Month: February 2014

‘Many Lichfield councillors unable to read,’ claims shock report

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LICHFIELD District Council’s full Council meeting on Monday (24 February) will consider the Employment Committee’s report and recommendations on the needs of a large number of councillors.

The serious issues raised  have come to the attention of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The report highlights a number of areas where councillors have asked for additional training and development. Four members of the council have been identified as requiring reading lessons.

“Members have many documents to read,” the report said. “An education would teach them new strategies and techniques to enable them to read and write.”

The Council has said that external support will be needed to provide the reading classes and local school, Queen’s Croft High School, has been identified as having the specialist teachers and strategies best placed to meet this unexpected challenge.

A council officer who did not wish to be identified said:

‘The reading and writing support will need to come from the £5,000 set aside for training elected members,’ said council officer Steve Flemming.

‘Unfortunately that sum is for the whole sorry group, not per councillor.’

Other areas of development required by councillors include:

  • How to use my computer as more than just a desk lamp (nine councillors)
  • Basic maths in the context of controlling multi-million pound council budgets (all councillors)
  • How to dial 999 and when 101 is more appropriate (five interested councillors)
  • Acting lessons – ‘How to be a Chair’ (seven interested councillors)
  • How to Understand Basic Issues Beyond My Comprehension (all Overview and Scrutiny councillors)

The report also reveals that three councillors have requested speech therapy, with two looking for support to make the transition from “neighbourhood busybody” to “effective ward member.” One member is seeking a session on “how to tell the time”.

The Employment Committee received a report on the results of the Elected Members’ Learning and Development Needs Analysis (LDNA) which was carried out in December 2013. Only 61.1% of councillors managed to return the questionnaire, of which 10 forms had been completed in wax crayon.

Council Leader Mike Wilcox said:

‘To me, to you…

‘This is a matter for the Council to decide but personally the situation is perfectly aligned with my F4F (‘Fucked for the Future’) strategy.’

Eric Pickles MP, fresh from his successful intervention into the Environment Agency’s handling of the recent floods is licking his fat lips in anticipation of the Council’s response. Mr Pickles, equipped with some sort of certificate from Leeds Metropolitan University (aka Leeds Poly), has indicated that low grade councillors could result in the Council being placed in ‘special needs.’

Any parent of pupils at Queen’s Croft who have concerns about councillors being taught in close proximity to their children should contact the Headteacher.

Anyone who may have been affected by this report can read the full details here

http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/5856/download_the_agenda_and_reports

 

Boost for local employment as Lichfield Council reject plans for new homes

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CONSTRUCTION work on a new industrial development at the former Hepworth Building Products site on Eastern Avenue is expected to start within days now that plans for 77 new homes were rejected this week by Lichfield district councillors.

Doug Brownfield, newly appointed spokesman for property developers Revelan Group said:

‘Now that the Council has finally rejected my former colleague’s half-baked plans for affordable housing with on-site water feature, we can finally get on with the development of the new industrial units. We have had potential employers and commercial property investors fighting for this space for many years. In my opinion, this is potentially the most valuable piece of industrial real estate in the country. For some reason this site has proven to be recession-proof, it’s red hot frankly.’

Jaguar Land Rover property director Kat Convertor could barely contain her enthusiasm:

‘We’ve been looking at this site for the last seven years, we had to take additional space at i54 as the Eastern Avenue option was blocked by the residential planning application. But now we’re making a formal bid. The site has everything: the West Coast Main line is virtually on site, a fully-skilled local workforce and a fast reliable train service from Lichfield Trent Virtual station.’

The residential plan had been recommended for approval by Dick King, LDC’s strategic director for democratic, development and legal services but the economic development officer objected on the grounds that if preserved as an employment site it would instantly generate over 293 new jobs.

Lichfield District Council did receive letters expressing concern over the original housing plan. It was felt issues relating to vehicles and pedestrians had not been dealt with by the proposal, spokesman Trevor Ford commented:

‘Now that the commercial development is going ahead, vehicles and pedestrians will pose no problems for the high volume of articulated lorries and vans accessing the site seven days and nights a week.’

