Thursday, December 23, 2004

Trips to the loft...

As usual, it is necessary to venture up into the roof space twice a year in order to bring down the Crimble decorations (and put them away again). Whilst up there, I decided to have a rummage to find where I put my DVD drive as I bought a game recently (Myst 4) that needs it.

I didn't find the drive, but I did find some other semi-useless bits of technology (a SCSI card, an external CD writer, a large heap of obscure cables & some items I know are useless because they are part of something else already skipped). I also found my Alcatel Broadband Stingray ADSL Modem, so I can send it back to BT.

Now where did I put that grey sack?......

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A diabolical (lack of) liberty

I'm very against compulsory ID cards- they won't achieve their claims but will give the state an excuse to pry more into our lives for our own good. I have often voted Conservative over the years as the candidates have frequently been best of a bad bunch. However, their decision to support the ID card scheme makes them unelectable, even more than they were already.

I support NO2ID and have even been welcomed onto the 1952 committee. It might be a spoof but the message is deadly serious, The State is not your friend.

where are they?

I sent a couple of blog postings today by email but they haven't turned up. I'll do it the traditional way tomorrow.

Update: They have made it as postings now without my intervention, there must have been a backblog...

"Ignorance of the law is no defence"

The title of this bloglet is a bog-standard response that is widely known
but perhaps little understood (at least by me!)

As someone who doesn't buy newspapers as a matter of course and then takes
the contents with a pinch of salt, I am probably hugely ignorant of the law
when it comes to all sorts of things that might make a jobsworth policeman
or beurocrat get a gleam in his eye.

I have a house full of all sorts of tools that could cause injury for a
burglar intent on causing harm, although fortunately for him (& it is nearly
always a him) I haven't got much of a clue where they actually are in the
house at the best of times, let alone in a struggle.

I will certainly have some unsavoury images on my computer & backup archives
that may well include illegal stuff involving children or donkeys. I know
this because it constantly arrives in my spambox and doesn't always get
deleted, either automatically or manually. I don't go looking for the stuff
but everyone who has been on the net for a while is in the same boat.

I don't know when lighting up times are, or indeed if they are still
published. I turn my car lights on when visibility is reduced, the best
measure for this is when I can't read my dashboard easily as it is heavily
cowled and tricky when dusk approaches.

I gather it used to be legitimate for a vehicle driver to tinkle against one
particular wheel, something dating back to horse and cart transport. Which
wheel it is and whether it has been subsequently repealed escapes me.

I used to be of the view that the Police Force were there to uphold the law,
banging up the scum of society whilst leaving us law abiding types alone.
Having read the coppersblog I'm not quite so sure of that, someone put it as
the new role of the Police Service to be mediation between offenders and

I used to believe that a policeman had to have "just cause" to stop a
motorist. After having read the Speccy three weeks ago, I'm not so sure and
unclear whether my Victorinox penknife is an offensive weapon (or indeed,
where it is in the house or garage!). Fortunately I don't have any
collapsible batons but have wondered whether a baseball bat might be a good
investment. It could be an engraved trophy fixed to the wall along with my
other certificates & memorabilia but if I put it upstairs I'd want it to be
held in place by spring clips....

How do we ordinary people know them we are on the wrong side of the law,
particularly when our value system is no longer a useful pointer to the
right course of action against bad law?

The darker side of eBay- Dispute resolution

Anyone who dabbles in eBay knows about their "feedback rating". Every time
you buy or sell something, you get a chance to rate the transaction with a
positive, neutral or negative comment of up to 80 characters (and the other
person gets a chance to do the same).

So far I have an unblemished record, all postings positive. That is because
I am a conscientious trader, I try to treat others as I would like to be
treated myself.

I have left a smattering of neutral postings and two negative ones. The
first negative one was for a buyer who didn't pay and didn't respond to any
emails. After eventually losing patience I relisted the item and marked it
down as a minus. Then an interesting thing happened- I received a number of
emails from other traders sharing their own problems with that person- one
even went so far as to suggest she was a bit deranged. She posted a comment
to the effect of "how dare you!" against my feedback but never actually got
round to leaving any negative feedback for me, which I would have simply
tagged as a tit-for-tat.

My second reason to leave negative feedback arose recently when trying to
buy a replacement printer. Despite winning the lot & them taking my credit
card details, when nothing arrived after the promised date and I chased them
(more worried about failed deliveries during my impending holiday) it
transpired that they no longer had the printer and couldn't offer an
alternative. This was still the case 18 days later when I returned from
holiday and I still had to do the chasing, ringing them up after no response
to my reminder email & no mails in the intervening period. They offered
plausible excuses of course (staff holidays, computer error) but it still
didn't really add up. They had taken the money from my credit card but then
they hadn't. It would be shipped on Monday but on Wednesday it was showing
as zero stock. They showed conflicting Ts & Cs on the lot and on their links
page. They accepted PayPal but they didn't, only credit cards by phone.

After chewing the cud and involving one or two other seasoned ebayers at
work, I decided to leave negative feedback. The experience certainly wasn't
positive as the outcome was simply wasted time- mine. The Company was polite
enough but they didn't seem to grasp the concept of Customer Service &
actually discouraged contact somewhat in some of their Ts & Cs. I was a
little uncomfortable with negative rather than neutral but on reflection, it
wasn't an ad hominem attack, simply an accurate reflection of the
transaction. I looked over the other feedback- mostly positive, one other
negative and a surprising number of neutrals. 80 characters aren't enough to
tell the full story but I honed my string down to two factual statements
like a true wordsmith. ;->

Fast forward a couple of days, and I am clearing out my spamtrap mailbox. In
amongst all of the offers for performance enhancing substances and various
banks wanting me to re-enter my personal details, I found an email from an
outfit called Squaretrade. My first assumption was that it was a phishing
scam based on tricking people who had recently left negative feedback but on
closer examination & a bit of burrowing it is a dispute resolution system
for ebay. The dispute in question was the Company wanting me to withdraw the
negative feedback and offering an alternative. It was a bit late for an
alternative as I had just purchased another printer (also through ebay) and
going straight to this service rather than contacting me seemed a little

I made my case back to the person in question and was surprised to then find
that they had already forked out $20 for a mediator, something the process
suggests is normally adopted when an impasse' has been reached. The
background for this mediation is rather odd- they don't make decisions or
pass any form of judgement, UNLESS the other party (me) decides not to go to
mediation in which case they appear to have the power to get negative
comments retracted (or set back to neutral, the documentation & process is
rather clumsy).

This all seemed a bit quick off the mark, so out of curiosity, I emailed the
other person who had also left a negative comment. It seems that they had
also been squaretraded as well, so the Company seemed to be keen to try to
remove negative comments. This is understandable as I always look at seller
feedback when deciding to buy, although I also take what it says in context
as there are a lot of clueless people on ebay and it shows in the comments
they leave.

Anyway, updates on this story as it develops.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Back to blighty

I've just got back from two weeks in Florida. I didn't want to announce it to the world beforehand as burglars can read blogs as well!

I had a brilliant time but seriously question whether the aggro getting in and out of America is worth it as long as they continue with the homeland security stuff. I wasn't singled out for any special ill-treatment, just made to wait a long, long time each way & have to get absolutely everything X-rayed like everyone else.

We spent a lot of our time in the Orlando theme parks, pure escapism & coming back to the real world, especially dirty Britain & drab Morley is a bit of a downer.

However, at least in this Country the bottoms of the toilet cubicle partitions aren't nearly up to your knees & the paper towel dispensers don't give a meagre three inch strip of single ply brown tissue without repeated lever waggling.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Let there be light....

Well, Morley is now all lit up curtesy of the Town Mayor, special guest Suzanne Light, a Rhino, a Crocodile, Father Christmas, two Radio Leeds presenters and surprise celeb Peter Ash who is off Footballer's wives (apparently).

It snowed specially for the ceremony and young David enjoyed being a bit of a stage door johnny, being on the stage but not having to perform.

