Burntwood Town Council’s foray into amateur property development “probably a mistake” admits councillor
Former Burntwood Town Council leader Cllr Richard Mosson has admitted that it was probably a mistake for the Council to commit local taxpayers to a property development vanity project.
The Council offices moved from it’s convenient cost-effective location at Burntwood library to the Old Mining College Centre in 2015. Cllr Mosson said:
‘It was a great opportunity, what could possibly go wrong, signing up to a 35 year full repairing lease of a dilapidated building?’
A meeting of the Town Council’s policy and resources committee last week to considered plans to address the state of the building, including replacement of wooden framed sash windows at a cost of £20,000 and the relaying of floors. The total cost of repairs and refurbishments is currently estimated at over £55,000.
Paul Mycock, an officer in Lichfield District Council’s Legal, Property and Democratic Services department did not want to be identified. He said:
‘I can barely contain myself,’ he laughed, ‘even with the District Council’s resources and proven track record in successful property development projects, we could never make the Old Mining College commercially viable. But we were saddled with a 35 year full repairing lease from the landlord, Staffordshire County Council. We told them we wanted to surrender the lease and they said “fcuk off”.
‘Thinking that maybe they had been a little harsh, the CC came back to us to say that they would take a surrender but only if we could find some other mug to take it on on the same debilitating terms.
‘There was a knock on the door and who should be there but former Burntwood Town Councillor Steve Norman. And the rest, as they say, is history.’
The Town Council meeting considered various solutions to the dilemma. Cllr Sue Woodward suggested approaching the producers of DIY SOS or the Restoration Project. Unelected leader of the Council “Cllr” Norman Baker responded:
‘Don’t be so ridiculous Sue, after all it was you and your husband that got us into this mess. No, what I propose is that we spent £5,000 on flowers and a new lawn and introduce a mini crazy golf course. And we should invest in photo’s of Town Council Chairmen past and present to adorn the stairway and the charge local taxpayers who want to view. We could announce these innovative plans on a new £1,000 message board.
‘Sorted. Now where’s my cab? Has anyone seen Brian? The old fool.’
The Town Council’s plans can be seen HERE
Staffordshire Police is appealing for the help of the public to trace a District Council from Lichfield.
Lichfield District Council was last seen functioning in the Lichfield area in the run up to local and parliamentary elections in May 2015. It was reported missing to Staffordshire Police after it failed to attend the annual meeting with Bromford Housing Association on February 28.
Former Council leader Cllr. Mike Wilcox said:
‘I have been concerned about the Council’s erratic behaviour for some time, it’s not the first time that it’s gone missing. Like any loving parent I’ve ranted and raved when it’s gone AWOL but it makes no difference. I’ve tried emailing and making appeals on local and social media, but nothing.’
Equally concerned is Lichfield Chain Gang chairman Cllr. Sir Kenneth Dodd, he said:
‘I was only going to one civic event this year in my council tax payers’ chauffeur driven limousine, imagine my disappointment when the Council snubbed the event. It is with huge regret and a heavy heart that my one and only civic event of the year has had to be cancelled.’
Cllr. Dodd added that he still hoped to raise some money for Free Spirit charity by raffling off prizes that had already been donated.
‘I’m literally flogging a dead horse,’ he exclaimed.
Investigating officer Insp Paul Mycock, based at Lichfield’s virtual reality police station, said:
‘If anyone has seen Lichfield District Council, or has any information which they think could help us to find it, I would urge them to contact us as soon as possible.
‘LDC, if you see this appeal, please get in touch to let us know that you are safe and well.’
The Local Government Boundary Commission was already considering to proposals to reduce the number of district councillors from 47 to 13 to reflect the pathetic extent of councillor engagement in representing their constituents.
FiveSpiresLive has not attempted to contact anyone for comment.
‘Lichfield councillors can barely read briefing papers,’ claims Council’s special educational needs officer.
Lichfield District Council Employment Committee met this evening (Thursday 9 February) to consider a report by officers pleading for elected members to avail themselves of training opportunities.
The annual Learning and Development Needs Analysis form has proven to be too challenging for almost half of Lichfield councillors to complete and return. Human Resources manager Katie Salter was unavailable for comment, she said:
‘At first I thought they were arrogant, egotistical idiots, but now I fear that many members just use bluster and buffoonery as a cover for severe learning disabilities. We are an equal opportunities employer but please, really? Twenty-eight so-called community leaders who can’t fill in a simple form?’
Cllr. Paul Mycock (Lichfield Scales and Spoons), said:
‘Training and continuing education? Give me a break. I wouldn’t need to understand all that rubbish if those ponsey polytechnic losers in the council office did their jobs properly. I enjoy a pies and bars as much as the next guy but I can’t be doing with all these graphs and facts and figures.’
