John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, August 31, 2007
  Election Results: Thursday 30th August 2007.
Epping Forest DC, Loughton Alderton
BNP 393 (32.2; -5.4), Residents 367 (30.1; +1.0), Con 163 (13.3; -3.1), LD
Neil Woollcott 172 (14.1; +10.5), Lab 98 (8.0; -5.2), UKIP 28 (2.3; +2.3).
Majority 26. Turnout 36.7%. BNP hold. Last fought 2006.

Isle of Wight UA, Newport North
Con 207 (35.5; -3.0), LD Liam Verstraeten 189 (32.4; +3.9), Lab 137
(23.5; -9.5), UKIP 25 (4.3; +4.3), Ind 23 (3.9; +3.9), Ind 2 (0.3; +0.3).
Majority 18. Turnout 30.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2005.

Stroud DC, Nailsworth
Con 857 (44.5; +6.1), Green 810 (42.0; +4.1), Lab 261 (13.5; +0.2), [LD
(0.0; -5.1)], [UKIP (0.0; -5.3)].
Majority 47. Turnout 38.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.
 
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
  Sky News on Fran Lyon
Sky carry Fran's story.
 
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  Habeus Corpus Precedents
Althouh we haven't had to use these yet we have now got some draft precedents for applying for Habeus Corpus. Whether they will result in a retrial is another issue.

As an absolute minimum there should be a public pronouncement of the sentence.

(see link)
 
  Secret Imprisonment
There is a case in Cambridge today where it is proposed that a certain woman be imprisoned. She will be requesting an open hearing. It would be wrong for her to be locked up in secret.

I am going to visit a Law Library this afternoon to find the precedents for an application for a writ of Habeas Corpus so that we can get her released if she is imprisoned unlawfully (in secret).
 
Sunday, August 26, 2007
  The Munch Bunch in the North East
This story (see link), This leader and this story jointly demonstrate the way in which the Family Courts accept basically irrational arguments.

We are aware of a large number of babies being taken into care in the North East. What is not clear is the reasoning. We know that some were "munched" by the system.

The advantage Fran has is that this is at an early stage where she can fight the system openly. She, of course, would be gagged as soon as the issue goes to court.

I think this one that can be won.
 
Saturday, August 25, 2007
  The Rule of Person vs the Rule of Law - Gang Culture
Human beings tend to operate on the basis of the "rule of person". This is not that nice an environment as it depends upon the good will of the person involved. What developed in the UK was that the King first had to operate in accordance with a system of rules in dealing with the Barons (Magna Carta). Then generally the role of the King as a strong state developed into the separation of the estates.

If we ignore the fact that the Family Division has a tendency to work on the basis of who likes whom (mainly in the lower courts although I have seen it in the High Court as well) rather than law we can assume that the courts operate on the basis of the rule of law.

In the absence of the rule of law, however, we devolve back into the "rule of person".

I am not sure what the reasoning was behind the liverpool shooting, but most shootings are gang related. Gangs operate mainly on the basis of the rule of person - the gang leader.

To be protected in an enviroment where the law is weak people associate with gangs for protection.

Interestingly the systems in politics, however, are substantally moreso like tribal groups where elected politicians associate with others and client-patron politics is very strong.

You can, therefore, see patterns of behaviour much like those of gangs, clans and tribes.

I take a relatively unusual view in politics in that I see the need for children to grow up respecting boundaries. Those boundaries will be mainly established by the rule of person (parents, teachers) and can then transfer to the rule of law. However, if they grow up not getting those boundaries then they can be establised by localised gang culture instead.

I take the view that musical culture tends to represent the reality possibly lagging behind, but also possibly emphasising it as well. Hence this is not the route towards improvement. Instead we need to emphasise the role of parents and the role of people "in loco parentis" viz teachers.

On the other hand we are getting much of the usual drivel about solutions. It is important to remember that poverty relative or absolute does not in itself create an environment in which the rule of law has no force. It is, however, true that a "rule of person" society tends to be corrupt with low social capital and as a consequence poor. It is also true that if people have little perceived "stake" in the rule of law that in itself will undermine support for it.
 