Afterwards the Morley Lions fed & watered those of us lucky enough to get backstage and after it was all over, we wandered back round the front of the Town Hall to see the crew packing away the equipment. The snow had gone but the roads remained wet which reflected the lights rather tastefully for one or two atmospheric shots.

The usual disappointment, however, were the two Christmas trees flanking the steps- impressively big but not a bauble in sight this year.

Posing for the Press

Queen Street

A very sad Xmas tree

Monday, November 15, 2004

Christmas lights switch-on

Morley normally gets a minor celebrity to turn on the Christmas lights, in previous years it has been Emmerdale or Corry stars (lesser ones, not the major characters). There was a bit of a muddle last year when local comedian Billy Pierce was available but not asked- it seemed his website showed him as busy. We did see him turn on the Batley lights a year or two ago- after they came on the visual impact in the town square was so underwhelming that he was heard to say "did it not work?" after he pulled the handle!

There is no mistaking the Morley lights, as they are strung across the street and continue down the lamp-posts all the way down to Morley Bottoms this year, although it is a little barren in front of the Town Hall as the two large Christmas trees aren't specifically lit and the decorations don't start until well above reaching height owing to the local scratters.

We have a "celebrity with a difference" this year, a local girl who has been fighting a life threatening illness. The story can be found here at, although it may no longer be there if you are reading this at a later date.

It is a nice thought and will be a brilliant night for the aptly named young Susannah Light but there was talk of getting the Chuckle Brothers in the papers previously and whispers of not having a very big budget so I suspect it is a fallback arrangement. My 7 year old is disappointed that he won't be meeting the Chuckle Brothers and the presence of Crocodiles and Rhinos won't cut much ice with a Disney veteran. Still, as long as there are biscuits, he'll cope. To me, to you....

Sunday, November 14, 2004

You could have heard a pin drop.....

....during the two minutes silence in Morley today. As the strains of "The Last Post" by a Salvationist cornet player died away, there was a reverent hush from the large crowd in the Memorial Gardens. As time passed, I became aware of distant sounds, the muted roar of the M62, an intermittent hammering, a crow cawing, sunday league footballers swearing words of encouragement at each other....

As the coughs started to quietly erupt around the park (they are as contagious as yawns!) the bugler played "Reveille" and the spell was broken.

I'm rather fond of tradition, a couple of stirring hymns appeals to this fat old secular agnostic, as does robust vocal celebration of the monarchy. I enjoy the spirit of togetherness, but I prefer to mix & match as suits my individualist whim.

I realise I've already blogged on this, the longer one didn't show up until after I wrote this one. Programmers, scum of the earth....


I took part in the Morley act of remembrance today as a Town Councillor. This meant that I joined the parade, got to stand near the Cenotaph during the service and was able to stand on the Town Hall steps where the salute was taken.

I have participated in the Batley equivalent as a Round Tabler the previous two years & it is a very rewarding occasion. Morley has a better setting and PA system, Batley has a more enjoyable march round the town. Batley is also better drilled- the two minutes silence tends to start straight after the clock chimes, today at Morley the Town Hall Clock was chiming whilst prayers were still in progress. It was a little early but it is often a couple of minutes out, being mechanical rather than radio controlled like my wristwatch.

The silence was poigniant, despite a large crowd with lots of children present it instantly muted at the appointed time. Gradually, distant sounds became apparent. The dull roar of the motorway traffic on the M62. A crow cawing. Delicate bird twittering. A very distant sporadic hammering. The grunts & encouragement of sunday league football on distant fields. The occasional cough. As time dragged on, coughs became contagious, the hacks & wheezes seemed to spread to the point where there was always one on the air, quiet but obvious if you listened out for it.

Then the spell was broken. The salvationist who had played The Last Post piped up with Reveille, the standards were raised, the old soldiers saluted and the wreaths were laid whilst we sang the stirring but melancholy hymn "O God, our help in ages past".

I may be a born-again agnostic but I do enjoy Hymns, the old ones are the best.

Afterwards, we were served Coffee in the Town Hall, although it felt more elitist than Batley, no tables out & the public appeared excluded. The Mayor presented our three visiting Gurkhas with commemorative Mugs & badges (with the Town Crest). They looked slightly bemused and I am sure the items will cause much interest when they eventually get taken back to Nepal!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

British Telecommunications plc...faster than a speeding snail

If readers have followed my election campaign they will be vaguely aware that I engaged with BT on the subject of fixing signs to telegraph poles. They advised that my query had been passed on to the right department who would deal with my query. That was back in July so it might be moving towards the top of the heap soon.

What prompted me to remember this was the arrival of a large grey envelope/sack from BT that puzzled me for a while. It seems that it is intended for the return of equipment but it doesn't actually say what equipment they are expecting.

I used to have BT broadband but I moved the service onto PlusNet in February 2003. Here we are more than eighteen months later and they have suddenly remembered that I owe them an Alcatel Stingray USB ADSL modem. The bag turned up flat & there is no packing material provided so I imagine most stuff sent back ends up trashed.

I do still have it, although I put it up in the loft last but one summer & very nearly put it in the bin. I had a vague inclination to flog it on ebay but will now happily return it- in my own good time. Maybe I'll leave it until autumn 2005, or next time I move house.

Hopefully they will contact me complaining I haven't returned it yet. That is a conversation I will take great delight in participating in!

Friday, November 12, 2004

They don't make 'em like they used to...

I was playing Mouse Trap with the young 'un this evening. Mouse trap is the game where you construct a mouse trap using plastic parts & attempt to trap your opponent under the basket.

I don't know how long the design has been around but I can remember it vividly as a nipper back in the 60s. Whilst the construction progressed, I was trying to encourage logical reasoning for the orientation of the various parts, something somewhat tricky considering the illogicality of the construction. It occurred to me that in some ways, the design had been over simplified to the point where it was not as reliable as the toy on sale four decades ago.

Firstly, the stop sign assembly that kicks the boot that knocks over the bucket- the basic alignment is now poor and there is insufficient force to knock over the bucket other than resonances and displacement after a few attempts. Increasing the tension via the elastic band just deforms the assembly. It is marginally more visually attractive, having decals of a hand on the stop sign and a lamp on the lamp post but the boot has less mass.

The breaking down of the crazy stairs into a three piece assembly has made it more fiddly but essentially sturdy enough for purpose, provided the boot kicks the bucket correctly. A steel ball has been retained for the design, although the larger bowling ball probably has lower mass. The helping hand assembly used to be spring loaded so that the steel ball would cause it to move upwards once displaced. The current simpler design just relies on downwards displacement although the bowling ball is precariously positioned adequately enough that the sharp force causes it to roll down, despite non-intuitive mechanism in use.

When it comes to the diver, however, it has been seriously skimped. It doesn't sit comfortably on the pedestal and generally doesn't land in the diving pool in a precision backflip, instead, it clouts it as it falls short. This is enough to initiate the cage ratchet effect, however, and the mouse is invariably caught.

The piece colours have changed from my boyhood memories, I recall the crazy plumbing being red instead of yellow, the stairs being red instead of blue and the boot being blue instead of green. The rules have been enhanced (?) by the introduction of cheese pieces although all they really achieve is speeding up the end game by providing the opportunity to trap the opponent more.

As a child I thought it was a very clever piece of engineering (at least for a couple of days, when I managed to cause a structural integrity failure of the crazy plumbing). I'm delighted that MB Games still sell this, although they also made some real stinkers, such as Buckaroo! and Ker-Plunk. The latter game first wised me up to the deceptiveness of advertising, it didn't make a ker-plunk noise at all, it was more of a crash- rattle rattle. It is still going & even harder to put the sticks in in the modern incarnation.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Town Planning

I'm on the Planning Committee on Morley Town Council. It is seen as a bit of a short straw, because it meets every two weeks, come rain or shine. (Well, to be more accurate, it meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, so we get a week off four times a year).

I don't mind planning, as I enjoy looking at architects drawings and visualising what it actually means. Fortunately, our Chairman is very thorough in keeping track of the mountains of paperwork that turn up.

