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Has Bryan Ellis fled to Azkaban?

WHERE is Letchworth town councillor Bryan Ellis?
  Although he has sold his house and moved to an unknown destination, his defenestration has yet to be confirmed. The only resignation announced formally thus far is that of Jackie Angell in Grange ward. Jackie is the second Grange councillor to quit HELP.
  Some are keen to pursue a 'Harry Potter line' with HELP, given Ellis's links with JK Rowling's charitable foundation. His ties with Letchworth's Heritage Foundation, when it was run by you know who (himself also, mercifully, now history), are better known.
Missing – Cllr Bryan Ellis
  As Death Eaters go, which one is he – Crabbe? Goyle? Malfoy, perhaps? One thing is for certain – he no longer lives in Manor Park (the house has been sold), and clerk/HELP Cllr Ian Mantle will not reveal his new address. Maybe he's in Azkaban..?
  Clearly, Ellis cannot continue to serve as a councillor – which is to say, he can hardly carry on being what he never properly was. Whatever, it is time for him and the other HELP councillors to follow Jackie's example and abandon HELP and its brainless, self-defeating vendetta.
  As we said before, we have a councillor who isn't a councillor and a council that won't act as a council – HELP!

Two HELP councillors down and out — how many more to go?

WE REPORTED last week that Cllr Bryan Ellis was under pressure to quit the council after HELP's disastrous management of the employment tribunal against former staff. He has finally gone!
  In fact, two HELP councillors have now resigned, although the (HELP) clerk has yet to release details. Last year, they kept secret the resignation of a Grange councillor and appointed one of their own placemen. It is not democratic, not fair — and fits perfectly with previous actions of this outrageous regime.
  Cllr Ellis chaired the top policy and resources committee — the same one that made the staff redundant. Thus he had no choice but to finally bow to public pressure, and resign. He also works for J K Rowlings' charitable foundation, which has been forced to fend off requests for comment from the national press.

Fair Trade carol service

THIS year's Fair Trade Carol Service for Letchworth will be held at Letchworth Free Church on Tuesday 6th December at 7:00pm - 8:00pm. All welcome, families and children. Followed by Fair Trade refreshments.

Council scandal: rumours of HELP resignation!

THERE are rumours that a member of the HELP group on Letchworth Council has resigned. This follows the damning ruling of the employment tribunal that has left their reputation in tatters.
  The tribunal said that six former employees had been unfairly treated by the HELP group since they took over the council.
  It noted that they had not been treated fairly and noted how the staff had been subjected to verbal  and emailed abuse and how supporters of the HELP group had waved sticks at them and reduced staff to tears.
  Many of the more moderate members of HELP are said to now be ashamed of their association with such tactics and the ruling and could now be seeking to dissassociate themselves from it.

Mounting calls for HELP's councillor Bryan Ellis to resign

HELP Cllr Bryan Ellis is facing an uncertain future tonight as a growing number of figures are calling for him to resign from the council.
  He chaired the council committee that has admitted having spent over £50,000 on lawyers so as to avoid paying staff.
  The revelations are damning as the 6 female staff  revealed that Cllr Ellis and others refused their offers to go for arbitration  and go to ACAS.
  Instead the council chose to set the metaphorical dogs on the women and hired a barrister who describes himself as a 'rotweiller in court'.
  Cllr Ellis who was chairman of the council's policy and resources committee accepted a recommendation in February from Cllr George Ritchie (who is a solicitor for British Telecom) that they should pursue the women if they lost for all costs.
  The judge of course ruled that the women were totally justified in their claim and noted that they had been verbally abused by HELP members and had had sticks waved at them and the women were often reduced to tears by these tactics.

Sacked council staff say: politics should have been kept out of it

Letter from former council staff to the Comet in an effect to correct disinformation circulated by HELP councillors.

