Councillor ponders: Nepotism and politics, are they related?

Councillor Alan Lay.

Councillor Alan Lay. - Credit: Archant

The insidious and almost corrupt nepotism that thrives within Wisbech Town Council (WTC) grows with every decision made by the conservative councillors who “control” this small council.

I have witnessed amateurish attempts to maintain a sense of correctness when examining building plans submitted for permission.

It is apparent that no questions are asked with regards to type of brick, finish, or indeed if it is brick or timber, are there any objections from the people local to the project etc...

In one case a road will have to be moved to accommodate the new build planned. The general rule was to pass the plans, send them on to Fenland Council where they will “sort it out”.

The chair and vice chair were voted in from the conservatives, by the conservatives for the allotment committee, even though they were all fully aware that I have many qualifications to my name.

As the meeting progressed I was made aware that this “committee” were judge and jury over the allotment plot holders with regard to prizes for a ”kitchen garden”, “The most enthusiastic”, “best newcomer” and “continued excellence”.

I asked who is qualified to be judge for these categories and the new chair Mr Hill stated that he would be the judge.

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I said that it will mean continuous observation of these sites and that it needs a grounding in what is grown, how it is cultured and that it will need an intimate knowledge of all aspects of horticulture and the rules governing allotments. So the previous mayor, now chair of allotments, has become judge and jury over plot holders.

This is “keep it in the family” politics, it is self-praising idolatry. This situation does not help me to understand how WTC is helping the townsfolk.

Councillors are voted in by their electorate to work for the benefit of them, not for the grandiose self-indulgence of these egotistical councillors who “know better”. Here is some proof of what I say.

I along with my wife Brenda Lay showed to the council members many of our qualifications and certifications. That we were invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to build Show Gardens at Hampden Court Palace, Regents Park, and the BBC2 Gardeners World Live show at Birmingham.

Brenda was a training inspector at Writtle Horticulture College in Essex, with her pass and certification she then became a horticultural lecturer at Barking and Dagenham Technical College.

When we worked with Wisbech in Bloom we were awarded the honour of designing the Horsefair (rabbit) roundabout.

My wife named the boats, I sign wrote them and also cut off the hulls to make the boats lean towards the public.

We retired from a profitable landscaping business in 2003 and moved to Wisbech. All these details were shown to WTC.

They also read a letter to me dated 1974, from the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, Surrey, requesting a cutting of a passion flower that I had developed from seed.

Bearing all this in mind I naively thought that I would have been asked to chair either of the planning or allotment committees.

But no, self-indulgence took over and the young daughter of Councillor David Oliver was voted in as chair of planning. My thought on this is it is are like putting a stewardess into the pilot’s seat of a jumbo jet.

I have to ask how this young lady can have the experience that I have gained over the past 50 years, enabling her to function with intent and purpose.

There is an official document published in 1989 that talks about “proportionality” within councils.

It was produced to offset this obstacle so obvious in WTC, that a proportion of chairs should be set to some of the other councillors who represent the people.

The chair choice is not done in a random way. Here at WTC there is a deliberate manifest to keep any other political party away from the ultimate “committee” that of control of resources (monies) WTC have a ruling that only chairs of other committees can sit on the ultimate committee.

I believe that this could be illegal, that at least one chairperson from another committee should sit on this resources committee, that this is paramount to it being free from persuasion and be seen legitimate and completely democratic.

This WTC is corrupt through ignorance, ineptitude or avoidance of their duties.


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