Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Wednesbury Xmas Lights - Another Crock of Sh*t!

This blog exposed the Wednesbury Celebrates (WC) scandal which was duly covered up by West Midlands Police (WMP). Their unofficial "Gold Commander" to whom they seem to defer on many operational matters was the Liar* Cllr Elaine Costigan who just happened to be the Treasurer of the aptly named WC for most of the material time.

We have seen time and again how Costigan and grovelling Councillor Peter "Zorro" Hughes have sought to interfere in Wednesbury affairs. Every opportunity is taken to advance themselves and the perfidious Labour Dictatorship/Council. Every "community event" is exploited and ransacked for the publicity it will afford the venal "socialists". And so we come to the switching on of the Wednesbury Christmas Lights in 2017 - normally a happy, non-partisan occasion. But not any more.....

The Lights event as I shall call it is run every year by the Tipton Community Association (TCA) which has an excellent reputation across the Borough for managing outdoor events. But in 2017 it was hijacked by Sandwell Labour. The bent paid service of the Council under the leadership [sic] of Jan Britton yet again failed to adequately answer a Freedom of Information Request on this matter. I now set out below a series of questions and answers put to TCA by a third party which has elicited some shocking replies (shown in red). If anyone has any problem with the replies please refer to TCA. My cooments are in bold.

Questions & Responses:
Wednesbury Christmas Lights Fri 1st Dec 2017

1. Organising Committee:  Sandwell Council advise that the TCA were commissioned  to lead on Mgmt  and delivery of the event and were supported by local organisations and ward members. This doesn’t give all the information I was hoping to receive.                                                                                                                                    

Please may I ask specifically other than yourself and members of the TCA can you name all of the following that were involved?:

Ward Councillors: Elaine Costigan, Pam Hughes, Peter Hughes

Sandwell Council Officers: Tom Hogan (not Hodson)

Labour Party Members (known to you): Maggie Dorsett plus the three Councillors named above

Union Members (known to you): Not known

Businesses/Business Owners: Tony Baker (ANT), Spencer Thrower (Black Country Barbers), Scott & Spencer Evans (Bescot Promotions)

Any other organisations: None involved in the actual planning & management of the event

Did Cllrs Olwen Jones, Bob Lloyd or the newly elected Luke Giles have any input in to this event? If so please could you advise who and what they did? Olwen Jones & Bob Lloyd were not involved in the planning and did not attend any meetings. Luke Giles was not directly involved in the planning and did not attend any meetings, however he did attend the event as a representative of a sponsor (Evans Halshaw) and also assisted with the charity collection on the night of the event

[Skidder Comment - I thought Cllr Pam Hughes was also meant to be a trustee of TCA?]

2. Cllrs Costigan, Pam & Pete Hughes, Labour member Maggie Dorsett, Spencer Thrower and Tony Baker are all said to have been involved in the planning & organisation:
Did any of these named people act against the TCA or act separately to the TCA, as commissioned lead & Mgrs, in organising this event? Yes
If so please could you advise who and how they acted in ways contrary to the TCA management & lead? There appeared to be a hidden agenda. There appeared to be separate secret meetings where arrangements were made without my knowledge. All three Councillors arranged external sponsorship and direct payment of some activities and attractions. These arrangements were kept secret and not discussed at any meetings I attended, even though I requested information on several occasions. The sponsors were not revealed until the event, they did not appear on any publicity until the event when a large banner was placed at the front of the stage. A FINAL meeting was arranged by the three Councillors which had to be rescheduled at my insistence as they had not informed me, or invited me (as the organiser) !
take full responsibility for the amount of funding received through my LAB funding application which is clearly and accurately documented and is now in the possession of SMBC. I have no knowledge of the amounts of any external funding, who received it, or who it was paid to. I felt coerced into accepting decisions that had already been made, even though I knew they were potentially fraudulent. Although official SMBC posters had been produced, there were several other styles of posters created and distributed throughout Wednesbury town centre without my knowledge, when questioned, I could not get a satisfactory answer from any of the three Councillors named above. I was also pressurised into ignoring the requirements of SMBC's Safety at Public Events Committee regarding the Fire Eater's act insurance cover
I was specifically requested to visit a business owner in Wednesbury to discuss her concerns about the location of various elements of the event. During that discussion that person raised the issue of the Wednesbury BID. The very next day, I was subject to a complaint that I had questioned her about the BID. It is my belief that this situation was manipulated by one or more of the three Councillors named, in an attempt to discredit me
In another meeting, where I was trying to ascertain the content and running order of the event (as more secretly arranged items had been added) I was subjected to an array of dirty looks, tuts and eye rolling from all three Councillors, a complaint was then made that I was rude and disrespectful to the Town Lead. An accusation that I strongly deny and in fact have a number of witnesses to support my position. When I raised concern about the level of expenditure (as we were at that point over £1500.00 over budget) I was told to not worry as there was plenty of money and they would simply sign another LAB grant, this I felt was contrary to the spirit of my tender for the project.
Throughout the whole sequence of planning meetings and site visits I felt unwelcome, pressured, and treated with a level of contempt by the three Councillors named 

[Skidder comment - as above re Pam Hughes.]