The planning authority is Leeds City Council, however Parish Councils are statutary consultees so Leeds have to take our views into account before they choose to ignore us.

The Planning process works something like this.

Developers put in big schemes to build housing.
Planners complain about it.
Developers tweak schemes.
Planners still complain about it.
Repeat the above for a while.
Develops engage good lawyers.
Local authority caves in, houses get built.

Simple, eh?

Next time, the joy of conservatories.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The blogger bug

I blogged a few months back when I stood for Town Council. The absurdities of local government from my Libertarian perspective are worthy of mention so I'll resurrect the original postings & occasionally add to them.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Epi (b)logue

The Morley Coat of Arms

Ian Grey's Blog Blog

Elected for Morley Town Council

If this is your first visit, click here to start at the bottom then scroll back up.

(Click on the graphics to enlarge them. Note that Internet Explorer may scale the pictures to be difficult to read, in which case right click and "save as..." to view the jpegs at native resolution.)

Let me roll the clock back to election day. I was conscious as the week progressed that the BNP were trying very hard to win round support in the Ward. They had been seen out knocking on doors, they had canvassers at both polling stations all day engaging with the electorate and they had received a phenomenal amount of publicity the previous week with the BBC exposé. It had been my suspicion that there would probably be only a handful of votes in it between the three candidates. As the afternoon progressed and I chatted to people around the Ward, I started to get tense. Could I have done more? Should I have knocked on doors and introduced myself? Was I too much of an unknown? Should I have put a phone number on my leaflets to appear more approachable? Common sense told me that under the 80/20 rule, I was into diminishing returns but I’d have hated to have lost by a tiny margin and only time would tell.

After a hearty tea, we met round Terry’s flat in order to prowl the two wards with Megaphones. We had two available- a large industrial one that belonged to Robert Finnigan and a dinky one that I had bought on Ebay for a charity pig racing event held by Ladies’ Circle (the female equivalent of Round Table that Karen is a member of). I had actually paid more in postage than I had paid for the megaphone and still managed to get change from a Tenner but it worked fine and achieved its purpose which was to make people look out of the windows & hopefully think about voting.

At round about 8:30pm I went back home to pick up Karen & return to town. On the basis that it was now the home stretch, I converted the battle bus back to normal car again, removing the rosettes & posters. We parked round the back of the Queens Hotel (on the basis of that probably being where we would end up later) and walked the short distance to the Town Hall. There was a notable police presence in the Area, with a riot van and a number of uniformed Bobbies /PCSOs.

After being admitted to the Alexandra Hall, the Returning Officer decided that it was probably better if count participants remained outside as the polling station was still open until 9pm. So, we rang Terry’s crowd and were told they were in “the office” which I took to mean Terry’s flat. What they actually meant was the new office in the Basement of the Town Hall for the six independent councillors where we found them after a quick wander round town. There was a fairly large crowd of a dozen or so outside the Queens by then, some of whom didn’t look very nice people. It transpired that they were BNP supporters from snatches of conversation overheard.

Just after 9pm, we returned to the Hall for the count. Tables were arranged in a large U shape and it was explained that Central Ward would be counted stage left, Elmfield Ward stage right. (stage left is the left hand side of the hall from the performer’s point of view. The postal votes were initially counted, reconciled with the tally and then put to one side, bundled in 50s. Then the polling boxes were opened, the ballot papers unfolded, the papers all put the same way, counted, reconciled with the polling station tally then put with the others. Central Ward already had one box in the hall and it is the smaller Ward so they managed to count and declare the results very quickly. Terry received 231 votes with 61.11% of the voting share (378 votes were counted), the Labour Candidate came second with 100 votes (26.45%) and the BNP candidate came third with 47 votes, (12.43%). The turnout was less than 15% so whilst it was a decisive victory for Terry, he still only received less than 10% of possible votes, 85% of people deciding to stay at home.

Meanwhile, the tension was building around the Elmfield Ward table as the 547 voting papers were being sorted by candidate. Whilst BNP had came a clear third in Central Ward, it was becoming apparent that Chris Beverley had received a lot of votes and could possibly win it. Having been put into candidate heaps, they were then placed onto candidate tables, rechecked and recounted. It gradually became apparent that Labour had come third as their table finished counting a minute or two before the others. Suddenly, the BNP & Grey counts finished within a few seconds of each other. I looked at the bundles, furiously counting in my head. Had I just stolen the edge? I glanced over at Chris Beverley and he looked crestfallen, being comforted by his partner. The Labour people looked disappointed but there were some smiles amongst the Independents. Karen said she felt physically sick with the uncertainty.

Then the Returning Officer asked the candidates to come forward. She showed us the count figures and my vision blurred. Mine started with a two. The others started with a one. My vision came into sharp focus. I had the most votes! I had won! She asked if we were happy with the result, which struck me as a daft question, I was delighted with it! Then I realised, this was the opportunity to ask for a recount if required. Shortly afterwards, she made the formal announcement of the results and the adrenalin went into overdrive. I shook a lot of hands, including the opponents. I even gave Jean Lancaster a hug, which surprised both of us! I thanked everyone who had helped and we agreed to go for a celebratory drink at the Rugby Club rather than the Queens so after dropping off cars & cadging a lift we quaffed a Pint or two of well kept Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

For the record, the results were as follows:

Beverley BNP 179 votes 32.72% 5.31%
Grey Independent 225 votes 41.13% 6.68% Elected
Lancaster Labour 143 votes 26.14% 4.24%
Total votes 547 16.24% Turnout

The First percentage is share of the vote, the second share of the voting strength. The reality is that 5 out of 6 people in the Ward didn’t bother to vote.

The following morning, I went to visit the Town Clerk’s office with my Mum & Son whilst Karen packed the bags for a short break we had planned to Blackpool.

I signed the declaration of acceptance of office, I received the forms for the declaration of financial and other interests (which have to be returned within 28 days) and received my first set of Council paperwork, the current “all members” regular circular and minutes/agenda for the forthcoming Town planning meeting this Wednesday. I will also be presented with a copy of the Standards Board Model Code of Conduct and the Town Council Standing Orders in due course.

Declaration of acceptance of office

By signing the declaration, I'm now a Member of the Council. I've been called a member many times before.....!

I have two final items of housekeeping to sort out;- my declaration of expenses (about £250 but I have a good stapler and some kitchen steps that I get to keep, after all, it was my money!) and taking down all of the “Vote Grey” signs. A couple of helpers did the lions share for me whilst we were in Blackpool but we had a quick prowl round the Ward last night and noticed a handful that had been missed which Karen will finish off today.

So, now I’m Councillor Grey. Will it make a difference? In many ways, getting elected onto a Minor Authority won’t change the world very much. I’m delighted to have been voted in and pleased that more electors put their faith in an independent rather than party politics. Had Chris Beverley won, I’m sure the BNP would have made massive mileage out of it. The state of the parties on the Town Council is now as follows:

Conservative 2
Independent 15
Labour 6
Morley Borough Independents 1

Although you could argue that there are actually five Morley Borough Independents on the Council, only Terry stood as one this time round, the others stood as regular Independents last year and haven’t renounced their independence yet.

On a purely selfish note, the plastic chairs for observers in the Council Chamber are extremely uncomfortable for someone of my “Rubens-esque” proportions so I am looking forward to staking a claim on the padded blue benches at the next full Council meeting on August 4th. Where I sit in the chamber is my prerogative as an independent.

I want to say a big thank you to my family and friends who have assisted beyond the call of duty this last month or so, particularly my Wife Karen who has been a rock of support and encouragement. I now need to keep it all in context & put my family first.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. I don’t intend to keep it up after today, although I will retain it on line as it has created some interest both locally and from afar. Here are a few of my favourite quotes just to send you on your way…

Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm….

All that it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing….

If voting changed anything they’d abolish it….

When people say “they should do something about it” they don’t realise that “they” includes “them”…..

TANSTAAFL:- There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch…..

The State is not your friend…..