Friday, August 24, 2007
  Comment is Free - Guardian - comments closed
The Guardian kindly invited me to write for their blog area which I did (it is linked). Because they couldn't moderate such a legally sensitive area over the weekend they have shut down comments.

One by someone with a pseudonym "niceday99" is well informed and deserves a proper response - to the technical points made.

As I understand it, you're basically suggesting that the adoption system of 1999 was doing just about ok, albeit pretty borderline, but that the introduction of an adoption target overloaded it. But why was it "creaking" in the first place? Was it a case of lack of proper checks and balances, or was it simply a funding issue?
It is the failure of the proper checks and balances rather than funding

Adoption is an expensive process and the number of adoptions will be limited by the resources available to purchase and support adoptive placements. In other words, give local authorities more money to fund this (up front cash, not paying by results by the way) and more adoptions will take place, even without a national target. This is basically what happened.
The statistical evidence is that a new age cohort of children were taken into care then adopted. It is not the case that the children "languishing in care" were adopted.

You could be referring to Local PSAs (and if you are then please be specific)
It is the LPSA adoption targets totalling a reward of £36 million that were part of driving towards greater numbers of adoptions. However, the management and inspection pressure from then CSCI now Ofsted also acts to achieve the same result.
The issue was one of changing priorities. That can be achieved in a number of ways.


If LPSAs were met, more money was provided - but do your sums, would this bonus cash outweigh the extra costs to the local authority of snatching all these extra children and having them adopted?
I do have some of the "spend to save" plans of local authorities to obtain the (L)PSA monies.

LPSA money is a drop in the ocean by comparison.
The objective of LPSA funding was a culture change

"babies, known as "adoptible commodities" in the profession"

What is your source for this?
Reported conversations at Adoption Panels
 
  Election Results: Thursday 23rd August 2007.
Suffolk CC, Thedwastre South
LD Penny Otton 927 (41.8; +7.5), Con 833 (37.5; -9.4), Green 287 (12.9;
+12.9), Lab 88 (4.0; -14.8), UKIP 85 (3.8; +3.8).
Majority 94. Turnout 32.4%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2005

Havering, Squirrels Heath:
Conservative 1828
Havering Residents Association 310
Labour 210
National Liberal Party, the Third Way 170
UKIP 134
 
  Today's Face the Facts on Radio 4 12.30pm
BBC Times Times Comment Guardian PA Story

Face the facts today at 12.30pm has some new material including a whistleblower who has been a senior social worker and confirms in essence that the thesis I have argued is true. On the back of this PA sent out a news story which has gone verbatim into about 30 local papers such as The Lancashire Evening Post

I did an embargoed press release as well
The Department for Children Schools and Families were slammed today by John Hemming MP for being disingenuous about the adoption targets. On BBC's Face the Facts (on Radio 4 at 12.30pm) The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) denied there was a target relating to taking children from their birth parents in order to meet overall adoption targets.

John Hemming MP, Chairman of Justice for Families, said, "This is disingenouous and misleading. There is a target for getting children in care adopted. To have a child adopted from care that child has to be in care first. The government were innumerate and ignored three things when they set the adoption targets. Firstly they ignored the approximately a third of children that are in care under Section 20 of the Childrens Act voluntarily because their parents cannot cope with them. Secondly, they ignored the fact that children over 5 are difficult to get successfully adopted. Thirdly, they compared a number of children in care at a given date to a number of children per year adopted. That fails on the basis of dimensional analysis." "The end result is to achieve 8% of children in care over 6 months adopted they have to have both almost all of the children under 5 taken into care adopted and also take more children aged under 5 taken into care. The mathematics is quite simple."

"The government are trying to avoid their responsiblity for this situation - instead they should fix the problem. Childrens Social Services are not 100% responsible, the blame also rests with the Family Division and in particular those solicitors who act to undermine their own clients and the judges who refuse to allow fair trials." "I am hoping that the United Nations will assist in trying to protect families in the England and Wales against the ravages of English and Welsh Public Family Law. It is a major destructive force. Whilst the state continues to undermine family life it should not be surprised at the consequences."

