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JIM PARKER: There really is no 'i' in word 'team'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

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THERE's no 'i' in 'team' and that has to be the way forward if Torbay is to weather the choppy waters that lie head. Mayor Gordon Oliver has had a meeting with Torbay MP Adrian Sanders and Brixham counterpart Sarah Wollaston to outline his concerns as the councils faces £10million budget cuts.

Town Hall finance guru Cllr Alan Tyerman and a finance officer were also there.

That's a team working together.

It was revealed during the talks that the mayor had also — through Mrs Wollaston — arranged a meeting with Local Government Minister Eric Pickles to talk about under-the-cosh Town Hall finances and other issues, including crippling business rates.

Neither Mr Sanders, nor Cllr Tyerman — or even an officer with financial expertise — went with him.

Cllr Tyerman actually offered to pay for himself to go.

The issue was raised by local Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Baldrey who wrote in an email to the mayor: "I note that you did not request help from Torbay's other MP Adrian Sanders and would welcome your comment."

As far as I am aware he is still awaiting a response.

Bay MP Mr Sanders did respond to Cllr Baldrey and said: "Gordon did invite me to a meeting in the Town Hall where he revealed his problems balancing the books.

"He also revealed that he had through Sarah arranged a meeting with Mr Pickles but did not ask me if I could attend.

"I was more concerned that he wasn't taking a finance officer with him who could challenge anything the civil servants might raise and suggested he take a finance officer and for extra cover, Cllr Tyerman."

Mr Sanders also told me: "I was not invited to the Pickles meeting. Alan Tyerman had volunteered to go at his own expense. He has a grasp of local government finance."

Cllr Tyerman didn't appear to be too put out.

He said: "It was Gordon's decision. That's really it. I would have been happy to go with him. He had Sarah with him. Gordon did not want it to feel that Eric Pickles was being attacked by a large group of people."

Just a few days later it was Mr Sanders who was organising a meeting with Danny Alexander, Lib Dem MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and local business leaders who were invited to raise various issues with him.

There was no invite for the mayor or Cllr Tyerman.

Mr Sanders says he sent out a 'personal invitation' to Mr Alexander who was also shown the route of the Kingskerswell bypass.

He said invites to the actual meeting were not handled by him and it was about business issues not council matters.

Mr Sanders added: "It was about business. The Torbay Development Agency was there as the council."

Team work may still shine through at the end of the day, though.

At the meeting with the mayor, MPs Sanders and Wollaston were asked for help to find a way for the council to repay loans earlier than agreed without incurring big government cash penalties.

Evidently, Torbay Council took out a series of loans amounting to around £40million for its capital programme, including £20million for a Torquay Town Hall redevelopment project which never saw the light of day.

The money has been sat in council coffers and was originally making money, but with the credit crunch and interest rates changing, it needs to be got rid of.

Mr Sanders said: "Gordon was concerned that an enormous sum of money had been borrowed that he did not want for the purpose that it was acquired.

"They borrowed it with a high interest rate and are now having to pay it back. They do not need that money. They should never have borrowed.

"The Government can control whether a council can pay off a loan early without being penalised."

He has raised the issue with Treasury chief Mr Alexander and both he and Mrs Wollaston are due to have a follow up meeting with him.

Mr Sanders says: "We are going to see if the loan can be rescheduled. Danny was reasonably positive right from the off.

"He wanted detail. Sarah has put together the detail in a letter asking for a meeting.

"It could save the local authority a fair sum of money."

Cllr Tyerman said: "We are trying to see if there is way we can do a deal with repaying some loans.

"No money has been borrowed for the past two years, but we have been left with borrowings far higher than we needed."

Cllr Tyerman is all for working together as a team — with everybody putting politics to one side.

He says: "I am here because I want to do the best for my community. Politics is low down on my list of priorities."

He emphasises that his comments are not aimed at any particular individuals.

He just says: "Things are too difficult for us to do in a traditional way. We have to overcome that. You have to have a good team around you. You have to delegate. You cannot do it all yourself."

As I say, there's no 'i' in 'team'...