Given the choice, people will vote for Bread and Circuses….

Never trust a snake oil salesman….

Heyyy! You f***ed up! You trusted us!…..

Ladies & Gentlemen, the caterers…..

There is no such thing as society, society is other people…..

Minutes are a record of the lies said at the time, not the lies you wish you had said on reflection….

A Committee is a body that takes Minutes and wastes hours…..

Frankly, I wouldn’t trust him to sit on a toilet the right way round………

I used to think all politicians were scum. Now that I have met some, I realise that I was being unfair;- only most of them are scum…..

Occam’s Razor- don’t put down to conspiracy what can be more easily explained by incompetence….

Father, I cannot tell a lie. I ate all the pies…

July 23rd 10:30

I've now signed the acceptance of office and can formally call myself Councillor Grey. I've also updated the figures for the elections as what I'd written down wasn't exactly what the declaration said for Central Ward. I'll blog my thoughts after the weekend.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Signed on

I've now signed the acceptance of office and can formally call myself Councillor Grey. I've also updated the figures for the elections as what I'd written down wasn't exactly what the declaration said for Central Ward. I'll blog my thoughts after the weekend.


I am absolutely stunned and delighted to have been elected by a decent majority, as was Terry Grayshon. More thoughts after it has sunk in....


CENTRAL Turnout 14.79%
TERRENCE GRAYSHON Morley Borough Independents 231 ELECTED
JOHN DARRELL HIRST British National Party 47
JOHN WILLIAM MEDLEY The Labour Party candidate 100

ELMFIELD Turnout 16.24%
CHRISTOPHER BEVERLEY British National Party 179
JEAN LANCASTER The Labour Party candidate 143

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Afternoon update

Well, I've been wandering the Ward saying hello to anyone who has shown any interest after getting back from my work meeting. I'm wearing a tie in Corporate purple with a grey suit & it is far too warm to be wearing a suit today! I chatted with the BNP tellers who both seemed perfectly normal and observed some of the goings on. They seem to get two distinct reactions, scowls from the older generation and some show of support from people disenfranchised by our P.C. society. No sign of Chris Beverley yet.

I had a chat with Jean, my Labour opponent, at her nearby polling station. The polls had been open for more than half of their allocated time and there had been roughly 80 voters at each one so taking postal votes into account, about 10% of the electorate have voted so far which is about par for the course, apparently. The busiest time is in the early evening, but some people leave it right to the last few minutes. I haven't had to give anyone a lift to the polls or kiss any babies yet, but there is still time!

Later, we will be hitting the streets with megaphones, hopefully I can convince the Central mob to reciprocate if I do some rallying for T. Grayshon Esq.

The big day arrives

Today is polling day. the polling stations are open from 8am to 9pm with the count to be held immediately afterwards in Morley Town Hall. I have visited both polling stations & talked to the officials, introducing myself and asking general questions about procedures. The Bridge Street one said they had 900 ballot papers and the Fountain Street one 1400 which means that in the unlikely event of a turnout higher than 50% or so they may have a slight problem!

The BNP have a Polling Agent at each Polling Station, who also appear to be acting as tellers as they are hanging around near the entrance with clipboards. (I assume they are both Polling Agents as one introduced herself to the Officer with the appropriate letter, so the other one probably is.)

Apart from a smattering of Labour signs at the houses of people whose names I recognise as activists, there seems to be negligible interest. I have had a few emails and phone calls wishing me success but only time will tell. One chap did collar me and complain about not being able to vote as he lived on the wrong side of Fountain Street & he didn't quite understand what the point of being an independent was (he initially assumed I was the BNP candidate). it does strike me as slightly silly that parish ward boundaries pass down the centre of streets, it would make more sense if the boundary was through the garden, so to speak.

I need to go to a meeting at work, more news later in the day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

democracy in action

I attended the opening of the postal votes this morning. I am obliged by the Representation of the people act to not reveal details of everything I saw, however I will explain what is reasonable to do so in the form of a process overview. (The secrecy aspects are given further down.)

I had previously been informed by letter that I was able to attend the opening of the postal votes with a colleague without notice, although I was the only candidate who bothered to do so. The checking was carried out in the Leeds Electoral office. I thought I hadn’t been to the building before but quickly realised it was familiar-it also housed the Registrar’s office and Karen and I were married there in 1994!

Gail and her team made me welcome and explained clearly what they were doing & why. There were three participants sat along a large table, with myself on the other side.

In deference to me being the only observer, the Elmfield Ballot box was dealt with first. As postal votes arrived each day, they were placed into the box which had a slit for the purpose. The seals were broken, the envelopes double-checked that they were for Elmfield, counted and the total recorded ensuring that there were not more returned than sent out.

The envelopes were then divided into three heaps and the team slitted them all open with a letter opener. Inside each envelope there should have been another envelope (Envelope A) with the ballot paper inside, along with the declaration form loose in the outer envelope (envelope B). Each declaration was checked that it was correctly filled in and that the serial number matched the number also printed on envelope A. In the event that there was no declaration to be found (or the ballot paper was outside the envelope) the other envelope was checked & the papers transposed to be correct.

Any casualties of the slitting process were repaired with sellotape and after checking any queries on declarations, they moved on to the next stage.

Now the ballot envelopes were opened, the ballot papers extracted and the serial number checked against the envelope number. If there was a mismatch it was put to one side as apparently people in the same house sometimes mix up the envelopes.

Once the ballot papers had been extracted (and any mismatched ones were reunited,) they were counted (for quantity only), the total recorded and they were sealed up again in the ballot box. They will be taken to the count tomorrow night where they will be checked for spoilt papers and sorted accordingly along with the polling station ones.

Seal is a bit of a misnomer as the process doesn’t involve the use of wax and tapers. “Cable tie” is a more accurate description of how the box gets secured shut!

The process was then repeated for the Central Ward postal votes and it was all sorted out in less than an hour.

My thanks to Gail and her team for an informative and enlightening visit. Their handling of the papers was very pragmatic and fair, they certainly made every effort to ensure that as many votes as possible were included, whereas a “jobsworth” approach would have possibly have led to some being discarded for trivial reasons.

Out of curiosity, I also asked if it was a matter of public record who had petitioned for the By-Elections (it is). If twenty electors from each ward write in requesting it then it has to be held. I was shown the file although I did not actually recognise any specific names so cannot tell which political party instigated it (although I had been informed that the Independents were not intending to, putting all of their efforts into the City Council elections in June). The by-election would normally have coincided with a City Council election but apparently this cannot be done if there is also a European election as well.

I did ask one other question. A parish Council will be created if 10% of the electorate petition for it but was there a similar procedure for dissolution? I was informed no, there is no mechanism for abolishing a parish or town council once created.
Secrecy rules for elections

These days, anyone can request a postal vote and indeed we all voted by post last month for the City Council and European elections.

The political parties like the postal vote system- their declining membership of non-activists are less and less inclined to make the effort and having the papers arrive at home rather than having to travel to a polling station increases the chance of getting a tick in the right box, particularly if the activists go round and “help” them fill in the complicated forms.

I don’t agree with giving postal votes for everybody by default. This can lead to far too much potential for abuse and whilst it is still a secret ballot via the post, people can feel under pressure to fill in the forms the way others recommend.

With polling stations, a voter knows that he or she can look at the ballot paper, decide who to vote for and put a cross in the box unobserved by others.

I can vividly recall my first vote. I was a student in Coventry in 1976/77, I was 18 and proudly took my polling card to the rather run down hall where the shabby looking wooden booths & the battered black box were. I used my pencil, showed the back of the ballot paper to the presiding officer ensuring that the election mark was clearly visible (made by some glorified stapler/punch device), dropped it in the box then immediately thought

“Is that it?”.

I was somewhat underwhelmed afterwards and certainly didn’t think I’d be standing for Public Office 28 years later as a “pillock of the community”, in the words of John Shuttleworth, the versatile singer/songwriter from Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

There is a considerable amount of election law that candidates (indeed everyone) must abide by, designed to preserve the sanctity of the British electoral system. They boil down to what are called corrupt and illegal practices.

