Friday, November 17, 2017

Niall Bolger resorts to fake news to protect Tom Brake at #GE2017 count

After speaking to the Electoral Commission, I can confirm they have advised me that there is no course of action I can take BUT they have made a note of what happened in Sutton on the night of the count.

In short:
London Borough of Sutton Council, CEO, Niall Bolger protected Lib Dem Tom Brake from embarrassment at the General Election Count in 2017. He did this by choosing not to allow candidates on stage for the declaration. 

Why did he do this? 
Because he was concerned there was going to be a demonstration on live TV and I will assert this was a contributing factor:



Why is this important? 
There is a democratic tradition to allow Mr Fishfinger or Lord Buckethead to heap ridicule on any politician. However, Niall Bolger, Sutton CEO, and thus the Returning Officer for the election, is allowed to run the Declaration as he pleases. Knowing he is knee deep in involvement with the incinerator, along with Tom Brake and Cllr Ruth Dombey, he chose not uphold the democratic tradition of this country, and to avoid any embarrassment on national TV.  Furthermore, however outrageous a notion, is it possible that Niall Bolger would magically make some opposition ballot papers disappear to ensure victory for his Lib Dem allies? One very senior candidate complained that Tom Brake knew the result of this marginal seat (Carshalton and Wallington) before any other candidates. 


Mr Fishfinger who stood against Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron in  Westmoreland and Lonsdale


I spoke to the Electoral Commission after receiving a reply from Local Government Ombudsman. The Electoral Commission advised me that there are a number of powers which are handed to the Returning Officer, including the Declaration, when organising elections. For example, if he wanted to introduce the winner on stage with a drum roll and indoor fireworks he is entitled to do so. Presumably, he can let a favoured candidate know the result before others.

Some background:

The local Governement Ombudsman (LGO) was called in after I had reached deadlock with the council (see further down). LGO's reply:

I have considered what Mr Y said in his complaint.

What I found Mr Y was a candidate in the last general election and complains the Council decided not to allow candidates on stage when the declaration of the result was announced.

Mr Y feels he should have been allowed to stand on stage and feels he was denied this right.

The Returning Officer is responsible for organising elections. In this role, the Returning Officer works independently and not on behalf of the Council. The Ombudsman has no legal jurisdiction therefore to investigate complaints about the organisation of elections. This includes how the result was announced.

Final decision: We have no legal remit to investigate the organisation of elections and so cannot investigate Mr Y’s complaint.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

I initially made the complaint to the Sutton Council after Niall Bolger used fake news when commenting to the Sutton Guardian. He told the Sutton Guardian that,


"In recent times, candidates have not stood on the stage at Sutton when the counts have been announced".

WRONG!!! At the previous General Election, candidates were allowed, and he allowed it.

2015 General Election Declaration


When I complained to the council, I was assured by the Head of Electoral Services that the decision was not political and an entirely different explanation was proffered:

Sutton were not alone in not asking candidates to stand on the stage - Merton and Croydon did the same. House keeping that seems relevant - I am not sure whether you attended the 2015 count in Sutton, you would have noted that we managed to add two extra teams meaning that the stage was smaller - the main reason for this is that we ran the count as mini counts in wards and we have 18 wards - this meant that we finished almost 2 hours earlier this year.  With this in mind I for future need to re-arrange my count floor so the stage remains a decent size and there is room to move at the front of the hall - you will have noted how cramped it was which is why we removed tables at the end.  The decision taken not to invite candidates was not political or for the reasons the article and tweets implied.
Just to add, on the night of the Count, the Declaration for Sutton and Cheam constituency was called about an hour before Carshalton and Wallington. I noticed immediately that only the victor was called up on stage. I immediately went to the Head of Electoral Services and asked if all the candidates would be allowed on stage for the Declaration for Carshalton & Wallington. I was pointed in the direction of Niall Bolger. The Head of Electoral Services did not offer the explanation of the 'smaller stage' as per the reply to my complaint, and instead indicated that the CEO could allow it. I walked up to Niall Bolger, and in the rudest manner imaginable he said:

"NO! I have made my decision," and then walked off.