3. Spencer Thrower, Tony Baker “Rhino” and Ant Event Management: It would appear that Spencer Thrower & “Rhino” are both part of Ant Event Management, B71 3SH: 
Please can you advise if any other organisations were asked to quote for staging and booking acts? The actual stage was booked directly by me through Promarco Ltd of Dudley. Ant Event Management were appointed by me to book acts and run the stage activity during the event as they had done in previous years.
Do you think that it is ethical to have two persons who apparently have an entertainments business “Ant Event Management” as part of the planning group from the initial planning stage? Would this not be a conflict of interest? As this arrangement had been in place for the previous year I saw no reason to not continue with them
Are you aware that Spencer Thrower’s partner was booked to appear, Helen James? At that point in time I was not aware that Helen James was a connected person to any of the organisers
Were any checks done on Ant Event Management  being a bonafide business entity? The website they have used for promotion does not exist currently. There is no UK listing for Ant Event Management or any phone number I can see being listed. I raised this question at the time and reported my concerns to Council Officers, however I was advised to run with it
Did Ant Event Management have all the necessary documents available in their name to be able to ensure the safe running  and legal requirement of any part of the Wednesbury Lights Switch On that they were responsible for ie Public Liability, PAT etc? No
Was Ant Event Management asked to give a new quotation for the 2017 event with breakdown or was it agreed that they charge the same amount as the previous year? I gave Ant Event Management a budget of £1500.00 to work with, leaving them to decide on the content of the entertainment
Please can you advise who approved the use of Ant Event Management and was Cllr Elaine Costigan involved in the approval?  It was apparent at the first meeting that I attended that Ant Event Management were the organisation I was to use for the Wednesbury event
Were the decisions to award Ant Event Management the contract for this event done prior to the TCA being commissioned to manage the event? It is my opinion that this is the case
Is it correct that Tony Baker was first given the contract for the security of the event? Yes
Was this agreed prior to the TCA being commissioned to manage the event? It is my opinion that this is the case
Who approved and/or put forward Tony Baker to supply security? It was apparent at the first meeting that I attended that Ant Event Management were the organisation I was to use for the Wednesbury event
On the night other security were managing the event, please can you advise why Tony Baker and his security were dropped? Although the operatives on the night were the actual persons as those appointed by Tony Baker, I actually made the decision after consulting Council Officers and my fellow organiser Karen Simms, to engage the men under my own organisations management and insurance, as it was clear that there was no legal company structure in place and my own integrity would be put at risk. Therefore the freelance security personnel who were there at the event were appointed by, and paid directly by myself on behalf of Tipton Community Association.

4. Sponsorship, donors etc: This is an area that is not clear at all.  A banner was on the front of the stage purporting to show “sponsors” of the event. I list the following companies and organisations on the banner:
·         Evans Halshaw
·         Gallagher
·         Gaumont
·         Playlands
·         Sandwell MBC (SMBC)
·         The Lamp
·         The Trade Centre
Clearly other than SMBC all of the above are business entities.
For each, other than SMBC, can you advise what was actually sponsored at the event and what costs did the sponsorship cover? I believe that Playlands made a payment of £300.00. I do not know what for or who received it. I only know this because the Manager there asked us for the gazebo and table they had paid £300.00 for!  I have no knowledge whatsoever of any of the other sponsorship deals
If any of the companies donated anything either financially or in material goods please can you advise for each company what they donated and amount? Not Known
Who arranged each of the sponsorship deals or donations, please name? Not Known
If any Cllrs or Sandwell Council Officers agreed to the sponsorship and/or accepted donations please can you name them? Not Known
Who arranged for the printing of the banner, what was the cost and where has it been accounted for? Not Known

[Skidder comment - those of you who have read by blog about hos Jan Britton's bent paid service rigged the Wednesbury BID ballot will note that two friends of La Costigan again feature here. How much was donated, to whom and where did the money go?]

5. Cash Collections:I understand that the TCA passed a total of £1500 to the Mayor of Sandwell for their chosen charity. This compromised monies from Oldbury, Tipton as well as Wednesbury.
On the night of the collections in Wednesbury are you satisfied that you received all of the collecting tins, buckets and any other container used for the purposes of cash collection that you as organiser had distributed? The  number of collecting tubs returned to us on the following Monday was correct
Were all of the cash collection tins, buckets and containers secured, tied and unbroken and returned in the same condition as they were initially distributed? No
Are you satisfied that all your own collections were in order and above board and all monies counted by yourselves represents a true and accurate figure of what was collected on the night? If for any reason you are not please could you advise details? The amount collected was disappointingly low, arrangements had been agreed to collect all the buckets to be stored securely at xxxxxxx [redacted by Skidder - name of local business] where they would be kept until the Monday morning when my Chair of Trustees and myself would meet with the three Councillors named above to count the contents. In the event, when Alan and I arrived at xxxxxxx we were advised that the 'bloke from the barbers' had already taken them. When Alan and I arrived at Wednesbury Town Hall, all the buckets had been opened and the cash tipped into one container
Other than TCA collections were any other collections made by other organisations on the night? If so please if known can you name the persons and/organisations that were making other collections?   Were these collections authorised by TCA? TCA did not authorise any other collections and as far as I am aware no other collections took place

[Skidder comment - this is not the first time this blog has queried the "inadequacy" of street collections involving Sandwell Councils. Remember former Council Tony "Fudgy" Meehan and his bucket collection at "The Friends of Fudgestock" for Wolverhampton Hospital? Alas when I wrote to the Hospital they could not trace the receipt of ANY donation from that source in the year in question.....]

