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Thursday, 23 December 2010

24th December 2010

Hornet wishes all her readers, followers, admirers and otherwise a joyous holiday season.

May the Christmas season bring you happiness however you choose to celebrate it, and that 2011 will bring us all health and peace.

Happy Christmas

Hornet will be sleeping in the hive until Bank Holiday Monday, but you can drop her a christmas message by emailing The final Westenders Christmas Panto will be posted up on Monday. Have fun X.

Rejoice!" Cllr Nick Paget-Brown

"The gritters are out, the traders are happy, the customers are coming, the lights are lovely, the congestion charge is going, the loos are due for re-opening.  Rejoice!" Cllr Nick Paget-Brown

Now we know Nasty Nick Paget-Brown is not exactly a David Willets (BTW not Hornet's opinion-merely what she hears from councillors) but when a highly committed resident receives this sort of response after complaining about the hopeless job the overpaid SITA are doing for traders, one has to wonder whether he is not a few trash cans short of a bin round...

Here is the background that caused Cllr Paget-Brown to hurl insults at public spirited residents and taxpayers.

The Portobello Market people have long been aware, as have the Labour and LIb Dem councillors who represent them, that they are not on the Leader's Christmas Card list. That's fine but surely it does not mean that they should be singled out for special punishment measures.

Fifty pages of RBKC/Sita Waste Contract 2005 are devoted to "Winter Emergencies." Appendix A: Salting of Roads Priority List designates Portobello Rd as a First Priority to be salted along its entire 2km length. Westbourne Grove, it notes, is to be treated from Kensington Park Rd and is also as a First Priority.

The southern section of Portobello Road is a steep hill. It is visited on Saturdays by tens of thousands of people. Yet last weekend, despite forecast heavy snow, no salt/grit was put down. By contrast, Westbourne Grove - flat, with virtually no footfall was salted. Consequently, Portobello was a sheet of ice all weekend through Pembridge, Colville & Golbourne wards. Westbourne Grove however, was largely ice free.

Was Portobello unique? We know RBKC pay twice the national rate for waste services so many are wondering why the world-famous Portobello Market wasn't protected from ice. When retailers are struggling to make ends meet, and shoppers desperate to use the Market for Christmas shopping, it would seem a priority to keep this area of heavy footfall from becoming a municipal ice rink.

 Could this be his puerile and nasty way of getting their own back on the insolent Portobello people for daring to challenge the council in other areas?

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Cash Position

Any fool would realise that these are tough times. It means belt tightening at home, as well as the country. Of course, our local representatives running the borough have to do the same.

It would seem, on face value at least, the amount of cash given to this borough next year, compared to this year is about £20 million less.

What is most annoying, isnt the fact that councillors do not offer up their rather generous allowances up to be part of the cuts, yes, they may have them frozen, but lets see them actually cut...

Oh no, we see real term reductions in budgets, things that are going to affect children, the elderly and most vulnerable in our society, when all they need to do is dip into the £200 odd million pounds worth of reserves so greedily stocked up in fatter years.

Yes the past few years residents and businesses have been taxed over and above what was needed, and the difference creamed off and stashed away for a rainy day.

If not now, when will it be used?

Cuts to the right of me...

Merrick Cockell Leader of the council, said: "We are facing some very lean years. Savings will have to be made"

Now we all know that the Leader is not exactly a high flying successful businessman in the private world. After all, his import/ export business located in the bowels of the Tory Office was reputed never to have made a profit, even though flogging ciggies to Africa should be a 'no brainer.'

But surely he must have seen the financial firestorm heading his way over two years ago? The CEO of a public company proves his metal by foresight. He does not react in panic and adopt a 'slash and burn' strategy, as this Council is doing.

Neither does he go and lavish tens of millions of pounds on the quite unnecessary paving, using imported Chinese granite, of Exhibition Road at a time when the Borough's road system is a disgrace and our quarrying industry on it's knees. 

Nor subsidising the loss making Holland Park Opera when teachers are being axed. Or allowing the new Holland Park Schools to incur massive cost name just a few cockell-ups.

But worst of all is the personal example of he and colleagues. Not only do they take out 40% more than neighbouring Borough councillors but they lack the common sense or good taste to offer to reduce their grossly inflated allowances by a mere 25%. That alone will still see them by and large outstrip their neighbours on the allowance stakes.

Sir Merrick, such action is called leading by example. But of course, we forget that just a couple of years ago when the meltdown started you still felt it to be OK gorging yourself on $200 dinners for 2 at the luxurious Four Seasons and First Class air travel to US cities. What was your dinners guest name again?

What is even more outrageous is that the expense rules have now been changed so that these NYC claims Cllr Cockell creamed off the taxpayer then, will not be allowed now! Hornet has learned that a local wag suggested that in light of that, and how MPs were busy repaying their expenses, Cllr Cockell donate a sum equal to the now outlawed expenses to Help for Heroes, the Mayors charity. 

Needless to say his suggestion has gone unanswered.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

WestEnders Christmas Special, Part 2

...and the panto continues...

Quentin Aladdin had arrived at the Town Hall as agreed and climbed the stairs to meet the mysterious stranger. He turned the corner and entered the Deputy Leaders office and there in front of was Abananzer Moylan who ushered him to a chair.

"Ah yes Aladdin, I have a nice Special Responsibility Allowance for you, if you do me one little thing" he offered him a tray which had various slices of cheesecake on, Aladdin declined the dessert and enquired what was it he had to do.

"Simple" said Abananzer,"climb down into the Cave of Wonders and retrieve me the magic Lamp". Aladdin was surprised it was so easy, and agreed. Abananzer then took him in the Bentley to where the Cave of Wonders was located to begin the task.

Dorothy had just left the little people of North Ken to go to Hornton Towers in Oz to try and stop the Academy being built. She hadn't got far when she noticed a chap in a rather dishevelled crumpled brown suit, unruly hair and a rather brusque scowl on him. "Hello" she said, "I am Dorothy pleased to meet you"

The chap turned to look at and brushed his hair back "Oh hello, I am Scarecrow Buxton from Earls Court, where are you going?"

"I am going to Hornton Towers in Oz, to try and stop the Academy" she said. The scarecrow then said, "Do you think they will be able to give me a trouser press?". Dorothy told him it was worth a try so off they skipped together.

The Bentley screeched to a halt in a place Aladdin had never seen before. There was a small opening in the distsance he could see, and Abananzer told him to go inside, climb down and get the lamp. Aladdin approached the entrance and carefully lowered himself down into the Cave of Wonders,

It was a dark and dingy descent, there were cobwebs all over but Aladdin persevered until eventually the entrance became a distant dot as he reached the bottom. He crawled through a small gap and found himself inside a vast chamber full of sparkling gold coins and letters in envelopes. He picked up one of the letters opened it saw it read "Local Tax Demand" and had been stamped "paid in full", he then realised he was staring at the £250 million reserves truly a cave of wonder.

Aladdin had forgotten what Abananzer had told him in the Bentley inbetween the G&T's, he was not supposed to touch anything except the lamp. He realised now why as the ground began to shake as fire flew up out of the cracks. The walls and ceilings started to cave in. Aladdin spotted the lamp and darted towards it, just as the cave of wonders started to turn into a crumbling inferno.

Dorothy and the scarecrow were almost at Hornton Towers when they happened across a fierce lion. He roared at them forcing the pair to stop. "Hello" said Dorothy "We are going to Oz to try and stop the academy and get him a new suit" she added pointing to the scarecrow.

"I am a mighty lion and you are just worthless oiks" said the jungle beast "Do you think in Oz I will be able to get some new Coates?" he added. Dorothy and the scarecrow both agreed it was worth a try and the three of them continued the journey.

They reached the gates of Hornton Towers and walked in...

Dont miss the final episode of the Westenders Christmas Special......

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Let them eat Cheesecake

The other night there was a Special Cabinet meeting to push foward the £22m cuts for 2011/12, including the first tranche of redundancies adding up to 150 teachers, librarians and social care workers. As they sat and listened in shock as their jobs were being cut, one of those present seemed remarkably detached,relaxed and insouciant.

