The Plastic Hippo

April 14, 2013

Q tips

Filed under: Media,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 1:50 am
The Bird is the word

The Bird is the word

After the playground custard pie fight in Walsall Council Chamber last Monday night, we are still none the wiser as to the identity of the mysterious Councillor Q.

It might be presumptuous to imagine that the representatives of local democracy would wish to explore the circumstances surrounding the recommendation from the Ombudsman that three of their number should have no further input into a suspicious planning application, but it seems that the matter has been noted and is now closed. The local press, including the Advertiser that initially broke the story, consider that there is nothing to see here and it`s time to move on. The increasingly ridiculous Express and Star offered a bizarre piece from a barely literate hack describing his attempt to survive on £53 a week, left-over turkey sandwiches, tea at his mother`s house and “down-sizing” to half pints of beer. Including an image of the woeful hack looking miserable in a pub was consistent with the editorial line of scrounger rhetoric but the E and S missed a trick by not bringing up the usual bilge about flat screen TV`s, computer games, booze, fags, class A narcotics, tattoos, piercings and horse meat to feed to the trophy attack dog. Earlier, the Express and Star nailed its colours to the mast with a laughable piece extolling UKIP`s barking mad Nigel Farage with a drooling dollop of nonsense under the headline “This charming man”. Standards are obviously slipping at the paper where a former editor wrote the “rivers of blood” speech for Enoch Powell. Surely clear evidence of impropriety would result in the press pursuing the story and stir councillors from their slumber to ask what the bloody hell is going on.

Sadly not; apart from some lacklustre questioning from the leader of the Walsall Labour Group that elicited no answers. So that`s alright then. We do not need to worry our silly little heads that a member of the planning committee acted in the business interests of his or her “associates” rather than the wellbeing of Walsall residents. It is not a problem that public green space was built on without permission and it is perfectly acceptable to exempt the councillors “associates” from any financial contribution to improve the area. It is, of course, perfectly legitimate to harass and accuse any council tax payers who dare to complain and it is only right that councillor Q should never, ever be identified. The £3,000 paid by way of compensation to the two complainants is peanuts compared to the increased allowances that cabinet members have awarded themselves and we should celebrate the fact that our wonderful leader of the council, who works 28 hours a day, nine days a week and 14 months a year, would never allow the scurrilous behaviour of the likes of councillor Q.

Now that the naughtiness of councillor Q, aided and abetted by councillor X and councillor V, has been airbrushed out of history, a number of questions remain. Why did the local government Ombudsman refuse to name the guilty? Is she complicit in covering up the vested interests of corruption? Why didn`t the opposition go for throat given such inappropriate maladministration? Was a deal struck that saw Conservatives and Liberal Democrats voting with Labour in a pointless and totally futile objection to the Bedroom Tax in exchange for an easy ride on dodgy planning decisions? Could one of the unnamed councillors actually be a member of the Labour Group?

We will never know because even given the lofty talk of openness and transparency, local democracy in Walsall remains as closed as the mind of Eric Pickles. So who is councillor Q? It has to be one of these people who attended the planning meeting that attracted such opprobrium from the Ombudsman.
Councillor Perry (Chairman)
Councillor Bird (Vice-Chairman)
Councillor Ali
Councillor Azam
Councillor Carpenter
Councillor Creaney
Councillor Cook
Councillor Ditta
Councillor Douglas-Maul
Councillor Harris
Councillor James
Councillor Madeley
Councillor Rochelle
Councillor Sarohi
Councillor Thomas
Councillor Turner

We can rule out councillors S. Fitzpatrick, Jeavons, Westley and Woodruff who offered their apologies for not attending and councillor Carpenter who declared an interest and withdrew and councillor Turner who wished to have his name recorded as having voted against the resolution to do nothing about the situation. No, surely not, it couldn`t be, could it? After a brush with the Ombudsman, could a bantam cock, a fairground showman and a Huguenot descendant from an ancient port on the Bay of Biscay be our mysterious councillors? It will be interesting to see if any of the councillors under suspicion of being Q, X or V will deny any involvement in the duplicity.

Only the good people of Pheasey Park Farm, Aldridge North and Walsall Wood and Aldridge Central and South can decide if these people are fit for public office. Don`t hold your breath, local elections are a long way off and memory fades as fast as any remaining integrity.


  1. There are several issues here.

    The first is that the bloggerati, the press, the complainants and the political caste (elected and others) know full well the identities of the corrupt trio, but are afraid to publish their names.

    It is indeed strange that the laws of anonimity have been applied here.
    The spineless decision of the Ombudsman to withhold identities discourages, for fear of litigation, even fearless bloggers such as the Hippo from directly revealing these already well-known names, except by inference.

    The Obudsman decision provides some compensation to the complainants. As always, this will be met from the public purse. Indeed from the very public purse that funded the maladministration in the first place. There is an evil but almost beautiful symmetry here.

    Meanwhile, the miscreants continue to pull in their allowances and ‘enjoy’ the trust of the people. The incompetent and spineless Officers who allowed this matter to escalate continue to function without penalty, sanction or censure.

