Wednesday 30 September 2015

Labour conference ............... thus spake Cor Byn

Goodness I'm tired. The conference seems all consuming. Waking early to write the blog, the bustle of the conference hall, fingers aching from note taking and endless ...... endless chatting with fellow delegates about ........... well obviously Labour politics. Starting the morning off with an invigorating walk along the sea front has paid dividends, not least because of the bacon roll.

View of the conference hall and associated hotels from the beach on Tuesday morning

Before I proceed with my Tuesday summary I must put right one glaring omission from yesterday's post ................ the motion opposing the current trade union legislation and the ongoing assault on workers rights. The speech by Len McClusky was excellent, eloquent and full of controlled passion. His reference to the requirement for union members to wear arm bands on picket lines and likening that to similar Nazi laws was chilling (note to self - must research this). I have really started to like Len as he was a constant presence at this conference and could be seen at numerous locations talking with what seemed to be ordinary delegates (if you know what I mean) and yesterday he even toured along the queues waiting to enter the hall for Jeremy's speech. Len was handing out free comic books telling the story of Unite members in the hotel industry. I have a copy signed by Len --- in solidarity --- which is to become a branch raffle prize or perhaps even put up for auction to help fund next year's election campaign.

In contrast, Tuesday brought the first sighting of Andy Burnham who looked rather uncomfortable during the leaders speech. I couldn't even see the back of his head did spot him when the big screens panned over the front bench team. Thinking about it, there were so many familiar faces that were absent you really do get the sense that this party has changed. Look I wish Andy well and hope that he manages to regain that fighting spirit that hle has shown in the past.

The first sighting of Jeremy wearing a tie

But what about the leader's speech. I don't think you need me to tell you what he said as you no doubt watched at least some of it on TV. Being in the hall proved to be tiresome as the faithful would keep jumping up to give the man a standing ovation. I lost count but Newsnight claimed it to be 7 times. Forgive me but I only stood up at the end. I was not disappointed with the speech but by now I have heard all this before in the past few weeks. The key speech for me was John McDonnell as he spelled out the way the vision was to be achieved. It was inevitable that Jeremy's speech would be more about the philosophy and in this regard was clearly aimed at the party and not the general electorate. I think next years speech will in contrast be targeted outside the hall.

This post is a short one this morning as I am already late for a breakfast event. I will be posting more later on my journey home. The pleasure dome has not disappointed.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Labour conference ............ low and high tides

Once again an early morning blog about the day before. I notice quite a few typos in yesterday's post so I must do better this morning. I am showered, booted and suited by 7 o'clock this morning, sitting in front of my laptop but staring out of the window at a very calm sea. The pink haze on the horizon and the sun gradually climbing higher in the sky add an increasing brightness to the white painted hotels and grand houses that line the sea front. It is going to be yet another warm day and I am looking forward to my stroll into the conference centre and a bacon roll and coffee from a beach kiosk.

But what of the conference. to put it bluntly it hotted up. Obviously the media works to a five day week because their numbers increased, many half familiar faces sitting in hotel bars and outside tables. Take away the sea and the lamp posts entwined with dolphins and it could nearly be Ascot. The contrast is of course the conference hall proper. This is the domain of the Labour supporters and delegates. The striking feature is the openness of the debates with speakers chosen at random from the floor, most with ready made speeches that actually relate to the topic under consideration. Perhaps that's not so surprising given the nature of composite motions that roll several topics into one. Somehow it all works.

The biggest disappointment was the absence of a Trident debate. The free copy of the Morning Star handed to me by an earnest young man outside the hall headlined, "Dismay as Trident Vote is Blocked" ................ and yes it was. I thought back to an early speech on Sunday where a speaker from the platform (sorry my notes let me down on who it was) said, "Strong leaders do not fear debate". Well there was certainly fear about this one. A decent report about the conference failure can be found here: Labour Conference Trident report from

Professor Blanchflower
From that low on Sunday to a much more upbeat Monday. The stand out speech was from John McDonnell. It really was very good with the pledge that a Labour government would end austerity and balance the books with active intervention to ensure a growing economy ............. growth would pay off debts and not a squeeze on the disadvantaged. This is pure Keynesian thinking, tried and tested in the past yet I still fear that a rabid right wing media will use this as a club to attack our new socialist party. McDonnell's idea to form a panel of independent economic experts to advise Labour in opposition is really good news, especially as it will contain Professor Blanchflower who has been a dissenting voice on the Bank of England panel. Expect to hear a lot more from him in the coming years.