Coming from a working class Birmingham background one would have thought Cllr Boyo Moylan would have empathised with these powerless people about to lose their livelihoods at Christmas. How did he do to show his solidarity? He lounged about chewing gum,fiddling with his Blackberry and riffling through (probably an exotic travel) magazine during the entire meeting.

Though of course with the £140,000 a year he is raking in from us London taxpayers he is insulated from the 'cuts' hardship and is doubtless looking forward to exotic Thai nights at Christmas.

Dave Cameron is telling us that we all need 'to share the pain' and 'we are all in it together'

It is a pity that he can't persuade Boyo to pretend to the same degree of 'caring'

Friday, 17 December 2010

Leading fellows of BAPs

The British American Project is a secretive organisation, if you believe some they claim links to the CIA, and a vehicle for the propagation of US foreign policy.Well yes, not much success in that quarter we agree. 

'Fellows' are drawn from a spectrum of British public life; they include luminaries such as Jeremy Paxman, Douglas Alexander and Baroness Scotland. In his CV posted on the web Merrick Cockell, offered no clue to his educational or professional background, but he does boast of his fellowship of this rather mysterious organisation.

So what ? Why should the Dear Leader not try to bolster and hone his rather thin credentials for leadership of the multi million pound organisation that is our very own Royally Rotten Borough by wriggling into BAP.

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering

Being a nosy Hornet, she delved deeper. And what did she discover? Something very curious; amongst BAP's financial backers we find none other than our old friends.....

Tribal Resourcing
South Tyneside Council
Sunderland City Council
Tyne & Wear Partnership

Again so what? Well only that Tribal offered it's service to the Tories of this Borough to recruit councillors preventing other party members who have shown years of dedication delivering leaflets in all weather across K&C from standing (er, no, Mr Spalding was not their fault!) and also it happens to be major beneficiary of RBKC contracts worth many many thousands of pounds.

Of course, we are sure that Dear Leader has always declared an interest and will no doubt huffily provide hard evidence of that to put Hornet back in her nest - she isnt suggesting he has done anything he shouldnt.
It would seem thay Cllrs Boyo Moylan nor Native American economist Chief Lightfoot are not fellows of this Opus Dei like brotherhood-or at least we hope not: that would a really massive conflict of interest would it not?

If Hornet is right, in his research Dear Leader's gofer, will need to have some cogent explanations. For it would be wrong for the Council to be employing a small consultancy which financed an organisation, of which Dear Leader was a leading light, without declaring an interest.

Oh well, Hornet supposes its back to the council minutes.....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Changes Benefit only the Rich

In the budget, Gorgeous George announced many things to tackle the appalling state of the countries finances owing the effects of a global recession and having a prime minister called Gordon Brown.

One of the things he announced was changes to the housing benefit scheme, that will in effect cap the amount of benefit you can receive to pay your rent. People who see families with no working adults and six or seven children housed at taxpayers expense in a seven bedroom mansion in Notting Hill will of course be guffawing their approval - wont you...

But only around 30% of people in receipt of housing benefit are unemployed, the rest are on low incomes and need a little bit extra to help them pay for somewhere to live. Those living in council homes have their rent subsidised and so by and large are not affected but those renting in the private sector most definitely could be.

Private rental rates vary, depending on property location, condition, size and so on, so its hard to compare, but average monthly rental rates in this borough range from about £800-£2000 for a studio to £3500-£5500 for a three bed property. Of course one and two bed properties lay somewhere inbetween and some properties will come below and way above these amounts too.

What is known, is that housing benefit is now going to be capped on a sliding scale based on the number of bedrooms from April 2011. But critically it goes a little deeper, the number of bedrooms the benefit is based on is capped at four, and the rate at which the benefit is calculated on is based on one third of average rents, instead of one half as it is now.

Affected tenants in K&C stand to lose up to £640 in benefit as a result of these changes.On average, tenants will need to find £200 per week from their own income in order to top up their housing benefit to pay their rent. The vast majority of these are not workshy filthy layabouts sitting on their arse all day aspiring to make an appearance on Jeremy Kyle they faithfully watch every morning before collecting their giro to spend down the pub.

By and large they are decent honest pensioners or families on a low income, single parents, and just those down on their luck, maybe with two or three low paid jobs stuggling now to make ends meet with rising fuel prices and inflation.

What will happen is social cleansing on a massive scale the likes of which we have never seen before where people simply cannot afford to live in affluent areas. Come April when the changes happen the eviction notices will be flying out as people fall behind in rent, or private landlords refuse to let to tenants on benefits. But where do the people go? The exodus will descend to cheaper areas, where there is less investment, more deprivation and no jobs.

The new super London Borough of Royal-Kensington-Chelsea-Hammersmith-Fulham-and-Westminster will become like the Vatican City, a walled enclosure full of gold and splendour, with raggety beggars waiting at the gates only able to gaze inside in wonder. Those inside will only venture out in their bullet proof 4x4's with a private security escort - and only then to go to Heathrow...

Nice work, if you can afford it.

Monday, 13 December 2010

"We will either find a way, or make one." - Hannibal

Now this council, the Royally Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea prides itself on being transparent. After all, As a public service organisation we are committed to transparency in all our dealings and these are not Hornet's words. You can read them yourself here.

Decision making in the borough is in the hands of the Dear Leader and those he grants a seat in his gravy train, called Cabinet. The rest of the crew are supposed to go to scrutiny meetings and chat about the decisions that have been, and to er, press and probe, question and query so that it keeps the Cabinet on their toes. Ahem.

So what possibly could those at the top of the tree do to ensure they get a smooth ride? Simple, pay them off of course!

Hornet has already reported that the Dear Leader Sir Merrick Sir Cockle of Philbeach receives from RBKC the handsome booty of about £65,000 per year. Not bad, when you consider his own foray into business previous to his time at the helm was a cigarette company exporting to Africa, that failed.

Over 30 of the councillors are on the payroll of the Leader, being granted additional allowances on top of the £10,500 they all get anyway. They each have titles like Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, or Lead Member for Libraries, Chairman of this that or the other, or Majority Spokesman for Health.

Who decides who gets what role? The political leadership of course, so it is fair to say that the best person for the job may not necessarily be the one who gets the role. You have to toe the party line and of course dare not speak out against the Dear Leader or his grand designs. The opposition have a couple of seats on the gravy train too so are hardly innocent!

In the "real world" employees are given contracts of employment, and in most cases this includes a job description. This is a list that a person might use for general tasks, or functions, and responsibilities of a position. It often includes specifications such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job, and a salary range.

Now councillors are not exactly employees, they are given this position by permission of the electorate, and are answerable to them. In other words, the electorate hire councillors on four year contracts, and we the voters make blind judgements as to their abilities to perform their functions given to them by the political leadership.

But the people of the borough need to wake up and start to scrunitise the payroll of councillors, and ask the question what on earth is going on?

Why do we have a Cabinet Member for Corporate Services (receiving £45k),  a Chairman of Corporate Services Committee (£30k) a Majority Spokesman for Corporate Services (£15k) and a Lead Member for Corporate Services (£15k).


The salary band for Deputy Leader says £34,780-£41,262,  and the Deputy Leader receives £41,262, the highest amount possible. Why? Who decides where in the banding and on what basis? If the report in the Evening Standard was correct, the Deputy Leader isnt exactly the first choice most people would want to be trapped in a lift with, so what qualifies him to be paid at the top of the banding?

The salary band for Cabinet Member for Housing, Adult Social Care, Public and Environmental Health is the same, £34,780-£41,262, but she receives £35,048 slightly above the lower end. Why?

Now Hornet isn't advocating Councillors receive more money, nor is she saying they should receive less, what she is  saying is that the voters of K&C are entitled to be told on what basis the councillors are anointed with these allowances, justification for the salary level, and handed the benchmarks to assess it.

