John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, September 28, 2007
  Darlington says "no" to Elected Mayor
In Darlington the result of the referendum for an elected Mayor was:
No - 11,226 (58.4%)
Yes - 7,981 (41.6%)
Turnout was 24.7%
The proposal to have an elected mayor is therefore lost.

In Birmingham there is some effort to get a petition for an "elected Mayor". Of those campaigning for the petition not everyone wants the "elected Mayor".

In the mean time the BBC are having a real go at James Purnell about a photoshopped photo. I cannot bring myself to be bothered really. Yes he is a Labour Minister, but having a go about something trivial that he does not seem to be responsible for is a waste of air time.
  Election Results: Thursday 27th September 2007. (Reading the runes)
Cheshire CC, Gowy
Con 1863 (50.4; +2.1), LD Andrew Garman 1419 (38.4; +5.7), Lab 307 (8.3;
-10.8), UKIP 107 (2.9; +2.9).
Majority 444. Turnout not known. Con hold. Last fought 2005.

Chester-le-Street DC, Chester Central
Lab 324 (59.4; -11.1), Con 89 (16.3; -13.2), LD Sean Kilkenny 81 (14.9;
+14.9), BNP 51 (9.4; +9.4).
Majority 235. Turnout 25.7%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Dover DC, Aylesham
Lab 661 (79.7; +11.4), Con 108 (13.0; -12.6), Ind 59 (7.1; +0.9), Ind 1
(0.1; +0.1).
Majority 553. Turnout 23.7%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Dover DC, Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory
Labour 365 (33.7; -3.3), LD John Mackie 274 (25.3; +6.1), Con 252 (23.3;
-8.2), Ind 70 (6.5; -5.8), UKIP 65 (6.0; +6.0), Ind 56 (5.2; +5.2).
Majority 91. Turnout 20.2%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Kent CC, Dover Town
Lab 1860 (44.5; -5.8), Con 1348 (32.2; +4.1), LD Dean Stiles 420 (10.0;
-11.6), Ind 300 (7.2; +7.2), UKIP 256 (6.1; +6.1).
Majority 512. Turnout 19.5%. Lab hold. Last fought 2005.

Mansfield DC, Lindhurst
Lab 339 (35.6; +13.8), Mansfield Independent Forum 302 (31.7; +0.7), LD
Marc Hollingworth 215 (22.6; +22.6), Con 61 (6.4; -8.4), Green 35 (3.7;
-3.8), [Ind (0.0; -24.9)].
Majority 37. Turnout 27.1%. Lab gain from Ind. Last fought 2007.

Northamptonshire CC, Lloyds
Lab 1093 (53.5; -8.7), Con 375 (18.3; -2.7), LD 311 (15.2; -1.6), BNP 265
(13.0; +13.0).
Majority 718. Turnout 30.7%. Lab hold. Last fought 2005.

Portsmouth UA, Nelson
Lab 791 (35.0; +3.2), Con 682 (30.2; +3.3), LD Alex Naylor 548 (24.2;
-2.9), UKIP 90 (4.0; +4.0), Green 78 (3.5; -2.9), English Democrats 71 (3.1;
Majority 109. Turnout 22.4%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Sunderland MBC, Washington East
Con 1196 (49.9; +9.8), Lab 994 (41.5; +2.2), LD 206 (8.6; -5.6), [BNP (0.0;
Majority 202. Turnout 27.6%. Con gain from Lab. Last fought 2007

What Gordon Brown should read into this is unclear. I don't see a major swing towards Labour.
  Labour: Brown blusters but nothing changes
One of the more obvious things in parliament is that Labour say things will change, but often little changes.

One small example relates to shop lifting. There is a form of shop lifting allowance before anyone is prosecuted rather than cautioned. This means that in essence people can shoplift knowing they won't be prosecuted. The rhetoric of Labout is "talking tough", but the action is not there.

Gordon Brown claims to want accountable government. That means answering questions. However, they are refusing to answer questions about the costs of red boxes. They claim it is too expensive. Then they won't say how they worked out the costs.

Another good example is the use of "reasonable force" for self-defence. There is actually a good argument to give victims security against prosecution in certain situations. However, they reviewed the issue three years ago and decided to do nothing.

