Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The truth is coming out and they just can't stop it...

When I started the campaign for Coatham in August 2004, I started it because I wanted to stop the building of houses upon our coastline and I wanted to inform the public of this area of the truth about this Development. Over a period of five years I, along with hundreds of other people who have rallied to this campaign, have been successful on both counts.

However, when I looked at Mondays Evening Gazette, I realised that that this campaign, the campaign that I have given heart, body and soul to, is on one count, almost over. After five years the truth, the truth that this council have been denying for five years, was there in black and white. The new leisure centre and pool was now costing a whopping £13,800,000 and that money hadn't been 'levered' in from Persimmon building their houses because they haven't built any and it hadn't come from external grants and funding that had been 'attracted' as a result of Persimmon building their houses either, it has come from this council borrowing the money. Money that we will have to pay back through our council tax being raised.

I always remember ex council officer Peter Ellis saying in front of me, Charles Davis and Cllr Madge Moses at the councils exhibition in the Coatham Bowl in 2005, that we could and I quote "have a baths without having the houses because we could borrow the money" A stunned Madge Moses said "Peter! what are you saying?" "But of course we aren't going to borrow the money Madge" replied Mr Ellis. I knew then, when this now ex-senior officer of the council said that, that these officers and this council were lying to the public and more than this, to the elected councillors themselves, who now for some reason are happy to take part in the lie?.

It is there for all to see that we don't have to have the houses to have a pool and it is there for all to see that not only have the council systematically lied to us, along with Vera Baird, we should have had this pool provided long before now.

Borrowing money for a baths and paying it back through our council tax has been the only realistic way of this council securing the money to build one. We have said this to the council and the MP Vera Baird. Yet even though they have known this all along, even though borrowing has been written into their funding of the scheme from day one, borrowing which has gradually risen from 3 to 5 to 8 to 10.4 and now to 14 million pounds, the council have constantly denied it. I recall one meeting with Vera Baird In Charles Davis' house where Ms Baird said in front of five other people, "I dont want houses to be built on the coast and if you show me one way to get a baths without having to have the houses and without having to borrow the money and putting peoples council tax up, then I will come out and support it, but we cant borrow the money and put peoples council tax up". How ironic that she should say that, yet she isn't now speaking out against her Labour controlled council borrowing £14,000,000 in order to do the thing that she said she could never support?

I have spoken to people over the last few days who have said that people just want a baths, they are sick of the arguments between the council and us. I will say this, THAT WE WANT A BATHS TOO! We have always supported the building of a baths. But what we haven't supported is the building of 359 houses on our much loved coastline when there is absolutely no need. But it has gone much further than this now. I want a baths in Redcar, I streaked at Wembley in 1997 to try and save the one we had because it mattered to me so much, that our town should have a baths. No-one would like to see a baths in Redcar more than me. But at what cost do we want a baths?

If we accept the baths as part of this disaster (To quote Vera Baird ) of a scheme then it would be like winning a game of something, poker say, by cheating. It would mean nothing. What credibility does anyone have by winning something unfairly? We as a town surely want something that we can be proud of, an achievement that means something, that has been fought for and won fairly. Not a hollow victory that has been won through foul means not fair. This scenario is even worse when you consider that it is the Local Authority who is the cheat. But their aim is to win at all costs, to force this disaster upon us no matter what, in order to conceal their cheating.

They have done this already. It was exposed in the Tait tribunal case, that the council knew that they were putting parking tickets illegally on people because they had no Traffic Road Order in place which permitted them to do so. So what did they do? Rather than inform the public in order for money taken in illegal parking tickets to be returned, they concealed the truth and kept it away from the public. They did the same with the boroughs dinner ladies. They knew that the dinner ladies were entitled to a higher pay settlement than they offered them, but the council tried to frighten them into believeing that if they did not take their offer, then they would get nothing at all and encouraged them to take a pittance. One dinnerlady went to tribunal and was awarded her rightful amount of £32,000!

The Coatham Development is just another example of their underhandedness and their cheating in order to win at all costs. It has massive questions hanging over it. The foul stench of corruption is hanging all around it. We asked the question in our newsletter "Is Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council Corrupt?" and listed all of the facts which suggest that they may be. We have done the same in our film. It is so bad, that a group of planners from the South who have been monitoring the progress of this scheme, based on the limited information that they have been given told me that and I quote " We know that something doesn't smell quite right with this scheme"and that "every couple of months things come to light about this scheme which are more complicated and more worrying". The person who told me that, said that I could pass that information onto Mr Robert Goodwill MP for Scarborough and Whitby, which I did.

Mr Goodwill may have retracted his support for our campaign, he may say that he now doesn't believe what we have said in the film and the newsletter, but does anyone honestly think that Mr Goodwill would have risked his position as a front bench Conservative MP by showing a film in Parliament that he did not believe was true from the outset? Would he have risked his position by intervening in the constituency of the Solicitor General, if he was not certain that all of the facts and all of the documents that we had presented him with, were correct or if he had not been presented with all of the documents and facts? Would we have gone to Parliament, Vera Bairds stomping ground and stated our case so vigorously if we were lying? In every instance the answer is no.

We told him everything and gave him everything, even the newsletter asking the question of the council and still he backed us. Many believe that it was Vera Baird applying pressure to Mr Goodwill that forced his hand and the fact that he realised that things were bigger than he anticipated. Many believe that when he was informed that the council had settled the ex-assistant Chief Executives tribunal out of court, at the cost of who knows how many hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money, in order to stop the truth about what this council had done coming out into the public domain, he realised just how bad things were and that made him back out quickly. The real clincher though came in his official statement withdrawing his support for us. Mr Goodwill clearly lists allegations in his middle paragraph, that we had not made publicly ourselves? Why would he list a whole series of untrue and libellous allegations in the middle paragraph of his official retraction if they were just that?

He knows how wrong everything is with not just the Coatham Scheme, but many aspects of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. At the meeting that he is now trying to distance himself from, he was even approached by one professional gentleman who told him that he thought that this Coatham Scheme could possibly be akin to the infamous POULSON AFFAIR! And Mr Goodwills reaction? Did he recoil in horror? No, he gave the man his card and invited him to contact him again! This followed a meeting where it had been agreed that efforts should be made by us and Mr Goodwill, to try and obtain both the barristers opinion and the development agreement for Coatham which had both been kept secret.

Whatever happened in between the screening and the retraction, one can only assume? But when you take into consideration that Vera Baird was applying pressure to Mr Goodwill right up to the screening and when you take into consideration that she tried to threaten and bully an elderly Church Warden into not allowing the film to be shown in Coatham Church, it is obvious that Ms baird applied sufficient pressure to Mr Goodwill in order to get the result that she so desperately wanted.

The only thing wrong with that is she may have applied pressure and tried to do things through stealth and intimidation, but if she had any real belief that we could not back up what we have said, if we were lying or had libelled her and her rotten council so badly, then the film would have been injuncted and we would have received writs for libel.

Despite writing to her twice inviting her to do these things. She hasn't taken us up on our offer.

So much for us lying eh?

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