Notes for Editors:
A "green paper" on changes in Public Family LawFace The Facts will be transmitted on Radio 4 at 12.30pm today and repeated on Sunday, August 26, at 9pm.
 
Thursday, August 23, 2007
  Day Care Surgery in Selly Oak
I can confirm from personal experience now that the minor surgeries unit at Selly Oak does a good job. I left home at about 7.40 and left the hospital (having rested for the required 30 minutes after a minor operation) at 10.20. The doctors attending were a very competent Italian doctor and one from The Sudan who was watching.
 
  Camilla Cavendish's article re baby Brookes
The link is to Camilla Cavendish's article about baby Brookes in Calderdale.

Note the use of the phrase "appalling vista". The judges accept the system as it stands because they refuse to see that it is very badly broken. This is much like Lord Denning refusing the criminal appeal of the Birmingham 6 because he could not accept the "appalling vista" that the police had lied. The number of miscarriages of justice are in the thousands.

It ends up doing a lot of harm.

That's to children as well as parents.
 
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
  Foreign Criminals and the ECHR
So we now find out that the refusal to deport Learco Chindamo is nothing to do with the Council of Europe and the European Convention of Human Rights or indeed the 1998 Human Rights Act.

Instead it relates simply to the point that in essence there is actual freedom of movement within the EU. There are points where there is no border control in the UK (I won't identify them) and generally there is little border control in the EU.

It isn't really surprising that the government are in a total mess. These issues require attention to detail.

The government's new "automatic deportation" law isn't anything to do with "automatic deportation". It would not have an effect on a similar case to Learco Chindamo.

There is perhaps an argument for a wider form of exclusion ASBO which applies with a criminal sentance (and as a consequence proof beyond reasonable doubt). However, all of these things need to be consider by the court of first instance - which is exactly what the new legislation doesn't do.
 
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
  Family Law issues in Southern Australia
The link is to a story in Southern Australia where lie detectors are suggested for picking up false allegations.

The issue of handling false allegations is a very important one. Sometimes people know what they are saying is not true. However, sometimes people believe what they are saying is true, but it is not.

That is the real difficulty with some medical evidence. The doctors believe what they are saying, but it happens to be untrue. The judges cannot handle this directly (particularly when they refuse to listen to more than one expert) and it is really the responsibility of the state (a mixture of all estates) to work to ensure that expert evidence actually is true and where it is unreliable it is not relied upon.

This issue is why we end up with "fact finding hearings" that are really just inventions as to one possibility that may be true. The procedures used try to obtain certainty from a complete muddle. The end result is a mess.
 
Monday, August 20, 2007
  That AV/STV By-election
Aberdeen UA, Midstocket/Rose Mount
Fought under AV.
Stage 1 - first preferences:
SNP 873 (29.5%;+3.2%); Conservative 821 (27.8%;+0.1%); Liberal Democrat
Steve Delaney 693 (23.4%+1.3%); Labour 518 (17.5%;-3.6%; Solidarity 31
(1.00%;+1.00%); Independent 20 (0.7%;+0.7%); SSP No candidate (0.0%;-2.0)
SNP gain from Conservative.
Turnout 28.6% Last fought 2007.

Stage 2 - elimination of Solidarity and Independent candidates
SNP 885; Conservative 826; Lib Dem 708; Labour 529

Stage 3 - elimination of Labour candidate
SNP 984; Conservative 873; Lib Dem 869

Stage 4 - elimination of Lib Dem candidate
SNP 1258; Conservative 1122

SNP gain from Conservative. The ward now has 2 SNP and 1 Labour
councillors.
 
  United Nations to Look at UK Childrens Social Services
In an Email today from the secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Committee it has been confirmed that Committee Members will be looking at John Hemming MP's submission about UK Childrens Social Services.

John Hemming MP said, "It takes some time to work through different systems of administration. I am pleased that we now seem to making some progress at getting the United Nations to look at the way in which England and Wales recycle children. It is plainly wrong for England and Wales to continue doing things in this way. More of the abuses of process that occur in the Family Justice System are being highlighted now. However, what needs to happen is the recognition that the system is wrong. I therefore welcome the communication from Patrice Gillibert today that our submission will go through to the next stage."