My view in the conference hall
Forgive for skimming through the events of the day but blogging and attendance at conference are turning out to be a difficult juggling act. I only made it back to my digs at nigh on midnight following a fun packed evening ........... well not so much fun as the fringe meeting concerning the amalgamation of East & West Midlands into an autonomous region (complete with a mayor) proved to be little more than an HS2 love in. Strong criticism from the floor came from both Mid Derbyshire CLP delegates (that's me and our youth delegate) plus a Professor from Warwick University (we are exchanging emails for further discussion). Lillian Greenwood and Richard Burdon, our shadow transport ministers were parroting the world view of the Tories, in fact, nothing they said was any different than has been said by Patrick McClaughlin (alias McScab according to Tosh McAslef). So, our brave new Labour Party transport team are the same Tory Lite pack that we've had before. Lillian Greenwood seemed to be very badly briefed and I pleaded with her and Burdon to get some independent advice before buying in to the Andrew Adonis dream. More on this in subsequent posts (when I get home and have more time).

Later I walked along the sea front to a beach cafe which was hosting the East Midlands booze up. I think it was called something else but that's effectively what it was. I mingled but apart from spilling my displeasure about Lillian Greenwood to someone who turned out to be a fellow traveler of hers in the Progress group ( no wonder his smile was forced)I did not speak to many others. I did however bend the ear of Vernon Coaker who had given an "inspirational speech" and did seem to get quite animated. I spoke to him about the region. He was polite, heard me out and took my card but I expect him to be understandably focused on other things right now.
Corbyn and Watson at the East Midlands bash

Then, with drink fueled screams of delight and the odd woman swooning our leader and deputy arrived. Apparently this was his 35th appearance at a fringe bash but he aquitted himself well. I am amazed how well he is standing up to all this. For a man in a crumpled jacket, with an air of a polytechnic lecturer he is doing rather well. The leaders caravan departed and so did I ...... to a nearby chip shop for a late night feast. I suddenly realised that apart from the early morning bacn roll I had not eaten all day. In the chip shop I sat with Olwyn Emery of South Derbyshire CLP and our discussion was .......... well .............. interesting. To say that we both have doubts about some of the lesser mortals on the front bench team would be an understatement. I best not comment on the specifics ........ unless of course Olwyn contacts me and gives me permission to quote her. What is not in doubt is her passion to see the democratic enthusiasm that is sweeping through Labour succeeding. I found much to agree with her analysis.

Now please forgive me, I have to leave ............. my bacon roll by the sea awaits. Oh, apologies to the very nice team I met on the Vegan stand yesterday. I took one of their brochures as I was very interested in the political aspect of their movement. I know that there are some in our branch who are sympathetic.

Monday 28 September 2015

Labour Party Conference ................ Cradle to Grave

This post is being written early on Monday morning because I was just too weary to write up Sunday's events at the end of the day. One of the abiding mysteries is being sore of foot is always accompanied by being sore of brain. Conference is not for the feint hearted.

My conference started very slowly as I sort of eased myself in. I let the debate about what should be debated go over my head because I had the feeling that whatever motions would emerge victorious we would not be having a full on debate about Trident. This would have been the brave choice because I suspect that the interest in this subject shown by my own Belper & Duffield branch holds true for most branches throughout the land. I have to admit that I am bang in the middle on this one, not approving of spending who knows how many billions on Trident replacement but wary of any unilateral disarmament without a cast iron guarantee that all other nuclear weapons extant on this planet would also be destroyed. I believe that MAD (mutually assured destruction) is the only way we have of keeping mad men from pressing the launch buttons. I dream of an invention that can sweep the missiles harmlessly from the sky or somehow cause them to melt harmlessly in their silos but until that day I think it prudent to maintain what we already have. Was it Khrushchev who countered the USA threat of USSR destruction, "ten times over" by saying that the soviets only had to destroy the USA once. Our existing Trident may not be much but it only has to work once.

On to happier stuff ........... oh I will list the winning motions later.