Every anointed councillor should have, open to public inspection, a full job description not these wishy washy statements published currently that are simple political posturing. We should be able to see exactly what the councillors roles are, set down with measurable criteria, realistic objectives and crucially what qualifies the current post holders to do the job. Just like everyone in the "real world" does.

And this, dear reader, is a mission of Hornet in 2011, to bring to account the council and the allowance systems - one way or the other.

Coming up later this week....

...amongst others...
  • More news on the North Kensington Academy site
  • The second installment of the Westenders Christmas Speical

  Don't miss them!

Our Man in Africa

Leafing through council minutes is a tedious job at the best of times, it is a dirty job but someones got to do, as they say.

Anyway, the recent SSG meeting of the council was marked by the absence of Brompton Wards mean-machine-moped rider Quentin "Boy" Marshall.

Turns out he was in Kenya (thats in Africa Dr Hanham) by invitation of the Army!

Hornet assumes the British Army and wonders what on earth Quentin will be doing out there with all those soldier boys and girls.

Either way, Hornet promises that in all future episodes of Westenders featuring QM, he'll be in his prep uniform but will have swapped the school cap for a green beret.

Wall Carvings

Sir Cockle is charged to deliver the Royal City of Inner West London for Eric Pickles within the next three years, presumably to earn his peerage despite the north Kensington academy project. Cllr. Ahern, front running candidate to succeed as Leader, already has his own vanity project. 

Despite massive front line staffing cuts and reduced funding for the voluntary organisations that will be providing the local Big Society, Timbo has obtained a stash of money to construct two additional walls within the Chamber on which to carve the names of Mayors of the Royal Borough. There is apparently only room for three more on the existing wall. Sir Cockle has vetoed this project, as clearly there will only be three more Mayors of the Royal Borough - but Tim insists he will continue with his scheme anyway.

Interesting declarations

Getting elected to council its not all about painting a rat blue and getting people to vote for it, or red, or yellow, depending which ward you consider.

Oh no, getting elected is just part of it, once in there is the committees and meetings, and of course surgeries and dealing with the electorate. Wait, the lot we have here in K&C dont really do that, I mean, hold regular surgeries? Meet the hoi-polloi? Perish the thought!

Fortunately, however, there is a little thing called The Local Government Act 2000 (LGA2000) that sets out stuff the councillors are required to do, by law, and one of these is to state places of residence, property that is owned or rented and businesses they are connected to within the borough. Their declaration of interests has to be completed and submitted to the council on election, and if any detail changes it must updated within 28 days of that change coming into effect. All in the name of transparency.

This council prides itself on transparency ahem.

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering.......

Lets take a look at one of the councillors declaration of interests, Cllr Matthew Roundell Palmer. He lists the Conservative Party of paying his election expenses, thats fine. He has an address that he either rents or owns in the borough, nothing wrong with that either.

But then he lists a private investment under Now Hornet had a gander at this site, and can see as well as a limited amount of pregnancy information you can also find information about breast implants, dating older women, human growth hormones, and interracial dating amongst others.

The owner of the site listed under is a company called Namepanther an Oregon based technology company, who may or may not be connected to Cllr Palmer.

It may well be Cllr Palmer has disposed of this domain sometime ago and is not connected with the rather distasteful content it now displays - in which case why does his Declaration of Interests still say he invests in the site? Perhaps even Cllr Palmer has updated his interests and the webmaster of RBKC hasnt bothered to make them available online (the age old kop-out excuse) time will tell.

Oh, and a warning to all the other councillors whose online declarations haven't been updated, you are too late. A member of a local resident group (who has been asked not to be named) has already downloaded them all, and sent a copy of their complaint to the Information Commissioner and Secretary of State to Hornet!

Hornet will be keeping a close eye and looks forward comparing any "new ones" with the old ones currently on file.

Pavement Poetry

There are three things dear to Hornets heart, and the third of these is the arts. It is through the arts that our rich diverse culture can truly enhance the wellbeing and lives of our residents. That is why Hornet is pleased to hear about Pavement Poetry: an exciting book of poems by local rhymesters and literary grandees, for example,Margaret Drabble, PD James, Colin Thubron, John Heath-Stubbs, Michael Holroyd, Hugh Thomas and Sebastian Faulks.

Hornet hopes all readers will rush out and buy a copy. It would be an ideal present to send to family, friends or even your favourite councillors. Maybe Cllr Moylan would like a copy to leaf through while tucking into his cheesecake?

It is now available through the following bookshops (but can be ordered through any bookshop).

Daunt Books, The Travel Bookshop and Lutyens & Rubinstein (all lovely independents in W11) are stocking Pavement Poetry. The England & Co gallery on Westbourne Grove also have a few copies for sale. 

Please also take a look at The Hill Magazine that's just come out, Pavement Poetry is featured

(Please note, the inclusion of the names of these bookstores and authors does not indicate they support Hornet or her blog merely stating where the book contained in this piece can be purchased and contributors. Although Hornet is sure that if asked,  they would - like you - find it informative and entertaining).

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Not quite a christmas present

Those of you who know Hornet will know she always looks for the good in people: she can't help it;it's the way she is. So when she read a message from 'Nasty' Nick Paget-Brown, our none too capable Transport Supremo, she thought that 'Nasty's ex community drama expert, had come up with some excellent festive ideas to boost retailers revenues in these dark days.

Sadly, she was mistaken.She knew Dear Leader's Wedge card was destined for the dustbin of Borough history at a cost of well over £150k so when Nasty told her "Parking restrictions are due to be eased over the festive period in Kensington and Chelsea." she assumed that there would be a massive parking de-restriction to try to boost the coffers of hard pressed retailers. How wrong she fact all that greedy old Nick is
proposing is that they be eased on Christmas Day and Boxing day...some cadeau.

So not completely disheartened she looked at his other message "I would like to congratulate everyone who has helped organise this wonderful Christmas lights display for Portobello Market"  Her heart leapt: Nasty had obviously got out his cheque book and paid for the entire Christmas Lights Display. That surely was the message he was putting across?

Sadly in fact, no. The way the council PR people had tried to angle the story-as usual with floundering incompetence, gave the impression that RBKC had funded the display to help traders. The harsh truth is that the Council made the traders pay and then tried to cover themselves in glory by implying that it was a Xmas gift to traders.

What a bunch of dissemblers.....

Best things in life are three

The Dear Leader has had a bit of an annus horribilis. They say it comes in threes, first was his friend and neighbour Malcom Independent-turned-Tory-in-a-matter-of-minutes Spalding failing to win in Earls Court despite being Tried and Tested, and then it was being overlooked in the honours list and having to settle with just a Knighthood. Whatever next?

Sir Cockle has been in a massive sulk ever since La Baronessa Ritchie slid quietly past him and snitched what he thought was to be his place in the sun. But Hornet has learned their is a light at the end of the peerage tunnel and all is not quite lost. He has been reassured by a promise from Dave.... And it's a promise that has bought a smile to Dear Leader's chubby cheeks and a spring to his step.

Dave said words to this effect....'your trips Business Class to New York, Boston etc and $200 dinners with
'forgotten' guests screwed up your chances last time:in any case you don't know glam people like La Baronessa. But I am giving you another chance....force through the merger between the Royally Rotten Borough, Go Getter Greenhalgh and Westminster Barrow Boy and I promise that you will become Baron Cockle and join the Baronessas Ritchie and Hanham with all the perks you can lay your hands on'

Dangerously, Sir Cockle has been boasting of this 'light at the end of the peerage tunnel.'

Now there are the glimmerings of a Leadership Battle Royale. Hot favourites to stand are 'Oirish' Ahern, and 'Nasty''Nick' Paget-Brown despite him still living at home, outsiders include Julie "The Brief' Mills if she find someone else to carry Moylans bags and an unknown, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell over in Royal Hospital.

The sophisticated Cllr Campbell distinguishes herself in an unusual way. Hornet has been informed by a number of her colleagues and others, that she lacks some peeple skills. It looks like they all briefing against her using the Hornet. However, Hornet will be reserving judgment on this one and reporting later.