"I am still waiting for the High Court to decide whether or not I can start reporting malpractise to the authorities. It is wrong for judges to be immune from sanctions for malpractise in private hearings - which is currently the situation."

John Hemming MP, who chairs Justice for Families, submitted a report to the United Nations about how families were being maltreated by the UK's Childrens Social Services earlier this year. Justice for Families is a campaigning organisation pushing for changes in Public Family Law in the UK.

Ends

Notes for editors:
Submission to UN

Justice for Families

Potential Changes



John Hemming's note:

I am a member of the UK Parliament. I am particularly concerned at the way in which the UK treats new mothers where their newborn babies are removed from them even though there is no real risk to the health of the babies. The court process is secret and the babies are given to other more acceptable families.



Response from Secretary Gillibert:

Thank you for your message whcih will be brought to the attention of Committee members. Sincerely, Patrice Gillibert Secretary, Human Rights Committee
 
Sunday, August 19, 2007
  Covert Tape Recording
One of the issues raised in the Sunday Telegraph today is that of covert tape recording. The recording of Video pictures with CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act because it records someone's face.

As far as I can tell a Public Authority is prevented from doing a covert tape recording unless it is done in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

However, as it is entirely reasonable to take notes of a conversation that someone has with another party then I cannot see that the privacy aspects of ECHR constrain recording the same conversation. The situation may be difficult for a situation where someone is "bugged".

I know that Childrens Social Services don't like meetings being recorded. I think, however, that this is wrong and they should be willing to have recordings made. It is much like the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 where tape recordings are used for interviews to ensure there is accuracy of evidence.

I would think that having accuracy of evidence in respect of Child Protection Proceedings would be a step forwards.
 
  In the Sunday Telegraph Today
Quis custodiet ipsos custodies
A proposal to take a newborn baby into care in Calderdale

The first of the stories is important. It recognises that the people investigating the public family law system are those who do not wish to recognise errors in it because they are responsible for errors.

What is actually needed is a review that looks at a wide range of cases and what is done in other countries. It is true that we cannot prevent all deaths. However, we should be looking at what is the better approach. Much that the current system causes a mass of misery for both children and parents (and the extended family) I contend that it actually fails to prevent the more serious cases of abuse that result in death - that could be prevented.

In itself by making mothers and fathers frightened of the system we end up with support services that people are frightened of talking to. That is not good.

The second story is one of many where the allegations of potential emotional abuse give rise to a child being removed from its family for ever.
 
Saturday, August 18, 2007
  Another angle of parents and childrens social services
The link is to this story:

A girl yob aged 14 who started a £1million blaze was locked up yesterday - to save her from her parents' bad influence.

Although I am unsure how prison will be any better than living at home it was probably the right thing for the judge to do, much that this was more for punitive reasons than anything else.

However, we do really need to identify what we are asking CSS to do. If we mix up too many tasks then we really get in a mess.

This is where conflating S31 and S20 of the 1989 Childrens Act. When parents "lose control" of their children the local authority is supposed to step in. I am not sure, however, that I would be critical of the CSS in this instance.

However, the focus at the moment is on baby broking. At the same time we have a Chief Constable talking about children being taken into care because they drink alcohol. Given the track record of "care" for aubstance abuse that does not seem a good idea.

I do think, however, that we need to rethink the whole system and where action is taken by which organisation and what action should be taken.

*CSS - Childrens Social Services

I use this description because most people refer to "Social Services", but actually is is now officially "Childrens Services", but that is mainly education and it takes some time for people to catch up with administrative reorganisations. Hence CSS.
 
Friday, August 17, 2007
  Father in court over murder of baby
The linked story I mention because superficially it does not seems to be a case where Childrens Social Services could have any effect.

However, it is also not certain whether it is murder or another Shaken Baby Syndrome case.

What worries me about these cases where young babies die from head injuries is that the science is really not clear. If we simply blame the parents each time the danger is that the proper research to identify children at risk and take the action to prevent subdural haematomae will not happen. Babies with glutaric aciduria fall into this category.