Better Politics

The afternoon debate was "Better Politics at Every Level". Well amen to that but it amused me to hear Kate Green (Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities)  speaking of Labour caring for you before you are conceived right through to when you are laid in the ground. I was reminded of the 1970 election and a rally held not so very far from the conference centre ......... in the Dome; a well attended rally in support of Dennis Hobden the incumbent Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown. He spoke of Labour caring ............. from cradle to grave and spelled out each Labour policy that impacted at each age upon your life. If I closed my eyes and Kate Green could have deepened her voice and acquired a resonance that accompanies a beer belly then it was uncannily like 1970.

To be honest I could not detect what was better but as this is my first attendance at conference I only can only imagine how this is better than what we had before. The debate failed to capture that special feeling that emerged when Jeremy gained the leadership. It is evident that the party has some catching up to do. There was a lot of comments about women, LGBT and youth to the point where I felt that I should apologise for being an old heterosexual .............. in fact I made that point to a tough looking individual in the toilets but he turned out to be gay so I ended up being lectured by the chap who had to raise his voice above the noise of the hand dryers. Welcome to the conference sitcom.

Celtic reports 

The Scots and Welsh duly made their reports and I was very impressed with all the speakers with, perhaps, Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones having a sort of leadership quality about them that could prove successful in the devolved chambers .......... hopefully spilling over and influencing our tally in Westminster. Kezia showed her video which had this hard bitten old cynic wiping away a dry tear (perhaps I was still feeling the effect of the lecture in the toilets). I have searched for her video but so far without any luck. I get the impression that it is Wales and Scotland that we will see the first evidence of the effectiveness of the Corbyn factor and how it has reached out beyond the faithful by translating into success in the ballot box. If we make no Celtic inroads in 2016 then the knives of the right will sharpened.

Fringe events

Diana Holland
I attended a lunchtime rally in a nearby hotel, "Where now for Labour and rail ownership" with a panel of union and parliamentary worthies. Once again I was impressed with Diana Holland who seems to be made of the right stuff; managing the bridge between old and reinvigorated Labour with consummate ease. Her position on the national executive allows her to talk with some authority. Her backing for a general strike in 2012 has gained her popularity on the left. The discussion was as you would expect with the gradual nationalisation of railway franchises as they fall due being the accepted method. The Tory threat to once again privatise infrastructure by selling off Network Rail was mentioned but, as it is a very real immediate issue should perhaps have been given more prominence.

In the evening I attended the event organised by SERA, the Labour environmental campaign. The format was for a welter of speakers each limited to 5 minutes but the cliquey manner was somewhat off putting to those (well me) who had no idea who most of these individuals were. I try to take accurate and comprehensive notes but I still have no idea who 5 of the speakers were ............... introductions for Hugh, a lady MP or was she an MEP from the southeast, Chris from Plymouth who was said to be brilliant (well he wasn't bad), the list goes on. Two politicians I did recognise were Stella Creasy and Sadiq Khan. Stella managed to demonstrate that she has no real understanding of environmental issues as she gave a talk about anything but the environment whilst Sadiq Khan spoke passionately about his desire to make London a world centre for sustainability and care for the environment. He talked of air quality, carrying on Ken Livingstone's work on public transport (lowering bus fares) and announced that he would plant 2 million trees in his first term. That should make his back ache. London is to become the greenest city in the world.

There was a feeling, expressed by Hugh ? (I must investigate who he is) and Barry Gardiner (MP for Brent East who is an impressive speaker) that green issues had slipped down the pecking order of Labour priorities and I think that's true. Overall I was not that impressed with SERA but speaking with the organiser, Jake Sumner I realised that SERA is underfunded, under staffed and under supported. From being critical of SERA I left feeling sympathetic and Jake told me that the only way forward was to create a network of local SERA groups. Now that is an idea for our own branch.

To conclude

Time passes and I note that taking too long writing this post has caused me to miss a fringe breakfast event about health issues. Now it's time to walk along the seafront towards the conference centre, braving the mass of leaflet distributors, so far the maddest seems to be the Clone Party who had no leaflets or indeed any idea of what he stood for. I suspected that he might be a supporter of Andy Burnham but he denied this most vehemently as the Clone Party has definite ideals.

On that note ...............

Sunday 27 September 2015

Labour Conference ............ Welcome to the pleasure dome

Conference started early for me. On the train from St.Pancras to Brighton I found myself sitting with a Labour MP, his wife and another relative who was very hospitable ............... I was offered champagne. I could not determine if they were celebrating Corbinistas but the "another relative" was none too happy with the membership's choice. It was the electability factor. The MP and his wife were charming and all three were definitely socialists.