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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Less than one per cent voted sensibly!

Sensible?


Which is the most sensible way to vote? 

Just days before the General Election, if you were commuting along the Purley Way, on the border of Sutton, you would have seen a spectacular piece of graffiti on a billboard just opposite Waddon Retail Park. It read: VOTE SENSIBLY FOR BRITAIN. It was such a piece of unblemished art, I almost believe someone paid for the billboard space.

I stood in Carshalton and Wallington - a Lib Dem/Tory marginal seat. In this constituency voting sensibly is very much subjective:

  • Vote LIB DEM to keep the Conservative Matthew Maxwell-Scott out! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote LIB DEM to keep Theresa May out because she is awful! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote TORY to stop Lib Dem Tom Brake - a cheerleader for Sutton council! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote TORY if you are a UKIP voter - that's who UKIP Sutton endorse! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote LABOUR if Jeremy Corbyn excites you and ignore two horse race! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote INDEPENDENT whistleblowing anti-incinerator Cllr Nick Mattey! Sensible score 5/5
  • Vote GREEN for the guy who risked his house to stoptheincinerator.co.uk Sensible score 5/5


Above are all sensible ways to vote in Carshalton and Wallington. Some are tactical. Some are not. I came across a number of voters when knocking on doors, leaning towards one of the options above.

However, many of these very same voters were contemplating whether there might be a more sensible option. At times I felt like a counsellor as I listened to them pore over what was running through their mind.

I came across Green voters (and even the odd Green Party member) who were thinking of voting LIB DEM to keep the Tory out. Green Party talk of progressive alliances and standing down in constituencies had changed the thought processes of those who would normally put 'X' by Green party. Zoe Williams has gone as far as saying Greens "effectively committed electoral hari-kiri for the sake of opposing the Conservatives."

Big thanks to Maeve Tomlinson - my agent.

At 3:29am on 9th June the Returning officer, Niall Bolger, read out the result privately to agents and candidates just before the official declaration. Maeve scribbled the numbers below. Niall wasn't pausing for anyone.

Result
Result on BBC web site

Conclusion:

Green vote was squeezed by all of the above valid sensible scenarios.

Footnote:



The declaration was a nonsense. I contacted Sutton Guardian about this. Those who were watching the coverage on TV (still from BBC London News above) might have thought all the candidates had gone to the pub to discuss if people had indeed voted sensibly.

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Interview on St Helier Radio

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

BBC London News prioritises me in its coverage!



This is the second time I've appeared on BBC London News. The first time was an experience.

The issue is, they shoot first and edit afterwards. Hence, you could do up to 10 minutes of filming and they select about 30 seconds for the final edit. As a result, they have enough footage to make you look like a nutjob or the next Obama.

Selfie just afterfilming


After another session of door-knocking in Beddington today, it was interesting to find that a number of people recalled seeing the above coverage and recognised me. So in a sense it was effective. Maybe it was because the Beeb prioritised me.

I took some advice from the Green Party press office on the morning of filming and they advised to decide what my message was going to be and keep saying it! So, I repeated three times, "improving air quality was engrained in the DNA of the Green party."

You will see from the coverage on BBC London News that a passer-by noticed we were filming and asked if we were talking about the incinerator.

The uncut version would have shown that after she said "no one listens", I had pointed out to her,

"Improving air quality is ingrained in the DNA of the Green party. You know, we are the party of the environment."

Previously, off camera she had said that she was going to vote Conservative. However, when I explained the above, I genuinely saw her eyes light up in recognition that the environment meant improving the air quality where she lived and not something distant like saving the whales. Sadly this wasn't necessarily captured.

The presenter even said, "You may have got her vote there."