Other councillors claim to have taken full advantage of training opportunities. Burntwood’s celebrity granny Cllr. Sue Norman, she said:
‘As an active member of the Audit Committee I am responsible for overseeing the council’s financial performance. After months of valuable training I am now able to evaluate complex financial reports and recommendations, if they contain graphics in primary colours, are well formatted and run to less than two pages then they get my vote.
‘And IT training has been great, don’t get me started on online petitions! I’ve just knocked one out against HSBC if you’d like to sign up.’
The Lichfield officer’s report on councillor educational needs is available Here
Staffordshire County Council approved almost £5 million in cuts to health and care services in September this year, which would see £439,000 of the Citizens Advice service’s funding being lost.
As part of the cuts Burntwood’s Citizens Advice Bureau has been closed and it’s elderly volunteers replaced with an Amazon Echo, a voice-activated internet-connected intelligent device that answers to the name of Alexa.
The device will be located on a table behind the Bureau’s front door and can be activated by citizens shouting their problems through the letterbox.
One of Burntwood’s many troubled residents is unemployed life coach Paul Mycock. He said:
‘I’ve been a regular at the CAB since I lost my job, especially during bad weather and the Jeremy Vine show.
‘The problem that I don’t really have this week turns on the correct interpretation of the provisions of The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
‘The CAB volunteers are great, particularly Mrs Norman, she’s a lovely old dear, but she hasn’t a clue – not unless it involves organising an online petition.
‘I knew she’d be on the Google for an hour or more before suggesting I see a decent local solicitor in Birmingham. Plenty of time for a brew and a chat by the radiator.’
Paul was shocked to discover the door to the CAB was locked but was intrigued by the instructions to shout through the letterbox. He continued:
‘I called out her name, “Alexa, Alexa are you there?” She said hello, she has a lovely sexy calming voice. I composed myself, placed my hand in my trouser pocket and told her of my 2013 Regulations based problem.
‘Quick as a flash Alexa came back with the answer, “14 days”. No tea, no biscuits and no time to sort myself out. It may be a quick, accurate and cost effective solution to Staffordshire’s financial crisis, but that’s not the point.
‘All I’m after is a bit of company, is that too much to ask?’
Staffordshire County Council refused to comment on the Echo trials although spokesperson Paula Wright did say:
‘There is an 80% chance of rain today.’
The Boundary Commission has drawn up plans to move Whittington and Streethay from the Lichfield constituency into the neighbouring Tamworth electoral area.
The proposal was branded as “excellent news” by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant.
‘This will considerably reduce my workload. It will, at a stroke, remove all of those Whittington golfers whinging on about HS2 carving through their clubhouse and golf course. In addition I will no longer have to pretend to be interested in the local objections to the new residential and commercial developments in Streethay and its associated traffic problems. What’s not to like?’
Tamworth Conservative MP Chris Pincher says that the changes will bolster his parliamentary majority. He commented:
‘I welcome all former Lichfield Conservative voters into our Birmingham sink town constituency. I am sure that my objections to HS2 in 2010 that were instrumental in shifting the route out from Hopwas and Mile Oak and straight through Whittington Heath Golf Club have long since been forgotten.’
Less impressed is Robert Past, leader of Whittington’s Amish community and current chair of the so-called Green Party’s Lichfield and Burntwood branch. Speaking from the Tree House at the bottom of his parents’ garden the 15 year old firebrand said:
‘The Boundary Commission’s plan to remove Whittington from the Lichfield constituency is mindless and insensitive. Our weekly journey for essential provisions by pony and trap will take an extra three hours if we have to shop with the peasants at Tamworth Asda. This will be a real burden on our women folk especially in winter.’
Another consequence of the boundary changes will be the loss of Lichfield Trent Valley station from the constituency. MP Mr Fabricant has been taking up the matter of disabled access to the split level platforms with ministers for a number of years, he said:
‘Thank goodness I won’t be held responsible for this project when it’s kicked into the long grass again for another ten years. But as a regular rail traveller who is becoming increasingly infirm this is a real concern for Lichfield constituents. I will certainly be lobbying the MP responsible, Chris Pincher of Tamworth, to hold ministers to account.’
Mr Fabricant is widely expected to stand down as Conservative candidate for Lichfield MP before the next election in favour of his long term friend, West Midland’s Mayor Andy Street.
People have until December 5 to give their views on the proposed boundary changes via the online consultation website.
Lichfield constituents will now have to go online to book an appointment with their MP Michael Fabricant through the National Rail Enquiries website.