The trip from Brighton railway station to registration at the Metropole brought home to me that this Xanadu is not a workers paradise; loan shops and estate agents vie for attention on the route into town, the garish frontages offering false hope to the downtrodden or domestic bliss for the well heeled.

Registration went smoothly. I was delighted to be given full CLP delegate accreditation as documents sent some weeks ago in the post had gone missing but a concerted effort by our branch chair and a timely intervention by Councilor Alison Martin, the Mid-Derbyshire Women's Officer had confirmed my status. Thank you to both.

After I had deposited the suitcase in my digs, closed my eyes for a moment to clear my head of the champagne, I set forth for the event of the evening, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy rally in the Friends Meeting Hall which is situated (for those who know Brighton) in the Lanes area of town. Sitting in the hall I realised that I'd been there before and sifting through this colander in my head that masquerades as a memory I dredged up a dim recollection of an extra-mural lecture about plate tectonics in 1969. This was exciting and cutting edge stuff in the sixties but here I was back in that very building, 46 years later to watch as succeeding speakers mapped out the fault lines that define the Labour party in 2015. The choice of speakers was well made as the CLPD started to provide a body of facts and evidence to flesh out the Corbyn factor. There was even a reference to Rip Van Winkle from one who had been away on holiday at the start of the leadership campaign, incommunicado on some island being swept away (tectonically) from the larger lump of land where Jeremy's rise was being played out. The amazement on returning to find Jeremy as the front runner summed up the tone of the other speakers.

Tosh McDonald
BelperStuff tries to report as an observer and not as a participant and, in the hall last night the dispassionate view was that Jeremy needs a back story and it was the job of the CLPD to provide one. Let's be honest, most people in the UK had never heard of Jeremy Corbyn before the leadership campaign so it is important give the new leader some substance. The range of speakers was well chosen from an academically precise history of Labour struggles from Rida Vaquas to a tub thumping onslaught of ever rising intensity by Tosh McDonald of Aslef (if you need to rouse a rabble then send for Tosh). The meeting gradually became more businesslike with Ann Black, Diana Holland giving insights into internal party wranglings over the leadership campaign and policy forums. Finally Peter Willsman gave a "briefing to delegates" and I for one felt decidedly de-briefed. My responsibilities are to reflect the views of Mid Derbyshire comrades and not to be told when I should raise my hand by Mr.Willsman. He spoke of the fight to come, the fight to protect the Corbyn revolution from forces within the party, even from his own front bench team. I do hope that does not become the theme of this conference .................. the plate tectonics of the Labour Party cruelly exposed as fault lines widen into incontinents.

On the policy front much was made of the need for a debate on Trident and the armed services. Apparently those who run the conference will try to block any resolution in that direction. Of course this issue must be debated so I will do my best to ensure that it happens. The voting on what motions are allowed starts this morning so I must not be late.

Later, walking back through the town after the meeting had finished I caught glimpses of the Wales v England match through pub windows ......... pubs full of noise and heaving with revelers shouting at the top of their voices to be heard above the din. The fish & chip shop was, in comparison, a haven of peace. Does it make me a shallow person to admit that the main pleasure of the day was Huss & chips? I could have attended the LGBT Labour celebration but I knew that such an event was not intended for the likes of me. I wonder if this was played at the disco: Welcome to the pleasuredome by Frankie goes to Hollywood

So now I leave you to prepare for a day of composites, resolutions, fraternal greetings and ....... who knows. As I look up from my computer I am surprised to see the sea through the window. I wonder how many attending the conference even know that the sea is there. In the words of Frankie ............. I am a long way from home.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Labour Party Conference ........... reports from the pleasure dome

BelperStuff is busy packing a suitcase, fleshing out an itinerary, checking out which fish & chip shops sell Huss ................ yes BelperStuff is off to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. The intention is to somehow produce a daily blog digest so that those unable to escape the reality of the need to keep the wolf from the door can shake a collective bewildered head in wonder at those brave Labour souls who put their livers at risk each evening in a variety of Brighton conference bars. I have to admit that I've never before been to such a gathering but I've been advised by members of the Belper & Duffield  Branch who have attended conference that the real test of stamina involves the evening intake of alcohol. The standard of blog posts in the next few days may therefore be of variable quality.
Brighton Pavilion

Brighton is famous for its architectural embodiment of the romantic movement, pavilions and domes so it's no wonder that I am reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his greatest work (perhaps the greatest romantic poem) Kubla Khan. This opening line keeps repeating in my head:

