Posts Tagged ‘David Clifford’

Unbelievable hypocrisy

November 15, 2013

Having gloated on his blog that he was lovin it, a few days later, to rub salt in the wounds, he suggested Farnborough should have a live music venue, David Clifford has now posted on his blog the local community should hand over the money they have raised to save The Tumbledown Dick and cooperate with the local council, and at the same time inferring the money was raised under false pretences.

No-one can deny the Campaign to “save” the Tumble Down Dick was run with enthusiasm and dedication, and dare I say obsession by some. When you need to get something done, having a few obsessive people about is not unhelpful.

Some serious fundraising was done to raise the £m plus needed to buy and run the Tumble Down Dick. Public appeals were made, gigs were organised, and I am sure lots of money has been raised as a consequence given the public support claimed by the campaign.

Given this money is public money, it only right and proper, that there should be open and transparent accountability of this money. Three questions need to be addressed:

1. How much money in total has been raised?
2. Who is responsible for this money?
3. What are the plans for the use of this money?

I would also like to extend a serious and genuine invitation to the Campaign leadership to work with the local authority to pool resources and find a suitable location in Farnborough for a live music venue.

Let us put the past behind us, and look together to the future.

This is from a council and councillor that has done everything possible to undermine and denigrate the campaign and those involved to save The Tumbledown Dick, c 1720s and until its closure, a popular live music venue.

Willem Hallinan:

The FoTTTD worked hard to secure finance to resurrect the Tumbledown Dick. This was an outstanding achievement, but as you know it was totally undermined by yourself, cllrs Parker, Lyon and our own MP Gerald Howarth. These were the very people that were supposed to be representing Empress and the community, but were working against the community facilitating the McDonalds application. Most of what we had done was in pledges relating to the Tumbledown Dick but in part, due to your shameful activities that now has no value. Let hope it sees you booted out of Rushmoor at the next election!

Less we forget

  • council chief executive Andrew Lloyd could not restrain his delight when he learnt Fat Clown to buy the pub
  • Andrew Lloyd commissioned a shoddy report on the building from a consultancy that brags it delivers planning solutions for business
  • smear campaigns from the council, officials, councillors, trolls and Farnborough Society
  • refusal to comply with Freedom of Information requests
  • refusal to serve enforcement action to counter the wilful neglect
  • councillors and local member of parliament meet with Fat Clown to stitch up a dirty little deal behind the backs of the local community
  • same councillors and member of parliament refused to meet with local community
  • misleading information fed to the local press on deadline for objections
  • extremely biased agenda given to planning committee
  • council seeks legal advice to circumvent planning policies, legal advice no one has seen
  • councillors on planning committee show arrogant contempt to local community
  • planners blatantly lie to committee
  • chairman of planning committee brags that committee has passed plans he and a fellow committee member agreed with Fat Clown
  • local councillor gloats that The Tumbledown Dick is to be destroyed
  • council posts a pack of lies on their facebook page

Contrary to their own policy, council refused inspection of building prior to demolition. We do not know what vital historical information will be lost. The council should have written this into a s106 legal agreement with the Fat Clown. They failed to do so.

To grant planning permission for demolition was in itself contrary to council policy on locally listed buildings.

The local council has never had any interest in funding the arts. At a time when austerity is being used as the excuse for slash and burn of public services, the arts?

The local community is not accountable to the local council, it is the other way around.

Maybe the local council should answer all the Freedom of Information requests it has illegally refused to answer.

Maybe the council should make available in full the legal advice it claims to have received on circumventing planning policies, after all we paid for it.

Maybe the council should tell how much it has invested in the Vue Cinema.

Maybe the council should have a clean out of all the rotten apples.

Those who raised the funds, could not hand them over, as to do so would be contrary to why those funds were raised.

The only use now for those funds is a Judicial Review of how the planning was handled and a Judicial Review of the decision contrary to council policy to refuse a detailed examination of the building before it is demolished.

Maybe David Clifford, instead of poking his nose into matters that are not of his concern, should put his own house in order.

It may come as a surprise, but as a local councillor, it is David Clifford who is accountable to the local community, not the other way around.

Councillor David Clifford is Innocent?

November 7, 2013
BBC1 Garrow’s Law: Tales from the Old Bailey Garrow would have been on his side

BBC1 Garrow’s Law: Tales from the Old Bailey Garrow would have been on his side

On his blog David Clifford published the following letter from an unnamed council jobsworth which he claimed showed his innocence.

It did anything but.

Dear Cllr Clifford,

I understand that you may be already aware that complaints had been made, so I just want to confirm that I received five complaints from members of the public all expressing anger with the content of your blog posts relating to the Tumbledown Dick decision and one also alleged undue influence on the planning process itself.