    The Realist

    ps the item in the Excess and Swastika should be treated more kindly. Most local journalists would kill for a job paying £53 per week.

    The Realist


    Comment by The Realist — April 15, 2013 @ 10:36 am | Reply

  2. To take it to the next ludicrous stage I, one of the complainants Mr. Ash, have now been told by Tony Cox, Head of Legal Services, at Walsall Council that if I pass the name of the site or the Walsall Officers who I feel have been the cause of the injustice through maladministration on to the general public or through the press, I could be prosecuted for contempt for publishing information subject to anonymity in the Ombudsman report. Come on Mr. Cox let us get real. I have not obtained the relevant names from the Ombudsman’s report. I actually gave the names to the Ombudsman when we first lodged the complaint with him. I have had this detail on my files of correspondence since early 2009, way before the Ombudsman got involved. Perhaps he should first check with his Planning Officers who I have met and corresponded with since February 2009. Mind you some of these Officers may no longer be with Walsall Council as they could have taken some disciplinary action against the guilty parties, sorry I am being a little whimsical.

    Comment by Phil Brown — April 18, 2013 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

    • It does seem rather odd that the Head of Legal Services at Walsall Council should threaten litigation if information already in the public domain is disclosed. The minutes of the Planning Committee meeting on March 29 2012 clearly identify the property and gives clues to the councillors who voted against an enforcement order ignoring the concerns of officers and legal advice.

      If the Head of Legal Services is the finest legal mind that Walsall can afford, it is hardly surprising that so many Industrial Tribunals and whistle blowing inquiries end up being settled out of court with the price of silence being met by the uninformed community.

      As for anonymity, the plastic hippo will reveal his true identity on the day that Councillor Q and his accomplices are up before a judge facing charges of corruption. Could be a long wait.

      Comment by theplastichippo — April 18, 2013 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

      • Dear Plastic Hippo, Following on from my involvement with this anonymous site, close to where I live, I have been asked by one of my ‘contributors’ to consider investigating a number of other Planning applications which he (or she) feels have a link to this one. I am awaiting further detail from him (or her) but understand from our discussion that one was in Streetly in 2003/4, one in Streetly Wood in 2006/7, one recently in Walsall Road , Pelsall and the final one, at this stage, again current, in Lichfield Road, Rushall. I will report back once I have had the opportunity to check all the available material, which may entail at least one visit to the Ivory Tower. Watch this space

        Comment by Phil Brown — April 20, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  3. I understand that the Ombudsman has now informed Phil Brown aka Mr. Ash, that he did not ‘obtain’ the name of the site, the names of the officers or the names of the Councillors from either the Ombudsman’s report or the Ombudsman as a result of the investigation, therefore he can go public with the details. He has informed Tony Cox, Head of Legal Services at Walsall Council of this fact, to which he has nor received a reply, normal for Walsall Council. I have asked him to now release the detail to the press, so you will now find out that the site is BRUSH GARAGE, 86, Lichfield Road, Shelfield. You cannot miss the NEW Industrial Building on the site in the middle of a\ residential area, our thanks must go to Councillors B, H and R and Officers Tim J, David E, Norman H and of course we must not forget Barbara T, the Case Officer. I have deliberatley not given full names as Phil’s article in the E&S and other papers will do this, if of course they publish.

    Comment by The Twitcher — April 24, 2013 @ 10:48 am | Reply

    • Could not Walsall Council follow the example of Elmbridge Borough Council who I understand from today’s Daily Telegraph have removed a Mr.David Archer, who boasted to their reporter how he could get Planning Applications approved, from the Planning Committee and the Area Sub-Committee. It is nice to see that at least one Council takes positive action against errant Councillors. Come

      Comment by The Twitcher — April 26, 2013 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  4. It gets even better. At Planning Committee meeting on Thursday May 2nd an amendment to the S106 report was slipped in very quietly right at the start of the meeting while members were still taking their seats. This amendment deleted the reference to Planning Application 10/0211/FL from the S106, as this had been nullified, and now referenced it to ‘an enforcement order’, which in itself was rejected by Committee at the meeting where Councillors V and X had disgraced themselves, Councillor Q had already disgraced himself many times before this. So we now have a S106 which is free standing and I am sure will be used by Q and his cronies when the NEW Planning Application arrives at Committee, with another Tory Councillor, don’t forget Q,V and X must not be at the meeting, standing up and giving a pre-prepared speech quoting the S106 which is in existence so why is another planning application required. I would lay odds on the orator being Councillor A this time. The result of Thursday’s fiasco is that we have an amendment recorded in a Committee report and minutes which has not been proposed, seconded or voted upon, with three Councillors present in the chamber who have agreed not to be involved when any Planning matter relating to Brush Garage is on the Agenda. Once again it looks as though the Ombudsman’s slap on the wrist has been recorded but then ignored. Roll on May 2014, let us all give our opinions of the current Leader and Council through the Ballot boxes. Come on UKIP, Labour or anyone Walsall is there for the taking.

    Comment by The Twitcher — May 4, 2013 @ 10:12 am | Reply

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