Sir — We write to correct misinformation about the recent tribunal.
  Despite reports, the case was not about redundancy pay. In November 2009, five months after taking over the council, HELP Chairman George Ritchie recommended redundancy pay, telling the council payments were less than 1/3rd of the maximum they could pay and were less than £75,000 in total. The council agreed to his recommendation and we accepted it.
  The case was about a temporary promise to give us 12 months notice - not notice pay. HELP were elected in June 2009 but claimed they could ignore the clause because the previous administration was “irrational”.
  HELP sought to keep us in post by promising (twice) that if we stayed to work for them until they decided to make us redundant they would give us a loyalty bonus of 3 months.
  Eventually, after we had worked for them for 5 months they gave us 3 months notice but withheld the bonus until we signed a compromise agreement. By law, when an employer imposes a compromise agreement an independent solicitor has to be brought in to give staff advice.

Dispute over council's legal costs

Reprinted from thecomet.net

A NON-SPENDING council has revealed it has incurred legal costs of more than £60,000 since taking office in June 2009, although the figure is much higher according to a former councillor.
   The Comet asked Letchworth Garden City Council to provide details of legal costs it has paid out in the last two and a half years after an employment tribunal concerning changes to contracts found in the favour of former staff last month.
   The council, in which 22 of the 24 councillors represent the Help Eliminate Letchworth Parish council (HELP) and wish to dissolve the authority, said legal fees amounted to almost £65,000.
Around £50,000 relates to tribunal costs, with further fees attributed to an ongoing dispute with a former solicitor over a decision to exercise a break clause in their office lease.
   Letchworth GC resident Derek Hodgson, a councillor under the former administration, said from his correspondance with responsible financial officer Cllr Peter Groves and clerk Ian Mantle that the figure actually tops the £100,000 mark.
   “The numbers are all from correspondence with the council, I didn’t just come up with that number. I don’t know how they’re twisting this to make £60,000.”

According to HELP all community spending is a waste

Letters in this weeks Comet and Advertiser remain critical of HELP's role not just in the recent tribunals but also in how they have run the council. Last week a HELP supporter wrote a letter claiming that the previous council had done nothing of benefit. This is the response to that.

I see from the letters from HELP last week that they are trying to move the discussion away from their shameful treatment of staff to a general one about the old council and have made up some fantasy figures about past council spending. HELP disagreed with every penny spent. Every penny spent on helping the Salvation army, helping fund the dial-a-ride service, funding a community police officer, running family fun days, operating trips for pensioners, providing support for allotment holders or funding for community groups in the Jackmans, the Grange and on the Westbury, to them this was a waste. They oppose our plans for spending in Wilbury.
   They disagreed with the idea of setting up community gardens in these areas or buying new play equipment or football posts, but we helped to do it anyway.
   We ran football tournaments and training for children and supported children’s rugby and the scouts or support for local schools. Each school got a grant to help promote citizenship and the Letchworth story. This to them was wrong.

Time to remember

This Sunday Council’s up and down the country will be holding remembrance day services and laying wreaths.
   For all community leaders it is the greatest honour the lay a wreath on behalf of the people of their town.
   There is a special covenant, an unwritten promise, between the people of this country and their soldiers. It says if you fight for us, we will look after you and your families. By wearing a poppy we are all individually honouring that covenant. After the Great War money was used to help widows left with young children living in poverty.
   My own grandfather was brought up with poppy money. It helped put food on the table and clothes on his back. The money is still used to fight poverty and is used to tackle disability. Indeed in our own town of Letchworth I am told that the British Legion made disbursements of some £90,000 in 2008.
   I consider Remembrance Sunday to be more than just a symbolic gesture of remembering old conflicts, but to be also acknowledging and helping too those who are still making the sacrifice.
   Recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown us the very high human cost of conflict, and it is clear that that the work of The Royal British Legion is needed now more than ever.

Olympics to come to Letchworth!

The Olympic torch with pass through Letchworth in July on its way from Cambridge to Luton. It is fantastic news for everyone and will no doubt be a day to remember.

Hopefully the schools will organise themselves so that school children can watch the torch as it passes through.

Have HELP actually read the tribunal judgement?

As the HELP group on Letchworth's town council slide into crisis and denial having lost their court case against former staff, Philip Ross, former Town Mayor and chairman of the council gives his commentary on the current scandal with HELP.

