Northampton Conservatives as the Glums
There was a light entertainment programme on the radio that ran for over 20 years called Take it From Hear with the ‘stars’ of the show being Professor Jimmy Edwards and Dick Bentley.
Another of the new and upcoming actors was a very young June Whitfield who to the younger generation is now the redoubtable if slightly dizzy mother in Ab Fab.
What has this to do with today and where is this going.
You may well ask, or not as the case may be.
The point is that the programme introduced us to the Glum Family which always started with the same opening,
Eph played by June saying “Oh Ron”
and the response from Dick Bentley who was her rather thick finance saying
“What’s up Eph”
and then into whatever the script writers had planned for that week’s episode.
Still trying to work out where this is going, well it’s this.
It occurs to me that last week a similar opening must have been played out in the corridors of power at Northampton Borough Council when they ‘discovered’ that they hadn’t renewed the licences for seven of the Property Maintenance Vehicles.
I’ll digress slightly because I’m always fascinated by the use of the word ‘discovered’ whenever politicians have been caught out being incompetent.
We ‘discovered’ that someone else is to blame for by mistakes, heads will roll, someone will pay, but it won’t be me!!!
The first excuse from the Northampton Conservatives was that it very clearly and obviously wasn’t their fault because the Vehicle and Operators services Agency, or VOSA for short, hadn’t informed them that the licence renewals were due.
What does that remind you off?
Isn’t this the same Conservatives who castigated a Liberal Democrat for not renewing his ‘car licence’ what became known as the infamous Astra gate incident, which the current Leader of the Council frequently brings up when he is trying to deflect attention away from their failures?
and just how much did they make of the excuse that it was just an oversight by dismissing it as a demonstration that the Cllr concerned was clearly incompetent if he couldn’t even remember to licence his vehicle?
The difference of course being that the Astra as is well documented was off the roads of Northampton and was therefore not operating illegally and more importantly wasn’t a danger to the public.
The NBC vehicles were according to the Deputy Leader of the Council immediately taken off the road on the 12th December when they ‘discovered’ they were operating without a licence.
The VOSA site makes very interesting reading and states the following,
Vehicle and Operators services Agency
Name Northampton Borough Council
Trading Name. Left Blank
9 – 13 at James Mill Road
Operating Centres Westbridge Depot ….. Vehicles 07… Trailers 4
Licence Number. 0F0202819(R)
Licence Status. Continuation not sought
Continuation Date. 30/11/2013
What is clear is that according to VOSA the Borough Council didn’t seek to continue with the licence when it expired on the 30th November?
Now I fully accept that VOSA say that the ‘operator’, and presumably because this is ‘Property Maintenance’ the operator is the Borough Council Housing Department, will be contacted to see if details have changed when the licence is due for renewal,
But and it is a big BUT,
The NBC records on the VOSA website don’t give a name of either a manager or director who can be contacted unlike all of the other operators?
So who an earth would VOSA have written to if they had no responsible person named?
and in fact did VOSA write to NBC them, and if so who did they write to?
and anyway, are the Northampton Conservatives really claiming that they are now fully dependent on other Government Agencies for keeping them informed of their legal responsibilities?
Questions need to be answered amongst which are,
If as Cllr Markham claims the vehicles were taken out of service on the 12 December when she ‘discovered’ that they were unlicensed is it an admission that they had been operating illegally from the 30th November to 12 December?
If so shouldn’t the Northampton Borough Council now face prosecution for operating unlicensed vehicles on Northampton’s roads with presumably no insurance which would I believe have been invalid?
and having demonstrates how keen they are at calling for people to resign shouldn’t the Northampton Conservative Leadership be considering their position for what can only be described as a ‘Gross Dereliction of their Duty and Responsibility’ to the public?
Would any other operator have avoided prosecution?
Which of course being me back to the Glums,
Imagine the conversation that took place in the Guildhall when the ‘discovery’ was made,
“What’s up Mary”
“I think we have a problem”
“What’s that Mary”
“I forgot to licence the trucks”
“Never mind Mary, we’ll find someone to blame. We always do”
“Oh David. I do admire you so”
“So do I Mary”