Previously only available by written application penned with a swan’s quill on the finest vellum and handed to a barista at Caffe Nero, these surgery appointments have proven to be rather too bothersome. Mr Fabricant explained:
‘It was proving just too popular, some weeks I’d have see up to three plebeians pleading their worthless causes. It was outrageous, turning up to interrupt my long-weekend break with moans and groans about trivial parochial issues – no health provision in Burntwood; appalling social housing conditions in the Dimbles; or, best of all, the sell-off of the Friary Library, what a joke, they can’t even read.
‘Well, local issues affecting people who don’t vote for me are of no interest and frankly it’s an unwelcome distraction from my camp Twitter innuendo sessions with a piping hot grande Americano.’
Our local member expects that the new booking arrangements, managed by National Rail Enquiries, will ensure that only issues relating to rail travel to and from London Euston on a Thursday afternoon and a Sunday evening will be raised. Mr Fabricant elaborated:
‘Constituents can go online, type in their West Coast Mainline or HS2 concerns and National Rail will book a reservation with me on the London/Lichfield line. But remember, it’s first come first served – there’s only one 2 minute slot available per journey. And at a ticket price of £250 I think that’s real value for money.’
Mr Fabricant regularly challenges @LondonMidland on matters of grave concern to his constituents, he has tweeted:
“Is vaping allowed on @LondonMidland trains? On Sunday, there were thick white fumes in my part of the train. Ugghhh!”
“Intensely irritating getting the message that @LondonMidland 14.46 EUS > Crewe is boarding then left on platform!”
The Lichfield MP has also called for a new HS2 station to be located by his home on The Close and for the new line to link up with Eurostar. The vociferous Brexit campaigner commented:
‘HS2 ought to have a complete rethink. The route is completely flawed. If it joined up with Eurostar we could deport migrants much more efficiently. What you have to ask is, if he had been in charge what would Hitler have done?’
EXCLUSIVE: The leader of Burntwood Town Council has confirmed he will step down next month.
Cllr Richard Mosson says he will relinquish his position at the helm of the controlling Conservative group.
Read Cllr Mosson’s full statement on his resignation below:
‘I will be stepping down in May, but that is not unusual as the Conservative group are rotating the responsibility of being leader in the hope that we can find a decent one eventually.
‘It has been very hard work reading all those agenda documents and briefing notes but enjoyable none the less, once I realised that as Leader it wasn’t really necessary to have a grasp of any actual facts.
‘I would like to take a few moments now to blame the previous council, under Labour control, for all the problems that I’ve caused during the past year.
‘Labour will probably unearth the embarrassment of the consort’s chain again. It cost a bit less than £400 and as this fell inside the budget of the chairman essentially this has not cost the taxpayer a penny. Because the chairman’s budget is not taxpayer funded, as it materialises out of thin air every financial year if I understand correctly.
‘The positives are that the Old Mining College Centre will still be called the Old Mining College Centre, paying tribute to Burntwood’s proud mining heritage. I was delighted that my battle against Labour to retain that name was so successful. The building has new IT facilities that will enable councillors and council officials to maximise cost effective communications with the public through use of social media – another innovation that I have ceaselessly championed during my mercifully short tenure.
‘The official reopening of the Old Mining College Centre takes place on May 8, coincidentally following my departure.
‘Other positives are that everything will seem bigger, better and brighter next year without me.
‘The Wakes which will be also be back, another traditional event that has received by wholehearted support in the past.
‘As a controlling group we have been working hard behind the scenes (in case you thought that we weren’t actually doing anything) and have been in discussions to finally get Burntwood the retail offering it needs to boost the local economy and improve areas in the town that have been left derelict for years. I am confident that we will soon secure a new high profile tenants for the shopping centre, discussions with BHS and Comet are in advanced stages.
‘I have also invited London and Cambridge Properties Plc to purchase the remainder of the town that they do not already own for £1 and have introduced them to Tata Steel who I believe is actively seeking industrial space in the UK for its steelmaking operations at the moment.
‘The town is finally moving forward. We will welcome hundreds of new residents who will be moving into the Milestone Way development when most of the unexploded bombs have finally been removed from this contaminated site.
‘Having totally ignored the Neighbourhood Plan, we have welcomed members of the public to join the committee in the hope that someone with a modicum of insight and talent can deliver some sort of plan for the town that will not be laughed at in public by Lichfield District Council, unlike our first attempt.
‘We are fully aware of the need for improved healthcare facilities and I would thoroughly recommend BUPA Health Insurance and Little Aston private hospital.
‘All in all Burntwood will be a better place without me in charge. As well as all of the above we now have a McDonalds to look forward to which we hope will be the catalyst for more local obesity and antisocial behaviour in the town centre. The defibrillators, that I have persuaded Cllr Darren Ennis raise funds for, will be essential to resuscitate our town.
[Additional reporting by @LichfieldLive]