However, on the hand it may be simply a tragic case where the father is guilty as charged.

I am trying to get a proper study done as to the deaths of children on a proper cohort basis as that is the only way of really understanding things and preventing sad situations.

A real FII case appears to have gone through in Scotland. The point about FII is that sometimes it happens, but it is a mistake to see it as the most likely differential diagnosis.
 
  Election Results: Thursday 16th August 2007.
Aberdeen, Midstocket/Rose Mount
Awaiting results

Blaenau Gwent WCC, Blaina
Ind 381 (36.;1 -11.4); Lab 315 (29.8; -22.7) Ind 310 (29.4; -18.1) No
description 49 (4.6; -42.9)
Majority 66. Turnout 29% Ind hold. Last fought 2004

Gloucestershire CC, Lansdown Park and Warden Hill
Tory 2208 (52.3; -6.6), LD 1605 (38; +7.3), Lab 226 (5.4; +6.6), Green 184
(4.3; 7.3)
Majority 603. Turnout 30% Con hold. Last fought 2005

Portsmouth UA, Fratton
LD 1196 (58.6; +3); Con 496 (24.3; +1.5); Lab 144 (7.1; -5.3); English
Democrats 131 (6.4; -2.1)
Majority 700. Turnout 20.7% LD hold. Last fought 2007

Ryedale DC, Sheriff Hutton
Con 348 (53.8; +2.5); Ind 299 (46.2; -2.5)
Majority 49. Turnout 46.9% Con hold. Last fought 2007
 
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
  Another sad death from child abuse in London
The link is to a story about Barking and Dagenham. This story fits in with the thesis as to what sort of interventions are avoided.

Note that in the changes document I am suggesting that where there are clear mental health issues that risk is a key determinant. (That doesn't mean just someone saying a bit of therapy is needed).

There is a further important point relevant to this case. If Childrens Social Services have massive caseloads because they are chasing up cases where "Emotional Abuse" is alleged. (Which can mean just shouting at children) Then they don't have the resource to deal urgently with issues where rapid action is required.

There needs to be some clear focus on cases which involve substantial risk of physical harm. That is what has been missing in Swansea, Huddersfield, Haringey and Dagenham in the recent stories.

I presume the local Safeguarding Children Board will say "lessons will be learned".
 
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  Wakefield pays "fine" of £1 Million for Shooting Messenger
The link is to one of the stories where Wakefield Childrens Services sacked Care Workers for blowing the whistle on child abuse in Wakefield Childrens Homes.

This seems to happen with considerable regularity. Vide Haringey.

Six care workers sacked for revealing a shocking catalogue of
mismanagement in children's homes to the Yorkshire Post have won a £1m settlement from Wakefield Council.
 
Monday, August 13, 2007
  JOB VACANCY
Full Time Caseworker to Councillor John Hemming MP
Constituency – Birmingham, Yardley

Salary: to be negotiated depending on experience

The role of a caseworker in the constituency office involves a variety of areas dealing with many government departments and members of the public both face to face and on the telephone. Our office makes good use of the technology available and you will need to be familiar with Microsoft Office, email and internet and be willing to learn how to use our customised casework system.

Amongst other things the post involves writing correspondence on behalf of the MP, carrying out research and helping to run the advice bureau for the constituents. The ideal candidate will be degree level or equivalent experience coupled with a knowledge and interest in local and national politics. The ability to produce high quality written work alongside excellent communication skills is essential. You must be well presented, have the ability to work as part of a team as well as using one’s own initiative and be reliable. The successful candidate will be highly motivated and organised.

Immediate start. Please send CV and short covering letter to Angela Walker at walkeran@parliament.uk or by post to 1772 Coventry Road, Sheldon, Birmingham, B26 1PB.
 
Sunday, August 12, 2007
  Abuse Investigations should be taken away from Childrens Social Services - Hemming
Writing to Minister Kevin Brennan, John Hemming MP, chairman of Justice for Families, has called for the responsiblity for investigating allegations of Child Abuse to be removed from Childrens Social Services.