Hornet is looking forward to the Group AGM and the run up to it Also indications from the other two boroughs in the menage a trois suggest that it will not be a 'shoe in' for Dear Leader and should Dave give in to Sir Cockle's whining there will be trouble ahead. (By the way, Cllr X that story about la Baronessa being the heir apparent as Leader is clearly a non runner but thanks all the same.)

Saturday, 11 December 2010

WestEnders Christmas Special


Episode 1

Once upon a time, in a borough not that far away lived poor old Widow Twanky Husband, she had a son, Quentin Aladdin, and she wore a big golden chain that was handed down to her by her forebears. Aladdin did what he could selling things to make some pennies, to keep the family drinks cabinet well stocked.

One day, while Aladdin was out on his moped he came across a mysterious stranger. The stranger was a large fellow whose smile was as big as his tummy he had dark eyes and was smartly dressed. Aladdin saw he had a honorary architectual qualification in one hand and a cheesecake in the other.  "Come here boy" he said,  how would you like to earn a bright new special responsibility allowance?"

"An SRA sir? Why I would love to have that" said Aladdin,

"Very good my boy, meet me tonight in the Town Hall and I'll tell you what you need to do" said the mysterious stanger, and he walked off into the distance, well, as far as the Royal Garden Hotel actually as he had a reservation with some people to give his corporate Amex card a good oiling.

Aladdin jumped back onto his moped and sped off home to tell Widow Twankey all about his eventful afternoon.

Meanwhile across town Dorothy Weatherhead had just fell out of the sky and landed on the wicked witch of westminster, Joanne Money and knocked her sparko out cold. "Serves her right for having those e-things" said Dorothy.

Dorothy looked around and saw she was in some kind of place where they played sports in North Kensington, and all the little people told her the Dear Leader at Hornton Towers in Oz is going to knock it down and build a big shiny academy instead and He never listens to them.

Dorothy was aghast and decided that something had to be done, not sure what, but something anyway. She asked all the little people how to get to Hornton Towers in Oz, and they told her to follow the yellow brick road.

With a spring in her step Dorothy set off singing as she went down the yellow brick road, in the direction of Colville and Earls Court...   (get it? Yellow, Colville and Earls Court......!)

Aladdin reached home and rushed into the Parlour, just in time to see Widow Twankey collapse behind a plush sofa that had two people sat in. She hiccuped loudly as she disappeared behind the ornate piece of furniture. "Hello" said Aladdin, "Whats happening here?"

One of the guests told Aladdin that she was expecting the other guests baby and they were asking Widow Twankey for advice. "Thats great news" said Aladdin, "What will you call the little fellow?"

"Not sure yet" said the guests, just as Widow Twankey appeared for a brief moment from behind the sofa where she fell, clutching a green bottle of gin "How about, hic, Gordon" and then fell back snoring loudly.

Tune in next time when we find out what Aladdin has to do for the mysterious stranger, and will Dorothy make it to Hornton Towers in Oz in time to save the Leisure Centre?

Now Children, are you listening?

Heres something from the last council meeting:

Right then settle down, now I shall begin.

Er, Palmer, sit down will you, oh sorry, you are, just that your head is way above the others.

Now, as you know to be a good councillor you need to engage with your constituents, listen to their concerns, and hold surgeries. Well, you don't do any of that, but you do make use of the subsidised computer equipment, paid for technology all loving supplied to you by the generous tax payers of the borough.

Now take this paper and pass along to the boy or girl next to you will. No Marshall, dont turn it into a paper plane, take one and pass the rest along.

Thats good, now read it because this tells you how you should be using your paid for or subsidised computers and the like, and I would like to draw your attention to 2.1(i) that says not to send anything that is likely to bring the council embarrassment or into disrepute.

Now settle down, children. Dont worry Carol, there is an explantion of the big words at the end of that section, but its ok, it doesnt make any rules about your LibDem "two horse race" images downloaded from EARS.

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering.....

Firstly the scandal that cost the seats of Daley and Phelps happened in June, although in one of their cases it was maybe a disaster waiting to happen long before that. So why the hell has it taken the council SIX MONTHS to come up with the "Code of Conduct for Members Use of IT"?

Secondly, what methods are there in place to police this new regime? What monitoring is there and what sanctions are there to punish errant bungling councillors who fall foul of the new regime? Councillors can by and large do what they want, they are the bosses of the council workers, and cannot be "fired", so who polices the police?

Thirdly, professional firms in the "real world" have as part of their contracts of employment "Use of IT Facilities" and this states quite clearly what they can and cannot do. Why did it take the likes of Phelps and Daley doing what they did for the council to be dragged into the 21st century?

Let them earn their allowances

For generations local government operated on a Committee based structure. It was a tried and tested one (just like Spalding in Earls Court): one that bought into play a multitude of talents and experience. So of course politicians could not resist the temptation to de-democratise local government and introduce a system of local government that has created a vast gulf between residents and their representatives: the much despised Cabinet System.

Fortunately we have in Eric Pickles, a man with much practical experience of local government-a poacher turned gamekeeper, so to speak.Eric has decided that a reversion to the old Committee system is good for local democracy and The Hornet shares his belief and this is why....

The current Cabinet system that RBKC is lumbered with focuses power on a narrow clique of self serving people. Dear Leader and The Great Architect control the levers of power so insolently that the other day at a Council meeting, Boyo was heard calling a senior and highly regarded colleague a 'gargoyle'-not what we expect from the Deputy Leader and Deputy Chairman of TfL And a dreadful advertisement for our Borough.

It's the sort of remark might go down well in the Irish Parliament, but not in Hornton Street.Currently, four members of the clique are garnering over £250,000 a year controlling a patronage system which allows them to deal out valuable financial inducements to other councillors who 'toe the line'. So if the Leader wants to ensure loyalty or pay back for some service or other he can boost their income by appointing them Lead Member for Toilet Maintenance or Cheesecake Purchasing. The same applies to the Mayoralty-again within Dear Leader's gift. Cllr Coleridge, was made to pay for his 'sin' in opposing Boyo's plan to wreck Sloane Square by having his Mayoralty delayed for a year!

We hope that the council is carefully considering whether to set in train the motions to revert to the Committee system but we won't be holding our breath. 

As things stand the Council runs to the Dear Leaders and his gloat of accolytes whims. The last thing he would wish is a group of suddenly liberated councillors pondering upon decisions he currently is able to push through.

Hornet believes that residents are the ones who should take a decision. We need a referendum and we need it NOW.  Let's get our councillors earning their grossly inflated allowances and working for residents not the Dear Leader

Silver Service Boycott is no solidarity

Hornet is a trifle depressed.

When she heard the news that the post council silver service 10 course dinner, accompanied with Chateau Haut Palmer and other fine wines, was to be cancelled she understood Sir Cockle had magniminiously ordered it to show solidarity with staff facing the loss of their jobs.

Hornet has now been told that the genesis of Austerity Measure was not quite as it was promoted. Oh no.

Hornet has now been told that the Labour Group were persuaded that this sort of troughing - so loved of Dear Leader what with his trips to NYC and the like, sent out the wrong message and thus decided they would not attend. When "Oirish' Ahern and 'Boyo' Moylan heard on the grapevine that the boycott was planned their reaction was instant. The dinner was cancelled the day prior....

So no cheesecake then!

Palmers Office, Knock before Entering

Some insolent council colleagues of Cllr Palmer(and no, they are not all members of the Minority Group) have been cruelly ragging Cllr 'Bunter' Palmer.

Cllr Palmer (the one who forwarded on some political matters to the entire list of councillors, including the opposition) is not known for his subtlety or courtesy so it was no surprise when puzzled councillors found that he had taken over the Members' Room and was using it as his personal office-or so it appeared from the newly erected sign on the door announcing.. "Councillor Palmer's Office-Knock before Entering"

The Bunteresque councillor...even had tea and biscuits delivered by one of the Council staff .Though likely to be an exaggeration Miss Hornet understands that there was quite a scene when the poor man bought some inferior digestive biscuits, rather than the more tempting chocolate chip cookies he is partial to.

