Councillor Mackintosh – A Horrible Warning that is Beyond Parody
After deciding and announcing a year ago that I wouldn’t be seeking to stand again as a Northampton Borough Councillor I thought nothing in the machinations of Northampton politics would ever surprise me so the events on Friday last week didn’t.
Before I explain what happened I should provide some background to put it into context.
This may be a little lengthy, but I would ask the reader to persevere because it demonstrates the level of toxicity and gutter politics that the Northampton Conservatives have now descended to in order to smear the opposition and score cheap political points.
As the Councillor for the Billing Ward where incidentally I also live, I’ve been only too well aware that alongside the comparative affluence of those who live in Great and Little Billing there are also families who live in Bellinge and Ecton Brook, (but not exclusively in these areas) who are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Sadly in modern-day politics too many Councillors appear to have forgotten their responsibilities to represent all of the people not only those who voted for them preferring to concentrate on those they think or expect will vote for them, it’s euphemistically called targeting!
The problem for me was always that there are areas of Bellinge that fall within the lowest 5% of the UK population as measured against the National Index of Multiple Deprivation.
For the unaware the Index covers seven aspects of deprivation namely, Income, Employment, Health and Disability, Education Skills and Training, Barriers to Housing and Services,Crime and Living Environment.
These aren’t people and families who are the alleged feckless scroungers and skivers the Conservatives are so keen to portray them as but people who are working, usually for minimum wage and increasingly on zero hours contracts.
They have in the past four years been assailed by huge rent increases, changes and cuts to Council Tax relief, reduced income and alongside the rest of us increased inflation through the rise in VAT.
Fortunately, and I wrote about it on 9 June 2012, there is the Bellinge Community House run by a manager and volunteers who work with and for the people providing support to local families.
Funding for such places has and continues to be cut as the poorest and most vulnerable in society have increasingly been cut adrift by an uncaring Government supported by Local Authorities, including the Borough Council.
In order to provide continuity of the services I have been only too happy to use the tax payers money allocated to me through the Councillor Empowerment Fund to support the Bellinge Community House over the past four years.
There was one exception when almost £1,000 was provided to install three Dog Waste Bins in Three Mile Walk, Ecton Brook because after three years of asking and being told that the Borough Council couldn’t afford to install the bins I fortunately found in the Billing Parish Council an organisation who would.
As those who follow my blog may recall I wrote a blog (30 June 2012 Councillor Empowerment Fund – It’s Your Money) complaining amongst other things about Councillors who pose for photos having used the allocated funding as if it was theirs. A case of “I’m using your money to provide you with services so be grateful”.
I also complained about Councillors who stockpile funding for electoral purposes, spending it and advertising – posing for photographs – for no other reason than to effectively ‘buy’ votes.
Which brings me to the events of last week, especially Friday and over the weekend.
Some months ago I discussed the allocation of Empowerment Funding with the then manager of the Community House who unfortunately because of a number of issues in which she put her family first caused her to retire.
A new manager has recently been appointed and at the beginning of last week I met with her and agreed the programme and funding application for £2,500 and had no concerns that it would be processed following an email from the Council in December stating that the funding had to be spent/allocated by the end of February.
So far so good???
I then answered a request to talk to a reporter from the Chronicle and Echo on Thursday when I was asked if I had read the Agenda for this weeks Cabinet meeting, which I admitted I hadn’t, and was then informed that Councillor Mackintosh had decided to ‘name and shame’ the Councillors who haven’t allocated this year’s Empowerment Funding and specifically mentioned me.
Oh dear, Oh dear was my initial reaction, followed by bringing to mind the statement made famous by Captain Mainwaring in Dads Army when talking to Pike, “Stupid Boy’
To be fair to the reporter he gave me an opportunity to explain that we had until the end of February and seemed surprised that the item was on the Agenda before the deadline for applications had been reached.
Also to be fair the reporter contacted me rather than simply believing what he had been told by Cllr Mackintosh whose argument apparently is that those who haven’t allocated the funding have failed the people and clearly because they are all opposition Councillors shows that they are not fit to be Councillors and that being the case ‘he’ was going to allocate the funding!!
My reaction was that I hoped Cllr Mackintosh will be happy to explain to the community of Bellinge and Ecton Brook, who by the way he represents as their County Councillor, why he is taking funding away from the Bellinge Community House and that he would welcome the residents coming to see him at his home which is only 2 minutes walk from the House.
Following my conversation with the Chronicle and Echo I sent the following email to the Council Officers and copied it to the Director with responsibility for the Empowerment Fund.
From: David Palethorpe (Cllr)
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2015 03:50 PM GMT Standard Time
To: Officer name withheld to protect them
Cc: Julie Seddon
Subject: Councillor Community Fund
Good afternoon XXXXX
I have just had a phone call from a reporter at the Chronicle and Echo informing me that on Wednesday next week a decision to prevent the allocation of my Councillor Community Fund is going to be taken by Cabinet.
I wasn’t aware that this was to be the case, perhaps I should have read the Cabinet agenda.
