LETTER TO THE EDITOR: State of town laid bare

THE Tiser of November 17 is a sad indictment of RMBC and the current administration; pages one through to nine contain articles covering both failure and buck passing, emblematic of those who must truly carry the responsibility for the state in which the town and the wider borough finds itself.

This sad litany begins on page one, concern of further significant closures of longstanding businesses in the town centre.

Wrays butchers is highly regarded as a good provider of quality meat products at an affordable price. A noted businessman Mark McGrail commented “the town centre has been described as a war zone”, others have used other descriptions such as a dump or a disaster.

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Let’s be clear, there has only ever been one party in charge. This has not just happened over the past 12 years and it does not have to be this way. There are successful town centres and high streets in the country but they are probably just not Labour-controlled. That might mean visiting other locations to see what they are up to and possibly accepting other ideas, not something this Labour group could ever accept.

Mr McGrail said RMBC has strangled the town, adding further misery as the largest employer has placed its staff to remain working from home, depriving all its support and responsibility to the town.

On page four, we learn of a new art attraction to be installed in All Saints’ Square, a moving metallic sculpture, which reacts to the weather — I think that means it spins in the wind — and will provide Rotherham with a “large-scale visitor attraction”, according to plans. Where are the visitors planned to come from? How many are expected and in what time period? Will Paddington be coming?

What we don’t learn is how much this will cost at a time when people are really struggling to survive.  

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On page five, “A town left behind” in a league table of prosperity — Rotherham is in the bottom 11 in places in the UK out of almost 400. The borough finds itself near the bottom of the table in several categories, including investment, environment and health. Naturally the local MP blames the government and the past 12 years of cuts, despite the fact Labour has been in control in this town for the past 80 years.

Instead of continually blaming the government, perhaps she could concentrate on holding her Labour colleagues to account for CSE. If she wants to know why it was allowed to carry on I suggest she watches YouTube, where she can find plenty of informative videos with people, some local, ready to make the case for why this was.

On the same page we get the next “Don’t make us pay plea” from the leader. His tale of woe has some merit until he gets to the paragraph covering the need to set a balanced budget. The budgets set go through the process, but there is no rigour in managing the budget, leaders are not held responsible, overspends are simply covered from reserves. That is what council tax is used for, to accumulate reserves.

In his time as leader reserves of over £100m dwindled to around £20m with little or no account of what the money was used for. Reserves are once again on the increase when they should be used to support services. Therefore to quote the leader “don’t take it out on the people of Rotherham”, especially the council tax payers. We are being squeezed enough by the Tories.

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On page six, we move on to the resignation of Cllr Paul Hague. Whilst I cannot condone his lack of attendance at meetings, I do accept he is a businessman trying in difficult times to keep his business viable and provide a number of others with employment. It is not always easy to juggle all of one’s commitments.

However, I do commend him for the time, effort and support he has provided to the Droppingwell Action Group in their fight against the proposed reopening of Watson’s tip.

What is shameful is the disgraceful attack on his character by the leader Chris Read concerning attendance.

This leader has a short memory, but others have not. It is only a few years ago he and his party presided over the disgraceful attempt to con the rest of the council and the public by smuggling into the council chamber disgraced Cllr Roddison. He had not attended a single meeting during the prescribed period, but made a cameo appearance lasting approximately ten seconds before he was whisked away by the same back door from whence he came, allowing the councillor to carry on receiving his allowance and avoid a by-election. Fortunately this subterfuge was uncovered but the perpetrators were never punished. How would you like to describe this, Chris?

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Lastly, on page nine, “Non-registration of tip branded ‘bewildering’.”

Droppingwell tip is not on RMBC’s contaminated waste list. Is anyone surprised? The article contains a load of verbal diarrhoea from an assistant director; why he bothers is even more bewildering. This is known to be one of the most toxic landfills in the country and residents must be informed why it is not on the contaminated waste list.

Here is a novel idea Chris, why not stand up for the residents for a change? You might find it rewarding.

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