"With the sad death recently in 'Climbie' council Haringey of a 17 month old child in early August 2007, following the convictions for the murder of Leticia Wright in Huddersfield, it is quite clear that our system designed to protect children is failing." said Mr Hemming

"In the attempt to find "adoptible commodities" to satisfy the government's targets, serious cases of abuse have been missed."

"The police are far better at investigating allegations of abuse than Childrens Social Services. We need people who concentrate on issues of evidence."


"There is also a conflict of interest between being a support service and an investigative service. The two responsibilities need to be separated. In Cleveland it was found that practitioners came to a conclusion at the start of an investigation, rather than when the evidence was collated."


"In both of the recent cases as with Victoria Climbie there was very obvious physical maltreatment of a child. This is easy to spot. All they have to do is to make sure that they see the child. However, this did not happen."

"Other countries separate out the investigative functions from those which are supportive. We should do the same. I have argue for some time that the dysfunctional nature of the English and Welsh Childrens Social Services system causes both intervention to happen when it shouldn't and intervention to fail to happen when it should. Sadly the evidence in the newspapers proves the second part of this thesis."

"Haringey's response of shooting the messenger when someone warned the council they were leaving children at risk is a further obvious problem."

Note for Editor:
Haringey Whistleblower Story
 
  Another sad death from child abuse in Haringey
The link is to yet another story. I am trying to put together some record as to deaths of children from maltreatment in the past two years.

This one I think was very early August 2007. I am aware of some issues about Haringey that I am not at liberty to reveal at the moment. However, it seems quite clear that the system is massively dysfunctional.

I have argued that the system intervenes where it shouldn't and as a consequence of that fails to intervene where it should.
 
  Huddersfield Death a new issue
The link is to a story that has not been widely told relaing to Leticia Wright with an extract below.

Zaheer Hussain, the biological father of four-year-old Leticia Wright, right, said he was last with his daughter around two months before she died.

He told the jury that the girl's mother Sharon Wright, 23, formerly from Hartlepool, then stopped contact between him and his little girl.

Mr Hussain told the jury at Bradford Crown Court: "We were in a shopping mall and I told her it was time to go and she wasn't having it and crying and she didn't want to go and said she wants to stay with me.

"I couldn't do anything to keep her because Sharon would have argued and I don't know what I could have done about it."

He added: "I have never seen her like that, she proper kicked me, smacked me, punched me, screaming and crying 'no, no, I don't want to go' and I just had to pick her up the best I could with her still hitting me and took her back."

To cheer Leticia up, he took her to a park in Wakefield, because she was "really depressed and crying" before dropping her off with Wright at the home she shared with her co-accused Peter Seaton, 22, also formerly from Hartlepool.

"She was still crying," Mr Hussain told the jury. "I still remember that face.

"Just sad, just not wanting to go. She was sad and I could see it in her face."

He added that after that incident whenever he phoned up and asked to have Leticia, Wright told him that she was busy.
 
  Three articles in the Sunday Telegraph
One about how secrecy protects professionals
An opinion piece (you can guess by whom)
The editorial comment

For those interested we are working on a draft of proposals for change to the system.
Draft proposals for changes
 
Friday, August 10, 2007
  Mixed race toddler's carers found guilty (Kirklees)
This is another of those cases where one would have expected intervention from Childrens Social Services. She was a mixed race 4 year old. Harder to get adopted than an unharmed baby. It is important to remember that with all the social workers leavingt the profession because they cannot stand doing what they are doing it leaves fewer and fewer experienced people. Those people need to hunt up the "adoptible commodities". That cuts the time available to protect children.

Apparently an "independent professional" has done a review. The question is independent from what. Not independent from the profession. Not independent from the paying local authority.
 
  By-election results: Thursday 9th August 2007
Elmbridge BC, Walton Ambleside
Con 310 (45.5; -2.6), Ind 252 (37.0; +5.6), Lab 60 (8.8; -1.2), UKIP 33
(4.8; +4.8), LD Sereena Davey 26 (3.8; -6.7).
Majority 58. Turnout 23.3%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Tower Hamlets LBC, Shadwell
Respect 1512 (43.2; -1.7), Lab 1415 (40.4; +9.2), Con 476 (13.6; -3.9), LD
Rosie Clarke 98 (2.8; -3.6).
Majority 97. Turnout 39.7%. Respect hold. Last fought 2006.

