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Swindon Todd & Chums: Hacking Their Way Through Your Money?

Politically speaking, February 2010 was the month Swindon’s Conservative councillors once again lined up loyally behind their leader and his cabinet and voted for a budget which, as several Tory councillors commented at the time, was reckless and almost certain to fail and fail badly.

Recent events, and the reaction of Bluhs micro-cabinet to them,  do seem to indicate that Cllr Edwards budget has already gone badly awry, less than two months since he proudly said that his budget was:

“…a budget that protects vital public services for the elderly and the vulnerable.  It is a budget that protects local residents.  It is a budget that protects staff; with fewer redundancies than many other councils are proposing”

I think Mr Edward’s budget was doomed to failure from the off and was  politically designed to get Swindons Conservative group, (and Roderick Bluh in particular),  safely, if shakily, through the 2010 local elections.  It was obviously a risky budget, (Edwards admitted that himself), that was unlikely to ‘have legs’.

For his part in the budget,  Bluh was so obsessively focussed on electoral success for himself and the Conservative candiates, (both local and Parliamentary), that his judgement as Leader of the Council seems to have been very badly affected.  In his Christmas speech to the Tory party faithful, Bluh announced:

“By the time the Budget is put to bed we will have delivered the best Budget to-date with the lowest council tax to-date with the least frontline impact to-date.  I have always said that I wanted this to be so pre-Elections, particularly the General.  We have both the local and general elections only a number of weeks away now and it is essential that we all work a one team to ensure the best possible outcome.  Our focus should be electoral success to deliver 2 Conservative MPs for Swindon, a Conservative Government and maintain a strong Conservative council.   Our first priority for 2010 has to be to secure the election of Justin and Robert as our new MPs.

Sad that his first priority for the Town of Swindon wasn’t doing what was best for the town but, now that Bluh has ‘got what he manipulated and wished for’, what next?, because only yesterday, on Tuesday the 22nd of June 2010, the Rt Honorable Gideon (George) Osbourne MP, the Chancellor to the Exchequer, clambered shakily to his feet in te House of Commons and delivered his budget speech, starting with the lines:

“Mr Deputy Speaker, This emergency Budget deals decisively with our country’s record debts.  It pays for the past and it plans for the future.  It supports a strong enterprise-led recovery. It rewards work, and it protects the most vulnerable in our society.   Yes, it is tough,  but it is also fair”

Which sounded fairly similar the guff muttered by Swindon Todd,  (Councillor Mark Edwards), before he ‘delivered’ his ‘let’s get ourselves re-elected’ budget earlier this year.  Well, Bluh has got himself re-elected, he’s  got the government he wanted and,  sitting like twin cherries on top of a cake,  he has the two Tory MP’s he wanted.  All his priorities fully satisfied but without too much talk about what he intended to do to, or for, the town when the Triple Convergence of Conservative influence was completed:

A Triumverate of Slashers? – Tory controlled Swindon council – Two Tory MP’s – Tory Government

I’ll hazard a guess as to what’s coming next from the Euclid Street Idiocracy:  I think the cut-throat razors and knives are going to come out, joyfully, spitefully and in force.  Bluh & Co. will blame ‘Other People’ for the harm they will wreak as they parrot Gideon Osbournes ‘We’re all in this together’ mantra which, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth because in the minds of our elected finest we are not ‘all in this together’ because they very much see themselves as being above and  apart from the hoi-polloi and chattering classes and, as Bluh said recently of those of us that comment on his activities:

“Some of these people aren’t even in Politics”

It looks to me like Roderick Bluh, Dorcans Darling, has forgotten who his employers are, who pays his ‘allowances and expenses’, who he was elected by, and who he is supposed to be serving so I thought we should remind him that we, his employers, the people that pay him, do take an interest in what they claim in expenses and allowances, and that we, the people he says he ‘wants to serve’ also want to know whether their councillors are greedily ‘serving themselves’ from the trough i8n the Westminster fashion or are being fair ans sensible.

Curiously, Cllr David Renard tweeted this today:

“Attending a seminar on ‘Doing more for less’. We’ll need to be doing a lot of that”

…only a few hours after I’d submitted a freedom of information request to Swindon Borough Council (via the very excellent and free of charge  ‘What Do They Know?’ Freedom of Information Service )  to find out whether Bluh & Chums have been practising what they are now preaching.

Dear Swindon Borough Council,

1) Please confirm the amounts of allowances and expenses claimed by
and paid to Cabinet Members of Swindon Borough Council for year
2009/2010

2) Please confirm the salary and expenses claimed by/paid to the
Political assistant to the Conservative group/Staff Officer to the
Cabinet Douglas Campbell for year 2009/2010

Yours faithfully,

Geoff Reid

I’ll obviously be publishing the answers as they arrive, but in the meantime it’s worth considering that only one of Swindons 59 councillors has voluntarily published their allowances and expenses claims for 2009.

The rest of them presumably don’t want to talk about it…….

Posted on
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
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