6. Event:There seems to be a number of other holes in the recording, accounting and management  of the event that may not have been in TCA’s control. Please may I respectfully draw your attention to the following  and ask for your response:
1.    Ice Rink - Who organised this, authorised it and paid for it at what cost? Not Known
2.    Jelly Legz - Who organised these, authorised these and paid for their services at what cost? I believe all arrangements were made between Elaine Costigan and Bescot Promotions
3.    Gareth Gates - Who booked him, authorised booking and who paid for his appearance at what cost? Were there any other associated costs involved in his appearance i.e. accommodation, rider etc ? 
Not Known
4.    Stilt Walkers - Who organised these, authorised them and paid for them at what cost? I believe all arrangements were made between Pam Hughes and the organisation concerned
5.    Of the 1- 4 above are you aware if any of them have any personal connections or family ties with Councillors, Sandwell Council Officers and/or any other persons that have been involved in the planning, organising and management of this event? If so please can you name and advise? Not Known

6.    There is a Local Area Budget payment for this event from SMBC to the value of £6036.33 to the TCA. Are you aware of any extra SMBC funding either LAB or other being received by organisations, cllrs  or individual persons that may have contributed to this event? Please can you name and advise amounts if known? Not Known

[Skidder comment - the Labour Council is skint. £6k seems reasonable for an event of this type IF the local traders are behind it. But what was the true cost and who has accounted for the mysterious extra funds and where is this information?]

7. Mgmt, Staff, Councillors and Sandwell Council Officers:
1. Are you happy to state that you are satisfied that TCA had full control of all aspects of the event and the event management and that it was run in accordance with your own good practice?  If not please could you advise why? Although I was left in complete control on the day (I was there from 9.00am through to 9.00pm) I cannot honestly say that TCA were allowed to manage the Wednesbury event to our own good practice  
2. At any time during the planning process, management and the night of the event were you at any time coerced in to making decisions that you did not agree to? If you were are you able to advise in what way you may have been coerced and by whom? Particularly regarding Ant Management, xxxxxxxxxxxxx [Slidder redaction for legal reasons], and the inferred instruction to ignore the requirements of the SAPE Committee regarding the Fire Act's level of insurance cover
3. Since the event has taken place have you been put under any pressure to not release any details of accounting, management, sponsorship, donations and or  any other matters that may compromise the good name of the TCA or implicate others in any way that may be detrimental to their reputation? If you have please could you advise the circumstances and the persons involved? I have been advised to tread carefully by Council Officers so as not to return to the 'days where TCA were excluded from any working relationship with Sandwell Council'
4. Since the event have you received any implied or explicit threat to undermine the good name of the TCA and/or deny yourselves funding and/or council resources or the withdrawal of your lease of The Brook Street Community Centre?  If you have please could you advise the circumstances and the persons involved? Yes, this is happening now, we have already been deliberately excluded from this years Christmas Events, I have received several reports from members of the public regarding inflammatory and potentially slanderous comments being made by at least one Ward Councillor. I cannot comment further on this point at the moment as it is currently being investigated by the relevant employer of the said person and I would not wish to prejudice any decisions that may be made
5. Have you received any implied or explicit threat or similar that may make you feel uneasy in being able to continue your role professionally and for the good of the community in an open, honest & transparent manner?  If you have please could you advise the circumstances and the persons involved? Yes, both myself and other members of TCA Management Team feel under pressure at the moment, we feel intimidated and deflated, and although we want to let the community know what is happening we are genuinely frightened that our activities will suffer and our facilities will be pulled from under us. We firmly believe however, that the public will come down firmly on our side and therefore will continue to bring this bullying and corruption to light
6. I am aware of comments that some officers and councillors have made to myself and other organisations in the past. The phrase “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” is a popular one   thrown out. At any time have you received comments similar to this from Cllrs or SMBC Officers? Please can you advise which Cllrs and/or SMBC Officers have made these type of comments to you? Yes, on several occasions
7. Do you feel that you are being coerced by Cllrs and SMBC Officers to tow [sic] the line and not the wishes of your organisation or community? I truly believe that this is the case


[Skidder comment - here we ago again - vicious bullying by the Labour Dictatorship! Who is running this year's event and how are the finances being handled? Once again how is Cllr Pam Hughes tied up in all this - though given her performance at "Ask Andy" she has no independent will and is merely a cipher for the ludicrous Zorro?]

Stop Press

Since writing about the bent BID ballot overseen by Jan Britton's staff a trader has approached me directly. The trader claims to have been canvassed to agree to the BID directly by both Cllrs Costigan and Pam Hughes but was also NEVER sent a ballot paper.....

I also raised the involvement of Mr Mike Maynard in all this and my FOI request to the bent Council has been acknowledged today. Regular readers will know that Maynard boasted that he was specifically asked by the Council to run the "publicity" for the BID and so set up Facebook and Twitter accounts. What was in it for him - an obsessive photographer? Maynard has also revealed what might be the answer - he has also boasted that the Council are considering "funding" his photography"!


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*See previous blogs for the reasoning behind this nomenclature.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Wednesbury Bid Scandal - Maynard Speaks!

Before I start some breaking news - I have been charged with an alleged criminal offence ie that I called the Chief Executive of bent Sandwell Council a "c*cksucker". I am due to appear before Dudley Magistrates at 10.00 am of 11th September. I will be entering a "not guilty" plea. Watch this space....