Prudhoe TC, Castle
LD Darren Levitt 179 (64.4), Con 99 (35.6).
Majority 80. Turnout 15.0%. LD hold.

Further results from 2nd August 2007.

Glynneath (Welsh Community Council), West Central
PC 167 (68.2), Lab 78 (31.8).
Majority 89. Turnout 37.5%. PC gain from Lab.

Pontwardawe (Welsh Community Council), Rhyd-Y-Fro
PC 63 (61.8), Lab 39 (38.2).
Majority 24. Turnout 17.6%. PC gain from Lab.

Further result from 17th July 2007.

Gainsborough TC, South West
LD Harry Clarke 301 (7.7), Ind 119 (28.3).
Majority 182. Turnout 11.6%. LD gain from Ind.
 
Thursday, August 09, 2007
  Times letter about judges undermining rule of law
The link is to my letter about the judge failing to give a written judgment. The story appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on Sunday. I was in touch with one of the people who are due a missing judgment yesterday and it still had not arrived.
 
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
  HP Sauce - spot the difference

It is naughty to continue to market HP Sauce with the Houses of Parliament when it is now no longer made in the UK, but in the Netherlands.

I have written to various people about this and we will see what happens.
 
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
  PMQs - Entertainment not accountability
I have not being going to PMQs that much recently. That is mainly because I find I can be more effective dealing with things in my office. PMQs is quite an entertaining spectacle, but really does not help in terms of accountability.

The House of Commons is actually quite bad at holding the government to account. That is obvious when you look at the ludicrous responses I have got from departments about the costs of red boxes. Some have given a straight answer, some have avoided the question and others have claimed that it would cost too much to find out how many red boxes they have bought.

What this results in is the government party having a tendency to introduce legislation to change government. Often it could be done simply by administrative instruction. However, we end up instead with a piece of legislation.
 
Monday, August 06, 2007
  North East Wales (Flintshire)
The link is to a story where the Ombudsman has judged that a council should pay compensation to a family that was investigated by Childrens Social Services.

Note particularly:
As well as recommending the apology and the £4,000 payout to the mother, the ombudsman said another £1,000 should go to one of her daughters for the distress she in particular was caused,
Why when the system is supposed to protect children does it cause so much distress to children?
 
Sunday, August 05, 2007
  Where's the judgment?
The linked story is about the failure of the system to provide judgments to two parents at Liverpool County Court.

Without the judgment they cannot appeal to the Court of Appeal. The system of correcting unlawful decisions at a lower court is, therefore, blocked.

This is not a trivial issue. It undermines the whole process of law. I am told that frequently parents' solicitors prevent the parents from getting their judgments. Without the judgment they cannot appeal either in person or through another firm.

There is an argument that you can appeal on the basis that you haven't been given the judgment. We may try that in the future. However, generally people have been bounced from the European Court and the Court of Appeal because they don't have the judgment.
 
Saturday, August 04, 2007
  Death of child in Ealing
The sad death from very serious physical maltreatment over a period of time of a child in Southwark does fit with the theory that the system is concentrating on white children.

The problem with the investigating procedure is that it is not truly independent of the system. What is needed in this situation may not be the formality of a judicial inquiry, but at least someone independent of the child abuse investigation system should be appointed.
 
  Foot and Mouth and an October General Election
The link is to the politicalbetting website which reports the expectation of an early election going to late 2008 on the spreadbetting markets.

I do think the outbreak of Foot and Mouth means that noone could sensibly plan for an October general election as canvassing should be discouraged in rural areas.
 
Friday, August 03, 2007
  Lib Dem Regional Floods Task Force
Lib Dem Regional Team Leader and Shadow Minister for the West Midlands John Hemming MP and West Worcestershire’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Richard Burt visited the county yesterday to look at the problems caused by the floods.

