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Thursday, 21 September 2017

UPDATED: Southampton Labour Councillors Under Investigation

Southampton Labour's Wilting Rose
UPDATE (7th October 2017):

Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope has submitted a formal complaint on Labour Councillor for Millbrook Mike Denness. 

A similar and related complaint was raised by Conservative Councillor Jeremy Moulton. The Independent Person investigating as an external investigator has been appointed.

We have substantial evidence going back to 2014 which supports Councillor Pope's complaint and the allegations made. Residents support our complaint, because they are very unhappy with Councillor Denness' conduct.

Councillor Pope also attended the Council's Planning and Rights of Way Panel on Tuesday, representing Redbridge residents against the Test Lane development. Neither of the two Labour councillors for Redbridge, McEwing and Whitbread, attended to stand up for Redbridge residents.

Despite attempts by Councillor Denness and the Legal Officer present to prevent him from speaking up, Andrew spoke up to say that because of the investigation into Councillor Denness, that Councillor Denness should not be chairing the Planning meeting. Andrew suggested that Labour and Tory councillors should propose a vote of no confidence in Councillor Denness. Sadly, they failed to do so.

Councillor Denness presided as Chair over the entire meeting, including the McDonald's at Woolston and the Test Lane development, which was not refused AGAIN for a FIFTH time.

Incredibly, two Cabinet members spoke on the McDonald's development without declaring an interest, since they had been involved in the Cabinet on the sale of the land at McDonald's. The Cabinet APPROVED THE SALE OF THE LAND.

Southampton Independents think that Labour councillors Warwick Payne and Councillor Christopher Hammond should be more open and transparent about their previous dealings with McDonald's. Do you agree with us?

Leader of Southampton Independents Denise Wyatt also spoke at the meeting against the Test Lane development. Denise urged the Labour and Tory councillors sitting on the PROW Panel that Councillor Denness be removed as Chair. As noted above, they refused to do so.

Denise has also asked for her Formal Complaint into the Leader of the Council, Labour Councillor Simon Letts, to be re-opened in the light of the complaints into Councillor Denness, who was relied upon to defend Councillor Letts.

Southampton Independents also understands that residents are considering submitting formal complaints into Councillor Denness.

Southampton Independents listens to residents. We take action for residents.

---

BBC Radio Solent political reporter Hannah Bewley's Twitter feed said on Wednesday 20th September 2017 that Southampton Labour* Councillor for Millbrook Mike Denness is under investigation by Southampton City Council.

Mike Denness

The company's website shows the following information about Mike Denness, mentioning his councillor role:


"Mike brings a wealth of experience to Local Dialogue, furthered by his role as a local Councillor and Chair of a Planning Committee on the south coast."
Attempts by Conservative opposition councillor Jeremy Moulton to ask questions of Councillor Denness at yesterday's Full Council meeting of all councillors were stopped by the Mayor of the Council who chaired the meeting. The Mayor gave the reason given by the Council's Monitoring Officer Richard Ivory that an investigation was being conducted.

Councillor Moulton raised the complaint about Mike Denness.

Southampton Independents Councillor for Redbridge Andrew Pope said today, Thursday 21st September:

Councillor Andrew Pope

"I am not surprised that Mike Denness is under investigation. 
I raised concerns about Councillor Denness and conflicts of interest in Full Council in 2015, having previously taken those concerns to the Labour Group Whip Councillor John Noon and Labour Group Leader Councillor Simon Letts in 2014.  
I also raised concerns with the same Monitoring Officer (the Council's officer Richard Ivory) in 2015 and at a Planning Meeting chaired by Mike Denness.
Action was taken in 2014, but it didn't go far enough. And no action was taken when I raised those concerns repeatedly in 2015. 
Many residents have remarked to me that they believe it is wrong for a Chair of a Planning Committee to preside over decisions that could involve developers and organisations that Councillor Denness may know from his business contacts. 
This was especially the case in the highly controversial Test Lane development, which Southampton Independents fiercely resisted with local residents. 
The Labour Council and Labour-controlled Planning Committee that Councillor Denness chaired sold the land and gave planning permission on it. They ignored the concerns of Redbridge residents.
I understand from the Lidl public meeting that Councillor Denness used his business contact details for his councillor role. 
And I understand from local media contacts that Councillor Letts has already admonished Councillor Denness. 
Yet Councillor Letts sought to defend Councillor Denness in yesterday's Full Council meeting when questions were attempted to be asked. It seemed that the entire Labour Group of councillors wished to defend Councillor Denness too. 
They must be under pressure. I've seen this pressure put on councillors before, under former Councillor Williams** when I was a Labour Councillor. I resigned from Labour in 2015 and became an Independent because of the way Labour operates in Southampton.
It is right that Councillor Denness is under investigation.
When the Leader of Southampton Independents Denise Wyatt asked for Councillor Letts to be investigated by the same Monitoring Officer, Councillor Denness was heavily depended upon for Councillor Letts' defence.
Denise Wyatt will be asking for Councillor Letts' investigation to be re-opened in the light of the current investigation into Councillor Denness."
---

Notes:

*Prior to joining Labour, Councillor Denness was a former long-term member of the Conservative Party and former agent for Basingstoke Conservative MP Maria Miller.