MRSA is another issue where they are unlikely to take the right action. (It involves reversing the contracting culture to maintain hygiene).

People will see through this at some stage.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
  Immigration - one of the known unknowns
There are, of course, unknowns that are known as well as unknowns that are unknown.

Immigration, however, is a policy area where we really don't know what is happening. What the government think is the case, local government know not to be true. In the mean time it is massively complex.

At the same time we have people emigrating from the UK. This leads to a situation where a policy area that is very important to many people is debated with almost no understanding of the reality.

C'est la vie.

We discussed some of the aspects today at Health Scrutiny COmmittee. The health, housing and employment aspects of immigration are all interrelated and all operate on the basis of slightly separate rules.

We have the complexity, for example, of destitution plus which means that a failed asylum seeker who is on tablet for depression gets support from the state, but one who is not depressed does not.

The complexity that I think best demonstrates the absurdity of the system is the tale from Leicestershire from the TUC. This relates to legal portugese migrants paying for forged Brazilian passports to prove that they are illegal immigrants so they can get work from employers who want illegal workers so they can avoid paying tax and employing people with rights.
  Cafcass refuse complaints
One thing I find unusual about CAFCASS is that they will refuse to register complaints from time to time.

They refuse to register a similar number of complaints as they actually register. (same order of magnitude).

The numbers of complaints not registered in recent years are

YearNumber of complaints not registeredRegistered Complaints

Figures updated as a result of CAFCASS update (correcting 2005/6) and providing registered figures.
  Local Authority Targets inc Adoption
As part of the Audit Commission and DCLG's management of local authorities each local authority is required to have targets for various things (recycling etc).

It is possible to find out centrally what the outcomes are for the indicators, but noone collates the information as to what the targets are.

Anyone looking for the adoption target for a local authority should search for BV 163, BVPI 163 or PAF C23 on the local authority website. It should be published as part of the Best Value Performance Plan (BVPP). However, finding the information centrally involves quite a bit of work.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
  Licensing and Planning
Local Councils are both licensing and planning authorities with different systems for making decisions.

One area of problem has been that the Licensing Committee is only allowed to take into account a limited range of things and cannot consider planning issues.

However, I was pleased today that the Licensing Committee took into account when looking at an application for ... another ... brothel massage parlour in Hay Mills whether or not planning permission had been obtained as an indicator of the suitability of the applicant and/or premises.

This will improve the operation of licensing in Birmingham in the future.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
This song (link for lyrics) is quite funny. It is sung to the tune of Supercalifragiliciousexpialidocious. I do have an MP3, but don't know where it is on the web (one of my daughters gave it to me)
  Judicial Statistics
The link should give the currently available judicial statistics. This includes for care order the number of times the local authority is turned down.

That should worry people given the high proportion of proposals agreed by the judiciary.
  Referenda and General Elections
The issue of the European Reform Treaty is one which is material in terms of the General Election.

Clearly this causes Gordon Brown problems if he has an early general election because he would be under considerable electoral pressure to promise a referendum.

However, that may not prevent him from going for it.
  Office reconfiguration
I have run my office on the basis of one member of staff in London and others in Birmingham since 2005.

I am, however, now going to experiment with having a team based in Birmingham who all spend a week in turn in London. The team of caseworkers is up for this as a proposal. This structure will particularly suit recent graduates as it will give a wide range of experience. The job is advertised on w4mp (see link).
Monday, September 24, 2007
  Adoption Figures changed by Special Guardianship
The figures for up to 31st March 2007 have now been relased. The number of adoptions from care have dropped from 3,700 to 3,300, but the number of special guardianships have gone up from 60 to 740. The two figures are lumped together for the target BV163 or PAF C23.

I cannot sensibly comment on these figures until I see the details of various profiles (age, gender etc).
Saturday, September 22, 2007
  Birmingham Recruits Social Workers from USA
The link is to a story in the Birmingham Post linked to a Committee Meeting of the Council at which the recruitment of Social Workers from the USA was discussed.

It also raises the point about referrals. The problem is that all the analysis of the failures of the system have missed the point that it is the decisions in Local Authorities, CAFCASS and the Family Courts that go wrong for various reasons.

It is not an absence of referrals. Hence more referrals just makes the system creak further.