Fortunately, some of the more robust councillors took exception to Bungles grandiosity and applied the proverbial boot to his ample posterior.

Needless to say the sign was erected by one of the more mischievous members and Bungle has sworn to get his revenge..."

Hornet bets they are worried now!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tree Spotters Welcome

One of the boroughs tree experts will be leading a tour around Holland Park talking about the various different trees and how to identify the various types.

It is an excellent way to get close to our natural heritage and is completely free. The event takes place at 11am on Saturday December 18th, and prebooking is recommended by calling 020-7938 8186. The meeting point is just outside the Holland Park Ecology Centre.

Hornet may well turn up and take some snaps.

Notting Hill Attempted Robbery

A man was subjected to a brutal attack by a robber who tried to steal his £6,000 Rolex watch.

The 39-year-old was walking along Powis Terrace in Notting Hill at about 5.30pm yesterday and passed the suspect who was leaning on the railings outside Hedgegate Court.

As he walked past, the suspect reached out for his arm, saying: "Oi bruv, what's on the wrist?"

A scuffle broke out and the second man managed to get the victim in a headlock, before punching him in the face, leaving him with a suspected broken nose. He fell back, but still the other man was grabbing at his wrist. He punched his victim several more times, but could not remove the valuable Rolex Submariner watch.

So the suspect cycled off along Powis Terrace, and turned right into Westbourne Park Road.

He was described as a black man, about 6ft, wearing a black jacket with the hood up, and a black bandana with white markings covering his face.

Anyone with information should contact PC Steve Flinn at Notting Hill Police Station on 020 8246 0109 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

With rights come responsibilities

Today marked another day of violence as students, young and old, and professional rabble rousers took to the streets of London protesting at the proposed increase of tuition fees.

The Brown Commission, set in place by the previous Labour administration gave its report proposals and these were broadly increasing tuition fees from the current £3000, to £6000 per year (in some cases up to £9000).

The new proposals state that students will pay nothing upfront, but repay on graduation the fees that have been accumulated, unlike now. Also at present students repay their loans once they receive an income of £15,000 or more, whereas the new proposals have a starting threshold of £21,000 and the repayments are lower - this of course means the debt is backloaded, and takes longer to pay off.

The incoming Conservatives stayed with the Brown Commission, The Labour Party whose manifesto committed them to supporting the Brown Commission now in opposition vehemently oppose it - despite their Manifesto being written by the now Leader of Opportunism Ed Milliband. And of the course the LibDems are falling off their fences in all directions with their arms and legs flailing.

News reaching Hornet is that the vote on these proposals was won, with a Government majority of 21.

Now, that brings us to the student protests in the centre of London.

Our country has a rich and proud democratic history, one that our forebears have fought and died to preserve. We, as citizens, have the right to protest and make ourselves heard if we disagree with anything our politicians say or do, or dont say or dont do.

With that right comes the responsibility to use it responsibly. A small number of professional protesters whose sole aim is to disrupt and engage with police, and to hijack what would have been peaceful demonstrations is an affront on our civilised society.

It is a disgrace to see violence on our TV screens, more so students rioting on our streets. We should be rightly shocked to see students and police injured in the course of demonstrations. But we should not condemn the police who, while carrying out their proper duty are protecting the innocent from these rabble rousers.

To coin the phrase, you cannot "substitute the rule of the mob for the rule of law" and the students must learn this, or it will compromise everything wrong they seek to right.

Campion sets out his tent on planning matters

Hornet was trolling around that house of Conservatism, when she saw that Cllr Campion was fulminating about insolent residents who dared form 'local unelected pressure groups'- as he dismissevely described them- to fight off Cllr Boyo Moylan's plans to turn our beautiful Borough into a concrete jungle, a la Brum Central.

He does not like Minister Greg Clark's plan to devolve matters of planning to residents: but why not you might ask?

According to Cllr Campion, a close friend of The Great Architect, "It will cause chaos if pressure groups of local residents, who represent no one but themselves, can override the decisions of locally elected councillors", and, "this cannot be left to the whims of local unelected pressure groups". 

What a piece of tortology!

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering........

Cllr Campion- when he is not maintaining other councillors websites (and they are not that impressive actually), or using his technical skills to identify yours truly (badly) - is an architect. So thus no surprise that he amplifies the views of Boyo, who not long ago claimed, that residents should not be consulted on planning matters.

So can we safely assume that Cllr Campion was party to the subterfuge that nearly prevented residents from knowing about the vulgar and crude designs for the Iranian Embassy? Did Cllr Campion too have mint tea and Persian pastries with representatives of this murderous regime? We should be told. We only found out about the Iranian Embassy thanks to The Standard's Mira Bar-Hillel(thank you Mira, we owe you one)

Cllr Campion claims to 'stand in' for residents when it comes to deciding planning matters on their behalf. So no surprise that he is also a councillor voted in on a abysmally low turnout, and far too grand to hold surgeries for those residents. Residents, who, he opines should keep quiet and let he and colleagues decide whether to destroy Sloane Square et al. The good councillor forgets that these 'pressure groups' are generally made up of resident associations he is proud to boast membership of.....

The roll call of major developments where insolent residents have had to fight to have their voices heard has been well chronicled....Sloane Square, Holland Park School,The Commonwealth Institute, The Iranian Embassy,Cheval Place. And as one leading campaigner comments, "Cllr Campion talks of "quasi-judicial" functions - but the Council repeatedly bypasses its existing legal powers to oblige certain applicants. RBKC is seemingly seen voting according to Daniel Moylan's diktat".

LDF 2005 public consultations produced results unacceptable to Mr Moylan - concerns, for example, over the future of Portobello Market & lack of public lavatories. The consultation was scrapped. There is no mention of either issue in its replacement. So much for listening to residents....Residents are clamouring for a transparent & consistent planning system. If RBKC persists in its present course; residents will have the final say. In case you haven't noticed, the process is already well under way."

Cllr Campion is of a vintage, like many on the benches at Hornton Street when "the public knew their place" and the public were like the proverbial school boy "seen but not heard". The we know best approach is finished and its about time Campion and his colleagues moved with the times.

TFL Complaint falls on deaf ears

A few months ago 14 major RBKC resident associations wrote to the Boris "BoJo" Johnson, Mayor of London and The Dear Leader complaining about the blatant conflict of interest from Boyo Moylan combining Deputy RBKC Leadership and Dep Chairmanship of TfL. 

The letter detailed the blindingly obvious areas where Boyo was conflicted. Unsurprisingly, Dear Leader sprang feebly to the defence of Boyo, whose twin taxpayer funded jobs pay him well over £140,000 a year. Of course, there was mutual self interest:Dear Leader's comfortable life style too depends upon you paying him a big Wedge.

When one major Resident Association wrote to Dear Leader asking how he was going to tackle the conflict Dear Leader had the cheek to write back suggesting that some of the Resident Associations had not signed up to the letter ! 

When asked which all Dear Leader could come up with was one 'mini one' run by the Earls Court loser, Mr Spalding. Good try Sir Merrick - but pretty lame even for you!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Selemat Datang

It seems Hornet is reaching the far east, as on 5th December we had an avid reader of all things cheesecake logging on from an internet provider in Malaysia.

Hornet wonders who that could be....

Monday, 6 December 2010


Episode XI

After much persuasion Cllr Boyo Moylan had laid on a big red bus to take the gang down to the depths of Hammersmith to meet with Go Getter Greenhalgh and his team of hot shots.

For ballast and gravitas, Dear Leader had persuaded Big Finance Chief Light Foot, the only Native American economist in the UK, to join them. The team were shocked to see the squalid way other half lived. The Civic Reception swarmed with ordinary looking types - some clearly councillors and others the worse for wear.

Clutching a big bag of bacon 'sarnies' Cllr Greenhalgh led them into the Committee Room. It was filled with perfectly functioning office furniture, although what was left of the Labour administrations lot had been marked with cigarette burns and what seemed to be beer stains . Dear Leader knew that Go Getter was a parsimonious Yorkshireman but surely the dignity of his Borough deserved better than this; IKEA furniture; and not an oak panel in sight.

