failed to consult on the scheme which was unfair and unlawful;
- the scheme was discriminatory and contrary to EU law;
- Labour's scheme was discriminatory on the grounds of race and sex and breached equality laws.

Some might think honorable men may have resigned after this shaming degringolade both from the political side of the Council and the paid service but not a bit of it! The dimwitted Cooper's response was that taxpayers' money would be thrown at an appeal but such was the unlawfulness of the scheme this was quietly dropped and everyone just carried on as per usual except us taxpayers' were shafted for the thick-end of £1 million because of this illegality and incompetence.

If all of the above is not bad enough, we finally come to the tragedy of Sadwell Labour's Children's Services disaster.And whilst Jan tries to hide behind others and duck taking responsibility (insofar as it is possible for an obese lard-arse to conceal himself - I should know as I am one too) this tragedy directly involved him.

Let us not forget that Children's Services deals with horrendous cases of all kinds of appalling abuse to kids who desperately need protection. It is surely the most important service the Council delivers but has been on a calamitous slide under the Cooper/Britton leadership [sic]. Cooper needed to cover his own back when the first inadequate Ofsted rating came through and was quick to find a scapegoat in Cllr Bob Badham - who was duly forced to walk the plank. The political poisoned chalice was given to Cllr Simon "Two Homes" Hackett who does not exactly have a sparkling record as a Councillor eg when he and Hussain got through an important and controversial  Land Disposal meeting in just 7 minutes, and he has seen no conflict in agreeing cuts to Children's Services whilst more and money is paid into The Albion Foundation where he is on the Board of Trustees.

But Jan Britton himself was instrumental in this debacle. We have seen above that his CV, such as it is, does not show any previous experience in respect of Children's Services but, at one stage, he even took over running of the department (it is not clear whether this was as a result of his giant ego leading him to the delusion that he could sort matters out or whether he was forced to do so by the ineffectual and lunatic Cooper).

In 2012 Sandwell decided to procure an "improvement partner" ie very expensive "consultants" to help the troubled department and, for once, properly put this out to tender (note that these clowns never just enter into a contract for a third party to deliver a service etc but always go for a so-called "partnership". In the words of Catherine Tate's foul-mouthed "Nan" - "what a load of f*cking sh*t"). But this is where it all gets odd and Britton was at the heart of it. Four parties entered the tender process but two dropped out leaving Impower Consulting and Bidder B. These two had to put forward two real people each as possible candidates to be a new Director of Children's Services for the duration of the contract. Yes, you have probably got it already - instead of Sadwell just appointing a new Director themselves this had to be done via the consultants - no doubt at much higher cost. Then it getters odder still noting that there was supposed to be an EU tendering process going on. A Council committee, including Cooper and Hussain, decided they wanted Mr Simon White, then of Suffolk Council, for the job. As he was one of  Impower's "candidates" and as Impower confirmed that he was "available", Bidder B - Mott MacDonald - was simply deselected from the tendering process which begs the question what the purpose of this whole expensive process was in the first place! Impower then went into the last formal part of legal tendering process as the only bidder and, of course, were duly awarded the lucrative contract.

Addendum - 10/01/16 We have seen above that Cooper and Co made a mockery of the EU procurement to favour their preferred bidder. It may, of course, be entirely coincidental (although I don't tend to believe in coincidences when it comes to Sandwell Labour) but The Chief Executive of Impower is one Martin Cresswell. I received an anonymous message this morning that this was one and the same Martin Cresswell who worked as an accountant in the 1990's for, er, Labour Sandwell Council. You won't find this on his LinkedIn profile where there is a big gap in the 1990's but this is from the New Local Government Network where he is said to be a Board member:

"Martin boasts a long established, and successful career in both local and central government spanning more than 25 years. A CIPFA qualified accountant, he has risen through the ranks in a number of finance roles starting at the London Borough of Newham in 1982. Martin has also held posts at LB Hackney, Sandwell MBC and more recently Liverpool City Council, where he headed up the financial planning department."

No doubt Jan Britton and team informed Mott MacDonald and the other two companies who submitted tenders of this connection?

Return to original post:

Readers of this blog will be aware that Sadwell Labour are regularly excluding competitors from contracts so that favoured parties get the deal (even on some contracts worth millions of pounds). Cooper and Co then come up with a figleaf in the Council minutes to cover up their private deals and, I kid you not, this is the pathetic bollocks they put in the Cabinet minutes of 7th November, 2012:

"Whilst it was acknowledged that only one Bidder remained in the final stage of the procurement process, it was reported that appropriate measures had been undertaken to ensure value for money was achieved and the Council’s requirements were met. The outcome of the final evaluation and agreement of key contractual obligations demonstrated that improved commercial terms and quality had been achieved by the Council, after the number of bidders reduced from two to one."

