Former Rushmoor councillor Jon Weston has distributed an excellent leaflet in Farnborough entitled The Truth in Rushmoor highly critical of not only the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor but also Hampshire County Council and the arrogant contempt with which the councillors and their officials treat the local community.
Some of the issues he covers are the waste of public funds, councillors jacking up their allowances, half-size wheelie bins.
A non-post of mayor which is costing the local taxpayers £150,000 a year, foreign town twinning junkets costing £39,000, street cleaning costing nearly a million pounds and yet we have filthy streets, millions lost in Iceland and other financial scams, refurbishment of Hampshire County Council Headquarters at a cost of £42 million paid for by the closure and sell-off of schools and old peoples homes, town centre regeneration in Aldershot, what town centre regeneration many would ask, tourism at £126,000, do people actually visit the area, a visitor information centre at £117,000 and so the list goes on.
Half-size wheelie bins were covered in an excellent Channel 4 Cutting Edge Documentary The Revenge of the Bin Men a couple of weeks ago (Monday 2 March 2009). In it viewers were able to see at first hand the arrogant contempt officials have for the public.
A Rushmoor councillor has has claimed Rushmoor has a good record on recycling. Not the view of the Audit Commission who have slammed Rushmoor for their piss-poor performance
Not surprising, the leaflet from Jon Weston ruffled a few feathers. What next happened was a threating letter from the Borough Solicitor to Peter Sandy a former Rushmoor councillor in Aldershot! What particularly seemed to incense Limmer over which she got her knickers in a twist was the following (original all in block capitals):
'There have been many cases where the Standards Board of England has found councillors in this borough guilty. Their cases then handed back to Rushmoor for punishment. Only to get let off by a panel of their own buddies – what can you expect when it is councillors overseeing councillors. This is the corrupt protecting the corrupt.'
'The guilty councillor were: Sue Dibble (Lab North Town), Charlie Fraser-Flemming (Lib Mayfield), Roger Kimber (Tory Aldershot Town), Mohamed Choudary (Tory Aldershot Town): All found guilty then let off by their own buddy councillors along with Rushmoor solicitors. This is disgusting behaviour for any public servant. Paid for out of public taxes.'
Three councillors were found guilty of a very serious offence, unduly influencing a planning decision. At the time all three sat on the board of Pavilion Housing Association which stood to benefit from Farnborough town centre redevelopment. They were found guilty of a very serious offence, then let off due to bad advice from the Borough Solicitor! As a result of their activities, the planning consent had to be quashed as it could no longer stand.
A fourth councillor was found guilty of influencing a committee determining taxi policy. At the time he was a taxi driver. Again let off due to bad advice from the Borough Solicitor.
The way such cases are determined has now changed somewhat. They are referred back to the council to be determined by the council. A farce if ever there was one.
In her letter to the Peter Sandy, Karen Limmer claimed she had no input on these cases! The Standards Board would appear to differ. Or is giving bad advice not classed as input?
She goes on to say that Peter Sandy was found guilty by the Standards Board and suspended from office, and that was the most serious case brought against any Rushmoor councillor.
A number of trumped up allegations were made against Peter Sandy whilst he was a councillor. He was obstructed by officials to such an extent that his role as an elected councillor was rendered untenable.
The Tribunal before which which he appeared cleared him of all charges bar two. In his summing up the chairman noted that he was a hard working councillor on behalf of his constituents and that he did not receive the support from officials that was reasonable for a councillor to expect. Her was found guilty of criticising officials. He was given a slap on the wrist, barred from standing for office for a couple of months. He was not suspended, as he was no longer a councillor. He had stood down as the behaviour of officials had made his job impossible.
For most people, a councillor having the guts to criticise officials for not doing the job they are are paid to do would be a councillor worth having.
Karen Limmer was present throughout the Tribunal but is incapable of getting basic facts right. Nor has she got her facts right regarding the guilty councillors, even though as Borough Solicitor she would have received the full reports from the Standards Board. Somewhat ironic when her letter was to complain that the Truth in Rushmoor leaflet contained 'a number of factual inaccuracies', but then the guilty councillors named by Jon Weston (found guilty by the Standards Board) were let off due to bad advice from the Borough Solicitor!
Karen Limmer threatens further action, but does not say what it will be.
She seems to forget we have free speech, a right enshrined in the Human Rights Act. Cases have already appeared before the European Court of Human Rights where the Court found in favour of those who had attacked politicians.
If a councillor feels they have been unfairly attacked or criticised, the remedy is in their own hands. It is not for a Borough Solicitor to act on their behalf and to do so is a serious abuse of public office.
Maybe she should check on the legal position, before issuing threatening letters. Maybe she should consider her own position. After all what use is a Borough Solicitor who gives bad advice?
An interesting footnote is that a Tory councillor, a member of the ruling group, stopped Peter Sandy in the street to tell him what a fool Limmer had made of herself by sending the threating letter, then went on the compliment Peter Sandy on the leaflet that he was distributing in Aldershot!
If Borough Solicitor Karen Limmer and her cronies have problems with criticism, the solution is simple and in their hands, improve the piss-poor performance of the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. A start would be to listen to and act upon the wishes of the local community, not act like a jumped-up petty Fascist dictatorship.