In my blog two days ago about the way Sandwell Council (with the support of West Midlands Police) rigged the ballot to form a "Business Improvement District" (BIDs)* I mentioned the mysterious involvement of a Mr Mike Maynard. Yesterday he broke cover AND let the cat out of the bag!

I mentioned how undemocratic BIDs are. Mr Maynard classes himself as a "publicist" but says he is NOT a trader/business in the Wednesbury BID area. Nevertheless he somehow managed to find his way onto the "steering group". It is not explained, yet, how this came about. Mr Maynard does not state his qualifications as "a publicist".

Mr Maynard's only point of objection so far is that I got the mileage wrong between Wednesbury and the proposed 19ha shopping centre at Lion Farm Oldbury (which is being forced through by Sandwell Council's joke "Cabinet" which, unbelievably, contains the Liar** Cllr Elain Costigan). Big deal. The fact remains that two huge new shopping centres (very close to Merry Hill) will play havoc with retail in all six towns of Sandwell. He cannot counter the truth ie that the Secretary of State in the Ministry Of Housing, Communities and Local Government declared the rigged ballot void for "material irregularity" and added:

"it is likely that voting in the BID ballot has been affected to a significant extent by contravention of any requirement of the Regulations."

Yes folks, Jan Britton's bent staff rigged the ballot though, as ever, he presumably "knew nothing" about it "lol".

Our friend Maynard has also set himself up as a spokesperson for West Midlands Police publicly stating that their role was "simply advisory". Leaving aside that everything could be said to be "advisory" before the approval of the BID anyway this is "simply" not true. Not only did WMP attack me for campaigning against the BID based on a false and malicious statement from Costigan even though this was not a criminal offence anyway (all on tape and witnessed by a Solicitor) but one Sgt K. Jones was on the steering committee (at least on a list presented to the Government by SMBC employee Gerry Ritchie - though see below). Further, once the rigged ballot delivered the desired result, Inspector Richard Phillips was immediately "elected" to the BID Board!

Having said that there is now a serious question whether Gerry Ritchie lied to the Government. It was alleged that the steering committee meetings were stuffed with Sandwell Councillors plus cronies and SMBC staff eg as per this photo of a meeting which I understand is all SMBC people apart from friend Maynard:

Yet Ritchie included in the evidence of bent Sandwell Council to the Secretary of State that Cllrs Olwen Jones and Bob Lloyd were on the steering committee. Either he was lying in a quasi-judicial process or the two Councillors are since they both put IN WRITING:

Cllr Olwen Jones: "To my knowledge I have never been asked to be a member of the steering group and I have never attended this group, any suggestion that I have is wrong."

Cllr Bob Lloyd: "I have not been part of the steering group at any time."

We are used to no action being taken against rogue members of Jan Britton's bent paid service but this major discrepancy requires immediate investigation! It would be very odd if Jan's staff were lying about Councillors - particularly ones his political master has been trying to shaft.

In my blog of two days ago - based on the hard work done by local community activist Darryl Magher - I pointed out that Britton's bent staff were trying to have their cake and eat it ie by denying the Facebook Group was anything to do with the corrupt Council but then claiming that various notices etc were put up on the Facebook pages (by Maynard).

This is what SMBC said in evidence - in a quasi-judicial process - to the Government:

Strange therefore that Mr Maynard should use this logo on both "his" Facebook and Twitter BID accounts:

Compare and contrast this with, er, the official artwork produced by Sandwell Council on the much-derided BIB business plan....

As above, however, Maynard let the truth slip out yesterday in this exchange where he admitted SMBC had asked him to set up the social media accounts even though THEY were the official promoter:

"I was asked by the council"! Oops! I immediately asked Maynard who asked him but he has belatedly clammed up. Accordingly I have submitted the following Freedom of Information request to the bent Labour Council:

"To: Info Management <Info_Management@sandwell.gov.uk>

Yesterday Mr Mike Maynard of Wednesbury stated in writing that he was asked by Sandwell Council to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote the proposed Wednesbury BID scheme.

Please state:

1  Who, precisely, made the decision to ask Mr Maynard to set up and run the social media accounts?

2  Who, specifically, asked Mr Maynard to set up the social media accounts?

3  As SMBC was the BID promoter why did it not set up its own social media accounts?

4  Who authorised Mr Maynard to use the Council's artwork for the BID on his social media accounts?

5  What was the agreement made with Mr Maynard to run the accounts? What procedures did SMBC employ to monitor the content of the accounts?

6  Why did Mr Gerry Ritchie fail to state that SMBC had asked Mr Maynard to open and operate the said accounts when giving his evidence on this matter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in respect of the appeal against the validity of the BID ballot?

7  Please disclose all documentation - as defined below - relating to questions (1) to (5) above.

Document Definition

“Document” means any letter/email (made or received), note, attendance note, record, report, paperwork of whatsoever nature prepared manually or electronically in respect of the subject of the request.

Where communications are with a third party disclosure should include those with the third party’s servants or agents.

Where a document is no longer in existence please state the gist of the document and how it came to be destroyed.

Where one would normally expect a document to be in existence (eg an attendance note of a telephone conversation) please state why a document was not prepared in the particular instance.

Julian Saunders"

Two Other Matters:

1  I mentioned that the actions of Britton's bent staff (nothing to do with him of course) had cost the taxpayer at least £10,000 ie you and me. I am indebted to Mr Magher again who confirms that the ballot rigging actually cost us £14,290! Someone's head must roll for this..... If Zorro Hughes and cronies are going to try another ballot this will cost yet more again.