"It is clear," said John Hemming, "that there are problems beyond those immediately of water damage. A lot needs to be done in helping businesses, residents and farmers in flood damaged areas get back on their feet. We have established a regional flood task force to look at this issue and come up with recommendations.

"The Environment Agency", said Richard Burt, "do not seem to deserve their bonuses. Some river channels have not been cleared for many years and there are questions as to whether inaction by the EA has exacerbated the problems of heavy rainfall across Worcestershire. Our regional flood project team will review how differently the EA and local authorities should behave to enable the West Midlands to cope more effectively with flooding.

The Lib Dem Regional Flood Task Force will consist of John Hemming MP, Jerry Evans (environment and climate change spokesman), Alan Beddow (housing), Lorely Burt MP (business) and Richard Burt (health), John Redfern (Local Government) and Sarah Carr (farming).

John Hemming MP (right) and Richard Burt talked to flood hit traders in Tenbury Wells
 
  Stolen Generation - Australian Court Case
The link is to one of the stolen generation cases from Australia. What needs to happen in England (and Wales) is for the wrongful adoptions to stop. There is no sense the courts continuing down this blind alley merely because stopping causes problems.
 
Thursday, August 02, 2007
  Written Parliamentary Question 2nd August 2007
Environment Food and Rural Affairs: Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were: and what tendering process was used in selecting them.


A:During the last five years DEFRA has purchased two ministerial red boxes, both were in financial year 2005-06, at a cost of £750.00 each. They were supplied by Banner Business Supplies.

As the value of orders was below the minimum HM Treasury threshold for competition, the orders were placed on a single tender basis with Banner Business Supplies.
Jonathan R Shaw (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
 
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
  The Guardian on the culture in Social Care
The link is to The Guardian's perspective on how social workers approach assessment of their clients. Taking out a few quotes:

"My experience is that when it comes to advocating for resources, social workers are inclined to present the worst aspects of someone's case and skip over some of the positives to get maximum impact. Obviously this is a dodgy path to tread, because your argument is that it is all doom and gloom but an increase in services will make it all better. The risk in that approach is that the manager may ask: if things are really that bad, shouldn't we be heading towards child protection procedures or court? "

"There is a longstanding tradition within radical social work that entails being economical with the truth if it means you can get help or services that otherwise would be denied."
 
  West Midlands Lib Dems launch Regional Team
The West Midlands Liberal Democrats are announcing their team of regional spokespeople. John Hemming MP has been appointed as the Shadow Minister for the West Midlands (and Regional team Leader) and will be shadowing Liam Byrne MP. Lorely Burt MP is the Deputy Team Leader also dealing with Business and Enterprise. Her husband Richard Burt joins her in the regional shadow cabinet dealing with Health. Paul Keetch MP will deal with the regional issues relating to Defence. Liz Lynne MEP will deal with European issues. Martin Turner will handle Culture, Sarah Carr Farming and Agriculture, Ayoub Khan, DFID, Africa and Asia; Jerry Evans will look at Environment and Sustainability, Tariq Khan will deal with the Home Office, John Redfern Local Government, Alan Beddow Housing and Karen Hamilton Children Schools and Families.

John Hemming said, "This is our team for the regional agenda. We need to be challenging the govenment. In particular we will be looking at the issue of the floods and how government should be acting on climate change and the consequences for people in the region."

Lorely Burt said "The West Midlands is an interdependent and extremely diverse region. We have put together a team with a wide range of experience that can set out positive Liberal Democrat solutions to regional and local challenges."



John Hemming MP
Regional Team Leader
and Shadow Minister

Loreley Burt MP
Deputy Leader
Business and Enterprise

Paul Keetch MP
Foreign
and Defence

Liz Lynne MEP
Europe


Richard Burt
Health


Sarah Carr
Agriculture
and Food

Cllr Jerry Evans
Environment
and Sustainability

Cllr Karen Hamilton
Children Schools
and Families

Cllr Ayoub Khan
DFID, Africa
Asia and the UN

Alan Beddow
Housing


Cllr Tariq Khan
Home Office

Cllr David Radcliffe
Transport

Cllr John Redfern
Local Government

Martin Turner
DCMS
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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