It will be interesting to find out if the government do scrap BVPI 163 (aka PAF C23) and how that affects things.
Friday, September 21, 2007
  Boy (may have) died from lack of common sense in system (not Social Care)
This is a story which is unclear.

The police are saying that training was needed. The problem is that if the evidence is that someone is somewhere under the water but the location is unclear then that would be the argument - not an absence of training.

I think this is something which needs a bit of clarification. The initial story implied that common sense was being squeezed out. It is now unclear, but the statements issued by Greater Manchester Police do not properly stack up.
  Election Results: Thursday 20th September 2007
Birmingham MBC, Brandwood
Lab 1998 (42.7; +9.1), Con 1663 (35.6; -4.2), BNP 290 (6.2; -2.7), LD Brian
Peace 285 (6.1; -4.9), Green 193 (4.1; -2.6), Ind 157 (3.4; +3.4), UKIP 64
(1.4; +1.4), New Nationalist Party 25 (0.5; +0.5).
Majority 335. Turnout 26.2%. Lab gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Caerphilly UA, Moriah
Lab 638 (73.5; -3.1), Ind 230 (26.5; +26.5), [PC (0.0; -23.4)].
Majority 408. Turnout 26.3%. Lab hold. Last fought 2004.

Copeland DC, Harbour
Lab 463 (44.3; -17.1), Con 337 (32.2; -6.4), BNP 245 (23.4; +23.4).
Majority 126. Turnout 31.5%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Nuneaton and Bedworth BC, Abbey
Lab 807 (37.9; -1.0), BNP 457 (21.5; +21.5), LD Mish Whitmore 409
(19.2; -16.5), Con 329 (15.5; -9.9), Green 115 (5.4; +5.4), Ind 10 (0.5;
Majority 350. Turnout 38.9%. Lab gain from LD. Last fought 2006.

Pembrokeshire UA, Pembroke St Michael
Con 251 (30.6; +30.6), LD Gareth Jones 242 (29.5; -28.9), Ind 184
(22.5; -19.1), Lab 142 (17.3; +17.3).
Majority 9. Turnout 42.5%. Con gain from LD. Last fought 2004.

Southend on Sea UA, Shoeburyness
Ind 666 (34.0; +6.0), Con 494 (25.2; -8.8), Lab 460 (23.5; +3.5), BNP 273
(13.9; +0.9), LD Jane Dresner 66 (3.4; -1.6).
Majority 172. Turnout 25.3%. Ind gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Wigan MBC, Wigan West
Lab 837 (43.7; -3.9), LD Trevor Beswick 464 (24.2; +24.2), BNP 264 (13.8;
0.0), Community Action Party 219 (11.4; -7.8), Ind 72 (3.8; +3.8), Green 60
(3.1; +3.1), [Con (0.0; -19.3)].
Majority 373. Turnout 18.7%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Worcester City DC, St Clement
Lab 604 (42.5; +19.5), Con 478 (33.6; -15.8), BNP 166 (11.7; -4.1), UKIP 122
(8.6; +8.6), Green 52 (3.7; -8.1).
Majority 126. Turnout 31.4%. Lab gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Further Result from 13th September 2007.

Croxley Green PC, Croxley Green North
LD Frank Brand 207 (elected) (42.9), Ind 161 (elected) (33.3), Ind 140
(29.0), Resident 115 (23.8).
Majority 46. Turnout 13.7%.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
  Pauline Goodwin's story in the Liverpool Echo
Pauline has always demonstrated an impressive understanding of court procedures. It is sad, but the failures of the legal profession have led to parents having to learn how to use legal procedures themselves.

There are different problems in different areas of the country. In Liverpool there are quite a few odd things that happen in the courts.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
  National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
The link is to the US based NCCPR. They have similar, but probably not as extreme, problems as exist in the UK. The culture of consequentialism that dominates child protection theory tends to drive the same patterns of misbehaviour where the checks and balances fail.

They have a number of proposals for looking after children (and families) here

I make no comment about these.
  More Babies taken into care -> More babies dying
The linked story is to one in the Sunday Telegraph which reveals that the increase in numbers of newborns taken into care has actually been accompanied by an increase in deaths of babies from homicide rather than a reduction.

To that extent it is clear that the changes in the child protection system are failing to protect children.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
  Project Creep and the European Union
Project Creep is a logical conclusion of the Dustbin Theory of Decision-making.