Corrupt practices include making false declarations and attempting to influence voters by bribery, treating (providing food, drink or entertainment) and undue influence, i.e. threats, violence, duress. Corrupt practices can lead to a fine or up to 12 months imprisonment along with a five year disqualification from voting & holding public office.

Illegal practices include false statements about the personal character or conduct of other candidates, paying to display posters, omitting the “printed and published” on electoral material (oops- maybe I’d better put it at the top of the Blog to be on the safe side!), pays for taxis to transport voters, uses a school premises as a committee room and goes on TV or Radio to influence voting outside of acceptable arrangements.

Whilst candidates don’t go to prison for illegal practices, they can be fined and disqualified for voting for five years, although they can still hold public office. So it is OK for elected officials to be illegal as long as they are not corrupt...!

I have been careful to stay out of the quagmire of rubbishing my opponents during this campaign as I don’t regard it as at all constructive. I want people to vote for me on the basis of being a decent sort who is community minded & wanting to put something back into Morley and I have tried hard to convey this. I’m actually rather modest and a smidge on the shy side so trumpet blowing and public exposure via letters to the editor is the exception rather than the rule. I am human of course, I do like to be acknowledged for a job well done rather than be taken for granted but squirm when over-praised and welcome a sincere thank you over an insincere fawning any day.

I have played the Independent card strongly in my campaign, particularly when it comes to attendance. In the Morley Town Council Annual report 2003/4, for the first time, individual Councillor attendance figures are published for the Full Council and the various Committees. It isn’t a statutory requirement to do this, it was decided after the 2002/3 report came out that it would be included. I crunched the numbers and came up with stats about how well the various parties attend. However I decided that quoting specific percentages would require substantiation of the methodology so I simply distilled the message down to nine of the top ten attenders are independent. I show the actual spreadsheet here which makes the case visually (blue are Conservative, Red are Labour, independents have white background).

Morley Town Council attendance

Of course, a Councillor could have a superb attendance record then not actually participate in the meetings but the converse does not apply- if you are not there in the first place you can’t all.

Tomorrow is polling day. I’ve got the day off (apart from needing to go to a meeting at work) and ready to engage with the electorate. It will be a long day, the polls open at 8am and close at 9pm, followed by the count in the Town Hall.

Just to enliven the page slightly, here are colour versions of the leaflet photos.

Taken after a Mercia meeting in the pub, Birmingham, Doncaster  or Leicester Square (I can't remember which meeting!) Taken in a photographer in halifax for the CMA election campaign Taken by David in Morley Taken at Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the staff annual report Jubilant after having abseiled down the 190' Baitings Dam

No letters in the Morley Advertiser today, or anything heard back from the Editor. Perhaps he adopts the philosophy of the Admiral Jackie Fisher, "Never apologise, never explain". Instead, here is a scan of a letter from another independent last week also accusing labour of electioneering. (The sham letter, not the rubbish in postbox one).

Letters in Morley observer, Friday 16th July

BT update- I have had an email telling me they have passed my query onto the relevant department.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Advice from the election people

I forgot to mention that letters turned up over the weekend from the election office with regard to Polling Agents and Counting Agents. Traditionally, small green pass cards were printed admitting the bearer accordingly and sent to the Candidate or their Agent for distribution. On this occasion, they have actually sent letters to all of the people I named to the addresses given. Had I known this, I wouldn’t have put c/o Morley Town Hall for various councillors as I have made unnecessary work for the Town Council office. (I had their addresses somewhere on file but it would have required a bit of hunting around).

For the count, I can bring myself, a guest (Karen, of course) and just one Counting Agent. I picked a name of one of my helpers who has given the most constructive campaign advice. Polling Agents have the authority to enter the polling station, talk to the presiding officer and satisfy themselves that procedures are being correctly followed. Their main purpose is to detect “personation”, i.e. that electors are who they say they are. (A dictionary definition is “To assume the identity of, with intent to deceive”)

Whilst the elections office have sent information on what a teller can or can’t do, they don’t say a lot about the scrutiny aspects of Polling Agents, other than that their duties are prescribed in the Representation of the People Acts.

I also note that the Department at the City Council have apparently changed names: Letters last month were headed “Department of Legal Services Elections and Registration Section” but now say “Legal and Democratic Services Electoral registration and Elections”.

The BNP have apparently put out three leaflets, of which I have copies of two of them. Initially, their first leaflet was A4 which mostly attacked Labour for their poor track record of attendance. The scans are slightly cropped but you should get the jist of what they are saying.

The A5 leaflet raises various local issues.

BNP A3 leaflet

Their third leaflet is folded A4 and bears a passing resemblance to my own, featuring a pencil graphic of the Town Hall inside and a back cover similar to my back cover. If they have been inspired to this style by seeing mine, then people often say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

BNP 2nd leaflet coverBNP 2nd leaflet coverBNP 2nd leaflet back page

There is also an anti-BNP leaflet doing the rounds. This is a triple folded leaflet that alleges that the BNP are not nice people. It mentions Alex Sobel, a Labour activist who came to his door on Sunday night to advise me that he would be voting Labour, unsurprisingly. His partner said this was the third leaflet she has received from me which were all the same, although I did point out that this was leaflet number two which she accepted when she looked inside. I’m not surprised that we will have done a smattering of double-leafleting & missed out others, without a meticulous micro-managed leaflet regime it is easy to overlap rounds & miss out places along the way.

Anti- BNP leaflet coverAnti BNP leaflet contents

I was passed details of how to leaflet Elmfield based on eight well established rounds and have copies of the Ward boundaries but there are quirks- the High Street buildings vary between being in Elmfield and Central Wards for no discernable reason.

I developed a personal etiquette for leafleting that I based on how I would expect others to deal with me. Firstly, walk on paths, not grass. Don’t walk in front of windows unless it is the only way to get to the letterbox. Push the leaflet fully in so that it is not showing externally. If it is a glass door, ensure it falls inside rather than hangs obviously against the glass. Lift the flap, lift the inner flap (gingerly if barking is heard) and push the leaflet through, preferably without letting the flaps bang or the knocker rattle. If folding of the leaflet is necessary due to small letterboxes or particularly rigid bristles, fold it in a way that the main message is visible. Try not to scrunch it, although sometimes it is unavoidable. Discourage your small boys from enthusiastic shouting whilst leafleting. Close the gate, or leave it as you found it. Be polite to anyone who engages you but if they want to talk at length, ask if you can come back at their convenience.

I had heard stories of offensive and rude behaviour towards election leafleters in the past but I have to say that everyone I have met and talked to (however briefly) in Elmfield has been fine, other than two small boys who greeted me with “Hello Mr. Fat Man” in a smart residential street.

I met one character on Sunday night who I chatted to for a couple of minutes, glad of the break. He was very friendly and I had seen him around the town, complete with Father Christmas beard and large dog. He was apparently disappointed that he lived on the wrong side of the road and wouldn’t be able to vote. I’m rather fond of eccentrics (or at least harmless ones) as I often find that they have an interesting story to tell, in their own good time, of why they choose alternative lifestyles. The Town Council already has an interesting selection of characters and people with a passion for something are irreplaceable.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Election fever

I received an interesting email over the weekend which I reproduce below.


I found your blog 'charming' and very informative. Everybody is talking about how to make our democracy more participative[?] and you are doing something about it.

Whether you win or lose, a suitably edited version of your diary and experience would make a very interesting national newspaper supplement story or even local Morley one. It makes a good speech to students too about the reality of our community life. It brings it alive. It is a good idea for a televison programme but too late for this candidature.

I like your philosophy.

Good luck!

Gerald Hartup
Director, Liberty and Law
Unit 384, 78 Marylebone High Street
London W1U 5AP

Thanks, Gerald, for your kind words and for letting me reproduce them here.

Well, all the leaflets have been distributed, bar the ones Judith’s Husband is generously doing for me in the Rein Road area. He knows that the deadline is Wednesday evening and will do it at his own pace. He tells me he isn’t a mornings person hence 7am meet-ups did not appeal!