Note especially the usual crap about "value for money".

Britton, Sharma and Kellas were duly authorised to do the deal with Impower and a recruitment company called Penna. Britton was cock-a-hoop and, just like the inane Cooper, he cannot resist meaningless boasting. Let us look at some of the garbage Britton put out and use that as a benchmark against actual performance shall we readers?

As early as February, 2013 he was telling the Municipal Journal:

"[The contract with Impower and Penna will allow Sandwell] to make such a break we will never slip back".

Britton bragged that the employment of consultants had all been the idea of himself, Darren Cooper and Cllr Badham and Impower were to be paid £1.15m although, for some bizarre reason, Britton stated, in the usual bollocks-speak, he had not been worried that Sandwell would be shafted but that "a joined-up solution was essential if we are were to ask [Impower] to stake their profit on the importance of the contract". Sod the kids and watch the profits - an interesting approach from the so-called "socialists".

And even though the contract had hardly started, this arse was able to say, "It is early days in our partnership but we are on track. For the first time since I became Chief Executive in September,2010, we have a plan to do more than simply react to our last Ofsted inspection. Watch this space...".

This was soon followed by Jan Britton's staff's own "Improvement Plan" where, instead of manageable and incremental improvement targets, Labour went for the Cooper-style crowing and self-congratulation. The ambition for the shambolic department was "to become an [Ofsted] good service by 2014 and an [Ofsted] outstanding service by 2016". (Cue Catherine Tate's "Nan" again....)

The document if full of the usual gibberish: "We are working to get Sandwell ahead of its benchmark improvement trajectory within the next three years on a self-sustainable improvement curve from there." (Pass the sick bag, Alice).

But no matter if children were being assaulted, raped or buggered it was vitally important that everyone was bullshitted including their own pathetically ovine Labour councillors - hence this obscene media propaganda horror story where the public were to be deceived about the true state of affairs:

So much for "the child being at the heart of what we do". Now some of you may imagine that Britton sort of dropped out of the picture after Impower and the Interim Director were appointed and things continued on their downward "trajectory" but not a bit of it. Here are three attendance headings from a Steering Group (steering towards another car crash) including Impower representatives and Mr White and you will see that Jan Britton was the Chair and so was fully aware of what was going on (I am sure there were other meetings but these are the only copies I have):

Addendum - 10/01/16: Another anonymous caller has asked whether the "Tony Barnsley Children's Performance Manager" in on one of the meetings shown above is one and the same as "Tony Barnsley, Joint Branch Secretary, Sandwell Unison general branch". I don't know is the simple answer and perhaps "Mr Barnsley" will contact me. Given Britton's vile attack on staff set out below I do hope that Unison are not compromised in any way concerning this tawdry affair.

Return to original post:

I am not a social worker and these actual documents are rather technical but there does seem to be an obsession with "systems" and technology rather than, er, children. Also noteworthy is the presence of Melanie Dudley who was so heavily involved in Sandwell Labour's multi-million pound BT contract f*ck-up.

But still the pathetic boasting went on with Britton and Cooper bragging about how brilliant things were in December, 2014 - again to the Municipal Journal:

Britton crowed: "I am heartened that what we are doing in children's services is being looked at by other councils" and, "Our approach has been to improve the service in a completely different way to the path taken by many councils when they fail Ofsted.". And this is interesting given what will come below: "a fresh approach to workforce development is taking shape to ensure social workers not only view Sandwell as an attractive place to work (!) but stay put to build a career here."

"Talk to staff across the Council and it's clear that the turning point for children's services was the decision to bring Impower on board - a relationship that looks set to continue", said the MJ and then Britton was directly quoted as describing Impower's work as "exceptional" and claimed that it was being copied by other Sadwell departments: "Children's Services has become the exemplar for what we are doing elsewhere".

The braggart Cooper joined in: "We have broken a vicious cycle of failure, improvement then failure again" which is partially true apart from the, er,"improvement" bit."Lol".

In an earlier post I stated that concerned staff had contacted me to say that the Impower contract had gone way over the £1.15m and I was able to show that, AT THE VERY LEAST, the spend had been £1.8 million net of Vat. This does not chime well with Britton's weird claims of speciality on his LinkedIn profile of "value for money". I am not sure whether he means himself or what he has failed to deliver!