In my capacity as Monitoring Officer I have looked into these complaints and have come to the conclusion that the content of your personal blog is not a matter covered by the Code of Conduct for Councillors which relates only to actions undertaken in a member’s official capacity as a councillor.

I have looked into the other matters raised and have concluded that there is nothing to suggest that you acted other than in accordance with recommended practice, and of course you are not a member of the Development Control Committee so took no part in the decision made.

I have now informed the complainants that we will not be taking any further action in respect of these complaints.

Kind regards
Solicitor to the Council and Monitoring Officer

Local councillors are in theory there to serve the public. It is not surprising therefore, when David Clifford, a Rotten Borough of Rushmoor councillor, started using his blog to abuse the local community, people got upset. Half a dozen were sufficiently annoyed or upset, they filed formal complaints.

David Clifford claims he has been cleared. But has he? Let us first step back a little.

We have independent police investigations, and for very good reasons. When even a Cabinet Minister is stitched up by lying police officers, one who continually forgot to mention to House of Commons Committee that he had attacked a member of the public when off duty and had ‘lost’ CCTV footage, what hope the rest of us?

We used to have an Independent Standards Board for England, for a very good reason, as we cannot have police investigating police, we cannot have councillors and councils investigating their own. 

Under the old regime, it is highly unlikely David Clifford would have been cleared. You only have to look at a Farnham councillor who was found guilty a few years ago.

Or look at Peter Sandy, a very hard working councillor, who was obstructed at every turn by officials, who was stitched up by same officials. When it came to a hearing, he was cleared of almost all the false charges laid against him, and of those found guilty, these had to be seen in context, he called an official a liar. The official was shown to be a liar, but apparently as a councillor you are not allowed to say so. So much for accountability.

Would Pete Sandy had got a fair hearing locally? We all know the answer would have been no.

We had, and assume still have, on the one hand, the Borough Solicitor giving dodgy advice and how to get away with it, then on the other hand, wearing a different hat as local ethics officer. You cannot be both.

We had three Rushmoor councillors found guilty of a very serious offence. They were the let off, due to poor advice by the borough solicitor, ie they had been advised to do something dodgy by the borough solicitor. It sounded like a conspiracy and if nothing else, was grounds for firing the dodgy borough solicitor. 

To now look how the David Clifford complaints have been handled.

First where is the investigation? A letter from a council anonymous jobsworth is not an investigation. 

Second, the author of the letter, who does not have the courtesy to provide a name or a signature, is wrong in fact. Clifford is writing as a Rushmoor councillor. Not writing as someone who happens to be a councillor, who happens to be writing a blog. He clearly states he is writing as a Rushmoor councillor for the local Empress Ward.

Welcome to David Clifford’s weblog, which enables Empress Ward residents see what David Clifford is up to, get an idea of his views on various topics and give him feed back, other than when he is out walking round the ward. NOTE: Some views expressed by Cllr David Clifford may not be supported by the Conservative Party. Contact David via david@empress-tory.org or follow him on http://twitter.com/davideclifford 

He has a blog, which is attributable to a councillor. 

—> http://cllrclifford.blogspot.co.uk 

Therefore it is very clear, he is writing as the local ward councillor.

When David Clifford met with McDonald’s and stitched up a dirty little deal behind the backs of the local community, he did so as a local councillor, together with two other councillors, both of who sat on the planning committee, one of who was the chairman, plus the local MP, who a few years ago bragged his service was comparable to McDonald’s (at least a little honesty from Gerald Howarth).

Maybe unbeknown to David Clifford, the chairman of the planning committee was caught bragging that the deal approved by the committee was what he had brokered with McDonald’s.

Did David Clifford act to influence the planning committee? A moot point. The truth is we do not know. 

What we do not know from this grubby little meeting, is was what fees were requested from McDonald’s, as from what we see in both the Commons and the Lords, this is standard practice, and Howarth does have a habit of claiming retainers from very unsavoury clients, like arms dealers and pay-day loan companies.

What is interesting, is that our anonymous latter writer ‘concluded that there is nothing to suggest that you acted other than in accordance with recommended practice’.

In other words, to treat the local community with arrogant contempt, ignore their wishes, then gloat, as we saw with the councillors and officials at the planning committee, is ‘recommended practice’. 

Is he cleared?

In the Court of Public Opinion, no. Before a properly constituted and run Tribunal, highly unlikely.

David Clifford responds to criticism by accusing people of posting hate, that he has the right to say what he wants, and accuses people of being ignorant and not knowing the facts.

