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absolutebounder
Is it not truly amazing the speed at which Gordon lundy and Nick Carter managed to get on their knees to bow scrape and grovel to our hopeless MP? Their reaction time in responding to their **** up must be a record. Its not like West Berks ever get anything right first time is it but when there is MP after your name it will get corrected very fast.
blackdog
Sorry haven't got a clue what issue you're on about? Any hints?
Andy Capp
QUOTE (absolutebounder @ Feb 27 2014, 09:22 AM) *
Is it not truly amazing the speed at which Gordon lundy and Nick Carter managed to get on their knees to bow scrape and grovel to our hopeless MP? Their reaction time in responding to their **** up must be a record. Its not like West Berks ever get anything right first time is it but when there is MP after your name it will get corrected very fast.

Yes it is amazing... if only we knew what you were on about.
On the edge
I think the front page of this week's paper NWN holds the answer. The Daily mirror has been basting our MP because the family firm receive housing benefit payments in respect of homes they let out. The Mirror quoted a very large sum - based on an FOI request to WBC. It seems WBC were mistaken and quoted the wrong figures, and on the MP's questioning, apologised.

The Mirror's article, as an avowed socialist paper, was 'fair comment' was is wholly wrong and frankly mysterious is how and why WBC got this wrong. Similarly, why they apologised before any investigation! One can just imagine what anyone of us would have been told. As indeed many were, when questioning the Council over the legitimacy of the Parkway bridge restrictions.

So, I don't blame the Mirror, I don't blame Richard Benyon, but WBC really needs sorting; big time.

Presumably, under its own rules, as Mr Benyon has to contact the Council a lot, he must be vexatious?
motormad
Haha, what a ****.

I don't like Benyon. I met him once, I was 17 or 18 at the time - so 4 or 5 years ago, and he was a **** then too.
Cognosco
I just wonder what figure is actually correct though? rolleyes.gif
Exhausted
QUOTE (motormad @ Feb 27 2014, 02:36 PM) *
Haha, what a ****.

I don't like Benyon. I met him once, I was 17 or 18 at the time - so 4 or 5 years ago, and he was a **** then too.


Whatever could have made you form such a negative impression of him. I'm sure he will be mortified as obviously his memory of your meeting with him will have had an adverse effect on his career. Was it something to do with the car he was driving perhaps.

Oh, by the way the mistake was made by WBC not him so he was perfectly correct to challenge it. I agree with him that he probably is not informed when tenants are in a situation where they need assistance to pay their rent and what would you want him to do anyway. He runs a business so is entitled to his rental income.
NWNREADER
A tenant in receipt of housing benefit is indeed not known (in advance) to the Landlord. First Landlord will know is when the rent comes as a payment direct from the Local Authority. The amount is exactly the same as if the tenant was paying, so the only 'story' is that Mr Benyon is renting out Estate houses.
Should they be demolished? Stand empty? Maybe he should declare they are only available to non-benefit claimants?

Non story...
Rachel
QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Feb 28 2014, 02:37 PM) *
A tenant in receipt of housing benefit is indeed not known (in advance) to the Landlord. First Landlord will know is when the rent comes as a payment direct from the Local Authority. The amount is exactly the same as if the tenant was paying, so the only 'story' is that Mr Benyon is renting out Estate houses.
Should they be demolished? Stand empty? Maybe he should declare they are only available to non-benefit claimants?

Non story...


I beg to differ; a landlord would know where a tenant's payments were coming from the initial references & many landlords choose not to accept tenants on housing benefit as there are some differences in deposit, payment terms etc. Other landlords prefer housing benefit tenants as, once set up, it can be more secure than relying on a tenant to pay. Of course, a tenant might start off by paying rent from earnings then, due to circumstance, become in receipt of housing benefit; in this case I guess the landlord might not know.

Back to the story. If a landlord has a housing stock, it makes good sense for him to rent out the houses he doesn't want to live in-he gets an income, people get a home without the need to build, everyone's a winner. Isn't that what housing associations do, & should they be frowned upon for taking tenants on housing benefit? In which case anyone renting a property better look out, because if you loose your income you won:t be able to find a house to rent!
I agree, this is a non story
On the edge
Yep, a non story

BUT for one very minor and perhaps inconsequential matter.....

How did WBC get a simple request for information so catastrophically wrong?

Is saying sorry good enough?
Sherlock
QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 28 2014, 03:41 PM) *
Yep, a non story

BUT for one very minor and perhaps inconsequential matter.....