2 I am also indebted to the caller who reminded me that before Morrisons metaphorically get into bed with Costigan they should remember that she was heavily promoting the building of a giant warehouse in Wednesbury for their arch-rivals, er, Lidl (which has caused distress and inconvenience to a number of local residents)!


** See the above link for the facts of this.


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Thursday, 23 August 2018

Watson Donor Up For "Honour"

Tom Watson has his team of greasers on Sandwell Labour Council. Three - Cllrs Moore, Hackett and now Bill Gavan - have even been given Cabinet positions. We all know about Moore and Hackett (The Sandwell Slasher) but quite what Gavan brings to the party apart from his foul-mouthed abusiveness is a mystery.

Gavan is a Watson rimmer and his quondam driver when the great man deigns to visit his constituency from his London home. With a string of failed businesses behind him at least you would expect Billy to know a successful businessman when he sees one and, lo, it has come to pass that Billy Boy has nominated Mr David Manners for the highly dubious "honour" of becoming a Freeman of Pyongyang - sorry, Sadwell.

As Sandwell Labour despise business and business people this would normally come as something of a surprise were it not for the fact that said Manners is a Tom Watson donor:

You scratch my back - I'll scratch yours!

It's a jungle out there.... (No jokes about weed please!)


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Wednesbury's Second Chance to F*ck Itself!

There is something deeply depressing about the pathetic way corrupt Labour Sandwell Council collectively tries to jump on passing bandwagons and the way Party greasers clutch at any opportunity to grab cash for their own self-aggrandisement. Thus the ludicrous Cllr Peter "Zorro" Hughes* is putting it about that the Wednesbury BID scam is back on! Indeed there may have already been another SECRET meeting about it at Wednesbury Town Hall - how very democratic!

What is a BID?

A Sandwell Joker told me that B.I.D. stood for "Bent Incompetent Dickheads" whereas, in fact, the acronym stands for "Business Improvement District." Businesses in a specified area can vote to pay extra business rates with the dosh going into a separate pot to promote those same traders and thereby - hopefully - increase their profits.

Hang on, you will immediately ask, Sandwell Labour hate business and despise the concept of enterprise and the generation of "profits". For 44 years since "Sadwell" was formed on April Fools' Day, 1974 the Labour Dictatorship have shafted commercial enterprises (at least those not run by cronies) so that the benighted Borough is at or near the bottom of most deprivation tables and in 2017 was voted the second most unhappy place to live in the UK. What is it doing trying to promote BIDs? The answer, of course, is money.... As if Jan Britton's Council - awash with fraud, corruption, cronyism and incompetence - is not opaque enough what with rigid secrecy and a cavalier and unlawful approach to Freedom of Information, comrades can get their grubby paws on more revenue and then spend it to the glorification of "The Party" and themselves without having to account to YOU - local voters.

The comrades are also riven with envy of other areas and look at BIDs in Brum and elsewhere with covetous thoughts (wrongly in my humble submission). Not only is there a pot of extra cash paid for by local businesses but, in the specific case of Wednesbury, Labour boasted how they could use the BID to lever even more spends out of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership!

How is a BID created?

A "proposer" tries to promote the scheme. In the case of the BID which already exists in West Bromwich, this was promoted by Sandwell Council/Labour (one and the same thing) itself. That is perfectly legal although the creation of the BID is not supposed to be "party political". But, of course, so ingrained is the evil Pyongyang-style Dictatorship in every aspect of Sandwell life now, that becomes an impossibility.

It will surprise any student of American politics how much "gerrymandering" still goes on. This is the drawing on the boundaries of voting areas so as to favour one party. Labour decreed that Wednesbury should have a BID and so Jan Britton's bent paid service set about to deliver the "right" result. Here is the BID area they created and you will immediately notice that it is a very odd shape and sprouts off from the town centre via peculiar branches:

The southern spur incorporates West Midlands Passenger Transport who could be expected to toe the political line and agree to the scam. The Northern spur reaches through a residential area to incorporate the large motor dealership, The Trade Centre, who are mysteriously said to be strong supporters of the Dictatorship generally and friendly with one local Councillor in particular. They too would "go for it".

Well that's only two votes you might say but it doesn't quite work like that. For the BID to be formed there must be a simple majority (ie 50.1%) of the businesses within the proposed area AND a simple majority (50.1%) in the rateable values of the votes cast. (The law refers to a lovely old-fashioned word "hereditaments" which I mention purely because it was the birthday yesterday of my regular reader and friend Ian Jelf and he will like it!)

What this means is that the big businesses call the tune. The rateable value of Morrisons for example is going to be much higher than a corner shop. (In fact Morrisons get 3 votes in the process anyway as, eg, their petrol station counts as a separate business.)

In the real world outside The Hermit Kingdom of Sadders you might expect a sensible Council or other proposer to take expert advice on whether such a scheme is feasible or worthwhile. One would wish to go to an independent expert (though we have seen many times in this blog that Jan Britton's bent staff often give out such work without a tendering process and to firms that have already produced "satisfactory" results for them - trusting their objectivity to, er, produce an "independent" report "lol" - whilst dangling the prospect of remunerative future work in front of them if they "play ball".)

