About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

An Odd Week in Politics.

It's been an odd week. Organising and preparing has been the core of what I've been up to and of course the ever present distraction of social media mayhem amongst public & politicians.

As many will know I have launched a fundraising drive to try and secure some income to enable me to continue the work I undertake to push transparency and further accountability in local corridors of power. There is much needs to be done and, although I have had some truly generous subscriptions started and some one off donations I was not expecting, it is not enough to keep the wolf from the door yet. So, please continue to like and share my donations page, set up a subscription if you can afford to and I'll keep you updated on progress.

In the interests of my own transparency I will be setting up a page to thank my supporters but, recognising not everyone will want their name made public in this context, let me know if you prefer privacy. On that page I will also show the current total tally for the subscriptions and donations I receive.

In other news, look out for details of an upcoming course for the Workers Education Alliance, about the issues leading up to the expected Mayoral Election in May and looking at how and why devolution has become such a complex issue. I'll be delivering the course with Vicky Seddon, co-ordinator of Sheffield for Democracy and I will post details as they are available.

This will coincide with the process of the Labour Party choosing their candidate for the election and, no doubt, other parties declaring their positions on the Mayoral Election. It is a timely reminder as we are consistently seeing the electorate struggling with the concept of the Regional Mayor and confusing the role as one that has power over the City of Sheffield, which it does not.

The current list of potential candidates for the Labour Mayoral candidacy is in and, not wishing to be party political I will simply say they are unsurprisingly Male, Stale & Pale. All are career politicians and unlikely to rock the boat.

I'm also continuing to put together some plans for creating more active citizens and helping 3rd sector organisations be better at their public engagement and their engagement with our political and other institutions. This means more meetings this week with at least some of those groups that may benefit.

Looking forward, tomorrow brings the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority meeting. You might imagine, that with so much comment in press and by numerous politicians about the issue of devolution in South Yorkshire and indeed the whole of Yorkshire, there would be an update planned for the agenda. There is not, it's all business.

This does not, unfortunately, surprise me the SCRCA have, at least in their formal meetings, been tight lipped and unforthcoming with information. There will undoubtedly be comment in the private meeting beforehand but nothing to ruffle the feathers will be included in the 'public' meeting. I will however be there to see what might be gleaned behind the scenes.

The fallout around PFI deals is continuing. There is no apparent news about the 250 Carillion jobs in Sheffield but Sheffield celebrated the new flood protection scheme in the Lower Don Valley, completed by Carillion before they went bust, without any mention of the contractor.

The Amey/Streets Ahead PFI continues to make news, between the first MP to visit the scene of a felling protest calling for a halt to the 'unsustainable' programme, to a curious story of allegedly poison tea. All set against continuing violence on the streets and a refusal of the Council's Cabinet to condemn that violence.

As I said, an odd week. Look out for a potentially short report on the SCRCA meeting later in the week and more detail on the WEA devolution course.

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