It is correct, councillors are entitled to free speech, but as councillors, they are also expected to comply with a code of conduct and act for the local community.  They are also required not to bring their public office into disrepute.

He has failed miserably on all counts.

It is reasonable to expect councillors to check the facts, to exercise due diligence and scrutiny, not regurgitate the lies drip fed to them by officials.

Once again, lies and half truths being spouted on The Tumbledown Dick. 

The building was subjected to wilful neglect. The Council refused to serve enforcement action.

If there was such concern at the state of the building, then why no CPO served?

And please do not say no money.

The Council has been happy to make a capital investment in the Vue Cinema in Farnborough, a commercial cinema chain and a bad employer.

The Council was happy to squander £1 million (or maybe more if rumours not within budget are true) on the shoddy re-paving of Queensmead. Then the County Council wasted a further £1500 of public money on a silly festival to celebrate squandering public money re-paving Queensmead.

When Andrew Lloyd learnt of McDonald’s acquiring The Tumbledown Dick, he could not suppress his glee.

Six weeks later, Lloyd blatantly lied to councillors when he claimed he knew nothing of plans of McDonald’s

There was not the problem Clifford claims outside The Tumbledown Dick late at night. On the other hand, go into Aldershot late at night. Or visit Farnborough Gate in the evening. 

Who is providing this false briefing on The Tumbledown Dick? Clifford and the ignorant councillors on the planning committee are all singing from the same song sheet. Is it officials, or is it the Andrew Lloyd – Peter Moyle cabal that runs the council, keeping everyone in the dark, including Clifford? 

Clifford is agreed he has been offensive. Code of Conduct requires courteous behaviour to members of the public. There is also not bringing his office or the council into disrepute. How does he reconcile the two and still claim to be innocent?

What is this Stalinist State he is rabbiting on about?

The Stalinist State is the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor dictating to the community. There is no accountability, no democracy. Indeed, at the planning meeting, the head of planning, as ever in the pocket of developers, instructed the committee to ignore the local community, and told them they were not there to make a democratic decision. Not that they needed any telling what to say, how to vote, as that had already been decided beforehand. 

Most people have checked their facts. It is ignorant councillors who have failed to check their facts.

Demolishing one of the oldest buildings in Farnborough, is not saving it.

Demolishing the building is contrary to the Council policy on local listed buildings.

Refusing to carry out an architectural and historical survey of the building BEFORE it is demolished, is contrary to the Council policy on local listed buildings. 

Why was this not written into the s106 legal agreement? Yet another example of deliberate negligence and maladministration by officials and failure to exercise due diligence by councillors. 

To say the building will be serving food, is to stretch the definition of what we call food, or at least food fit for human consumption.

Do a little research on what goes into industrial burgers. Horsemeat is the least of your worries. Diseased horses, rotten meat several years old, turned green, causing those who had to handle it to vomit as the smell was so bad. 

You can fool some people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time …

There has been no hate campaign, at least not by the local community. Local people are though very angry and disgusted at the manner in which they have been treated.

Take a look at the Rushmoor facebook page, and also note comments are being deleted, people blocked from making comments.

Yes, we are all entitled to our own views, as ordinary citizen, but councillors, commenting as local councillors, are expected to comply with a code of conduct, are expected not to bring their office into disrepute, and are expected to represent the local community.

Try reading the excellent article by Gavril Postnikov published by Medium.

Also the excellent article by Dicky Carter

The only reason there was a local campaign to save The Tumbledown Dick, was due to the failing by local councillors. And once there was a campaign, far from supporting it, there was a concerted effort at sabotage.

We have seen negative briefings by officials, including chief executive Andrew Lloyd and then borough solicitor Karen Limmer telling the campaign who they should not talk to.

We have seen a very unpleasant smear campaign by John Wall.

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in that sense, yes, David Clifford is innocent.

But to date, we have not even seen a properly conducted investigation, and the borough solicitor, who defends actions against the council, is neither a proper or impartial person to carry out an investigation. And even worse, in this case seems to have been defence, prosecution, judge and jury. In other words, yet another Rotten Borough of Rushmoor farce showing the same arrogant contempt for the local community, which now appears to be officially sanctioned Council policy.

The letter from an anonymous council jobsworth has not cleared David Clifford, far from it, but what it has done, is officially sanctioned as council policy, abuse and arrogant contempt of the local community.

We are seeing is a complete failure of local democracy.

Goodbye Dick – hello McD

October 14, 2013
planning meeting

planning meeting

Last night the Development Control Committee, chaired by the young, talented and Tory Cllr Gareth Lyons had the task of considering the application to convert the Tumbledown Dick into a McDonalds restaurant and drive-through, which had been recommended by Rushmoor Planning officers for approval.

