David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE is Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
  • Meta

First among equals

Posted by davidburbage on July 23, 2015

With the proposal to appoint our Director of Children’s Services to the “Managing Director” position at Council, some are asking who will be the new Children’s Services Director. It’ll be Alison Alexander!

This is because our four Directors are equals, all having responsibility for their departments, but accountable to Members “upwards”. The law requires that we have a Head of Paid Service (our MD) which in practical terms means coordinating staff structures (though decided by the Members), chairing meetings, often being the external spokesperson for the Council, directing and responding to complaints against the Council in the right direction, and a few other minor responsibilities. We abolished the post of “Chief Executive” in 2012, saving the best part of £200,000 a year.

The former MD (Mike McGaughrin) retired at the end of 2014, but a couple of Director changes and the 2015 election meant we weren’t in position to appoint a replacement until now…..

http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/web/directorates_organisation_charts.htm contains the basic idea. We’ll update this with a new version shortly as there are obviously changes to be made.

 

Posted in Conservative success, Council | Leave a Comment »

with apologies

Posted by davidburbage on July 22, 2015

I can’t keep up with open comments discussions, sorry. Have scalped the relevant points.

Love a good debate (obv) but sadly am reverting back to the more mundane blog approach for purely practical reasons (noting it is now 11.54 pm).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

More democracy in action

Posted by davidburbage on July 22, 2015

When we were elected with a large majority *, the local press got worried that we would have too large a majority. My response was that there were plenty of opportunities to hold the Council to account through regular channels such as petitions, meetings, the press (and indeed although I didn’t say it, social media as well).

It’s disappointing that even with an extensive presentation, Q&A, a 14 page explanatory document and countless responses by email and otherwise, opponents of expanding Holyport College still claim the Borough is “refusing” to answer questions as if we have something to hide. That’s simply not the case, and is unfair to council staff (oh the irony!).

What is really happening is that the answers do explain our decision (taken unanimously before the election) in extreme detail, but just because it isn’t the answer that the opponents want to hear, they choose to complain that their questions “haven’t been answered” rather than actually articulate a better policy direction for local education provision beyond “fairer funding”.

Conservative councils are also campaigning for fairer funding in education!

In fact, the complaints about process reveal that there aren’t actually any better fundamental policy approaches; for some in politics, protecting existing institutions is more important than giving choice to parents and providing excellent education.

Many Labour councils have sought to block free schools for narrow political purposes.

In fact, the Borough has recently received a letter from 5 Maidenhead Secondaries which veers along those lines. Maybe we can publish that with our response? I hope so. (eg one point is they want limited capacity, a 5% headroom, in the local schools system rather than the 10% we’re aiming for. Less choice please! I wonder why…. another priority for Head Teachers and chairs of governors is opposition to a satellite grammar. Yet Theresa May, also massively re-elected this year, has been a vocal supporter of this, as have we.).

Opposition coming from the direction of supplier preference is often predicated on what’s best for education suppliers (incumbents), not what’s best for local education consumers (parents and children).

Most schools in the Borough – around 75% – are Good or Outstanding. That’s fantastic for parents and a credit to the hard work of the Heads, teachers and Governors involved. Those schools should look to expand if they can, and, like Oldfield Primary, we’ll support that if possible.

But one of the questions opponents of expansion should ask is, why are so many parents looking to get into a new and unproven school when there are so many alternatives? Why don’t opponents of growing a new free school ask that question?

Let me be clear – I recognise the concern of people who think we are picking winners in some kind of unfair way. And it’s hard to see how we can expand a free school where a senior councillor is the chair of governors without others crying foul, saying “unfair”, and looking for fault and error. Opponents of expanding a free school will indeed campaign – and that needs addressing, with the clear information and straightforward justification of why decisions were taken. So we’ve done that.

I also respect the size of the petition and the need to address it publicly (although there are a number of external signatories on there eg apparently from Australia, Derbyshire and with such clarity such as “SJ” and “Nicola”! – there are lots of locals) which is why we’re very happy to debate the matter at our council meeting.