But soft! What if the expert says a BID scheme for a ghastly sh*thole like Wednesbury is a waste of time? What would the likes of the Liar Cllr Costigan** and Zorro say then? Jan the Man and his boys (and it seems to be mostly boys here) had the answer - let's get a report from someone who boasts openly that she has a one hundred per cent record in BIDs being created by ballot after her feasibility studies and calls herself a "BID consultant"! Step forward Mrs Michelle Baker:

Indeed Mrs Baker was already known to Britton's boys as she had produced the feasibility for, er, the West Bromwich BID scheme for, er, Sandwell Council/Labour! (I have not seen her no doubt thoroughly objective report for West Brom but guess what - she was all for it! Curiously she says she did the work in early 2013 but the ballot did not take place until early 2015 by which time one might have thought it was a bit out of date?)

Of course, Britton will soon tell us all how the tendering process operated when Mrs Baker was given this new work.....

Once again Mrs Baker was thoroughly professional and diligent and stated all the evidence supported a Wednesbury BID. Indeed her own map included West Mids Passenger Transport and The Trade-Centre in the suggested BID area. And so it was "all systems go".

As an aside, Mrs Baker's professionalism doesn't appear to extend to compliance with Company Law judging by Companies House records of yesterday - 22nd August, 2018:

And so there was to be a ballot. A steering committee was set up. You would imagine that this consisted of local business folk who were going to end up paying for this. Interestingly one image of a meeting put on social media showed only Councillors and Council employees in attendance!

In an earlier post I showed that the local Labour Party were anxious to promote the ridiculous scheme and at a Wednesbury Party meeting were prepared to ignore the stricture against party political activity:


Lest we forget, this is supposed to be a scheme to help local traders/businesses not Costigan and her ilk. Mrs Baker said there were 235 votes in the area but when Sandwell Council/Labour got their hands on it this had mysteriously increased to 254. (I have seen a list of the businesses which shows 261 businesses but I cannot comment on that small discrepancy at the present time).

On the list with separate votes in the process were no less than 12 Sandwell properties (the Town Hall, car parks etc) which in this joke scheme garners them 12 votes straight away. As above, WM Passenger Transport were on board with another vote as were, of course, the paramilitary arm of SMBC, West Midlands Police, with another vote. All traders/businesses "lol".

The Leisure Trust - which relies entirely for its existence on money from Sandwell Council/Labour -was another vote in the bag as was that other well-known Wednesbury business, the Fire Station! And so the Council team, led by Mr Gerry Ritchie, had 16 votes in the bag before they started.

But as we have seen Jan Britton's Circus is not only bent but incompetent and the first ballot was f*cked up in true SMBC style and had to be re-run.

Meanwhile, naughty people were going round the town telling folk that because Morrisons and the Leisure Centre were voting in favour of the BID it was a done deal! Who were these people? Info please!


I am still awaiting more information of the identity of the Councillor who was seen spending afternoons with Richard Marshall in back street boozers - contact details below!

Mr Ritchie has made great play that there WERE traders on the steering committee but it did include SIX Labour Councillors, FOUR SMBC employees and a Copper ie another SMBC clone. Ritchie set out a programme and you will see for yourselves what the reality of the situation was (and still is?)

Despite this open proselytising by Labour Councillors it seems they were still a little queasy about being seen to be heavily involved in rigging the ballot and so, enter stage left, Mr Michael Maynard. I have no idea who this character is, save that he appears to have an interest in local history, but he set up a Facebook Group etc cheerleading the scheme! (Is he a trader? What has he got to do with any of this?) Whatever the situation "official notices" started appearing on this social media including one "signed" by Mr Gerry Ritchie himself. An endless stream of pro-BID propaganda emanated from Mr Maynard. Labour Councillors (and Council staff) also took to social media to promote the scheme presumably thinking social media activity did NOT constitute party-political activity "lol":

Even a London-resident Labour MP endorsed the BID scheme even though he is NOT the MP for Wednesbury! Step forward the bullying thug Tom Watson with three Labour "councillors":

You will see that the Liar Costigan tweeted this photo and it was retweeted by our friend Maynard!

There were allegations that some businesses were unaware of the vote and did not receive ballot papers but Labour won the day on a 31% turnout - hardly a ringing endorsement for the crazy scheme. Out of 254 (or 261?) votes 54 were in favour. We have seen that 16 of those were SMBC or associated organisations voting for the BID. I understand that Morrisons with their three votes were in favour. Presumably The Trade Centre was too. 25 brave traders were against (and if you stand up to the Labour bullying locally there will always be reprisals).

But because the big boys voted in favour the vote on rateable value was £1,571,625 for -v- £171, 875 against. Thus it is blindingly obvious that the 25 against were mostly the little guys who can least afford more tax (see further below).

Many of the small traders spoke to local community activist Darryl Magher and expressed disgust at the way the ballot had been run. He put in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and Jan Britton's bent paid staff (presumably acting with his authority) initially said the FOI Act didn't apply as all this was nothing to do with Sandwell Council!!!! There was also more obfuscation in that SMBC also tried to disassociate itself from stuff on the Facebook page claiming that it was nothing to do with them even though they were also attempting to rely on it to show that the ballot had been properly advertised etc! Having one's cake and eating it!

There was an interesting complaint from a very well-known large national chain of businesses. Mr Ritchie was very happy to show that when Mrs Baker did her feasibility study their local manager filled in a questionnaire. Someone if Jan Britton's bent staff seems to have taken that as a "vote for" and no-one actually involved the large company any further and - they say - they never received a ballot paper (this is a company that employs nearly 50 local people). This is the typical way the Sandwell socialists p*ss over local businesses/employers! A person from their Head Office wrote to the Government saying that they had branches in 180 BID areas but had never been treated like the way SMBC had treated them. They said, inter alia:

"We had no knowledge of the BID, and had no notifications about it. When I tried to look into it on the internet, I could not find a BID website or Business Plan, only a facebook account."