I mentioned the irrepressible Judith Elliott early on in the blog, expecting to only have a local audience. As the readership has expanded somewhat let me inform the world that Judith is known to everyone in Morley, is very community minded and involved in all sorts of different things. She was the Mayor of Morley 2002/2003 and was originally a Member of the Conservative Party but has now declared independence. She also managed to win a seat on Leeds City Council last month as a “Morley Borough Independent”.serving Morley South, a former Labour stronghold. I am delighted that Judith is backing me in my campaign, as are many of the other independents (and a Tory!) who have shown their support by taking to the streets.

Here are a few photos taken yesterday to give a flavour of campaigning.

Election fever has finally hit Morley as two flats in Elmfield Court on Bridge Street have put up “VOTE LABOUR” signs in their windows. Of course, the Labour candidate lives in this area and is the Secretary of the Residents Association so she is bound to have considerable local support. Although not shown very clearly in this picture as it is just in shot,, the block on the right has a Union Jack hanging out of an upstairs window on first floor level although I don’t know if that is a political statement or a legacy of the football!

Election fever hits Morley!
A Grey sign on a telegraph pole

The second photo shows a Grey sign on a typical telegraph pole, just to show what they look like. I have received a reply from BT about getting permission to put up signs- it said they were very busy and would reply to my query as soon as they were able to do so. I will, of course, remove the signs if formally requested to do so which I fully intend to do after Thursday anyway, it is one of my election pledges.

The third photo is of my Campaign vehicle which we jokingly refer to as the “Battle Bus!” You can see that it really is dark purple and is adorned with a rosette in the back quarterlight and a poster in the main back door window. To double the impact, it is the same on the other side as well!

You can see my reflection in the bodywork- I recently had it valeted as it will become Karen's car in a few weeks (and it really needed cleaning...)

The Battle Bus

A Grey campaign Rosette

The fourth photo is a scan of a campaign rosette. I had looked into getting rosettes when I decided to stand but the internet sites generally wanted too much notice. I asked around the independents and other than bright green ones, there wasn't really anything suitable.

However, I was tipped off that there was a rosette manufacturer in East Ardsley who could make them quite quickly. Their premises are an aladdin’s cave of rosettery with racks of colourful ribbons & a delightful little corner forming an ad-hoc showroom for all of the different styles available. Their premises are also an aladdin’s cave of dispensing machines that you generally find in public toilets!

I decided on a traditional two colour design using the nearest colour to grey and the darkest purple. The lettering is a shade on the small side but normally rosette centres say such things as “Third place” and “best of breed” being the province of agricultural and gymkhana events. They were surprisingly inexpensive, they only cost me a grand total of 79p plus VAT each so I have treated myself to a box of ten.

The fifth photo is of someone who would definitely vote for me if he was old enough to do so and wore the rosette with pride (until the novelty wore off, of course). He helped deliver leaflets without complaint although he sometimes needed help with some of the more difficult letterboxes & awkward gates.

Thank you David for being so supportive of your Dad!

David has been interested in the Town Hall and the Councillors for a couple of years now and loves to attend the functions, particularly if there is a Buffet that he can discreetly visit and graze at. He also enjoys sitting in the Mayors seat in the Council Chamber, sitting in the Magistrates seat in the Borough court and going into the cells in the former police station, although he finds that a bit scary. Mind you I don't blame him, so do I!

My keenest supporter

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Easing off

Saturday was comparatively relaxed, just swimming, shopping, Kid's club and lewisham Gala to fit in. I took a few colourful shots of the French market in Morley in order to keep the Town Council Website topical ( A nice relaxing glass or two of 10 year old port at home last night whilst watching the making of A.I., 2 for £5 in Morley Market & perfectly legit...

I also watched Bo-Selecta! 3 and have to say that the novelty has worn off, I probably won't keep an eye out for it.

I have been passed some leaflets posted by "the opposition" which I will scan and put up here. First off is the Labour leaflet, rather grubby because it was found near some bins.

The Labour Elmfield Leaflet (front)The Labour Elmfield Leaflet (back)

This morning, I was leafleting from 7am to 1:40pm, although I did give Terry some help later in the morning. We had a grand total of nine people helping today, including Karen (my Wife), David (my son) and a well known local Conservative who has been very supportive but drew the line at delivering green leaflets for Terry and the Morley Borough Independents! We also fitted in coffee at Morrisons Cafe, Coffee at Puccinos (see the gallery at to find out about our new Restaurant in morley), a visit to the Rugby Club Gala and a visit to our tame car dealer to look at replacing our aging 2nd car. Karen is now out delivering leaflets on the Scotchman Lane round which is particularly long and thin and needs a car. This is very nice of her as she has been equally busy with housework/childcare but knows I have very sore feet!

I posted up on the Libertarian Alliance Forum that I was doing a blog and have received some words of encouragement from people who made the effort to come here and take a look. Thanks guys!

Saturday, July 17, 2004


The rest of the laminated signs have gone up. I could have put up three times as many if I had been obsessive about it but I have tried to ensure that they will be in view to most people in the ward at some point by car, bus or on foot.. A couple have already disappeared but I don't think it is a conspiracy as the ones near my Labour opponent's address all still seem to be in-situ. The removed ones have been done by children or grouches, I imagine. This evening I saw a teenage ASBO in the making rocking an illuminated roadsign so that it was swinging several feet, presumably with the intention of bringing it down. Apart from the mindless vandalism aspect, he also stood a good chance of electrocuting himself. needless to say he had scarpered before anything could be done but I'll report it to the Highways as it is now looking rather crooked and could be a hazard.

My letter about a community Diary wasn't published yesterday, however there were a lot of letters this week so hopefully it has been held over until Wednesday. More importantly, the Morley observer has published the biographies again, but has appeared to have done three of the six candidates a disservice. It left out Jean lancaster's photo, it left out my photo and for the Labour candidate standing in central Ward, it simply says "no details were provided". Details obviously were provided as they appeared in the Advertiser on Wednesday. I will query this with the editor, although I am of the view that happenings that look like conspiracy are often down simply to incompetence and the Morley papers have demonstrated a lot of that recently in the style of the Grauniad which they probably put down to being short staffed.

I enclose the reprint here (over two jpegs) and last weeks sports centre petition story.

Morley Observer July 16thMorley Observer July 16th- lower bit of pageMorley Advertiser July 7th

Here are the details of my second leaflet being delivered this weekend.The back page is identical to the first leaflet.

2nd leaflet- front cover2nd leaflet- personal message

This includes a personal message and some election pledges, which one of my supporters has described as "quirky"!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Raising the profile

Well, there are now a large number of posters up around the Ward. I made 100 laminated signs and have 20 left which I will put up this evening, weather permitting. I have signed the main arteries but still have a few peripheral areas to cover off, including Rein Road and Scotchman Lane.

The poster put up around the Ward

Candidates are not allowed to put up signage on street furniture in Leeds. It is permitted to put up signs on grass verges subject to various constraints, namely no less than 40m from a junction, no less than 0.5m from a kerb, not on trees, not obscuring posters by the opposition etc. etc. They can't go up more than 7 days before polling day and have to come down again 7 days after.

The reality of Elmfield Ward is that there aren't really many suitable places that meet these constraints and there are other obstacles put in the way of independents such as the need for indemnity insurance.

So, that leaves that old political fallback, using telegraph poles. Poles are an oddment in the street scene as they are generally tuned out and invisible to everyone as are streetlights, bollards and various shaped and coloured cabinets that abound. Telegraph poles are used to provide wiring to premises and in new developments they are rarely used as the builders provide underground ducting. The name telegraph pole is a 19th century term and it predates the telephone considerably from the days of Morse.

There are two types of telegraph poles, the traditional wooden ones and the more modern metal ones. I can recall being fascinated as a young boy when the Post Office (Telephones) turned up to replace a pole outside our house using a specialised lorry which included an enormous hole drilling device. (As the poles have to be strong enough to support a man working at the top of them they also go down several feet below the ground as well.)