How did WBC get a simple request for information so catastrophically wrong?

Is saying sorry good enough?


Overworked and demoralised staff under increasing pressure thanks to Benyon's government's cuts and zero/below inflation pay deals. And a further 40% will have gone mid 2013 and 2018-19. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/fe...bs-cuts-britain

Thankfully much of their work is being handed to unaccountable, often foreign owned, service companies which pump huge donations into the Tories' coffers, dodge UK taxes and ship their profits offshore.
motormad
QUOTE (Exhausted @ Feb 27 2014, 07:29 PM) *
Whatever could have made you form such a negative impression of him. I'm sure he will be mortified as obviously his memory of your meeting with him will have had an adverse effect on his career. Was it something to do with the car he was driving perhaps.


You really must be a very sad, bored little man to continually make sarcy comments towards me in particular.

Would love for you to come to one of the Newt meets - Maybe air your obvious dislike for me face to face over a delicious hamburger and some lemonade. Maybe you'll find I don't dislike people for no reason.

I was 17 and at the House of Commons actually, and I spoke to him there as part of a course I was on at the time.
MontyPython
QUOTE (Sherlock @ Feb 28 2014, 04:05 PM) *
Overworked and demoralised staff under increasing pressure thanks to Benyon's government's cuts and zero/below inflation pay deals. And a further 40% will have gone mid 2013 and 2018-19. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/fe...bs-cuts-britain


or Demoralised due to poor mid/senior management with no idea of designing good processes.
Perhaps that is where the cutss should take place - I think it is where a large number of the public would want them.

As for the pay issue many in the private sector have had the same, with the worry that they may also be made redundant, but with less generous pay off terms than in the public sector!

spartacus
QUOTE (MontyPython @ Feb 28 2014, 04:27 PM) *
As for the pay issue many in the private sector have had the same, with the worry that they may also be made redundant, but with less generous pay off terms than in the public sector!

That is such a crap generalisation... It's an easy stick to wave at the council but such a poor argument when you give it serious analysis. One of my neighbours works in 'the private sector'. His team was 'restructured' and he was paid off with 3 years salary equivalent and various bonus payments due to length of service. He was back in working at the same desk within 3 months as a contractor doing the same job for even more money!

And he wasn't even in the banking sector. THEY are 'private sector' and I doubt whether they smart too much (financially) if they're shown the door...
MontyPython
QUOTE (spartacus @ Feb 28 2014, 06:19 PM) *
That is such a crap generalisation... It's an easy stick to wave at the council but such a poor argument when you give it serious analysis. One of my neighbours works in 'the private sector'. His team was 'restructured' and he was paid off with 3 years salary equivalent and various bonus payments due to length of service. He was back in working at the same desk within 3 months as a contractor doing the same job for even more money!

And he wasn't even in the banking sector. THEY are 'private sector' and I doubt whether they smart too much (financially) if they're shown the door...


I didn't say no one in the private sector gets a good pay-off. Some where their business goes bust will get virtually b*gger all - just a state minimum handout. The public sector will get a full payout whatever- even if their has been a colossal waste of taxpayers money more will be used to fund redundancies in full.

I take it you agree with the Mid-Senior management argument then!
NWNREADER
QUOTE (Rachel @ Feb 28 2014, 03:08 PM) *
I beg to differ; a landlord would know where a tenant's payments were coming from the initial references & many landlords choose not to accept tenants on housing benefit as there are some differences in deposit, payment terms etc. Other landlords prefer housing benefit tenants as, once set up, it can be more secure than relying on a tenant to pay. Of course, a tenant might start off by paying rent from earnings then, due to circumstance, become in receipt of housing benefit; in this case I guess the landlord might not know.

Back to the story. If a landlord has a housing stock, it makes good sense for him to rent out the houses he doesn't want to live in-he gets an income, people get a home without the need to build, everyone's a winner. Isn't that what housing associations do, & should they be frowned upon for taking tenants on housing benefit? In which case anyone renting a property better look out, because if you loose your income you won:t be able to find a house to rent!
I agree, this is a non story


In many cases the owner/Landlord is detached from the intending occupant as the initial legwork (maybe all) is done by an agent..... My limited experience of Mr Benyon and his tenants is that he is amnok landlord, but I say that because of what I have seen/heard, not because I think he is an ace bloke.
Lolly
It seems Richard Benyon is hitting back, but not at West Berkshire Council.

http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2...rdbenyonmp.html

The main focus of his criticism appears to be the FOI Act itself. All seemingly based on information given to him by West Berkshire Council!
MontyPython
QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 11 2014, 09:43 PM) *
The main focus of his criticism appears to be the FOI Act itself. All seemingly based on information given to him by West Berkshire Council!