What is most important is providing more secondary school places in the Borough, and with an extremely popular and oversubscribed school – statistically the most popular – this is what we have done.

That’s a good decision for Borough residents overall and given the same opportunity to expand this local state school for the benefit of local parents and children, I’d do it again, and be very happy with that policy. 

Here are the answers to the questions posed on the Advertiser’s Viewpoint page. (A number of this week’s Viewpoint contributors are known critics of the administration generally or Holyport College/free schools in particular.)

Eddie Clarke : Q : Why is there no audit trail? … A : There is, and it’s answered and available here .

Q : Middle schools admissions? – A: I believe it is so it benefits both Windsor and Maidenhead pupils. For example, in Fifield I have residents “stuck” between the two schools systems because of distance and geography.

Q: Hard to comprehend? : A : because it’s hugely oversubscribed, and the developer contribution supports an expansion for 48 extra pupils. Not at all hard to comprehend.

Q: Only supporting HC? : A : No.

Gavin Ames Q: How’s it going A: It’s going well! I’m not going to bypass our specific process for dealing with petitions however, Council will deal with the petition and questions on the agenda next week. But afterwards sounds do-able!

Malcolm Burtt Q : how is it not coasting? A : This I will speak to at council next week (as it’s now a public question he’s asking)

Brian Millin states, seemingly without irony, simultaneously demanding answers and then complaining that I wrote to the press to provide answers, and further then demands that I should do the “decent thing” and give answers in the press, presumably ASAP, rather than wait for the Council meeting. Maybe he will agree that a post-Council engagement would be best . . . . . you can’t please all the people all the time! His questions are answered in the link from Eddie Clarke above.

Brian is also asking a public question.

Kate Sheehan Q : Why is one of his [me] officers now not willing to respond to our questions? A: because they’ve been answered numerous times!

* By the way, there are 57 seats on the council not 59. We won 54, not 56. The Advertiser editorial and Eddie Clarke both get this wrong. Snap!

Posted in Conservative success, Council | Comments Off on More democracy in action

Alive and kicking

Posted by davidburbage on July 17, 2015

Looking at the public questions, petition, motions and questions coming in for our July Council, it is clear local democracy is alive and kicking!

The agenda is published early next week.

Posted in Conservative success, Council | Comments Off on Alive and kicking

Maidenhead Town Council in 1960

Posted by davidburbage on July 8, 2015

In charge of public health (which means trusting the food that is being sold!), housing, libraries, but not able to put up traffic lights without permission from the DfT ! Also great scenes from the town centre, including the old town hall and library.

Where is the bus at 3:58 ?

Where is Hill St? Is that Castle Hill ?

At 4:55 “We must increase the staff” !

At 9:55 “Council members are not permitted to vote on matters connected with their private business”. Oh how sensible and simple the rules were then. . . .

Mention of Standle Road and Parsons Lane – neither of which I am familiar with. Or the Meadow Lane Council Housing Estate.

And to finalise, the construction of the new Town Hall.

See it at BFI : http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-i-am-a-mayor-1961/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General, Maidenhead | Leave a Comment »

Local election success in 2015

Posted by davidburbage on May 9, 2015

Well.

What a great result – 54 out of 57 seats and returning all of our sitting councillors who were re-standing, with the fantastic addition of new blood – and in new seats!

In Maidenhead we distributed our “A3″ literature everywhere, featuring photographs and action shots of councillors working in their wards, and with candidates where appropriate. We also had professional calling cards, supporting “A4″ literature in target wards, and plenty of polling day material.

Belmont, Boyn Hill and Furze Platt are all safely Conservative after being battleground seats for many years. Many hours of campaigning delivered us success there. In Bray, Cookham, Hurley, Cox Green, Riverside and Oldfield we consolidated our majorities – and saw no sustained opposition (but a bit of Cookham Parish action).