As they sat around the IKEA "Palenk" table Cllr Moylan could been seen eying the room looking for a cut cystal ash tray to dip his Cockell West African Blend to no avail. Then suddenly, with an almighty crash Boyo Moylan disappeared from view, amid a stream of Irish invective and titters from the H&F mob.

The HF crowd had played a blinder as they gestured the Kensington Posse into the seats bequeathed fro,m the previous administration. The Dear Leader squirmed uncomfortably as a sharp metal spring dug into his plump bottom.  What a shame he thought they were here and not in the opulent surroundings of his own office; positively palatial in comparison:

All he wanted to was get out of this ghastly place, it had prints of local 'beauty spots'. How different to the grand art collection and fine Chippendale furniture of his Nicky Haslam designed office in the leafy purlieu of Kensington. He was tempted to call up the chauffeur to bring the 2,000 HP V100 stretched Rolls Bentley over to pick him up. He knew that the Mayor, The Worshipful Cllr Husband had probably left a half finished bottle of Highland Park in the cocktail cabinet. After all this he needed a sharpener.

"Time to get down to business”, declared the Leader of H&F skimming packets of bacon 'sarnies' to his guests. “And this, Boyo, is for you. I saw in the Hornet that you are partial to a spot of cheesecake so I sent Phibbs out for some from Dotty's Cafe. But Cllr Moylan had already left clearly not realising the treat he missed out on:

Dear Leader decided to take the initiative. "Lets get going with the meeting". He could see everything unravelling as Greenhalgh and his gang cracked 'in jokes' amongst each other

"Not so fast...first things first; if we are going to be working as a team how come you lot are paying yourselves double what my lot are; and what about all you lot's fancy First Class trips” he spluttered, his mouth filled with a sarnie."I saw that 'Oirish' Ahern was picking up £45 grand and for what: thats what I want to know. You guys are really taking the pee." At these coarse words the Dear Leader blanched. "Could it be that Go Getter was going to try to take away his £70k a year? If he did how was he going to pay for his new BMW...

He could see his gofer, Mr Myers, turning a shade of puce as Go Getter turned his attention to him.

Now the GoGetter would not stop. “And another thing: I saw in your newsletter,The Hornet, that all your directors are getting twice what my lot are”. Furiously Dear Leader interjected, 'It's not my newsletter: ours is the very popular Royal Borer, which has many pictures of me being busy and can be recycled for filling cracks in drafty doors during the inclement weather we are having'.

Suddenly, Go Getter dropped a bombshell. “Well, we can't start yet; Cllr Barrow from Westminster is not here”

The colour drained from Dear Leader's face as he weakly exclaimed, 'but you never told me that Cllr Barrow had been invited'.

Suddenly, the doors swung open and surveying the scene with a sardonic smile was Dear Leader's arch enemy, the suave City tycoon Cllr Barrow.

This was not planned he thought. Next week will Go Getter and Barrow Boy gang up against the benighted one...

Friday, 3 December 2010

K&C Rapped By Pickles

Three London councils were today accused of “hoarding” hundreds of millions of pounds while making cuts.

Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles singled out Labour-run Greenwich for sitting on £133 million, Tory-run Wandsworth, which has £105 million in the bank, and Kensington and Chelsea for hoarding £112 million.

Outside London, Crawley in West Sussex had enough cash in the vault to pay its bills for two years, he said. Essex, Hampshire, Kent andSurrey Heath were listed by the minister as sitting on piles of unspent money.

“I'm sure many residents would be shocked to find local authorities still have over £10 billion in their piggy banks when they are hearing weekly scare stories of service and job cuts,” said Mr Pickles.

He said some councils were acting like “Fort Knox” when the money would be better used to address the financial crisis.

Town hall chiefs are warning that a 28 per cent cut in their budgets over four years will inevitably hit frontline services and claim 140,000 jobs will be axed next year alone. More than 50 have reserves of £50 million or more and 165 have the cash equivalent of one fifth of their annual budget.

Councils are obliged by law to keep money in reserve in case of emergencies but Mr Pickles argues that most do not need to hold back more than 2.5 per cent of their budgets.

Labour's shadow local government secretary Caroline Flint said: “Eric Pickles's call for councils to run down their emergency reserves shows just how bad the consequences of his decision to frontload cuts to local government spending will be.”

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Lessons learned on new academy project

Our Dear Leader's pet project, Holland Park School, is a lesson in itself about how NOT to run a multi million pound project that no one but Sir Cockle wanted. Predicated upon flogging off much loved and desperately needed playing fields to sharp suited developers, the scheme seems to be coming apart at it's dodgy seams.

The Hornet's 'man in the hard hat' speculates that the contractors, Sheppards, have now got through FOUR site managers.Worse still,it is vastly over cost and much behind schedule.

The majority of residents never ever had any doubt that the new school was unnecessary. Worse, they were horrified at the selling off of the playing fields to build luxury flats for mysterious billionaires coming from overseas to make a quick buck.

The cynics, of course, always believed that Sir Cockle believed his vanity project would get him to the Lords: oh well, back to the drawing board for that project.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Transparent, but not clear

Forced into following the lead of more democratic and modern neighbours, like Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham Dear Leader has made a virtue out of a necessity. Biting the bullet he has instructed his gofer, Mr Myers to publish all expenditure over £500. 

Fortunately Hornet is very nosy. She started to examine some of the payments-and very curious many of them are. Every so often Hornet will pluck a few out: you know the ones that make little sense. Payments such as that made to that well known Chelsea drinking den, The Anglesea Arms, haunt of jeunesse doree of the Borough. And another favourite, The Queens Tennis Club was in receipt of your generous largesse. 

Now we know that Mr Myers, in his previous incarnation at Hounslow Council enjoyed tennis but surely he has not been having lessons at this smart venue? Often 'astonishments' are the vast amounts being paid to many different firms of high end lawyers. Hornet wants to know why when we have our own vast in house legal department.

One of the problems of this 'transparency' is that it is not. There is no explanation as to the reason for the payments so  Hornet will demand that Mr Myers gives a two line explanation of each piece of expenditure. So come on Mr Myers - The Hornet has served you a good ball; lets see how you return it......

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Cuts? In services, but not in salaries?

Over the next few months RBKC council employees will feel the icy draught of redundancies as
central government cutbacks and merging of services with neighbours, Hammersmith & Fulham and
Westminster bite. The tragic fact is that front line services are going to affected and good-often poorly paid employees thrown out of work. 

So the Hornet thought it would be educative to see how those at the top of the heap live. Though not given to envy the 'deadly sin' nearly overcame her. Whoever said local government was not lucrative had not seen how these bureaucrats live.

Lets start with Transport Supremo,  Tot Brill. Tot has certainly done well for herself. From her self confessed humble career beginnings as a local authority 'designer and a performer' she has graduated to the very technical job of boss of Transport Services. For a similar position in the private sector a formal qualification might be required: perhaps de minimus, a degree in planning or similar to command the salary of £140,000 a year.

However, her hefty wedge pales into insignificance compared to Mrs Carrie, Head of Children's Services. This is a vital job. But does it really need a top salary of £180,000 a year? Lucky old George Bishop who decides all these salaries comes in on £155,000 a year...not bad for a personnel manager. 

Next week we will look at a few more, but before we do let us not forget our Town Clerk and Chief Executive. At a quarter of a million pounds a year Mr Myers earns substantially more than David Cameron. 

Most senior officers, whose salaries are a matter of public record include handsome pension arrangements, and of course some nice bonuses, for doing the job they already get a hefty wedge courtesy of the the RBKC taxpayer!