Interesting that quotes 4 or 5 a day for WBC. Whilst some are no doubt frivolous I wonder how much it would be reduced if they were less selective with the documentation they publish for any given scheme. If they published both the positives and negatives for their proposals, consultations and projects (rather than a PR style "happy sheet") the public would be better informed and would have less to complain about - ( x may still be happy by the result, but the method of decision making would be Open)
Andy Capp
Perhaps a part of the problem is how data and documents are stored and accessed? Also, while it might raise costs to 'manage' the FoI requests, I wonder of the 'fear' of it being actioned might be helping make less visible activities more readily accountable.
x2lls
QUOTE (spartacus @ Feb 28 2014, 06:19 PM) *
That is such a crap generalisation... It's an easy stick to wave at the council but such a poor argument when you give it serious analysis. One of my neighbours works in 'the private sector'. His team was 'restructured' and he was paid off with 3 years salary equivalent and various bonus payments due to length of service. He was back in working at the same desk within 3 months as a contractor doing the same job for even more money!

And he wasn't even in the banking sector. THEY are 'private sector' and I doubt whether they smart too much (financially) if they're shown the door...


You cannot simply go straight to your old job as a contractor and not expect there to be penalties to pay.

I was once made redundant, and couldn't go back to do the same job for at least to years due to HMRC rules.
Simon Kirby
QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 11 2014, 09:43 PM) *
It seems Richard Benyon is hitting back, but not at West Berkshire Council.

http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2...rdbenyonmp.html

The main focus of his criticism appears to be the FOI Act itself. All seemingly based on information given to him by West Berkshire Council!

I agree, it's a perverse response. Perhaps the Tory MP is reluctant to criticise the Tory WBC, but to level criticism at the FoI is unwarranted. If campaigners are using FoI to extract information from reluctant administrations to support their political campaigning then that's a good thing isn't it? It's never occurred to me before the Richard Benyon would have anything to hide and I think he does the thinking-voter a disservice to assume we can't immediately see through the kind of malicious smearing that kicked this story off, but he's gone off on one here by attacking the principle of open government and I think that was ill-judged. I can't think that I've ever had anything negative to say about our MP who, despite his politics not being my own, I've respected as a good MP and a particularly competent Environment minister. Open government, particularly local government, is a virtual fable.

I see our MP's attack on Freedom of Information as a sinister development. It's the devil's own job fighting jiggery-pokery in local government and FoI is one of the most valuable tools in uncovering maladministration, and I'm very disappointed to hear RB slating the right to information just because some sleazy rag used it to get information which embarrassed him - information which WBC seemingly got wrong!
Simon Kirby
QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 11 2014, 11:18 PM) *
Perhaps a part of the problem is how data and documents are stored and accessed? Also, while it might raise costs to 'manage' the FoI requests, I wonder of the 'fear' of it being actioned might be helping make less visible activities more readily accountable.

I agree on all counts. If there is a costs in administering requests for information then the council needs to look at how to improve their efficiency.

Perhaps their web site is a bit rubbish - I know it's difficult to navigate and the search function is particularly quirky in the relevance of what it turns up. Perhaps they're simply not making enough information available pro-actively - there is no duty under FoI to provide anything if the information is already available somewhere.

The figure of four or five requests each day is also intriguing. I'd be surprised if the number of tricky requests was any more than a couple per year. I would bet that if you looked into it the figure of four or fives per day includes things like people phoning up and asking what day their bins are going to be collected - technically that's a request for information under the Environmental Information Regulations (generically part of FoI), but no one would expect that to be handled with any formality and it's the kind of request for information that any service organisation would expect to field every day of the week.

The real problem for local authorities is that they are required to be open, and that is an enormous challenge for some.
On the edge
Their processes and systems do seem to be pretty disconnected. The web site let's you see relevant detail for your postcode. So, using the 'when will my bin be emptied' example, the response came back 'there are multiple records call our help line'. They've spent on what looks a sophisticated solution but can't be bothered to use it! Again designed to impress rather than deliver.