The meeting was, as expected, well attended by a little over 100 members of the public. Given the hype I was surprised there were no television crews present other than a cameraman from the poorly read Aldershot / Farnborough News Group (part of the Guardian group I believe) – I understand they have put details on their web site which I assume has more readers than their local rag. I have nothing against the local paper – just find it incredibly boring and unimaginative to the point I have stopped buying it. The Council also have details on their web site – http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk

The report prepared by officers was comprehensive and precisely set out the issues. The Chairman, Cllr Lyon, handled the meeting extremely professionally. Fran Beauchamp, Chair of the Friends of the TDD, spoke against the application and a representative from McDonalds spoke in favour. After a discussion the recommendation was approved 7 for and 3 against which means the plans can now go ahead. Which means McD now saves the TD Dick

I for one will be extremely pleased to see the area cleaned up at last, and the site used and enjoyed by local families. I’m lovin it….

— Councillor David Clifford, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

When most people read what David Clifford had posted on his blog, they assumed it must be a parody, no councillor would treat people with this level of contempt, no one would express glee that that a local heritage building, one of the oldest buildings in Farnborough was to be demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

What David Clifford has posted must rank alongside Gerald Ratner saying what we sell is crap, and John Gummer trying to shove a burger down the throat of his daughter at the height of the foot and mouth epidemic.

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

Gerald Ratner added that his stores’ earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”.

Ratner in 1991 wiped £500 million from the value of Ratners jewellers with what has become known as ‘doing a Ratner’.

Foot in mouth does not even begin to describe this blog post and the attempts at justification.

When in a hole, it is always advisable to stop digging.

It is difficult to believe a ward councillor could be so crass, so out of touch with those in his ward, or express delight at the demolition of a much loved heritage building.

Though this delight is not new. Last year, in an e-mail exchange (dated 27 April 2012) between Rotten Borough of Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd, then borough solicitor Karen Limmer, and someone only identified as Richard:

Richard: This may be just what is needed … all in a gift wrapped un-solicited package … The sun is shining at last … Lots of potential for a great weekend with this package.

Andrew Lloyd: Well said!

Six months later, Andrew Lloyd, in an e-mail to councillors (dated 29 October 2012), denied all knowledge of the sale to McDonald’s!

What did David Clifford do to help save The Tumbledown Dick, a c1720s pub, until a its closure in 2008 a popular live music venue, a building that predates Farnborough, when all that existed was a few isolated buildings and tracks over a desolate heath.

Er, nothing.

Did David Clifford force enforcement action by the Council on the owners Bride Hall?

Not as far as we know.

Members of the local public tried. The Council refused to serve enforcement notice.

But what we do know, David Clifford and Gerald Howarth MP, went behind the backs of the local community and stitched up a dirty little back door deal with McDonald’s, to demolish the building and leave the façade, and even that will not remain untouched as the windows are to be changed.

He appears to be completely out of touch with the views of local people on the pub. They want to see the building retained, re-opened as a pub, live music venue, local community, arts and cultural centre.

If anyone thought re-opening the pub would cause problems of antisocial behaviour, then wait until a Drive-Thru McDonald’s opens, traffic congestion, litter, antisocial behaviour. Or visit Farnborough Gate, or read the police reports on Farnborough Gate, or see the objections the Metropolitan Police raised to a Drive-Thru McDonald’s opening near Croydon.

It is difficult to see how, in the light of appalling local health statistics, far worse than the national average, a Drive-Thru McDonalds is good for Farnborough.

A recent Public Health England report showed how bad the health and related statistics were locally, far worse than the national average.

  • 2,600 children in the Borough live in Poverty
  • In Year 6 children, 18.5% are classified as obese which is significantly above the – national average
  • GCSE attainment is significantly below the national average
  • Violent crime is significantly above the national average
  • Obese adults are above the national average

Health is a material planning consideration. At least one school is within the zone which national planning policy does not permit fast food outlets.

The Milestone Surgery (opposite the site), local doctors, a retired naval surgeon, two local head teachers had all raised concerns on health grounds.

Primary School Head Teachers objected – Mrs Sue Harris, Pinewood Infants and Mrs S Masters, Fernhill Primary. Both teachers eloquently stated how they are striving to help their school children understand healthy eating and that this undermines that, plus one of them mentioned the soft play centre and how it would encourage poor eating and less interactions within families. They both also mentioned traffic.. in fact EVERYONE mentioned traffic!!

Did David Clifford, as ward councillor, attend this important planning meeting?