Ah well, you might say - if these useless Labour w*nkers  are going to overspend anywhere then it's not so bad if the dosh has gone to management consultants (!) and the service improved. But, of course, the service as independently assessed did not improve and an Ofsted inspection in early 2015 again produced yet another "inadequate" rating (although the comrades were cleverly able to make sure that it wasn't published until after the May, 2015 election. Nice - "the child is at the heart of what we do......!"

Bizarrely, even though Britton had already received the draft Ofsted report and "inadequate" rating and knew that his staff, if not him directly, were trying to hold back publication, he took to Twitter in April, 2015 to laud the achievements of Impower! We know that he is a major arse-licker when it comes to "the Leader" but what was this all about when Impower had so spectacularly failed in his own Council? Perhaps he was hoping for a job "lol":

And things have gone from bad to worse under the Cooper/Britton regime so that, at long last, the Government has been forced to appoint commissioners to take over the department and try to protect the Borough's most vulnerable kids.

So has Britton resigned? No he has not and, indeed, this piece of work was written a vile blog to all staff in the Council seeking to shift the blame onto social workers and other staff more lowly than him.

Ironically, bearing in mind that Sandwell Council have had the use of the Wolverhampton Express and Star as a free propaganda machine for the Labour Dictatorship, Britton starts by criticising The Halesowen News (the only local media outlet to consistently try and hold the cowboy and girl comrades to account) stating the paper "has proved itself in the past to be no fan of Sandwell Council". Is it appropriate for a Council Chief Executive to be publicly slagging off a local newspaper?

Then he goes on to absolve the top echelons including, of course, himself from any culpability for years of desperate failure:

"It's not about inadequate political leadership or management, or budgets, or even about computer systems - it's about the quality of frontline social work that we do. My message to frontline social workers in children's social care has to be clear - we need to do better."

Then this £157k a year joker makes a vicious direct attack on hard-working staff effectively stating that they are hopelessly inefficient:

"And being better means [working] better and smarter, not longer. Workers in children's social care already work some of the longest hours in the council. I am not questioning your commitment, but I do question whether those long hours are always used in the best possible way". What a ****!

Then he says that staff need to "roll our sleeves up" implying they have been lazy in the past. And so deluded is this management "guru" that he still cannot accept the Ofsted reports and the Government intervention posting yet another completely ludicrous and grandiose gobbet of sh*te: "And despite everything that might be said by Ofsted or the DFE I am still very proud of the things we have already achieved". You really couldn't make it up!

Employees reacted angrily to this unpleasantness but rather than apologise to them Britton attacked again ( I hope the unions are taking the appropriate action - Mr Barnsley?):

An employee quoted what Ofsted had said about his management: "Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements". Britton denied making an "attack" - despite the clear wording above - and accused the employee of "overreacting".

Another criticised the blogpost saying "This seems to ignore the comments from Ofsted about management direction. How as frontline can we get it right without direction, supervision, good process and support?" This was the bullshit management speak from Mr Denial:

"I acknowledge what Ofsted said about leadership and management but the diagnostic [whatever the f*ck that is] paints a slightly different picture with greater emphasis on quality of practice issues. Regrettably, I am not able to share this report with you at this stage". ("You" presumably meaning "you lowly minion").

Yet another criticised the attack on hard-pressed workers toiling for long hours to which this insulting man replied that the complainant had a "low sensitivity threshold". What an appalling thing to say to a frontline social worker facing extremely challenging problems. Surely it is effectively saying that the person is unfit to do their job as well as being astonishingly rude?

So there we have it readers? Does Britton's record and treatment of staff fill you with confidence? He is clearly not prepared to do the decent thing and resign but has Cooper got the balls to fire him bearing in mind that Britton has been there throughout the disastrous Cooper era? Jan knows where the bodies are buried and not just because he has a diploma in archaeology! Perhaps another giant "secret" compensation deal and "gagging order" will do the trick?

And what will we get instead, Lady Macbeth?

I leave the final word to a very decent man who knows a thing or two about children's social care, ex-Sandwell Councillor and left-winger Mick Davies, as quoted in The Halesowen News:

"Thankfully for the sake of Sandwell's children, commissioners are being sent in to sort out this mess. For over a decade the most vulnerable children have been let down time after time as have committed social workers, who have been used as scapegoats for inadequate leadership both politically and professionally..... The Leader of the Council and the chief executive, Jan Britton, have nowhere else to run. They should both show some integrity and resign immediately".


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