The Dustbin Theory of Decision-making (prop D. Howarth) is that most decisions are made essentially by a dustbin being passed around and everyone who it passes chucking something in. That means that most decisions are dominated by the people who are passed by the bin.

This is one of the flaws of politics. It also results in Project Creep. Project Creep means that if the people involved in the project also dominate in defining the boundaries of the project then it will expand gradually to get larger and larger.

This is the big problem in relating to the European Union. Unless the project is held back through constitutional mechanisms them power will gradually be centralised.

That is why I am really "not sure" about the European Treaty. I am sure that I would wish to have a referendum on the issue. However, I am uncomfortable with anything that makes project creep easier. If anyone really thinks the politicians control the EU they need to have a look at the balance between the decisions made by officers and the decisions made by politicians. The dustin of decisionmaking is normally kept in the officers' office. Only a few politicians get a chance of chucking anything in. Hence officers dominate most decisions.

I am not happy with the micromanagement of some of the european directives that specify (for example) that we must not include in recycling targets any residue following incineration. There is an ideological row about incineration. At the end of the day we need a sustainable society. That will involve some incineratoin. Even traditional hunter gatherer villages have fires. For the EU to take an ideological position that douses the fire is irrational.
Friday, September 14, 2007
  By-Election Results Thursday, 13th September 2007
Brent LBC, Stonebridge
Lab 1432 (51.9 -1.6), LD S Wiltshire 864 (31.3 +16.2), Respect 237 (8.6
+8.6), Con 177 (6.4 -13.3), Green 51 (1.8 -5.2), [Ind (0.0 -4.7)]. Majority
568. Turnout 24.03. Lab hold. Last fought 2006.

Chelmsford BC, Broomfield and The Walthams
LD M Taylor 1198 (56.3 +38.1), Con 742 (34.9 -20.8), Lab 76 (3.6 -4.2), UKIP
57 (2.7 -5.7), Green 53 (2.5 -7.4). Majority 456. Turnout 35. LD gain Con.
Last fought 2007.

Conwy UA, Mochdre
Lab 303 (45.7 -6.2), PC 166 (25.0 -23.1), Con 159 (24.0 +24.0), BNP 35 (5.3
+5.3). Majority 137. Lab hold. Last fought 2004.

Lewisham LBC, Whitefoot
LD P Pattisson 986 (37.1 -3.0), Lab 901 (33.9 +7.2), Con 536 (20.2 +2.5),
Ind 95 (3.6 +3.6), UKIP 89, (3.3 -5.1), Green 52 (2.0 -5.2). Majority 85.
Turnout 28.2. LD hold. Last fought 2006.

Liverpool City MBC, Warbreck
Lab 1796 (55.2 +10.9), LD R Roberts 1024 (31.4 -13.8), BNP 136 (4.2 +4.2),
Ind 131 (4.0 +4.0), UKIP 52 (1.6 +1.6), Green 45 (1.4 +1.4), Con 40
(1.2 -3.2), Liverpool Lab Community Party 32 (1.0 +1.0), Liberal [0.0 -6.1].
Majority 772. Turnout 29.41. Lab gain LD. Last fought 2006.

Mendip DC, Glastonbury St Edmunds
Con 432 (55.4 +10.8), LD A Gloak 348 (44.6 -10.8). Majority 84. Con gain LD.
Last fought 2007.

Rossendale BC, Goodshaw
Lab 634 (59.5 +6.5), Con 300 (28.1 -18.9), BNP 80 (7.5 +7.5), LD 52 (4.9
+4.9). Majority 334. Turnout 33.77. Lab gain Con. Last fought 2006.

Rossendale BC, Irwell
Lab 379 (37.2 +5.2), Con 312 (30.6 -1.6), BNP 281 (27.5 +1.2), LD J Pilling
48 (4.7 -4.9). Majority 67. Turnout 27.04. Lab gain Con. Last fought 2007.

Rossendale BC, Whitewell
LD T Nuttall 606 (48.6 +11.9), Lab 399 (32.0 -5.7), Con 152 (12.2 -135),
BNP 91 (7.3 +7.3). Majority 207. Turnout 28.83. LD gain Con.