Wooden poles can have laminated signs stapled onto them easily enough and it is a good idea to put them out of arms reach as someone may decide to pull them down for whatever reason.

Every pole poses a small challenge. Which way should the sign face? Does the cable cover get in the way? Is it actually visible to passers by or is foliage going to obscure it? I decided to generally put them facing oncoming traffic & occasionally on both sides or at right angles depending on local conditions.

Often poles aren't in a useful place at all- for example, Chartist's way has all of the poles in Central Ward, and most of them on private property.

I decided to give metal poles a miss- it would need cable ties and be more fiddly to remove again afterwards.

Strictly speaking, poles are the property of BT and affixing signs to them probably requires permission. After a good look around the BT website for guidance and a fruitless trawl through their various voice menus, I have sent them an email to their general enquiries and will see what response comes back. So, I have made the effort, which is more than can be said of the "make money now!" brigade and a lot of the local builders as well. Labour took a long time to take their signs down and there aren't any up again yet.

As I made my way around the patch, I removed a number of older political signs, all from the Morley Borough Independents put up for the June elections. I had previously complained to them about being a bit dilatory in taking them down and whilst most have gone they had put up so many throughout the Morley South (& North) Ward(s) that I imagine we will still see odd ones flapping in the breeze for months to come. They confirmed they don't want them back and they wouldn't be any use anyway, they are discoloured and damp.

I bought myself some kitchen style steps from Handiman Supplies in Morley on the basis that they would be easier to carry around than my Aluminium stepladder which is much bigger. Being a Round Tabler, the proprietor offered me a three step version for the price of a two step one. On reflection, as I only went up two steps anyway, the smaller one might have made more sense as it was still too big to go in the back of the car without a bit of messing about. It also would have been lighter and easier to carry around!

The BNP in West Yorkshire were given a hard time on telly last night and in the papers this morning. I have mixed feelings about the whole business, I believe that they are entitled to their views and to express them freely, no matter how repugnant. It also seems to me that the extreme left Searchlight crusade is equally as distasteful in their opposition and tactics. I was shown a copy of their leaflet by an Elmfield elector, it really laid into Labour big time about attendance. I didn't see the programme last night (I was still out stapling) but I was curious to read this morning whether Chris Beverley had been specifically named, it seems not.

Here is a scan of the candidate biographies from the Wednesday Morley Advertiser.

Scan of the Morley Advertiser, July 14th 2004.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Setting out my stall

Yesterday, the Morley Obtiser (in its Morley Advertiser manifestation) printed the biographies of the by-election candidates for Central and Elmfield Wards. (they also printed my letter about the New Pavilion mentioned on Tuesday, which if it comes up trumps for an interior photo I’ll be delighted about.)

I use the term biography loosely, as the responses err more towards personal election pledges rather than “An account of a person's life written, composed, or produced by another”.

When I first wrote my spiel, it came to 227 words, much more than the 100 words requested. Here it is below:

Ian is aged 46 and is married with one son.

Born in Tyneside, Ian has travelled and worked extensively around the UK as well as abroad.

He moved to Morley in 1994 and now works for in Bradford as a Telecommunications Project Specialist.

In the local community, Ian is a Parent Governor of a Primary School and treasurer of the school P.T.A. He is also a member of Morley Civic Society.

He restarted a defunct neighbourhood watch scheme in his street and is the current co-ordinator.

He was also an active member of Batley Round Table holding officer positions of Secretary and Treasurer until enforced retirement under age rules this year. He has been chief firer for the Needless Fireworks event for the last three years.

His hobbies include architecture, theatre research, lighting design, visiting theme parks and writing articles for newsletters.

Ian is a trustee of the Communications Management Association which is the professional body of the business ICT user community.

Ian has followed proceedings of Morley Town Council since September 2002 and looks after the website alongside several others.

Ian has no time for party politics and is fiercely independent. He is delighted that Morley Town Council (and now Leeds City Council) are now “no overall control” and disputes they are under independent control as that is somewhat like herding cats!

After a ruthless rethink, the key points were lifted out and bulleted in the format seen on the biography page. The paper have paraphrased it into third person to good effect, with only two minor quibbles- “He has been involved in Right to Read schemes in Bradford” should say “He is involved in…” as it is a current activity. The other minor quibble was the omission of “(now too old!)” after “former active member of Round Table”. I had included that to make it clear that it was past tense because I had to step down because of being over 45, not that I had lost interest or given up.

Whenever I have stood on a Committee I have always had the view that I have to fulfil my term of office as I was voted into the role on that basis. I have only resigned once as far as I can recall, when I was Magazine Editor for Mercia Region of Eighteen Plus in 1980 and landed a job in Norway. However I actively sought and trained a co-opted editor so that the transition was seamless.

They have printed five candidate photos, omitting the Labour prospective for Central Ward. On closer examination the picture of Jean Lancaster (my Labour opponent) is cropped from the petition photo the previous week. I wonder if Labour took a conscious decision not to send in photos? Other than the fact that both of them are retired, I can see no obvious reason for not doing so as I certainly want to see who I am voting for as part of making an informed decision.

All of the other candidates have passed a comment on how they will put the world to rights once they are elected. I have deliberately resisted the “Bread and Circuses” approach as I suspect that expressing such sentiments are more sound bite than reality. Being a Councillor on a Minor Authority isn’t going to change the world and there are always two sides to every argument.

Terry Grayshon (bless his cotton socks) has a misprint in his write-up that caused howls of laughter in the Grey household last night, despite missing it on first read…

If elected to Morley Town Council I shall continue my philosophy of representing the ordinary man in the street by listening to what the pubic of Morley are saying and putting those words into action.

I have a fairly straight-forward philosophy in life, which I have paraphrased below in a number of opinions; -

· Don’t say you are going to do something unless you intend to do it.
· Don’t make too many assumptions without all of the facts, but hunches are good in the absence of them.
· Prejudices are perfectly acceptable in advance of actuality (the word means to pre-judge) but postjudice is ignorance.
· People can do anything they want provided it doesn’t dump on anyone else. Getting the boundaries right is the hard bit!
· People are entitled to a superficial level of respect but have to earn real respect. A superficial level of respect is also known as politeness.
· People are entitled to personal political and religious views (no matter how irrational) and to express them freely. However, the law should not protect their choices from scrutiny & ridicule.
· Personal responsibility trumps state interference every time. The state has no business in social engineering, or indeed in 90% of the things it pokes its nose into. The state is not your friend.
· Legislating against human nature is a waste of time, it always leads to unintended consequences.
· Political correctness is a blight on society and needs to be derisively mocked and exposed for the manipulate idiotarianism it is.
· Racism is a hijacked word used to stifle opinion and curtail freedom of thought- what it often really means is culturism.
· Property is not theft- taxation is.
· Incitement is not a crime in a free society, unacceptable action is.

I have had this world view a long time but never felt that the traditional political parties aligned with it. If I had to rate myself on a scale from left (red) to right (blue), I always put myself as centrist (which if you mix red and blue gives purple). Then I came across the “Worlds smallest political quiz” a few years ago.

This expressed politics in a two dimensional model rather than the one dimensional flat line. It can be seen that centrists horizontally can vary when also mapped vertically as from anarchists (or fascists) at the top to statists (socialists) at the bottom. You can take the quiz yourself online, it can be found at You can also download an acrobat file that explains it succinctly. Whilst it reads a little strange being based on American political definitions rather than British ones, it makes perfect sense without too much thought. The ten questions cause much debate but I think the theory is sound.

Political model expanding the simple left-right approach.
In case you were wondering, my score makes me a moderate libertarian.