However I have submitted an application for £2500 to the Bellinge Community House who work within an area that is in the lowest 5% of the population in terms of the Index of Social Deprivation.
The application was posted to you by first class post yesterday morning.
It has been unfortunate that discussions with the Community House have been delayed because of serious illness to the recent Manager who has had to retire and a new Manager being recruited who is now in place.
If it is the case that consideration of my application is going to be delayed/held up in order to facilitate a decision made at Cabinet on Wednesday would you be kind enough to let me know in order that I can brief the press and residents of Bellinge and Ecton Brook.
I would appreciate acknowledgment of receipt of this email.
Regards and best wishes
Cllr – Billing Ward
Whilst awaiting a response I contacted a friend, ( yes there are still one or two) who are Borough Conservative Councillors who I trust and asked them what they knew about the proposals.
To say they were surprised that I wasn’t aware or had not been informed that the deadline had been brought forward by two weeks from the end of February would be an understatement.
Put simply the Conservative Councillors had apparently been told that they had to allocate their Empowerment Funding by the end of January and my friend was under the impression that all councillors had been sent the same information and couldn’t understand why?
So why were the Conservatives told of the change in the deadline and the opposition weren’t?
Could it be in order that Councillor Mackintosh could bring a paper to Cabinet, “naming and shaming” opposition Councillors in order to embarrass them and score gutter politics political points with a headline in the Local Newspaper which would undoubtedly end up on their election leaflets?
Why didn’t the officers and especially the Director advise against the policy and inform the opposition Councillors of the change, or have they been told to keep it quiet?
What an earth goes through the mind of Cllr Mackintosh when he’s thinking of using funding for the most vulnerable of people in his own area as a weapon to score political points?
Why if Cllr Mackintosh was so concerned didn’t he get his office staff, and after all he has doubled the number of his personal advisors, paid for by the taxpayer, to inform the Councillors he has been so keen to name on Wednesdays agenda of the change to the deadline?
Perhaps something my contact said revealed the truth which because it was a long conversation I’ll summarise.
“Cllr Mackintosh was livid about having to withdraw his emergency motion at the last council because of your letter, and is getting a hard time because of your challenge to pay £25 for every Council meeting they’ve missed into the Mayors fund” and his office are determined to get you”
Ho Hum so what’s new?
The good news for the people of Bellinge and Ecton Brook is that I received the following email on Friday,
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 04:37 PM GMT Standard Time
To: David Palethorpe (Cllr)
Cc: Julie Seddon; XXXXXX
Subject: RE: Councillor Community Fund
Good afternoon Cllr Palethorpe.
I have received your application form for £2500 to the Bellinge Community House today – this will be processed early next week. I will send you confirmation once the payment has been authorised.
The remaining amount in your fund is £653. Please could you send me any remaining application forms by the 11th February; I will process for you before the closing date, as outlined by the cabinet report.
If you have any queries at all, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Communities and Environment
Confirmation that the date had been brought forward to 11 February but only after Cllr Mackintosh had tried to sneak through, and been caught, the change without informing the opposition?
Now here’s another question that needs answering,
If the deadline is now that applications have to be received by the 11th February is that by end of the working day on Tuesday 10th February, or by what time, 0900?, 1700?, on the 11th February the day on which the Cabinet Meeting is being held at 1800hrs?
The point being that what is Cllr Mackintosh going to do now that his report is fundamentally flawed and that, unless of course he and the Director refuse my applications, the information on the report is untrue.
I’m now going to have to second guess here what he will claim,
“That Cllr Palethorpe has only allocated his Empowerment Fund because he was named in the Cabinet Report”. An excuse that all of the evidence over the past four years will show to be untrue.
“It isn’t the role of the Administration to inform Councillors of changes to deadlines and programmes”?
“He has been let down by the officers, (remember them they are the ones he called ‘deadwood’) and the opposition should have been informed if his instructions had been followed, the “blame someone who can’t answer back” excuse”.
He may of course just table an amendment a correcting the report which would be an admission of his incompetence in bringing it forward, so is unlikely, given his past record of “I am right intransigence and arrogance”
What he should do is withdraw the Agenda Report and present it again at the next Cabinet meeting when it will I presume be corrected and accurate?
It will also be interesting how the media report it, given that it is clear gutter politics leading up to the election.
I should add that I have also applied, before the 11th February for £500 towards replacing the heating system in the Bellinge Community Centre which is week used by a pre- school play group, youth group and pensioners.
I have in the past parodied Cllr Mackintosh for his lack of emotional intelligence and psychological make up that drives him to try and turn everything to a political advantage in pursuit of looking for a purpose to his life.
His behaviour is without question beyond parody and in the past it has made me angry, especially when he chose to use his position to attack my family, the anger is now more prone to being one of pity.
Perhaps this whole sorry story, which could and should have been avoided had it not been designed and implemented by an ever increasingly discredited Cllr Mackintosh is best summed up by a quote from the author Catherine Aird when she said,
“if you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning”
So Cllr Mackintosh I ask again,
“Qui exactement vous avez dit ne peut pas faire confiance”?
“Just who exactly did you say cannot be trusted”?