** These investigations into Labour councillors come four years after former Labour Leader of Southampton City Council Richard Williams resigned as Leader and as a councillor in 2013 following a lengthy investigation, and comments in the Daily Echo newspaper from his Deputy Leader Councillor Jacqui Rayment that "he probably wants to rule the world".

Councillor Rayment was cited in the same investigation as former Councillor Williams, but she did not resign.

Councillor Letts became the Leader after Richard Williams resigned, following a temporary appointment of Councillor Rayment as Leader.



Sign the Petition to Government: Sprinklers in ALL Tower Blocks

Redbridge Towers Fire Damage

Daily Echo Front Page
Since the fire at Redbridge Towers in April 2017, Southampton Independents have been campaigning for sprinklers to be compulsory. We listened to residents and acted for them, getting the issue on the front page of the Daily Echo and putting pressure on the Council.

Our campaign to protect tower block residents has forced Southampton City Council to commit publicly to put sprinklers in ALL Council tower blocks. The Labour-run Council didn't want to do it. But pressure from us and residents made them change.

Denise Wyatt
Leader of Southampton Independents Denise Wyatt says:
"As we have said repeatedly before on our website and in the media, and proved by our actions, we will hold the Council to account until all sprinklers have actually been installed
The Labour-run Council is still delaying and dithering actually doing what they promised."
Sadly, it isn't the law that sprinklers have to be installed in all tower blocks - only for new ones.

On this website, and via our social media, we supported a petition created by Southampton resident Tracy Cutler earlier this year, which rightly achieved a lot of signatures after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Sadly that petition did not directly lobby the Government and has not resulted in a change to the law. The Tory Government, like the Labour Council, is dithering and delaying. The enquiry into Grenfell has only just started, months after the tragedy.

Action is needed NOW.

So we have created a new petition on the Government petition website.

Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope says:

Councillor Andrew Pope
"We want to force the Government to change the law to make sprinklers compulsory in all tower blocks, new or old.
Do you?
The petition is here.
Join the other concerned people who have signed it already. 
Please sign. 
And please get your friends and family to sign it too."


Southampton's Labour Council STILL Failing On Fire Safety

Fire damage at Redbridge Towers
Since the fire at Redbridge Towers in April 2017, Southampton Independents have been campaigning for better fire safety in Southampton City Council's tower blocks.

As shown on this website, Southampton Independents successfully pressured the Council into agreeing to install sprinklers in all Council tower blocks.

As shown on this website, Labour's Housing Cabinet Member Councillor Payne said residents didn't want sprinklers and the Council couldn't afford sprinklers.

And as shown on this website, Southampton Independents have conducted our own assessments of fire safety in Southampton's tower blocks.

We have our own photos of fire risks in tower blocks across the City. And we have found the Council have failed to sufficiently protect tower block residents.

The Council also has photos of fire risks that they have failed to prevent, in the Fire Risk Assessments of tower blocks.

In the public interest, we have provided one of the 3SFire assessments to the media.

The Fire Risk Assessment shows the very serious failings in fire safety, including a failure of the compartmentation that is a key feature of tower block fire safety.

And you can see that it appears that records of fire safety are not up-to-date, despite the Council telling residents on its website that annual reviews are conducted of the "Category A" buildings like tower blocks.

The evidence from the Fire Risk Assessments by 3SFire appears to show that this Council's fire safety is a mess.

Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope says:

Councillor Andrew Pope and Redbridge Towers
"This is just one tower block. There are twenty owned by the Council. Residents are being put at risk by the failings of the Labour-run City Council. 

Residents told the Daily Echo back in April that they want to be kept safe. 
The Council must address all fire risks immediately."

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

UPDATED: Local Media and Football Fans Back Safe Standing

BBC Radio Solent's Sasha Twining
on iPlayer
UPDATED (13th September 2017): Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope appeared on the Sasha Twining programme today. It is available on the iPlayer here (until 12th October). If the link doesn't take you directly to the right spot, the safe standing segment is at 2h 10m 24s in. Have a listen and let us know why you support safe standing by contacting us here.

In the programme, Andrew explains that the campaign is not about returning to the old-style terracing, before the Hillsborough disaster. Andrew is sticking up for what many Saints fans want - to stand and to stand safely. Andrew has supported safe standing since he first saw rail seats at a football conference in 2012.

Andrew said on the programme:

Councillor Andrew Pope
"I think it is important that fans have their say in the way clubs are run... The law needs to be changed to allow safe standing using rail seats...
It's important to me because enforced seating hasn't worked.
People stand at every match.  
People are paying money and they should get what they want, not what they are given."
As you can hear, fans of other South Coast clubs called in to the programme to support safe standing and said that they are campaigning for it at their clubs.

