Sunday, December 02, 2007



The screening of our film “Coatham - A Common Concern” in the House of Commons scheduled for Dec 10th has been suddenly cancelled by the Tory MP, from outside of Teesside, who set it up last month on our behalf.

We approached this MP because of the total non-show by all 59 RCBC councillors at the packed film premiere in October and because of bitter past experience, we do not trust any of our elected representatives.

When we met the Tory MP, we presented our dossier of info. relating to RCBC’s fraudulent practices. He told us that it would be a neglect of duty not to act and promptly arranged the screening.

Last Wednesday, this MP informed us by email, that our MP Vera Baird QC, had approached him about the film being shown. The email read:

“Vera Baird spoke to me last night with some real concerns about the showing of the film. She has looked into the allegations you have made and posted some rebuttals (eg on covenants) on her web site. She pointed out the Parliamentary protocol regarding interfering in other people's constituencies and also made the point that some of the allegations you have made have no basis in fact. I was under the impression that this could have been referred to the Speaker and I could maybe have been censured for using house facilities in a matter not within my constituency remit. I suggest that if you have evidence of malpractice or corruption then this should be referred to the Local Government ombudsman. I am confident that these would be investigated thoroughly. Sorry to have to change the arrangements. We have cancelled the room”.

For the record, Vera Baird did not attend the premiere. She has not seen the film.
We re-approached the Tory MP on Thursday and asked him to reconsider his decision. He replied yesterday:
“The protocols of Parliament are quite clear about the ability of MPs to intervene in colleague’s areas. I also had some concerns that corruption claims would have to be legally provable for me to endorse them. The Speaker takes any unsuitable use of meeting rooms in Parliament very seriously.

Vera Baird MP has written to the acting Chief Exec at Redcar and Cleveland and asked for a thorough investigation of all the claims in the film. I hope that you are able to make a copy of the film available for this purpose. You could, of course, book another venue in London and invite MPs and journalists there. I am sorry that I have had to make this decision about the screening but hope that the points you raise are adequately addressed”.

For the record, the acting Chief Executive is Ray Richardson. He is featured in ‘Rotten Boroughs’, in the current issue of Private Eye magazine, regarding the suppression of a scathing Audit Commission report into RCBC’s financial management. Most interestingly, neither Vera Baird nor the council have released anything into the public domain regarding investigating this most serious matter.
We are naturally disappointed with at the Commons’ cancellation. We were very much hoping that our MP Vera Baird would have welcomed a debate with some of her own constituents in The House.

Nonetheless, we are still adding to the final cut of the film and the dossier also. They will both be released in the New Year at public screenings across Teesside. Our MP, all RCBC councillors and staff will be more than welcome to attend.


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