Tunbridge Wells DC, Pantiles & St Marks
Con 788 (59.8 -4.3), LD J Johnson 364 (27.6 +0.5), Lab 94 (7.1 +7.1), UKIP
71 (5.4 -3.4). Majority 424. Turnout 27.3. Con hold.

Wootton Bassett TC, North
LD J Stratton 433 (62.7), Ind 258 (37.3). Majority 175. Turnout 19.6. LD
gain Con.
  MSbP - overdiagnosed according doctors in the USA
There is an article in Psychology Today published Yesterday in the USA that has interesting elements:

with antagonism between doctors and moms. "I have never known a false case not sparked by conflict between a mother and a doctor," New Hampshire psychologist Eric
Mart states.

Schreier says powerless mothers are clamoring for intimacy with doctors. But he could be recalling an era past, when doctors were emotionally present and generous with their time. Indeed, the impersonal nature of modern medicine doesn't seem to support the Munchausen by proxy construct. Marching to the drumbeat of managed care, in fear of litigation, 21st century doctors may have little interest in schmoozing. They are often seen as distant by the very patients they serve.
Mothers, too, have changed. Best described by Judith Warner in her book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, post-millennium moms are intense, omnipresent, and highly involved. From finding the perfect nursery school to engineering marathon play dates, nothing escapes their attention and no detail is too small. Taught independence by their own feminist mothers, at home with their children by choice, these educated women aren't likely to defer to a doctor when a child stays sick. The more mothers learn, the more they access the Internet, and the more intense and independent they become, the more they will spar with doctors—and the more they'll be at risk of being labeled a Munchausen mom.

"If it were the man demanding help, wanting to know more and wanting to be involved, no one would think anything of it except, 'What a dad! says Mannie Taimuty-Loomis, now executive director of the Jonah & the Whale Foundation. "But when a mother displays the same characteristics she's deemed difficult to work with, overly interested, and very controlling."

"Diseases that can't be fixed can create enormous amounts of anxiety," adds Tracy Davenport, a University of Delaware expert on the social impact of illness. "Doctors want these patients out of their office, while the patients are filled with loneliness and despair—not because they want the doctor to love them, but because they want the disease to go away."

Pennsylvania psychiatrist Virginia Sherr has a special interest in Lyme disease, whose neurocognitive symptoms can seem bizarre and vague. She says she's seen false allegations time and again when a mother tries to get help for a child who's truly sick. "Modern medicine tends to trivialize women's seemingly offbeat concerns, and hurried physicians who seek easy panaceas drastically devalue mothers' opinions," she states. "Worldwide, there have been thousands ofvery sick children forcibly removed from mothers because these women have insisted, quite knowingly, that their children are ill."

"We are seeing a conflict between doctors and patients that didn't exist before," says Davenport. "Mothers are increasingly demanding consumers. They are texting friends by BlackBerry and getting information in minutes that trumps what their doctors advise. Rather than idolize their doctors, they are apt to antagonize them, leading to more misunderstanding and more charges of MBP in years ahead."

The intellectual dilemma here, says Kirk Witherspoon, an Illinois psychologist studying the issue, is that two unrelated elements have been mixed. One of them is motive, which is a cause. The other is abuse, which is a result. There's no proof that the theorized motive—a need for attention-explains the abuse routinely labeled MBP. But that doesn't stop some doctors from "dredging up motive to scapegoat mothers when they don't have answers," says Witherspoon. "Instead of diagnosing the child with a disease, they diagnose the parent with a crime. When mothers challenge their authority, doctors call it a pathology, one that's so broad it fits everyone. For example, if the mother is too friendly, a sign of Munchausen. If the mother is angry, a sign of Munchausen. There's no differential diagnosis. It's preposterous. It doesn't make logical sense."

Feldman attributes the confusion, in part, to invalid profiling. "There is no profile," he says. "There has to be proof."
But there, too, problems abound. Subject to misinterpretation, tools like covert taping (used to entrap Kelly Savage) and family separation (the evidence against the Taimuty-Loomis family) can lead to false allegations. Children who suffer from acid reflux are a prime example. They are often treated with Reglan, a drug that can cause seizures and a full range ofunusual side effects. Mothers are blamed for the symptoms, and then separated from their children. The treatment is stopped, and the children get well, apparently confirming MBP. And since many conditions improve on their own over time, the separation test is an imperfect investigative tool.
In light of all this, even doctors convinced of MBP's reality are pulling back. Feldman insists the syndrome exists, but says "we've gone too far. Those of us on the front lines must take ownership of the problem and admit we've been overzealous. Innocent mothers have been accused." Feldman is especially troubled because when vindictive doctors make false reports, they're protected by the law and consequences are nil.