Which leaves Pinkneys Green. We saw early on that the LibDems had circled their wagons around their existing ward seats – importing Clive Baskerville to stand, despite his track record in Belmont. The campaign was hard fought and we continued to get our voters out until way past 9pm in the evening. However, sitting councillor Simon Werner topped the poll a few ahead of Charles Hollingsworth, who won last time, and fellow Conservative Marius Gilmore who had also walked the streets near continuously during the campaign was rewarded with third place. A tie for fourth place but neither Bond, Baskerville or Shez Courtenay-Smith were elected. A great pity for Shez who had worked so hard and dedicatedly throughout since being selected to stand. I hope we will be able to work together in the future.

In Windsor, such a challenge! 13 wards, all different, independent challenges of all sorts, and a mix of defectors, new candidates, folks standing down and changes were afoot!

Both Eton seats were highly contested. Windsor resident (and former Deputy Leader of East Herts District) Malcolm Alexander just pipped Miss Fussey at the post by 43 in Eton and Castle; George Fussey had previously won by just 22 on a lower turnout, so on a straight fight, it was a tight finish.

In Eton Wick our enthusiastic Samantha Rayner worked so hard to spread the word and was returned with just over 50% of the vote.

Datchet, Sunningdale, Ascot and Cheapside were all safe seats consolidated. Sunninghill had had an interesting contest – but returned a fully blue team. Horton and Wraysbury saw a very solid victory for our sitting Lenton and Rayner team.

In Windsor itself, the WWRA sponsored “independent” expansion programme collapsed very spectacularly. [I wonder if we’ll ever see the original WWRA photo? It’s one for the album]

In their heartland of Clewer North, a total of 5 independents stood and showed that when the Conservatives fight hard, and together, anything is possible. Our 2014 by-election candidate John Collins, with Nicola Pryer and Hashim Bhatti worked tirelessly to deliver a far better result than we could have hoped for and will be able to represent the interests of the local residents extremely effectively.

Park saw 10 candidates vie for 2 seats – and with 57% of the vote Conservative, it was hard for anyone else to make an impact.

Our Castle Without team was all new and returned a clean sweep with almost 58% of the vote – here, the opposition was limited but vocal but didn’t try anywhere near as hard as our team.

In Clewer East new candidate John Bowden topped the poll, joining Dee Quick and again, over half the vote saw the opposition votes split.

Clewer South was a late declaration and our local team of Mike Airey and Ed Wilson triumphed.

Old Windsor, however, proved a bridge too far. Watch out Malcolm and Lynne, we’re coming to get you!

Another campaign over, but now the work begins on delivering our 2015 manifesto, and keeping all our pledges – and continuing to run the Royal Borough in the interests of residents, who do, after all, pay for the local public services.

 

Posted in Conservative success, Council, Maidenhead, Windsor | Leave a Comment »

General Election 2015

Posted by davidburbage on May 8, 2015

What a fantastic result! A straw poll on the election afternoon had us hoping to get up to 300 – but nobody was predicting a majority. We can now implement all the good things promised and get on with governing the country for all.

I’m delighted for both local MPs – Theresa May and Adam Afriyie, increasing their majorities and pushing the Liberal Democrats down into third place in Maidenhead and fourth place in Windsor.

Particular congratulations due in other seats are for my pal Paul Scully in Sutton & Cheam, to Royston Smith in Southampton Itchen, to Nicola Blackwood in Oxford West and Abingdon, to Brandon Lewis in Great Yarmouth, to Chloe Smith in Norwich North, to all the other Berkshire Conservative MPs re-elected and to Kevin Foster in Torbay. All great MPs.

Our local election count starts in about an hour. I’ll blog in some detail about our campaign and results afterwards!

Posted in Conservative success, General, Government Success | Leave a Comment »

When elections go really bad – Tower Hamlets

Posted by davidburbage on April 30, 2015

One comment to this story caught my eye as a really good point. It was this one :

Big deal. It took four private individuals, including one Ukiper, to risk bankruptcy in order to obtain justice.
Where were the electoral commission, the police, and Eric ? Truly we live in a Banana Republic.