Anyone interested in competing for space on this new development should immediately contact Revelan Group through its website to avoid disappointment

http://www.revelan-uk.co.uk/property.php?propid=53&typeid=1

 

 

 

New Lichfield Trent Virtual railway station car park opens

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COMMUTERS have welcomed a new 130-space car park at Lichfield Trent Virtual railway station, which opened this week.

Funding totalling £900,000 was secured by London Midland to improve parking and the endless waiting room for customers.

A London Midland spokesman told the 5SL:

‘We’re pleased to confirm that the new car park at Lichfield Trent Virtual station has opened, providing passengers with a much-needed 130 additional car parking spaces.

Birmingham commuter Bill Brookes was the first to congratulate London Midland:

‘This is great news for commuters, there is now plenty of room to park up whilst waiting for our Cross City service to be cancelled. It’s then a simple matter of driving to catch a  real train at Lichfield City or Four Oaks stations.’

Working mum of three Shirley Mackintosh said:

‘It’s so much safer now, especially when I’ve been working late or at weekends, I’ve noticed that there’s now plenty of space for the rail replacement buses to line up to transport the displaced passengers.’

Although the new car park is the first part of a major scheme of works at the station to reach completion, the scheduled works do not include provision for a passenger lift.

A London Midland spokesman said:

‘With only four or five disabled people a day trying to drag their sorry withered limbs up the steps to the high-level Birmingham line, let’s be honest, it’s just not cost effective to be bothered with them.’

Disabled former soldier Reg Major leaves home at 5.35am every day to get to work in Erdington. But he remains stoic:

‘Ok, I can’t make it up the station steps at Lichfield Trent Virtual to the Birmingham line, but now the new car park is open I can easily roll down onto the platform, catch the Tamworth train and use the lift there to get up to a train into Brum. I’ve no complaints, I’m in the dedicated passenger lift  for less than a minute but the smell of the ammonia-laced beery piss really sets my heart racing for the day.’

Anyone who has been affected by these changes can contact London Midland on twitter @londonmidland or #LMdontgiveafuck

‘Lord Prescott is not my father,’ claims Labour candidate

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LABOUR Parliamentary candidate for Lichfield and Burntwood 2015 general election  has been forced to deny that Lord John Prescott of Hull is his biological father.

Chris Worsey said:

‘Ever since my selection, rumours have been circulating about my parentage. I can categorically deny that John Prescott ever had congress with my mother.’

Mr Worsey, 17, grew up near Great Wyrley and played cricket. He is currently part-way through an ‘A’ Level course in Career Politics at Sandwell College. He added:

‘I would be proud to represent Lichfield, a fantastic historic City with a fine tradition for Morris dancing. I hope to visit one day.’

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Lord Prescott’s acknowledged son David Prescott failed in his father’s bid for him to become the parliamentary candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich. His Lordship commented:

‘David has been a great disappointment to me and his mother, whoever she may be. But you have to move on in public life and young Chris Worsey is a great fellow. I clearly remember passing through West Brom in the ‘90’s so there’s a good chance that we are related. Needless to say, I was instrumental in his selection.’

Mr Worsey’s reluctance to acknowledge his ancestry is understandable. Once considered to be an advantage, the offspring of famous political parents now view their linage to be more of a hindrance.

Highly tipped to stand for a safe Labour seat in 2015, son of former Prime Minister and alleged war criminal, Euan Blair has not had the courage to put his head above the political parapet. City banker Blair Jnr commented:

‘If it could be guaranteed that I would move straight into a ministerial post, become Prime Minister within 5 years, shag a press baron’s missus and then retire to become a multimillionaire on the world public speaking circuit, then yes, maybe. But a constituency MP, with Friday surgeries for ‘local’ people with drainage worries?  I don’t think so.’

Local Labour party activists however have a different perspective on the influence of political families. Brownhills activist Jim Hardman said:

‘Euan Blair didn’t get selected through choice but because, as Tony’s son he is, how do they say down south? Toxic.’

Not every child of the famous have fared so badly. Will Straw, son of former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been selected as Labour candidate for Rossendale and Darwen in Lancashire. Jim Hardman commented:

‘That was a slightly different case, as a former cannabis seller Will Straw is an established character in his own right. Most people don’t remember Jack Straw, I showed a photo of him at a meeting recently and a few said they thought they recognised him, but only as the guy from ‘Wycliffe’ who was in that play at the Lichfield Garrick last week.’