Tonight I’ll be pounding the streets of Elmfield Ward armed with short steps, a stapler & some laminated posters, weather permitting. I’ll try and grab some photos with my picture-cam to break up the text.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

More musings

Last night I had to fill in a couple of forms for the election office. The first one was to nominate “polling agents” who are entitled to enter the polling station, check for nefarious goings on and talk to the staff there. Great lengths were made to distinguish them from “Tellers”, who appear to have no particular legitimacy other than precedent. Tellers are the people who loiter around outside the polling station and check you off after you have voted. Their main purpose seems to be so that the political parties can go and knock on the doors late in the day if there seems to be a wave of apathy in a particular stronghold area.

I understand that the political parties can get hold of the records of which electors have actually voted after an election, but not, of course, which candidate they voted for (Although the left-leaning journalist Polly Toynbee wrote a recent article in the Grauniad decrying how voting was too good for many of the electorate and there was a subtle inference that they could find out who someone had voted for, link here:,3604,1231150,00.html). I wonder if a £10 investment in a Data Protection Act search might yield enlightening results?

The second form was to nominate people to attend the count at Morley Town Hall. Only three can attend on this particular occasion, namely the candidate, the candidate’s guest (Mrs. Grey of course) and a “counting agent”, i.e. someone else to scrutinise proceedings and make sure it is fair and above board. The count takes place at 9pm on the 22nd, i.e. straight after the polls close. Realistically it is unlikely to take more than an hour as with probably only 1500 or so ballot papers to count (based on a 25% turnout across Elmfield and Central Wards) & only one candidate to select on each paper, it is simply a case of sort and count.

With a maximum of 18 observers and presumably a handful of staff, it is likely to rattle around the Alexandra Hall so might be held in the smaller Morliean Hall below (indeed that might be the reason for capping counting agents). I don’t know whether both Wards will be counted at the same time, if not then Central will be done first as alphabetism prevails.

I am aware that I need to maximise my profile within Morley as I am up against two candidates who have the might of a national party political machine behind them. There are three more editions of the local papers to come, which might spring a few surprises. Blatant electioneering is not my style and I have rebuffed suggestions of staged photos around contrived local issues as I am sure that Morley has had quite enough of that!

Thinking laterally, I composed another letter to the Morley Obtiser, regarding something last week that I think has some mileage so here is the pre-story to set the scene. On Tuesday night I went to the regular monthly meeting of the Morley Civic Society, which is generally held in the Town Hall on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm (a much more civilised time than 7pm for those of us with children). I was surprised that there were only two others there, Jill Haigh and Colin Crabtree. Two things had depressed the numbers, frantic preparations for Morley in Bloom (the summer judging actually took place today) and a Morley Forward meeting downstairs that Colin had excused himself from in order to join us.

Morley Forward has been the subject of much debate within the Town Council as the local Labour Party insists on calling some of their leaflets Morley Forward as well. (It has now been renamed something like the Morley Town Centre Partnership which isn’t as snappy but it is much clearer what it is about).

Once we had sorted out business with the Civic Society, Colin said he would rejoin the meeting downstairs and I asked if I was able to join it as an observer. As far as he knew it wasn’t a problem so I entered quietly, grabbed a chair and sat down behind some people near the door. The room was laid out with long tables arranged in a big rectangle and I quickly realised that I was actually sitting behind the Chairman so I rapidly moved off to one side.

Gazing round the room, I realised that I immediately recognised about half of them as local Councillors and attendees of the Town Council. Of the others, perhaps half again were familiar from other meetings & I was able to piece together who some of the others were as the meeting progressed. I was able to borrow meeting paperwork in order to fill in some of the gaps on the topics being discussed.

Later on, Alan Gray from the Rugby club was talking about Morley Carnival in the old days and passed the comment that choosing dates for events was difficult as no one really knew what else was going on. This struck a chord with me as every year we dither over when to hold our school gala as we try to not let it clash with nearby schools and of course they are also dithering as well. I am also aware that the “What’s on” in the local papers is sometimes sadly lacking being based on a business rather than a community approach.

There was talk about how having a Town Manager would resolve that sort of thing but I suspect we are a long way away from having one. Then it struck me, we have a Town Clerk (& assistant) in the Town Council office every day covering at least the mornings, and so the office could readily look after the minor admin of a task.

I put my hand up & was eventually invited to speak. I expressed my idea to the meeting, which, was received politely & with a few nods round the room but the next person talked on another topic and the meeting moved on.

I realised yesterday that good ideas start as tiny sparks but sometimes you have to fan the embers for the flames to take hold. My letter picks up the story…

Letter to the Editor

Recently, I sat in on the latter stages of a meeting of what used to be known as “Morley Forward” in the Morliean Hall. I didn’t set out intending to go there but as a consequence the regular Civic Society meeting upstairs was much depleted in numbers & I was curious to see what went on.

One theme emerged later in the meeting that I immediately related to; - the lack of co-ordination between the various community groups so that sometimes conflicting events ended up on the same day. Whilst the Town Council keeps a diary for civic occasions, no such scheme exists for other events beyond “What’s on” in the Morley Papers.

I did suggest to the meeting that a second diary kept in the Morley Town Council office would be of considerable benefit to the community and well worth the small cost and time involved. Of course, there is often a big gap between a bright idea being suggested and anything actually happening so I have decided to move things along.

I have sounded out the idea in principle with the Town Clerk who had no immediate objections. I have now written to the Chairman of the Community Development Committee asking that the idea be given due consideration at their next meeting.

Of course, there are practical aspects to such a scheme but I’m sure that with a clear set of guidelines and a spirit of co-operation we could enjoy future events with dates chosen in full knowledge of what else is going on in Morley.

Ian Grey

Here is the text of the letter written to Cllr. Joe Tetley, Chairman of Community Development and Regeneration. That is enough blogging for today!

Dear Cllr Tetley,

You may recall my suggesting the Town Clerk keeps a Community Diary on behalf of the town at the recent meeting of what used to be “Morley Forward”.

I have given this idea further thought and also sounded out the Town Clerk to see if there were any immediate obstacles to such a scheme. On that basis I wish to make the following suggestion to your Committee for due consideration (& hopefully acceptance & implementation).

My initial thoughts on such a scheme are as follows:

Agenda Motion:

That the Town Clerk keeps a Diary for the recording of community activities and makes available the information on date availability to interested community groups on request.

I enclose some first draft guidelines overleaf that I hope may be a useful starting point for the implementation of such a scheme.

Best regards,

Ian Grey


Morley Town Council maintains a community events diary for the benefit of event organisers when choosing suitable dates. In order for it to work well, the following guidelines should be observed: -

Guidelines for the community groups:

· Events can be recorded in the Community diary on request, on a tentative, provisional or confirmed basis.
· Tentative means that more than one entry may exist in the diary and plans are preliminary. Provisional means there is only one main entry & the event planning is well advanced but subject to confirmation. Confirmed means that the event is booked and highly unlikely to change.
· Dates recorded are not bookings or reservations and are therefore not specifically reserved by inclusion. Any event may be held on any date regardless of diary entries. However good practice is to check the diary and give due consideration to potentially conflicting events.
· On recording a date, a name and contact details must be provided and will be made available to others if requested.
· The diary is open to inspection during normal office hours in person or via telephone/fax/letter/email enquiry.
· It is the responsibility of the Community Group to keep the Town Clerk informed of changes or cancellation. Morley Town Council provides this service for the benefit of the Community, however it will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions, however caused.
· There is no obligation on the Town Council to publish contents of the diary to any third party.

Guidelines for the Town Council Office

· A process needs to be developed that only uses one repository, whether paper based or on Computer. The simplest way would be a large diary a different colour to the Civic diary.
· Provide information on diary contents to callers on request.
· Where an entry is requested, record the name of the event, the community group involved and contact details, along with the date of the request and a sequence number. Events should be categorised as tentative, provisional or confirmed as described above.
· Where multiple dates are requested for tentative events, ensure each date is cross-referenced so that when made provisional or confirmed, the other dates can be noted as being released.
· It needs to be made clear that the diary is not a reservation system and it is first come, first served for the recording of entries.
· There is no restriction upon the recording future dates, in which case a list may need to be kept until availability of paper based diaries.

Draft guidelines by Ian Grey, 13/7/2004