So do we need to pay these salary levels to attract and retain senior people? Over the next few weeks we will start to compare these salaries with other authorities, including H&F and Westminster. We suspect our friends in RBKC may find the comparisons odious, but let Hornet leave you with this thought; 

Junior and Mid ranking staff will feel the brunt of cutbacks. Senior staff should show solidarity by lopping at least 20% from their own bloated salaries and hand back bonuses.  Even so, its little comfort to the guys emptying the bins, teaching assistants, junior clerks,  or those keeping the parks clean who see their overtime cut, posts lost and wonder what news the new year will bring them.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tory Peer in "breeding" gaffe

New Conservative peer Howard Flight has made an unreserved apology after attacking Government welfare cuts, which he suggested would encourage the poor to have more children.

Mr Flight said he wanted to withdraw the comments minutes after Prime Minister David Cameron said he expected him to say sorry and disagreed with his stance. "I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused and would like to withdraw the remarks," he said in a statement issued by the party.

Mr Flight said that taking child benefits away from top-rate taxpayers would mean they were "discouraged from breeding", while benefit claimants would have "every incentive". Mr Cameron announced only last week that Mr Flight - who was sacked as an MP in 2005 for outspoken comments about spending cuts - would be given a seat in the Lords.

Asked if he would now prevent him taking his place in the upper house, the Prime Minister said: "I don't agree with what he said and I am sure that he will want to apologise for what he has said, and I think we can probably leave it at that."

Er... thats that then.

Planning Decision looms...

We have the council breaking bread with the Iranian regime that are known to be less concerned with human rights than our country. Let no one be in any doubt about that. We all know the situation of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani facing death by stoning, but cast your mind a year or two earlier when these two sixteen year old boys were kept in a cage, publicly humiliated and then grotesquely hung in front of a baying crowd after being "found guilty" of "homosexual acts".

They were driven on the back of a truck to the place of execution, a gibbet structure spanning the width of the road in the middle of town. A noose was placed around their necks, and then the truck drove off at speed leaving them suspended in the air, to die a slow and painful death.

Whatever crime Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were accused and subsequently "found guilty" of, is this punishment acceptable for youths, let alone adults?

Hornet realises Iranian domestic issues have no bearing on English planning law, and we have no right to interfere in their domestic issues. However, we can show our disgust at these abuses by not being deluded into accepting or offering entertainment or any kind hospitality to or from such a brutal regime.

Hornet has no time whatsoever for those who discriminate, persecute or otherwise deny rights to any member of society. Let them apply for planning permission, and apply English law. Leave it at that.

The Royal Borer

The councils bluetop, as previously mentioned is the most unread publication in the borough but does have some interesting figures.

Not contained within it of course, oh no, not even the rather cute photo of Sir Councillor Sir Merrick Sir Cockell, the new one, the one that makes him look almost human. Oh no, the figures around its production costs.

The paper is produced six times a year, every other month, and Hornet has reported earlier the annual costs of this waste of paper. 

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering.....

The council produces 95,000 copies each edition, and each edition costs on average £11,900. So that means each copy costs 12.5p. After you have deducted all the staff salaries involved in producing the rag, the printing costs, getting it to the distribution company, how much is left to actually pay the distributors? 

It cant be alot, can it?

By and large the people who deliver door to door are part timers or students earning some extra cash, or immigrants from eastern europe or afar who are struggling to find suitable alternative employment. Is the council sure they are being paid a decent wage, let alone a living wage by delivering their paper?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010



On the Buses

Last week we heard of the Dear Leader's inspired attempt to pull the belt tightening rug from under the feet of 'Go Getter' Greenhalgh and his hard nosed team. Rather than 'cruising' down to the Hammersmith Town Hall in the Bentley he had persuaded 'Boyo' Moylan, 'Oirish' Ahern and 'The Brief' Mills to take a bus ride with him. He had second thoughts about involving Boy Marshall and Dotty Weatherhead, despite their whining, 'it's not fair'. 

Instead he had bought along Britain's only Native American UK economist, Cllr 'Big Finance Chief' Light Foot. That should impress Greenhalgh and Phibbs. Light Foot had even just published an unreadable tome called, "We Have No Money Left":not quite true in the case of the Rotten Borough, sitting on it's pile of over £250 million purloined from overtaxed residents.

Fitzpatrick in PR had managed to get some coverage but not quite what he wanted.

It started off bad and went downhill from there. The councillors all huddled round as the Number 10 pulled up outside M&S on High St Ken. They pushed and shoved and boarded the bus, but didnt know the fare. "Dont worry" Said Cockle, "I can use my card" but to his dismay not only did the machine not acknowledge it the driver was getting annoyed. 

"I dont care mate, we dont accept the Wedge Card" followed by the entire bus load of passengers looking quizzically at this card thing, wondering what it was.

Cllr Mills eventually came to the rescue, "You take Oyster" she said as Moylan was seen putting back into his wallet the corporate Amex. "Someone want an Oyster?" said Cllr Weatherhead delving into the M&S picnic hamper she brought along for the journey.

The sight of the Deputy Chairman of Tfl lighting up a Cockell West African Blend Special in the bus had caused a storm of protest. Clearly he did not know that smoking was banned. The Dear Leader was furious when the driver refused to move until Boyo put out his ciggy. And when Boyo started his 'don't you know who I am routine' the impertinent driver said,”yeah, you're Moylan's boy from the Brum bus service”.

The journey passed without event for the gloat of RBKC councillors. Quite the opposite for their fellow passengers, as they saw our elected members guzzling Pimms and munching through cucumber sandwiches delicately prepared by the catering service in Hornton Street singing "She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes peep peep". Cllr Moylan managed to sneak another fag sitting up the back hiding behind Cllr Mills who was discreetly reading a copy of the most unread publication in K&C, "The Royal Borough".

Arriving at Hammersmith, the Dear Leader led the team into the austere and shabby Town Hall reception: it certainly lacked the style and elan of his own Town Hall he sniffed to the others as it "ooozed socialism". At the reception he announced himself to the bored looking receptionist, “Hello Good Fellow, I am Sir Councillor Sir Merrick Sir Cockell, Leader of the Royal Borough, thats Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.Take me to your Leader” Looking up from his Nutz magazine he gestured to a tired looking sofa. “Yeah, well Steve has popped out for his morning bacon sarnie;he won't be long. Make yerselves comfy” and returned to his copy of Nutz, that Cllr Williams of the RBKC group was eyeing jealously.

Minutes later Steve and the 'go getters' arrive back with smell of the bacon sarnies he had generously bought for the Summit Meeting filling the Civic Reception. The receptionist looked up and absently pointed to the Dear Leader team saying, "Steve, you got some visitors".

"Watcha' mate ' Where's yer Bentley?" said Cllr Greenhalgh, turning to his colleagues and laughing rather loudly.  Sniffly, the Dear Leader quickly put him right, "Oh, we came down by omnibus, which thanks to Cllr Moylan's power and influence, Tfl organised for us". He was pleased to try to showcase, despite the massive protests by residents about Boyo 'running with the hare and hunting with the hounds', that Boyo was able to deliver up an the odd old bus for residents.

What an ungrateful bunch they were. Did they not know how tirelessly The soon to be Bangkok Bound Councillor had lobbied Tfl on their behalf? Yet all they could do was moan about the cost of DHL's daily consignments of cheesecake and silk underwear to his humble holiday home.

With a sneer the go getter turned to Cllr Phibbs, 'well, at least we don't have to call him Milord'-a reference to his sad omission from the Working Peers List announced that day. The Dear Leader was so angry. The Glittering Prize of an ermine robe,a grand coat of arms AND importantly, more taxpayer funded allowances was for the moment out of reach.

The Baronessa had all but promised that he would be joining her on those leather benches; benches which for centuries had comforted some of Britain's most ample and celebrated bottoms. Suddenly a shadow of doubt clouded his brow...... “could La Baronessa have been double dealing him'? After all, young Dave was so impressed by her ability to get tickets for Madonna's concerts maybe she had swung the Local Government job.

Everything seemed to be going wrong. Even his faithful Town Clark seemed only to be thinking of whether all this merging might leave him without a job but with a massive payoff and £150,000 a year pension.

Find out next week!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

U-Turn on Parking Charges?

It seems that Nasty Nick, the chief whip, has received some unwelcome news this week. No, not about his neighbour in Hollywood Road, but about the proposed increases in parking charges pushed through on the nod earlier this month.