"We have created a monster in our imagination that we project onto certain mothers," Pankratz says. "Some of these mothers have problems in the medical management of their children and need clinical help, but the exotic label has entangled them in a destructive web, seemingly without escape."

Eric Mart points to psychiatry as a field rife with discredited theories—for instance the idea that "refrigerator mothers" create autistic kids. When studies are done, such concepts are relegated to the dustbin of science, and MBP stands poised to end there, too, he states. "I'm not saying the abuse doesn't happen," Mart emphasizes. "I'm just saying the theory behind the syndrome doesn't hold up."

"Why call it Munchausen," asks Kirk Witherspoon, "when you can just call it abuse or murder."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
  Childrens Social Services version of Democracy
The link is to more of the newly revealed Norfolk Story.

I would like to extract elements:
April 2004
Diane’s mental health social worker informs her that that he has made a referral to children and families for extra support.

November 2004
Just before the baby’s birth, a case conference is convened. The case conference lasts four hours and nine of the 12 professionals vote against registration, while three social workers vote for it. The chair decides to use her exceptional powers to assure registration on the grounds of likelihood of emotional abuse but does not make clear the five-day right of appeal. The police officer attending the meeting later phones the chair to question her decision.

So, in this instance the local authority was approached for "extra support". The social workers decide - here's a baby we can steal. Even with the Child Protection conference voting 9:3 against registration the baby is still put on the register.

Notwithstanding the fact that this was a major abuse of process that has caused considerable stress I am not aware of any disciplinary action that has been taken against any individual member of staff.

Does that mean that the management of Norfolk are happy with the behaviour of their staff?

Par for the course really.
  Norfolk Grandparents Speak Out
The link is to a story in Community Care where a family were messed about by the Childrens Social Services department.

The fundamental problem is a lack of ocncern for proper investigation of allegations of potential child abuse. This leads in part to the systematic perversion of the course of justice. When this is accompanied by some solicitors undermining their own clients it is not surprising that it is a debacle.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
  Bristol 10 year old dies
The death of a 10 year old in Bristol has raised further concerns about the priorities of the system. The issue is clearly not the absence of references, but that the priorities system of the local authority is wrong. Priorities are driven by targets. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
  Stalin and photographs
My daughter has "found" this photograph
  Cycle Paths and Targets
Local Authorities have been given targets for increasing the length of cycle paths. That does not mean that the cycle paths have to be any use to cyclists.

The link is to the Warrington Cycle Campaign's "Cycle Facility of the Month" that highlights each month a relatively futile cycle route.

Such as these ones

It is worth having a look at the site to see how badly government can act when it really tries (Still not as bad as recycling children, however)
Friday, September 07, 2007
  Nine children removed in Northampton
The problem with this is that all we have is the allegation that:
"There was an incident in which he banged a table and shouted at the little girl, who fled to her room."

This is why we really need to understand the full reasoning. The evidence from Anna Freud's nursery is that breaking ties to the birth parents does a lot of damage to children.

I cannot see that one incident about someone banging a table and shouting can warrant removing a 6 year old child from a birth family.
  Election Results: Thursday 6th September 2007
Bromley LBC, Crystal Palace
LD Tom Papworth 1051 (49.7; +2.5), Lab 537 (25.4; +1.5), Con 398 (18.8;
+3.5), Green 129 (6.1; -7.5).
Majority 514. Turnout 24.7%. LD hold. Last fought 2006.

City of York UA, Heworth Without
LD Nigel Ayre 914 (46.7; +11.0), Con 703 (35.9; -1.8), Lab 219 (11.2; -5.8),
BNP 63 (3.2; +3.2), Green 58 (3.0; -1.4), [Liberal (0.0; -5.2)].
Majority 211. Turnout 61.8%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2007.
  Tahla Ikram
Another non-white child is discharged from care to die at the hands of a step parent.

