We wish our growing quantity of readers a very Happy New Year.
After more than 20 years of stagnation, bad decisions, corruption, incompetence and wasting the public's money, Slough Council is improving.
The Slough Times readily admits there are some truly wonderful and impressive staff at the council whom we genuinely admire and enthusiastically praise. However there are also paid staff who are not very good, perhaps because:
No one comprehensively knows why some staff perform less impressively than other staff. After years of frequent internal reorganisations, mismanagement, privatisations and chaos, not even the council has a clue. Fortunately the Slough Times believes the good staff out-number the bad.
A source told the Slough Times it could take up to 6 years, to 2022, to weed-out all the bad ones. We hope it will be significantly less because both the public and the good staff are suffering from, and being damaged by, the bad ones.
Slough has a bad reputation in the local government environment. This is not new. It has existed, the Slough Times believes, since at least the late 1980's when Slough Borough Council has the first topic every night on BBC 1's Six-O-Clock nationwide television news.
Having a bad professional reputation makes it difficult for the council to attract many of the best and most able staff it needs to improve its services to the public. Despite that, Slough does occasionally gain excellent staff seeking a challenge. Retaining good staff remains a continuing problem. The council's working atmosphere has not always been ideal.
Sleaze at Slough Council did not disappear after the sensational 1980's news bulletins, it carried on and involved some councillors and some council staff.
Regrettably we can not produce the criminal-standard of proof because many who remember with impressive clarity what happened, including those who admitted paying bribes to council staff to choose the council house of their choice, and jump the housing queue, or bribes to councillors and staff for planning permission, are too scared to give evidence. Perhaps those people were lying; the Slough Times does not think so.
A few, including one Northborough resident, who openly claimed, within earshot of a uniformed police sergeant one sunny Saturday afternoon, that he paid a bribe to get his council house, have since died.
The Slough Times is not claiming all councillors and all council staff are bent but, in the honest opinion of the Slough Times, a few certainly are or have been.
Before the Freedom of Information Act 2000 became operational on 1 January 2005, Slough Council prevented the public getting information. In the great all-night shredding of documents in the 1980's and in the 1990's, most, if not all, incriminating evidence was destroyed.
Since the 2000's, the crooks have been much more cautious because if caught they are likely to be jailed. Yet the corruption continues.
The Slough Times honestly believes some councillors, over the years, received money from property developers. The Slough Times was told by one property developer that he spent £1,500 on a single night's entertainment for 2, at that time, decision making executive councillors.
Yes it stinks. Yes it is Slough but no, it is not actually the Labour Party itself, it is individuals within the Labour Party who are using local politics for dishonest purposes.
Regrettably there are people in the local Labour Party that know or suspect criminal wrong-doings by their Labour Party colleagues but for a variety of reasons, including they can not get sufficiently detailed evidence, are scared to go public because they fear being kicked-out of the Labour Party or being de-selected when they seek re-election as councillors. A few have told the Slough Times they fear violence against themselves and their families including their children and damage to their homes and cars.
The National Labour Party shares the blame because all they care about is political power in Parliament. All they want from Slough is an obedient Labour Party MP. All the rest in Slough does not really matter to them, providing there is no damaging publicity.
Despite specialist Thames Valley Police Officers strongly asserting
Corruption is endemic in local government the previous chief constable
Sara Thornton personally refused to create a squad to tackle local government
corruption throughout the Thames Valley area (Buckinghamshire, Berkshire,
Oxfordshire and the growing city of Milton Keynes).
The positive news is the new Labour administration of Sohail Munawar (Leader of the Council) and Sabia Hussain (Deputy Leader of the Council), is being recognised by council staff and by the public for their dedicated and demanding work to improve the council and involve the public in making council policies and decisions.
The pair, quietly and unpublicised, have been meeting government ministers and government officials, to promote and improve Slough for the benefit of its citizens.
Whitehall sources admit the government had major concerns about the manner in which Slough Unitary Authority, the official title of commonly known 'Slough Borough Council', was being grossly mismanaged by Cllr Rob Anderson (then council Leader) and Mrs Ruth Bagley OBE (then council chief executive).
Informed persons exclusively revealed to the Slough Times the council's performance was so incredibly bad the government was actively considering taking operational control of the entire council away from the chief executive and its 42 elected Slough councillors.
An enormous quantity of internal council problems remain. After so many years of entrenched bad working practises and bad staff attitudes, it is inevitable that inefficient money-wasting processes and the slip-shod indifference towards the council's customers must stop otherwise beneficial improvements are impossible.
The Slough Times acknowledges the new council administration genuinely cares about better public services and wants to reverse many years of decay and decline. That enlightened attitude is refreshingly welcome.
We sincerely hope the new administration's commendable efforts and achievements will not be sabotaged by other members of the Labour Party.
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