The business plan was released by Jan's bent staff AFTER the vote. The national chain also wrote:

"The business plan was very basic when I finally received a copy." The writer then tore the figures apart.

Remember this was written after the vote!

Immediately after the rigged ballot Costigan and Co lost no time and a "Board" was set up to run the BID including three SMBC associates ie (1) a copper; (2) someone from the Leisure Trust and (3) the clownish Cllr Zorro.

The person from the big national chain head office wrote to the Government:

"BIDs are meant to be set up to benefit local businesses and should not have this level of interference, control or influence from politicians".

Quite so but fat chance of that being the case under the sordid Labour greasers in Sadders!

Thanks to the hard work of Mr Magher, objections from the big national chain referred to above and complaints from various small traders who stood firm in objecting to the way the ballot was run, despite claims of intimidation, the Government overturned the BID ballot on the ground of "MATERIAL IRREGULARITY". The BID is dead but Zorro and others are desperate to resurrect it.
It is not known how much Jan Britton and his staff have cost the taxpayer in this rigged process but the word on the street is that it is AT LEAST £10,000! That is money being robbed from you and I! But Labour won't give up and Britton has allegedly been ordered to arrange a new ballot - again at OUR expense.

An aside: When I was being interviewed at Oldbury Lock-up by, I kid ye not, WMP "Complex Crime Unit" Costigan had lied to her pals in the force about me being out leafletting on the streets of Wednesbury against the BID (totally untrue but watch this space "lol"). Myself and my Solicitor were mystified as to why, even if this was true, this constituted criminality. We now know that WMP have been in league all along with SMBC to force this wretched nonsense through including being on the steering committee and the Board. And so they harassed me about this blatant lie even though I had a solicitor present! This is a matter I am now referring to my MP.

Criticism of BIDs

One major criticism of BIDs - voiced by organisations such as Civic Voice - is that they are undemocratic. Instead of local authorities spending money and then being accountable for the way it is spent (at least in authorities where, unlike Sandwell, they operate reasonably openly) politicians and various unelected and unaccountable people get to decide how the money is spent. This is done through company structures and so the public knows - a very long time after the event - roughly how much was spent but not what it was spent on since the company doesn't have to provide that detail in its accounts.

Just by way of example the business district in Birmingham (you know - the one with all the uneven pavements, street brawls outside pubs and beggars/rough sleepers everywhere) has its own "Colmore BID." This unaccountable outfit also operates through a company, Colmore Business District Limited. There is also political interference here with the likes of Cllr Brigid Jones on the Board. The last available accounts are from as long ago as 31st March, 2017 and the next lot don't have to be filed until 31st December, 2018. You only get to see figures long after the event.

Besides the extra business rates Colmore BID also apply for extra funding and there is no accountability on how the money is spent. They do present a list of "achievements" in the accounts but we are not told on how much was spent on what and whether this was good value against any sort of benchmark. For example the BID runs a summer food festival but there is nothing to say whether it makes money from that or loses money.

In the last financial year for which accounts are available the BID's income was £925,000. Not a great deal of money in the scheme of things. Bearing in mind that most of the "Directors" are unpaid, have a guess how many people it takes to administer that relatively small fund? One? Three?

No, The accounts say that to spend this sum there are, wait for it...., 21 directors and 6 staff ie TWENTY SEVEN people! Moreover, the BID feels the need to have expensive offices to do its job spending a stonking £19,950 a year on land and buildings!

It may have stopped now but the BID had a rule that no work was to be done on Friday afternoons as everyone was to go out on the p*ss. Happy Days for the bourgeoisie.

This is all wholly undemocratic and unaccountable although the local businesses seemingly want to keep it that way (and who can blame them when Bham Council is another disastrous Labour basket case like Sandwell - although without the dictatorial control the latter enjoys).

In the so-called business plan for Wednesbury (which, as above, was a pathetic effort from Britton's team according to a large national company) it is said that the BID will raise £335k over 5 years (if a lot of traders don't go bust in the meantime). If it ever happens and the comrades and allies get that loot they will have to say what was spent but otherwise they won't have to tell you a thing about how or why they divvied up or who to!

We could see above that it is the small traders who have stood up against forking out even more tax in a difficult trading environment and, ironically, where BIDS DO occasionally work they usually mean an increase in rents across the area - hitting the little man or woman even more! Not that the Sandwell "socialists" would worry about that....


Most of the useless BID's don't achieve very much with the odd social event being organised and such like. Will the small traders really benefit from some second rate Jazz band tooting its way down The Shambles?

"Inane Elaine" Costigan is all for the BID but she also classed herself, back in the day, as a personal friend of Tony Gallagher of the eponymous local retail park? Question how much damage that has done to retail in Wednesbury town itself? Think how Merry Hill screwed Dudley...

Costigan - as a member of Sandwell's joke "Cabinet" (ROFLMAO) - is also pressing for the destruction of Lion Farm Fields in another bent Sandwell Labour deal where they want to destroy 19ha of vital green space to build an enormous new shopping centre. This is on top of the other huge shopping centre which Labour have already granted planning permission for near to Sandwell and Dudley Station.