From his comments, it would appear not. The chairing of the meeting by Gareth Lyon was appalling, the committee members sat around the table (with the honourable exception of Alan Chainey and Frank Rust) were a public disgrace.

Did David Clifford, as ward councillor, read the Agenda, bother to read the critical analysis of the Agenda, or take the trouble to read the 590 objections? It was necessary to read the objections, as all the Agenda contained was soundbites, and read as a PR exercise for McDonald’s, well argued objections, were not put before the committee.

Again, it would appear not.

Chairing of the meeting by Gareth Lyon was a disgrace. He came across as a clueless idiot. He was a puppet with unelected planning official Keith Holland whispering in his ear, telling him how to think, what to say.

He failed to keep order of the meeting. When councillors strayed of topic, he failed to bring them to order. When councillors lied, he did not correct.

He lacked impartiality. When councillors spoke in favour of McDonald’s, he did not ask officials to comment. When councillors spoke against, he asked officials to comment.

A chairman should have casting vote only. He declared he would be voting in favour of McDonald’s.

Gareth Lyon is a carpetbagger, hoping for a safe Tory seat. I trust any selection committee looks at the video of him chairing the planning committee, they will see how useless he is, and not wish to touch him with a bargepole.

The Farnborough News is an imprint of the Surrey Advertiser. Both are owned by the Trinity Mirror Group. I agree worthless rag, rarely worth buying, but I would expect councillors to buy it out of their tax-free allowance (something that should have been chopped in austerity).

John Wall buys it, so he can crow about a letter from his one and only supporter.

The report by planning officials was seriously flawed and read as a McDonald’s PR exercise.

The meeting was a disgrace, those councillors who spoke in favour of McDonald’s were a disgrace, they had not done their homework, did not know what they were talking about.

The two honourable exceptions were Alan Chainey and Frank Rust, who had bothered to do their homework, knew what they were talking about.

Far from people of Farnborough in favour of McDonald’s, 590 objections, several thousand signed a petition.

Local doctors objected on health grounds as did two head teachers.

The Tumbledown Dick did not cause a problem of antisocial behaviour, litter, traffic congestion. McDonald’s will cause all three.

65 de-skilled, part-time, low-paid, zero-hours jobs, subsidised by the State.

McDonald’s will drain money out of the local economy.

McDonald’s will externalise costs to the local and national economy: litter, traffic congestion, pollution, antisocial behaviour, health.

The site did not need clearing up, it was not a focal point for rubbish, though will be if McDonald’s occupy the site.

The building was in a very poor state of repair due to wilful neglect by Bride Hall and the refusal by the Council to serve enforcement action.

Serve a Freedom of Information request on the Council and you will see they refused to take enforcement action. That is assuming you get a reply as they are currently refusing all FoI requests, even though a criminal offence to do so.

There were more than sufficient planning grounds to reject McDonald’s, but councillors were told to ignore them.

It was perverse that the Council spent taxpayers money on legal advice to ignore planning policies, in order to push through an application on behalf of an American fast food chain.

No one asked why this was done. No one asked to see the legal advice or that it be placed in the public domain.

Planning has a quasi-judicial function. Can only determine based on the evidence. Asked to reach a decision on the basis of legal advice no one saw.

Since when was a heritage building saved by demolishing it?

I have yet to meet anyone in favour of demolition of The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. I have though met many who are against.

Anyone passing through Farnborough, the only image they will now have is McDonald’s. Mind you, the few who visit, rather than pass through, will find it is such a dump, they will agree McDonald’s is an appropriate image.

In the summer, the clowns we have as councillors, fell over backwards to destroy four local businesses at Firgrove Parade, including an excellent Indian restaurant which one of these clowns referred to as a café. On Wednesday night (9 October 2013), the same clowns, fell over backwards to promote a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The one thing we did not see Wednesday night was a well informed debate, we saw half-truths, lies, and personal prejudices come to the fore. No attempt was made by the useless chairman to bring any of these clowns to order. The two honourable exception were Alan Chainey and Frank Rust, two councillors who at least take their roles seriously and exercise informed scrutiny.

When we look around and see the state of Aldershot and Farnborough, then look at the clowns we have on the committee, it is easy to see why.

The comments that have appeared on David Clifford’s blog, indicate how out of touch he is. Probably the only time a blog post by a councillor has been read by more people than can be counted on one hand.

David Clifford has now blocked further comments on the grounds that they have become repetitive, ie they show how out of touch he has become.

But not to worry, you can write those comments here.

To add insult to injury David Clifford has today added a new post, calling for a live music venue in Farnborough!

You could not make it up if you tried.


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