Southampton FC Chairman Ralph Krueger's response to our campaign is also read out on the programme.

(12th September 2017): The Daily Echo has put our Safe Standing Campaign on the front page today.

Daily Echo Front Page
The online version of the Daily Echo article is here.

Andrew says:
"PLEASE VOTE YES in the Daily Echo Survey to support Safe Standing.  
It isn't dangerous. It's safe! 
That's why it's called Safe Standing! 
And that's why the Sports Grounds Safety Authority has authorised trials at League 1 and League 2 grounds.
Now we want them to authorise it for the Premier League and Championship. 
So if you haven't already, please sign our petition."
If you want to help our campaign, please get in touch via email at sotonindies (at) gmail.com or by phone on 07580715687.

More updates to follow soon...

Once again, Southampton Independents are about actions, not words. We listened. We acted.



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Sign our Petition: Safe standing for Southampton fans at St. Mary's Stadium

St. Mary's Stadium*
Stand with us and sign our petition!

Thousands of Saints fans want to stand at the match, and they must be able to do it safely and without being persecuted by stewards.

We want trials of Safe Standing using rail seats at St. Mary’s Stadium, for example in the more vocal parts of the Stadium such as the Northam and Itchen stands.

The Football Supporters Federation says:

"Every week thousands of fans stand in front of their seats for the duration of the game while following the team they love - attempts by the authorities to end this practice have failed. Surveys regularly show the vast majority of supporters back the choice to stand or sit."

Rail seats have a rail all-along between rows, with seats that can be locked in the up position for safe standing, or down if seating is required (e.g. for European matches).

Safe Standing would immediately remove conflict between stewards and fans that want to stand and those that want to sit. It would also free up stewards to focus on protecting fans and players in other ways.

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority recently authorised trials of Safe Standing to clubs in League 1 and League 2.

Rail seats allow cheaper admission prices and a stronger atmosphere in supporting Saints, as has been done at Glasgow Celtic and Borussia Dortmund.

The trial of Safe Standing in lower divisions must be extended to include the top two divisions, and include Southampton FC.

We ask that Southampton FC publicly supports trials of Safe Standing and informs the Premier League, Southampton City Council and the St. Mary's Stadium Safety Advisory Group that they intend to do so.

The petition is at this link.

Send us your photos to sotonindies (at) gmail.com and why you think Safe Standing is important. Send us a photo of you at St. Mary's (although perhaps not standing as that might annoy the stewards)!

Thanks for your support!

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Southampton Independents pays tribute to the Football Supporters Federation and Jon Darch of the Safe Standing Roadshow. More information on Safe Standing and Rail Seats is on the following links, courtesy of these stalwarts of the Campaign:

Football Supporters Federation - Safe Standing Campaign

Safe Standing Roadshow using Rail Seats

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* Image By David Ingham, used under CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10652798

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Labour Council: The Filth and the Fury

Since the Labour Council and Labour councillors voted for cuts to bin collections in February 2017, they have created filth across our City.

Hands up who is guilty of voting to put up your Council Tax and cutting bin collections?

The Labour Group of Councillors
They are.

Angry residents have contacted us with fury about the state of Southampton since Labour introduced fortnightly bin collections - residents didn't want it but Labour voted it through anyway.

Here are some examples of the filth that has led to residents' fury...

Overflowing bins

More overflowing bins


And more overflowing bins


Leader of Southampton Independents, Denise Wyatt, says:

Denise Wyatt


"Let's not forget.

Labour repeatedly told Southampton residents that they would 'keep weekly bin collections'.

So Labour have broken another promise.

Labour pretends that they care about Southampton residents. But they are no better than the Tories, who also failed to collect our bins during the bin strikes."

Council staff are complaining about the state of Southampton to Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope. They say they do not have the staff to get the job done.

And now the Labour-run Southampton City Council faces the threat of bin strikes too.

Councillor Pope says:

Councillor Andrew Pope

"I've been told by bin men that they are considering following the lead of the bin men in Labour-run Birmingham City Council and going out on strike. 

Information about Birmingham has been doing the rounds amongst Southampton's bin men.

Recruitment is proving difficult.

Retaining bin men is proving difficult.

And bin men have told me that agency workers now make up around a third of the bin men.

Bin men are unhappy with being undermined by agency workers, with their pay and their hours.

Bin men are unhappy with the health and safety issues caused by Labour councillors moving to fortnightly bin collections.

And if they do go on strike, that would mean Southampton residents get an even worse service than they are getting now - if that is possible. 

The Labour Council needs to stop them from going on strike by dealing with their complaints.

If they do strike, Southampton will face more filth and more fury - not just from residents but from Council staff too.

I will be making enquiries with the Labour-run Council and speaking with more residents and more Council staff.

I have signed the petition asking for the cuts to bins to be reversed.

It's time for change on Southampton City Council. 

In the Council elections next year, VOTE LABOUR OUT in May 2018 and Vote Southampton Independents in!"