It seems that the HELP group just can’t accept they are wrong or take responsibility for their actions, like their old Scottish leader who has left them rudderless.  I may post a copy of the judgement to them as it seems they haven’t read it. 
  The judge found that the old council acted reasonably, fairly and responsibility in difficult circumstances, running the usual services and policies of a council and took proper advice and behaved like responsible councillors and treated staff with respect. Whereas he described HELP as ‘unattractive’ and logged how they had reduced staff to tears with physical and verbal threats and general abusive behaviour.
  It is true that HELP got advice to fight their case – eventually. They had to troop around several solicitors before they could find one who was prepared to say what they wanted. Hard to find I am sure, especially given that the solicitor they appointed for the staff felt that the compromise agreement (and gaging clause) they wanted staff to sign was so unreasonable that he advised them not to.

Town centre consultation - have your say

Have your say on the town centre redevelopment.

The new management at the Heritage Foundation have carried a real and proper consultation into how the town centre should be redeveloped.

They are seeking feedback from residents for their views.

We like the mention too of town wide wifi as an option. We also like the commitment to community involvement and adoption of green policies.

to get involved and read the options goto : http://www.thenextsteps.co.uk/

FEEDBACK : HELP silent - what they should say sorry for

A resident has sent us this post about the court hearing :

Reading the Judge’s report on the nasty actions of the Help people, who took over our     town council against the staff and their total lack of probity, surely townspeople can expect them to show some decency and resign.

It takes nasty people to seek to destroy our former town council from carrying out its good work for the community and disadvantaged people within it.  Now their appauling treatment of the staff has been revealed in this verdict.

When can we expect an explanation from some Councillors? Would Councillor Heaton their IT expert comment on how the Council’s web site was hacked into and ponographic material put on it, and the vicious comments made to staff?

A comment from Councillor Ritchie whose Helpless formation and handling of the case and refusal to advise going to ACAS for free has proved to be pathetically inadequate and comment on how he continually misrepresented the proceedings by informing fellow councillors that the case was going well for them and that various actions by the former staff had been ‘struck out by the judge’

A comment from Councillor Mantle the Clerk to the Council explaining why as proper financial officer and advisor to the Council (within the Clerk’s role) he has allowed them to spend approx £200,000 in legal fees the payments that now have to be made to the staff and any claims they may make for costs and losses and compensation for their appalling treatment as confirmed by the judge.

A comment from Councillor Groves (responsible for the Council’s financial affairs) on why his self styled non-spending Council looks like squandering approx £200,000 of the townspeople money whilst in office so far and perhaps more if the staff are awarded costs.  Why also are the figures spent on legal fees hidden in ‘contingencies’ to mask the outrageous sums.  In fact the sum due to the staff originally was just over £20,000,

A comment from Councillor Greener on statements that “the council would go to every court in the land until they got the answer they wanted and failing that to Strasbourg and the people of Letchworth would pay for it”!

 Now comments from all councillors on why the £200,000 should not be paid by all 22 of the HELP councillors instead of townspeople due to their negligence, mishandling and failure to carry out adequate risk assessment as will have be to be explained to the district Auditor and why they should nw resign for failing to provide value for money to taxpayers and to act properly and with integrity in the use of tax payers money as expected by the district Auditor.

They were charged with not wasting townspeople money when voted into office and have now wasted more that the previous council would ever have spent on community services.

HELP turned down ACAS offer

At last Cllr Lovett chairman of the helpless town council has made public statements in an attempt to improve some sort of standing for the council in the community after the shellacking they suffered when losing the tribunal case against their staff.
   They carried out a vicious campaign against the staff from the day they were elected. Cllr Greener is on record as stating that he didn’t care if they spent every penny in the bank and had to ask the NHDC for more to enable them to take the case to the European Court in Strasbourg.
   The Helpless town council are needing a miracle to overcome their total loss of credibility in the town. Cllr Lovett has already lost any brownie points by saying that they took legal advice before going to the tribunal for a decision. He didn’t mention that they had approached four different legal practices before taking any legal action.