The link is to the BBC's questions in which they say:
The final decision on returning Tahla to his father was made by a judge.
This is the local authority hiding behind a judge again. The judges basically go along with the recommendations of the Local Authority and Guardian. When you have a particularly good Guardian they may have some independent judgment from the Local Authority.

When I say the system as a whole is corrupt and secretive that does not mean that it does not get some things right. Nor does it mean that all of the people working within the system are corrupt. Some clearly are. Some make decisions for all sorts of wrong reasons. Some, however, work for what they perceive as the best interests of the child. The corruption of the system arises from the failure of the checks and balances.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
  Fran Lyon in the Daily Mail
Vanessa Brooks is about to give birth. The first thing the family courts will do when she has the baby is to gag her.
  Wakefield found to ignore abuse by foster carers
You wonder what is happening in Wakefield Childrens Social Services some times. They have "shot the messenger" and lost at employment tribunal and put a string of children with foster carers who were abusing them - when they had evidence.

Sadly this is far from unique.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
  The State is not your Friend
I saw this phrase somewhere recently. It is an interesting phrase. Obviously the state (or King) does provide certain services including protective services. However, it is quite clear that the state is not anyone's friend. It operates in the way in which it operates (partially by the rule of law, partially by direction of the executive and partially in the interests of the people operating it).

The evidence from the mess in Public Family Law is that it acts directly against the interests of both children and wider families when a "friend" would not be expected to act in that way.

It is against this background that the growth in databases needs to be considered. We have a consequentialist argument from Lord Justice Sedley wherein he argues that it is more important to have greater state power with all the potential abuse than have a situation in which one offender escapes the sanction of the state. (see link)

I think it would be interesting to do a study of the judgments and the judges involved that are in the public domain. That is, perhaps, a task for the future.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I wonder what the government's strategy is in Afghanistan. It is relatively easy to defeat someone in battle. It is almost impossible to get people to like an occupation.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
  Pressure placed on witnesses
The linked story is from the Sunday Telegraph and involves social workers in Northumberland pressurising witnesses in Fran Lyon's case. What is unique abount this attempt to pervert the course of justice is that it has been done in a case which is essentially public.

The "culture of consequentialism" means that the ends justify the means. The objective of the local authority is to get the baby. Therefore what is done to achieve this objective is not material as long as they get the baby.

It shocks people when they end up in the Kafkaesque world of the Family Courts. Generally things in the UK do not work this way. However, as a result of the secrecy of the court processes bad practice becomes endemic. This is why people start out really bewildered by the irrational way that the system behaves.

Another thing that happens frequently is presenting people with the need to prove their innocence. It is suggested that something is possible (without any evidence to prove that it is true) participants are than required to prove that it is not true.

That is actually rather difficult even for people who are totally innocent of the allegation. However, if evidence was required for allegations then it would mean people would make less money.

Another variant on this is to keep these allegations out of the formal discussions and merely use them to put pressure on witnesses. That makes it impossible to deal with the allegations because people under investigation don't know what they are.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
  Fran Lyon's website
The link is to Fran's website about the attempts by the state to steal her baby.
  The Church and Forced Adoption
It has been pointed out to me that the Bible (see link) is opposed to the stealing of children from single mothers and the poor. I wonder, then, why the church seems to support the current system in England and Wales.

See Job 24:9

(that's in the link)

The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;
the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.
  How safe are children in foster care?
The link is to another story about a Foster Carer who abused children in his care. What I am particularly concerned about is how the state gags children in foster care.

Workers in one London Borough have threatened children in care that they won't get flats when they leave care if they speak out about their treatment.

The system is evil in so many ways. That does not mean that there are not good people trying to do a good job. However, they are gradually voting with their feet.
  Respect and internal disputes
The link is to a page on "Socialist Unity", which always strikes me as a bit of an Oxymoron, and describes current stress in Respect.

Respect have, in Birmingham, split the anti-Labour vote and allowed Labour candidates to beat the Lib Dems.

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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Published, promoted, and printed (well not really printed I suppose, more like typed) by John Hemming, 1772 Coventry Road, Birmingham B26 1PB. Hosted by part of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, United States of America. This blog is posted by John Hemming in his personal capacity as an individual.

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