It seems the Beeb couldn't mention air quality without getting a counter argument. I can almost accept their predicament.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Replies my questions on Webcast

Dear Shasha

Following yesterday evenings Council meeting, I can confirm that your questions were put by the Mayor to Cabinet Members and can be viewed on the webcast of the meeting.

Your question on air quality near schools begins at 52:50 of the webcast and was answered by Councillor Flemming and Councillor King.https://croydon.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/284431/start_time/3193000

Your question on the derelict site at the junction of London Road and St James Road begins at 56:05 of the webcast and was answered by Councillor Butler.https://croydon.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/284431/start_time/3363000

Kind regards,
Victoria

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Campaigning in Redhill West and Meadvale




Last Saturday I joined many others in Redhill for a full day of campaigning for Rob Jarrett the Green Party candidate for Redhill West and Meadvale. After arriving I was given materials and sent out to canvass in the estate around Colman Way area.

Many issues came up on the doorstep including the lack of car parking space,  the hike in council tax attributed to adult social care and recycling bins not being collected.

The Green Party candidate finished second behind the Conservatives 2013 and I do think people were surprised by this when I told them, and actually enthused to vote Green to get the Tory out.

I had chance to take picture with Caroline Lucas who also came out to help Rob win the seat.


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Friday, April 21, 2017

How to handle dog poo.



Nothing beats that 'feeling' of stepping in dog poo. That immense grief is something we've all experienced. Yes of course  there are bigger issues to discuss in the forthcoming county council election, but the relatively small issue of  unscooped dog poo left by irresponsible dog owners, be it on a pavement, playground or field, is something that is a bother to us all.

The division of Banstead, Woodmansterne and Chipstead is blessed with miles and miles of beautiful countryside. However, good walks can be spoilt by unscooped dog poo. A number of local residents have mentioned the poo on view in the fields behind Lakers Rise. I have to confess the levels of poo are almost a disincentive to actually go for a walk in that area.

Like many mums and dads walking to the local school with their kids, I find myself having to keep an eye on dog poo on the pavements. Then one mum suggested there needed to be an easier way to alert us all of unscooped dog poo. Her light-hearted suggestion was a hi-vis paint, administered via an aerosol can, that can be sprayed directly on to the dog poo.

The idea shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. If you think about it, yes there are potential fines for irresponsible dog owners that should act as a deterrent, but enforcement is practically non-existent, especially when the police are experiencing cuts and other resource limitations.

ARE 'POO FLAGS' THE ANSWER?


Then I heard about a Brighton man who had bought over 100 'poo flags' on eBay and planted each one in a dog poo he found in a piece of green space outside his home. What is more, the local authority supports his scheme!

I wonder what people would think if I bought some flags and did the same in the fields behind Lakers Rise??

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Woodmansterne Green Belt Residents Association AGM

I went along to last night's WGBRA AGM. It was interesting and enjoyable, with lots of friendly people in attendance.

The meeting started off with a presentation by Sandra from the KEEP OUR ST HELIER HOSPITAL KOSHH. It was a hard hitting opening to the AGM and it certainly caused a stir. Representatives from KOSHH are fantastic campaigners. They get everywhere. One even made a presentation at the Stand Up To Racism rally.

Towards the end of the meeting the Conservative Councillor Ken Gulati took questions, Much of the discussion revolved around planning applications on Green Belt land. This prompted me to lodge objections when I got home.

I got a chance to ask Cllr Gulati about the mulchy ice rink that developed last autumn and winter on the pavement at the bottom of Rectory Lane. We all had to slip, slide and sludge our way through as there was no other route. Other residents agreed with me and suggested that fallen leaves never used to cause this problem but cuts to street sweepers coupled with the installation of the mobile phone mast and crucially, the ancillary box beside it were contributory factors. To my surprise it seemed Surrey Council didn't know anything about the issue!!

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Standing up for what matters