Lion Farm is just 5.9 miles [corrected figure] from Wednesbury Morrisons. Two huge new shopping developments will hammer what is left of  Wednesbury town into flattened sh*t and a few pathetic "events" and barbecues is not going to stop that!

Local traders should ask Zorro, Costigan and the anonymous Cllr Pam Hughes (who she? - Ed.) why they are supporting two new shopping centres so close to Wednesbury which will destroy their businesses. Do let me know their replies....

Wednesbury - A Leisure Destination

Some Wednesbury Labour folk have stars in their eyes but sh*t for brains. The BID document laughably says that part of the plan is to make Wednesbury town a "Leisure Destination". Well good luck with polishing that particular turd!

The Self-Righteous Sisters!
The retail sector is being buffeted by many storms. New technology and artificial intelligence threaten workforces in many other sectors. Instead of this sort of nonsense the six towns of Sadders need to be consulted about the future and proper, independent, experts need to be brought in to PLAN for the likely upheaval. This is something a so-called "socialist" council should be on top of to help people but, alas, you keep voting for these morons and so you get what you deserve.

West Bromwich BID

You will, of course, have noticed what a startling success the WB BID has been "lol"! Ironically "the man with five names" is the Sandwell Labour stooge on their board - Anthony Paul Thomas James Moore. This is the cypher who, incredibly, now fancies himself as a property developer "lol", and is the man trying to force through the destruction of Lion Farm Fields for a new shopping centre (see above) which will cause untold damage to, er, West Brom centre!

Incidentally, I was talking to Cllr Hosell the other day about the West Brom market and I did say that  the Council built a shopping centre very close to it with an enormous Tesco and the likes of Poundworld (deceased) and this inevitably hit market traders. Now Cllr Moore is on a Board supposedly helping the businesses in West Brom whilst simultaneously forcing through a project that will destroy many of them FFS! You really couldn't make it up.

Meanwhile, one of the principal objects of a BID is that it provides EXTRA money to promote local businesses. It is not there to duplicate services that US taxpayers are already paying for or that businesses are paying for through their business rates. But, in the last few days Cllr Paul Moore and the BID Board and businesses have taken the piss out of locals and asked them to VOLUNTEER to do the Council's job of street cleaning for them! Here is one of their adverts:

Alas I know some of my readers are thick c*nts as they keep voting for Labour in Sandwell but if you fall for this b*llocks you seriously need help and fast!


Please use the donations button on the right-hand side if you can afford a small donation to keep this blog going. If you read this on a mobile you need to click through to the web version to donate. This blog is under unprecedented attack from Eling and Britton in an effort to destroy free speech in Sandwell but we must soldier on to bring true facts to local people.

Destruction of Documents

Jan Britton laughably boasted that the Wragge Report drew a line under the fraud and corruption of his first few years in charge [sic]. There are now worrying reports coming out of Oldbury Council House that his bent paid service are destroying documents over six years old to bury the evidence once and for all (yet another reason why the failure of WMP to properly investigate wrongdoing may be stymied anyway). If this is true presumably Britton is authorising this? Info welcome as ever....

In the case of the West Brom Bid Jan's bent team say they gave ALL the documentation surrounding that BID to the separate company set up to run it. Bear in mind Mrs Baker was instructed in Spring 2013 all that documentation is less than 6 years old and should have been retained by SMBC. It was our money that paid for all that and we are entitled to see it via the Freedom of Information Act (which, of course, does not apply to BID Co's). I am writing to the relevant Government department since Britton is saying the 2013/14/15 BID documentation is now unavailable. I think this is unlawful (as well as incompetent - remember my blog about the disaster with the commercial leases?).Watch this space....

A Final Message to Wednesbury Traders, Large and Small...

Sandwell Labour have had your pants down once with a rigged BID ballot. Are you going to let them do it to you again?

I appreciate that small businesses are intimidated and threatened by Labour (do keep records and this can be taken further) but remember that you have beaten them once on this nonsense and can do so again. It is hard to stand up to their bullying - especially when the police are also part of it - as I know personally but be strong. Solidarity my friends! As above, ask Costigan and Co how Lion Farm and Fountain Retail Parks in Oldbury will help you? Ask the police what they are doing about fighting crime when they are sitting in on endless meetings with the corrupt Council about crappy schemes like this.

For the big companies - The Morrison's, Poundland's etc - do your research. Look at what Costigan did with Wednesbury Celebrates. Look at the Council's appalling record of fraud and corruption. You have worked hard to earn good reputations nationally and locally. Do you want to risk that by association with wrong 'uns? Do you honestly think that fraternising with a business-hating Council will do your bottom-line any good?

You have been warned.......

* Big businesses like Morrisons, Poundland etc should think twice about association with this character. Perhaps they should have a word with "The Sheriff of Wednesbury" about "that" incident at the Rugby Club and take a look at the video of the West Midland Mayor Andy Street's "Ask Andy" session in Oldbury when Zorro flounced out dragging his subservient female entourage with him! Is he really up to snuff - as we haven't seen any evidence of that locally yet?

** Costigan was Treasurer when Wednesbury Celebrates was involved in a fraud scandal. She failed to declare a material interest when sitting on a Planning Committee (more anon) and she gave a false statement about the writer to her friends at West Midlands Police (who have, seemingly, not yet questioned her yet whether that was conspiracy to pervert the course of justice).


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