Frankly, if they are only dealing with five requests a day, with the numbers of staff they claim are involved, getting the 'Richard Benyon question' is appalling. I'm also very disappointed he's blaming the wrong cause.

I suppose we'll need an FOI to discover the outcome of the investigation and certainly one to find out how many other errors have been made.
Cognosco
QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 12 2014, 07:08 PM) *
I agree on all counts. If there is a costs in administering requests for information then the council needs to look at how to improve their efficiency.

Perhaps their web site is a bit rubbish - I know it's difficult to navigate and the search function is particularly quirky in the relevance of what it turns up. Perhaps they're simply not making enough information available pro-actively - there is no duty under FoI to provide anything if the information is already available somewhere.

The figure of four or five requests each day is also intriguing. I'd be surprised if the number of tricky requests was any more than a couple per year. I would bet that if you looked into it the figure of four or fives per day includes things like people phoning up and asking what day their bins are going to be collected - technically that's a request for information under the Environmental Information Regulations (generically part of FoI), but no one would expect that to be handled with any formality and it's the kind of request for information that any service organisation would expect to field every day of the week.

The real problem for local authorities is that they are required to be open, and that is an enormous challenge for some.


It would appear that the young pretender thinks that some of the FOI requests were frivolous? As he hasn't got a clue what the information is required for how can he say that? blink.gif
As we know if you need any information from our local authorities you have to word what you want with minute detail or you get a non answer although probably ten pages long. rolleyes.gif
They want to state they are open and transparent but you have to drag information from them whilst they are kicking and screaming if they don't want you to have that information, which is most of the time! rolleyes.gif

Andy Capp
QUOTE (On the edge @ Mar 12 2014, 07:34 PM) *
I suppose we'll need an FOI to discover the outcome of the investigation and certainly one to find out how many other errors have been made.

That's a good point: perhaps these things highlight a problem with WBC being able to keep and use the information properly?
Lolly
QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 12 2014, 06:56 PM) *
I agree, it's a perverse response. Perhaps the Tory MP is reluctant to criticise the Tory WBC, but to level criticism at the FoI is unwarranted. If campaigners are using FoI to extract information from reluctant administrations to support their political campaigning then that's a good thing isn't it? It's never occurred to me before the Richard Benyon would have anything to hide and I think he does the thinking-voter a disservice to assume we can't immediately see through the kind of malicious smearing that kicked this story off, but he's gone off on one here by attacking the principle of open government and I think that was ill-judged. I can't think that I've ever had anything negative to say about our MP who, despite his politics not being my own, I've respected as a good MP and a particularly competent Environment minister. Open government, particularly local government, is a virtual fable.

I see our MP's attack on Freedom of Information as a sinister development. It's the devil's own job fighting jiggery-pokery in local government and FoI is one of the most valuable tools in uncovering maladministration, and I'm very disappointed to hear RB slating the right to information just because some sleazy rag used it to get information which embarrassed him - information which WBC seemingly got wrong!


That's pretty much what I thought Simon, but you have expressed it so much better than I could! He seems to be getting a slating online from FOI activists, including the Taxpayers' Alliance, and I can't help feeling that West Berkshire Council have dropped him in it twice - firstly by releasing incorrect and considerably inflated figures and then by giving him 'information' with which to make this attack on FOI.
Simon Kirby
QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 12 2014, 08:30 PM) *
That's pretty much what I thought Simon, but you have expressed it so much better than I could! He seems to be getting a slating online from FOI activists, including the Taxpayers' Alliance, and I can't help feeling that West Berkshire Council have dropped him in it twice - firstly by releasing incorrect and considerably inflated figures and then by giving him 'information' with which to make this attack on FOI.

Yes, he's obviously been primed with information with which to attack FoI. Take the 4-5 requests per day: these are the requests for information made through WhatDoTheyKnow.com which is typically the route that serious requests take - obviously that's not the sum total of FoI requests the council will receive as pretty much any request for information will technically be covered by FoI/EIR. Total requests made though WhatDoTheyKnow.com this year is 14 - so in the order of 4-5 per month rather than 4-5 per day.
Simon Kirby
QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 12 2014, 08:30 PM) *
That's pretty much what I thought Simon, but you have expressed it so much better than I could! He seems to be getting a slating online from FOI activists, including the Taxpayers' Alliance, and I can't help feeling that West Berkshire Council have dropped him in it twice - firstly by releasing incorrect and considerably inflated figures and then by giving him 'information' with which to make this attack on FOI.