Other ‘dynastic’ children have changed their name to escape the curse. Only after selection for Lewisham did Joe Dromey admit that his mother is in fact 2015 Labour leader Harriet Harman, he said:

 

‘It’s bad enough having Jack ‘Pikey’ Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington and former trade union baron, as a father, but if everyone had known about my mom I’d be dead in the water. At least no one has ever heard of Dad, apart from the Daily Mail and the Metropolitan Police’

Chris Worsey commented:

‘Sorry, but I thought this article was supposed to be all about me?’

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Anyone who may have been affected by the Lichfield and Burntwood Labour Party selection process can contact http://www.patient.co.uk/health/insomnia-poor-sleep/support . The lines are open from 10pm to 7am.

‘Crisis deferred’ as Lichfield DC’s IT upgrade is to be funded by a new visitor attraction

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LICHFIELD District Council has announced the opening of a new visitor attraction in the City, the new museum and heritage site will be operated by the Bletchley Park Trust and the income generated will help to fund the crisis-ridden Council’s IT upgrade.

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The floundering local council’s IT department is in turmoil. In less than eight weeks time Microsoft ends its support for the Council’s neglected and now defunct Windows XP operating system and Office 1903 software which forms the platform for all of the Council’s antiquated computer systems.

Lichfield Council will be disconnected from the Central Government computer networks in September 2014 unless it can convince the Cabinet Office that it’s IT infrastructure has been adequately upgraded.

Kelsey Griffin, Director of Operations and Communication for The Bletchley Park Trust commented:

‘This has been a real find for us, a Staffordshire Hoard for the computer age. When we heard about the appalling mess that the Council has allowed it’s IT department  to get into we arranged a visit straight away.’

Originally formed to develop a museum, heritage site and education centre at Bletchley Park in order to preserve the contribution to computing, electronic security and intelligence in World War Two, the Bletchley Park Trust has expanded its remit and turned its sights on the Lichfield District Council’s pre-historically significant IT department.

Ms Griffin added:

‘Imagine our delight to find council workers still using equipment from the dawn of the electronic computing era. A couple of officers in the planning department were still making the best of their Sinclair ZX Spectrums and a lady in Accounts said that she didn’t think she could cope if they ever took away her abacus. The City Engineer proudly gave me a demonstration of his slide rule.

‘Council staff are allowed to use Council computers during their lunchtime  for personal use. Who’d have thought that you could find a set of workers in modern times still enjoying Space Invaders, Pac Man and that tennis game with the slidy bats and bouncing ball with the bop-bop-bop noise.’

Councillor Iain Eadie , Cabinet Member for IT, Waste Management and Face Buffing, said:

‘It’s not my fault. IT was previously the responsibility of the Cabinet Member for Finance, Democratic and Legal Services. I welcome my appointment but clearly it’s no coincidence that I’m also responsible for Waste Management.’

Councillor Christopher Spruce, 99 year-old Cabinet Member for Finance, Democratic,Legal Services and Regally Dressed Ex-Mayors  said:

‘Its not my fault, I don’t even know how to switch on the TV let alone a computer and I was completely confused when my manservant upgraded what I thought was a desklamp into a fully functional dumb terminal.’

Council Leader Mike Wilcox commented:

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‘To me, to you.

‘Fortunately I bailed out of operational responsibility for absolutely everything just in time. But I welcome the intervention of Bletchley Park Trust who are best placed to optimise the use of our cherished equipment and provide the Council with valuable income to facilitate our IT systems upgrade to bring the City into the latter part of the  20th Century. The new visitor centre will be based in the Council’s IT Server Room F451 as soon as improvements have been made to the building to conform with fire regulations.

‘Unfortunately this has meant that the planned development of Virtual Friarsgate has been postponed, but I expect that it will be delivered on time and on budget in 2015.

To me, to you.’

Many council employees will be taken on by the Trust as tour guides, whilst the three full time IT employees, having been made aware that IT consultants in the private sector charge up to £3k per eight hour day, have resigned and become self-employed.

Anyone interested in exploiting the Lichfield District Council IT network architecture vulnerabilities pre-changeover can download a handy guide at http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/5832/item_6_ict_looking_to_the_future