"In Xanadu did Cor Byn a stately pleasure dome decree"

It is such a pity that the Brighton Dome (situated behind the pavilion) is not one of the conference venues but the idea persists that BelperStuff blog posts will be as messages from the pleasure dome. The resurgent Labour party does feel like this ............ not so much a realignment to the left as a rejection of the apologist politics of the centre right. Warnings of un-electability may still ring out from the great and good of the party but the dam of discontent has burst, an emphatic rejection of the underlying neo-liberalism that defined three of the leadership candidates. An article in the New York Times by Paul Krugman (a favourite commentator of this blog) puts it neatly link to the article - Labour's dead centre.

I am not expecting any triumphalism of the left at this conference; I am confident that the majority will be metaphorically rolling up their sleeves for the fight to come. In that spirit I sat with our branch chair (Carol) today to look through the plethora of conference events, making a shortlist for me to attend. Many meetings are timed to take place at similar times so that there is a lot that I will have to miss ............ that said, I think we have mapped out a fair representation of the topics that will interest our constituency and branch members.

For those who are appalled at my high-jacking of such a wonderful poem here is a reading from YouTube:

I rather like the ending;

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

............... though I cannot quite imagine Cor Byn drinking the milk of paradise!!!!!!! We leave that to the foolish membership of the Bullingdon Club.

Friday 18 September 2015

Little oaks grow into big oaks

December edit to this post: I am happy to report that the oak tree was finally planted. You can read about it here: A news item on the Nailed Belper website.

A recurring device used in BelperStuff is to comment on the complexities of politics or economics and then relate them to life as we live it in Belper. Sometimes this is reversed by featuring a local Belper news item and then to use this as a prism by which we can think about larger national or international concerns. Last week at the Belper Town Council meeting something was said that set off a chain of inquiry that took me by surprise, starting as the minuting of a few belligerent words spoken in St.John's Chapel leading to the discovery of 40,000 words that resonate with hundreds of millions people on this planet.  I will share it with you:

There was what seemed to be an innocuous request on the council meeting agenda, an application to plant an oak tree in the Memorial Gardens. There was no background information available to those in the public gallery so it was necessary to listen closely to what was being said by the councillors. It soon emerged that they were not happy with the request as one by one they voiced their opposition. Joe Booth was the most vociferous as he quipped that, "little oaks grow into big oaks" as a means to highlight the cost of tree management. He then went on to name the applicant as the local catholic church and added, "they have enough land of their own so why not plant it there?" The impression made upon our correspondent was one of intolerance; in fact following another agenda item where a different applicant asked leave to place a bench in those same gardens, a request which was agreed with very little comment, the response regarding the oak tree felt suspiciously like prejudice.

Catholic Church on Gibfield Lane
I have to admit that Joe Booth's comments sat heavy on my mind but the oak tree issue was not included in the earlier report of the council meeting because the last thing that BelperStuff intends is to stir up thoughts of discrimination where none exists. That said, thoughts of the oak tree stayed with me. I checked out what land was available to the church in Belper and the site on Gibfield lane proved to be rather cramped.  It became obvious that the issue had to be investigated further and a friend suggested that I contact the local priest ........... such an obvious idea so why didn't I think of it.

So, last Tuesday I enjoyed an interesting telephone conversation with Father Michael Kirkham. He told me that his congregation wanted to plant an oak tree to symbolise their concern for nature and the challenges that face our planet; a gift to Belper that had a deeper significance. The motivation had been the Pope Francis' Papal Encyclical "Laudato si" more easily understood as "Praise be to you". This rather lengthy missive highlights concerns for the health of our planet and maintains that everyone should strive to protect nature and the environment. There is a discussion about global warming and the human activities that have exacerbated and caused this crisis. I have to admit that I did not read the whole document but this excerpt from the accompanying commentary and notes neatly sums up the message:

Now, this earth, mistreated and abused, is lamenting, and its groans join those of all the forsaken of the world. Pope Francis invites us to listen to them, urging each and every one – individuals, families, local communities, nations and the international community – to an “ecological conversion”, according to the expression of Saint John Paul II. We are invited to “change direction” by taking on the beauty and responsibility of the task of “caring for our common home”. At the same time, Pope Francis recognizes that “there is a growing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet” (19). A ray of hope flows through the entire Encyclical, which gives a clear message of hope. “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (13). “Men and women are still capable of intervening positively” (58). “All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start” (205).