Yes, I see that from Robert Oxley replying to RB on conservativehome.
QUOTE
Itís not the first time Iíve encountered a politician decrying the use of FOI Ė after all even Tony Blair went on to regret his introduction of the Act. But FOIs are an incredibly important way of scrutinising power and ensuring how taxpayersí money is spent is held to account. Sadly, it is far too common for a politician or bureaucrat to attack the method by which information was gathered rather than deal with actual subject matter. And invariably any complaint about information published under FOI is always followed up by spurious suggestions that the Act is placing too heavy a burden on those administering it.
Andy Capp
QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 12 2014, 06:56 PM) *
I can't think that I've ever had anything negative to say about our MP who, despite his politics not being my own, I've respected as a good MP and a particularly competent Environment minister.

While he isn't the worst, I don't know how he has earned your endorsement. He hasn't been without controversy.

http://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress...-buzzard-trial/

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/n...on-8215803.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13...d-cover-up.html
Simon Kirby
QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 12 2014, 09:28 PM) *

It's my deference to authority AC. You can't be an MP without coming in for criticism over something or other, and I don't think he's such a bad stick. Considerably better than some of the slimy articles that we elect to local government.
Strafin
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/geo...enyon-interests

I think he's quite a good local MP but was a terrible minister and as bent and corrupt as the rest of them when given the opportunity. The link above has a good summary. Even though it's from The Guardian.
Andy Capp
QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 12 2014, 09:39 PM) *
It's my deference to authority AC. You can't be an MP without coming in for criticism over something or other, and I don't think he's such a bad stick. Considerably better than some of the slimy articles that we elect to local government.

I'm not sure how easy it is to compare. It's easy to claim no expenses when you are very wealthy for instance. My view of Mr Benyon is that he is run-of-the-mill, although some of his decisions did look iffy.

It's when politicians fail to explain themselves fully when I get suspicious.
Lolly
QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 12 2014, 11:24 PM) *
I'm not sure how easy it is to compare. It's easy to claim no expenses when you are very wealthy for instance. My view of Mr Benyon is that he is run-of-the-mill, although some of his decisions did look iffy.

It's when politicians fail to explain themselves fully when I get suspicious.


I agree that some of his Ministerial decisions look a bit iffy, especially as written up in the Newspapers, but to be honest he was always going to be an easy target given his wealthy background - i've heard the 'It's easy to claim no expenses when you are very wealthy' comment many times and even thought it myself, but he didn't choose to be born wealthy and he didn't take the easy path into Parliament ( public school, Oxbridge etc) taken by many of his contemporaries of all political persuasions. I wonder how many other Conservative MP's have served their time on their Local Authority for instance.

I do agree that I'd like a fuller explanation of how the housing benefit system works and whether Mr Benyon ( or his Estate Managers) could be reasonably expected to know how much public money passes directly or indirectly to them. There seems to be an inconsistency between his denial of the initial figures and his statement that he couldn't be expected to know what they were, but that may just be the way it is written up in the press.
Andy Capp
I don't blame him for being wealthy, I just don't see it as a powerful argument for his or others integrity. The same could be said about all the leaders to some degree. The argument also puts an unreasonable pressure on others less fortunate.
On the edge
Politics really reflects society in general these days. There are very few politicians who aren't out on a power trip of their own. We have lost those who were trying to deliver a collective or even personal conviction. Attlee, Bevan and co actually wanted to make a better society, Chamberlain wanted to make life more bearable for poor people, etc. They and their like actually sacrificed the possibility of great personal wealth to do that. Today, it's all me and how much I can grab.

Coop is a perfect example. The CEO brought in to turn it round has resigned because is ungovernable. That's really very sad. What he's actually saying is 'I didn't have a blind clue as to what the Coop is supposed to be doing and I'm a crap leader'. His standard commercial aggressive grab it all and give it to me approach is the only one he knows.
JeffG
QUOTE (On the edge @ Mar 13 2014, 09:59 AM) *
Coop is a perfect example. The CEO brought in to turn it round has resigned because is ungovernable.
...
His standard commercial aggressive grab it all and give it to me approach is the only one he knows.

You know him well then?
On the edge
QUOTE (JeffG @ Mar 13 2014, 02:22 PM) *
You know him well then?

I'm a (bitterly disappointed) formerly active Cooperative member so I may well. However, resigning so soon after the appointment on what is at root a leadership issue demonstrates a one trick pony.
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