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  • realityzone  |  November 28 2012, 8:07AM

    Thanks for that Meadfootfan. A free press might indeed have the prerogative not to be neutral. We of course have the prerogative to challenge them on a lack of neutrality if and when we suspect personal or political prejudice is, for instance, leading to distorted coverage of important issues. There is an interesting dossier on this one. " Who will guard the guardians"

  • Meadfootfan  |  November 27 2012, 10:42AM

    Sensible comments realityzone. I agree with you. Lets have a grown up debate about the issues Jim Parker raised. The present Mayor may have been given the opportunity to have a column in the HE but perhaps he considered that trying to turn Torbay round needed all his attention. Lets face it Bye was brillant at'The Spin' but little actually happened. I think we should judge Oliver at the end of his term of office. What I do not like is that Bye is given a platform in the HE to critiicise the present Mayor when Bye (heaven forbid) might stand again in 2015. This seems that the HE is perhaps not being as neutral as it should be. But I suppose that is its prerogative.

  • realityzone  |  November 27 2012, 8:58AM

    Gordonbennett you are boldly assuming you know my motives - you are wrong. I am not carrying a torch for Gordon Oliver or indeed any individual. He is an experienced local politician who should be quite capable of defending himself on a political level. Dealing with a monopoly local press set up is a different issue, it can affect us all. What I am passionately concerned about, as hopefully you are, is that we should have fair and balanced reporting in our local press, such as it is. I agree that under new ownership we might hope that things will change. In my view, and I am far from alone in this, the H & E has run and "anti Oliver " agenda as it did when the late Kevin Carroll was the leader of the Tory group. If I challenge that agenda you might assume that I am trying to support Oliver. In fact I would have taken the same line if I perceived a lack of balanced reporting about the previous Mayor but in the H & C columns he has a charmed life with some of his significant failings not commented upon. For instance, if, as Meadfootfan points out, it was Bye's administration which borrowed a huge some to support the "vision" and that money has been losing us interest, it is astonishing if that was never reported and the impression left hanging that the present administration is being assumed as responsible. I am seeking transparency here - what is wrong with that? You and Cruey may not like Oliver or some of his policies, fair enough. but for me a free, and well balanced local press is the bigger issue.

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  • Cruey  |  November 27 2012, 1:52AM

    @Realityzone.......... well what a damn good idea ..and I will leave it at that .... you carry on with your support for Gordon....... and well said gordonbennett as regards the majoity of people in Paignton and Brixham and how how the feel

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  • gordonbennett  |  November 26 2012, 11:34PM

    The sooner the better this paper/website goes into the hands of the company that bought it, Local World, then we will not have to read the drivel and absolute poor reporting Jim Parker writes. I see earlier today that Guy Henderson actually poached stuff that was written on Twitter and the contents of his first report was later corrected. Jim Parker's piece is a load of nonsense...he must have written it on a poor day for news. realityzone you need be to reminded that 1 in 10 people actually of the electorate actually voted for your bosom buddy Oliver, he hasn't a clue, the turn out was that poor, it reflected the people of the Bays attitude to Bye and the members of the Council that serve us so poorly. Get off your loving for Oliver, the majority of people in Paignton and Brixham cannot stand the man and they seldom see him. I see his wonderful pineapple has lost part of it's wrapping now....speaks volumes that does.

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  • realityzone  |  November 26 2012, 6:08PM

    Perhaps Cruey you should have been at the Mayor's Forum on behalf of the H & E to tell him what he should be doing and then have reported it in the columns? You may think that the Mayor does not do enough, there are a lot of people out here who think that the H & E does not do enough believe me

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  • Cruey  |  November 26 2012, 4:52PM

    @Realityzone.....thank you for confirming that the Mayor chose not to write and report in the Herald Express each week ... that is most kind of you.......Certainly not a smear just my own personal opinion ....... freedom of speech and all that...I do not think he ....the Mayor... is doing enough for Torbay....Torquay maybe....... but we are 3 towns........ have you looked around Paignton of late?.....

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  • johnyjones81  |  November 25 2012, 7:09PM

    Parker pen, what a idiot. Spilling out his usual drivel.

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  • realityzone  |  November 25 2012, 8:29AM

    Well Cruey, don't leave the question hanging answer it or it just looks like a smear. As I recall it the new Mayor did not want to spend his time writing a regular column in the H & E. No doubt he has his reasons, one of which could be that that is not the best use of his time nor is it what he was elected to, and of course the history if hostility to him by the H & E during the time of Kevin Carroll and Nick Bye. If that is his reasoning he has. it now seems, turned out to quite right. But not giving the public journalistic coverage of the Mayor's forum was inexcusable. Perhaps the H & E were worried in case something positive had to be reported.

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  • Cruey  |  November 25 2012, 3:51AM

    Um I could be wrong but it is my understanding the new Mayor did not want to talk to us each week in the Herald Express ...... now I wonder why ?????

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