Where indeed were the agencies of the electoral commission and the police? I am not sure the Secretary of State (Eric) has any particular role to play in law enforcement of elections, but if he doesn’t, who does?

The judgement of the Tower Hamlets case is a really good read. The police were certainly there on the day, and saw some of the petitioners’ complaints first hand. The sequence of events at Labour’s NEC meeting as reported in the judgement were fascinating.

The conduct of the Mayor and his team of supporters was atrocious. The false addresses, false residents, the interception of postal votes and the common form of “X” and differing writing of the date of birth to the signature on election paperwork all pointed to fraud.

The large grants to supportive organisations, the intimidation to ordinary voters at the polling station, the rotten campaign against the Labour candidate – all undemocratic.

And the tales in court of various witnesses that proved to be wholly fictitious …

Getting 101 spiritual leaders to write is also not permitted (I wonder if 1 local vicar would be OK ?)

But back to the main point.

It will be very interesting to hear from my colleague Cllr Peter Golds, the local Conservative leader and a stalwart in this case, exactly what representations were made to various agencies prior to the actual petition from the four individuals.

And who should have acted? They do need to explain themselves and collectively we need to ensure how it will get better in future.

Posted in General, Labour failings | Leave a Comment »

Election fever in Windsor aka “WWRA Photo-Gate”

Posted by davidburbage on April 25, 2015

A number of people – including the press – have remarked about the strangeness of the “team photo” being banded about by the self styled independents – all affiliated or endorsed by the public-office-holding-folks from WWRA.

whiteway-tweet

Here it is, as publicly available on the WWRA website :

wwra-photogate

It turns out – according to newly affiliated Jon Davey (he’s the guy on the right) – that he indeed was not present when the photo was taken. He says (in answer to my query) it was a chance meeting with Wisdom

“after the original picture had been taken, that introduced me formally to WWRA.”

So somebody – maybe WWRA will be transparent and honest about this – added Jon Davey (according to his pal Franco de Luca – “not his best side”!) to the photograph, making it appear that he was there, when in fact he wasn’t.

In the interests of transparency, integrity, authenticity and honesty … (Cllr Da Costa says he values such things ) –

maybe we can find out from WWRA

1)  Who actually was there?

2) When was it taken?

3) Has anyone else has been “added in”? Or even airbrushed out ?!

Wouldn’t it have been more straightforward to use the original photo?

Stop Press : I see Wisdom has ‘fessed up

ownsup

Which appears to contradict what Jon Davey has said, because he said he wasn’t actually formally introduced to WWRA until after the photo was taken rather than “not being available”. Is Wisdom telling us everything ?

Wisdom’s excuse is also rather different from Davey’s, who says “Obviously WWRA can’t afford to waste money on professional shoots”

But the bigger question now is can voters believe anything published by WWRA if, as appears to be the case, they are content to be putting out photos which they themselves admit aren’t real original photos.

Catch yourself on, WWRA !

PS Going back in time, photo editing – for political presentational purposes – has a very bad history, and is not something we would choose to do when seeking public office.

 

Posted in General, Windsor | Leave a Comment »

Candidates in Pinkneys Green

Posted by davidburbage on April 18, 2015

PinkneysFace

Our team in Pinkneys Green are a very capable set of Conservative individuals.

Charles Hollingsworth, the sitting councillor, has been a well known face in Pinkneys Green for many years. After a few goes, he was successfully elected in 2011 and has recently been chairing the Children’s Scrutiny Panel. The issues of roads resurfacing, car park charges at St Marks and the protection of the green belt are all issues Charles has taken up at the Council.

Marius Gilmore moved to Berkshire relatively recently but was pleasantly surprised at the low council tax. He’s keen to get involved in local affairs if elected and has been working very hard in Pinkneys Green to put out the Conservative message.

Shez Courtenay-Smith has lived locally for many years and has recently been involved in highly detailed planning processes to assist local design statements. These skills will be invaluable if elected. She’s been keen to speak to as many people as she can in the ward during the election campaign.

Posted in Conservative success, Council | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 572 other followers