Read more:

We should not forget that there are one billion Catholics in this world, that's 1 in 7 people on this planet. What we are witnessing in Belper must be happening everywhere, in every country Catholics are allowed to congregate. This is powerful stuff. I never dreamt that I would be writing about a Papal Encyclical or that my life would be in any way touched by what a Pope had to say so obviously his message for the planet is reaching out beyond the Catholic faithful ............. I have read that this was the ambition of Pope Francis, that his words should reach all of the 7 billion. Click on this link if you would like to read the full text of Laudato si.

I am one of the 6 billion who is not a Catholic, in fact I am not anything but I have to admit that I can sense the importance of Pope Francis' initiative. It's a pity that the quotes I have listed were not read out at the council meeting. But there is more ............

Councillor Nelson's tree
On my way back from Gibfield Lane I stepped into the Memorial Gardens to see for myself if there was room for another tree. I looked at recent plantings with their touching plaques reminding us of love ones who have been lost. The gardens are not heavily wooded and there is indeed space for further tree planting ............. but then I came across one tree that seemed to be out of keeping having been planted in honour of someone who is still very much alive ............ John Nelson, the leader of the Belper Tory group on the council and a member of the Amber Valley Council. The tree commemorates his one year as Mayor some 14 years ago. I have to ask the question, why is it OK for John Nelson to be allowed to plant a tree and not the congregation of Belper Catholics. There seems to be one rule for the town Tories and another for the rest of us.

I understand from Father Michael that efforts are being made to plant the tree on another plot of public land. I wish him and the members of his church every success in not just their hoped for oak tree planting but also in their endeavour to protect and  enhance the nature that surrounds us. It is such a pity that a blinkered and visionless town council did not think it appropriate to enquire into what lay behind the desire to plant this oak ............ as Joe Booth said, "little oaks grow into big oaks".

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Belper Town Council once again object to new library and care facility on Derwent Street

At the latest Belper Town Council meeting held on Tuesday 8th September councillors once again objected to the development of the Thornton's chocolate factory site. This time they attacked the scheme because it comes with a 200 space car park that will be accessed by the A6 roundabout, known as Morrison's roundabout. Councillors spoke of the traffic chaos that would ensue as the road leading into the complex of stores was already at saturation point.

We have to remember that they have also objected to schemes on Derwent Street that would be accessed via the Bridge Street/Derwent Street junction even though the housing proposals would have resulted in a reduction in the flow of cars using the free car park which would be built over. One councillor proposed that Belper residents should be alerted via the newsletter so that they could mobilise and object. The fact that the AVBC planning committee have given planning  the proposal and that Derbyshire County Council is in negotiations to buy the site seems to have escaped their notice.

So, Belper Town Councillors object to any development that are accessed via the only two roads feeding into the area. This effectively means that if the view of the BTC was accepted there would be no development. Is that what they are proposing? There is a distinct lack of joined up thinking with this council and it would benefit them to start to think about something positive rather than constantly objecting when they have no viable alternative plan.

The notes from our town council correspondent make for very sad reading as he complains that there seems to be a lack of proper discussion in front of the public ............. as if many items have been pre-determined. There is an increasing amount of business being done in secret with the agenda listing 8 items to be discussed with the public excluded. No doubt some items should be confidential but surely the cost of business cards or the Mayor's cadet can be discussed openly. There is also the matter of minutes and costs associated with the BTC Business Committee meeting held on August 18th that was deemed a private matter. The council should be reminded that all committee meetings should be open to the public and the minutes of such meetings should be freely available. Further .... committee meeting dates should be advertised in the same way that full council meetings are listed on the BTC website or noticeboard. Now that the BTC are 100% Tory there should be a greater emphasis on public accountability.

Once again the council discussed in secret the purchase of a piece of land. Our correspondent has no idea what this piece of land might be but could hazard a guess that it might be for allotments. If this is what it is then surely a simple public statement of intent should be made about what the council want to do with taxpayers money. This could be quite a considerable sum and if it is then it will have to come from the general reserve. Our correspondent notes (yet again) that if this is the case then such an expenditure is subject to public consultation and a raft of financial safeguards. If any capital expense is made without such a process then it is illegal.

BelperStuff is not against allotments, just wishes that the council would conduct it's business in a proper manner.