In the north of the borough charges will double, whereas in the more affluent south where most of the councillors live it will rise by about 35%. This has got the gander up of many people, not least local businesses who will undoubtedly in these economic times will be happy if parking charges were at least left as they were to encourage customers.

The councils wheeze was to increase parking charges so that it will help raise finance, which the Association of British Drivers have informed the gaggle of councillors that it is in fact not legal to use parking fees to top up general council coffers.

A court case up north (Camden) ruled that it is wrong to increase parking charges intentionally to create a surplus that can be used to top up council funds elsewhere. Oh dear.

Lets see how this one pans out shall we...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Episode VIII

Last week the Dear Leader and the team had had a torrid time during the Away a Day Interaction Workshop - it had not been a success and La Baronezza Ritchie was fuming. 

The event was also meant to be a chance to bond with go getting H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh and his team but attempts to persuade Greenhalgh and Phibbs to join in the spirit of the day and dress up and dance with his team had been scornfully rejected. Greenhalgh and team had refused to stay for the bonding session causing the young  facilitator, Tristram Buckmaster-Mellen, to throw a huge tantrum. Fortunately Boyo Moylan was close by with some soothing words.

The boy Marshall had acquitted himself well and sat beaming on a furious Lofty Palmer's lap. As the cavalcade of luxury RBKC limos roared down the hotel drive the ex mayor,ex Cllr Barry Phelps could be seen gesticulating furiously at the window of his budget bedroom high up in the ivy clad Weatherhead Tower.

Ahead  Dear Leader could see the departing H & F mini coach. At least they had not asked for a lift in his Bentley. He particularly didn't trust that chap Phibbs who worked for the Daily Mail. What happens if he found out that he and Boyo were among the very small clique in London Councils having their very own Council credit cards? He had promised Mr Myers to be very discreet about that little perk.....

Oh no...It would never do for a journalist to see close up the de luxe style of the Rotten Boroughers.

A Summit Meeting had been organised at Greenhalgh's office at the Town Hall in Hammersmith that day; it was not something the Dear Leader and his coterie were relishing. He had decided to beef up his negotiating team with the inclusion of Cllr Julie'The Brief' Mills. After all, she was cabinet member for carrying Moylans cheesecake, or bags or something. He was hopeful that in her Barbadian lilting voice she would talk the Greenhalgh go getters into the ground: after all was she not a massively successful member of the Inner Temple with a razor sharp mind? His only concern was that rumours abounded that she and 'Oirish'Tim and 'Nice' Tim's, were after his job. However ...'desperate times, desperate remedies', he thought.

Maybe he should bring along Doreen 'Dotty' Weatherhead; was she not too from that ex plantation owners paradise:the cinnamon scented island of Barbados? Once he had successfully squashed the arriviste Greenhalgh he would be able to announce his success with much fanfare at the Top Secret Cabinet meeting he had arranged for the 8th December. Get this right and  he could see that elusive peerage within grasp.That would put that dreadful and annoying Hornet in his place. 

Suddenly his reverie was broken. In  bounded Boy Marshall to the Dear Leader's pine panelled office without so much as a by your leave. 'Yes, Boy what is it?' demanded the Dear Leader. 'Shall I get Spalding to bring up your Bentley', piped Marshall with a new confidence derived from having thwarted Old Beardie Phelps.
"You stupid boy, do you really think that I am going to risk getting it  vandalised down in the slums of Hammersmith-and stop calling it 'my Bentley'-it is for the occasional use of the Mayor too'.

Suddenly, a cunning thought entered his head. 

What an impression it would  make if they all took a bus to King Street. Turning to his Cabinet Secretary, Miss Gupta, he said, 'please reserve 6 seats on whatever omnibus goes to King Street and make sure Fitzpatrick in PR organises a press call  as we all come off the bus'. What an egalitarian sight it would make...... how the local paper would lap it up; maybe Fitzpatrick could be persuade the Telegraph to come and record his PR coup?

After the disaster of the weekend he needed some points: this would show Greenhalgh that the boys in K&C knew a bit about belt tightening.

Tune in next Wednesday as the Team slum it in King Street.....

Going Underground Splits Councillors - Part 2

Hornet has learned that apparently the applicant concerning neighbours objections to a planning application for a basement swimming pool was none other than ex-Cllr Fairhead.

Tuesday 16th November

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Fees to the left, fees to the right....

There is a salutary lesson for politicians of all political parties: don’t make categorical promises if you intend to break them, particularly so soon after the election.

Sometimes the breaking of election pledges (and they all do it at some time!) marks a parting with the electorate. While they didn’t quite take to the streets, John Major was certainly haunted by his‘no new taxes’ pledge in the early 1990s, and especially after his government imposed VAT on domestic fuel. Voters never really forgave him for the ‘22 Tory Tax rises’ breaking what they thought was a very specific pledge at the 1992 General Election, where tax had played a deciding factor in the outcome (remember the Tax Bombshell?)

Jump forward almost two decades and we have thousands of students in uproar (and a small minority of them behaving criminally) at the Liberal Democrats for their apparent u-turn on tuition fees. And it is the Lib Dems they blame, though ironically it was Tory HQ the militant activists trashed! The banners and effigies, the chants and the speeches; they all targeted the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg specifically.

Little Nick had a torrid time at PMQ’s, standing in for his boss who was over in China trying to whip up trade. Harriet Harman was especially withering, using humour to very good effect: “You are at Freshers’ week. You meet up with a dodgy bloke and you do things that you regret. Is not the truth of it that the Deputy Prime Minister has been led astray by the Tories?” she said.

There was no real comeback, and a floundering Deputy Prime Minister knew it.

For Nick Clegg, when of course he wasn’t the Deputy Prime Minister, had not only gone on YouTube and said that he and his party would categorically not support an increase in tuition fees, but that he would aim to reduce tuition fees as a first step to abolishing them. A rise to £7,000 a year would be a “disaster”, he said (the Coalition is proposing up to £9,000 a year). And worse still for the Lib Dems, every one of their MP’s – including Nick Clegg – signed a very specific pledge to vote against a rise; one they are now very clearly breaking!

So there will undoubtedly be difficult times ahead for the Coalition. Tuition fees will rise as proposed (unless some other rabbit is pulled out of George Osborne’s hat) and that, even with a number of Lib Dems abstaining or even rebelling, the government has enough of them on the payroll to ensure the necessary votes are won.

It might, however, be the breaking point for a section of the electorate who have – certainly since 2005 – been disproportionately supportive of the Liberal Democrats. It is also a wake-up that governing isn’t quite as easy as opposition.

Pickles cuts councils down to size

The coalition government bruiser and Communities Secretary made two more announcements that will affect councils recently.

The first is to combat the rise in "council propaganda" that is comparable to the old Pravda situation back in the USSR. Well run Tory Councils are just as guilty as self promotion courtesy of the taxpayer just as Socialist LibDem and Labour ones.

So the six times a year tabloid, the most unread paper in the borough imaginatively entitled "The Royal Borough" should see its editions cut to just once a quarter and be confined to announcing council issues rather than promoting councillors.

Pickles picked out two councils in particular when he made this announcement, both Labour (well, they would be wouldnt they) and both in London. One was producing some glossy mag fortnightly and the other monthly, both spending between them the best part of £1 million in production and distribution costs.

The second announcement concerns Freedom of Information requests. Everyone knows you can ask anything, and unless it is personal information (thats relating to salaries or such like, rather than the make of their underwear), a matter of national security (that doesnt include when Daniel Moylan is out in Bangkok), or likely to prejudice the council in contract matters (thats not how much the council pays Solace or its many guises), they have to 'fess up the answer.

Of course if it takes a long time to collate the answer, more than £450, the council can refuse to provide it unless the requester is prepared to stump up the £15,670 (or whatever the council deems it will cost) to do so.

Now Pickles has decided councils can no longer charge for FOI requests, which Hornet applauds. For far too long councils have been able to hide behind this flakiest of excuses.