We have the first of our candidate interviews today with the Green Party Candidate, Kat Boettge and its a cracker: rare you’ll see a politician so candid (beware! many swears!) and funny; plus she took us behind the scenes of the episode of Wife Swap she starred in which is a real eye opener. It’s our rookie journo Faith Pring’s first piece for us, so smatter of applause her way, please. Or better still, donate towards our crowdfunding for this election special: every penny will go to cover expenses and wages of our new team of citizen journalists: click here: it will take a minute of your time and a few quid out of your account, but do great things for the future of preserving insight and scrutiny into the oft-neglected world of local politics. After the article, we have the full candidate list – the complete runners and riders for the hard slog ahead. Over to Faith…



The upcoming general election on December 12th is nothing short of controversy. The Broxtowe elections are looking to be some of the most interesting in the country, with candidates swapping parties, stepping down and stepping up, so we spoke to green party candidate Kat Boettge to grasp her opinions of it all.

Originally from Germany, Kat has been living in the UK for twenty years and decided to join the Green Party as soon as she felt her daughter was old enough to be left alone for a couple of hours a day.

“My mother was a Green Party politician, so I grew up with that. Once my daughter was old enough, I joined [the Green Party], and that was seven years ago. Only half a year later I was selected as the lead candidate for the European elections for the East Midlands,” Kat Boettge said.

After admitting that the Green Party has changed her life for the better and she doesn’t regret a thing, we began talking about the current climate change emergency and whether she agrees with the highly controversial actions of climate activism group Extinction Rebellion.

“I think they’re doing an excellent job. I’ve spoken at demonstrations, but because I’m working full time, I can’t do everything,” she revealed. “I think the momentum has definitely grown in the UK, and I think people are finally realising that a climate emergency is real and that everything is going to be affected by this. I know I would not be able to look my daughter in the face in twenty years and say that I didn’t even try and do something to help.”

When talking to Kat, it’s obvious that if there’s one thing she’s passionate about, it’s helping to solve the world’s climate emergency. But does she share the same amount of passion for the NHS?  A psychotherapist by trade, Kat has seen first-hand what a lack of funding and staffing can do to the health service and how it can affect the people that need it most.“I’m a great fan of the NHS, and I think if we get a bad service, it’s due to a lack of funding.”

“Only 3% of the NHS budget is dedicated to mental health which is appalling, doctors work fifteen hour shifts and if patients don’t hit a certain recovery rate, the therapist is thrown out. It shouldn’t be like this but it’s because of the pressure,” she added.

During the interview, Kat also believes that a large majority of the funding given from the government is directed to the wrong causes. “How funny is it that we have the money for HS2, for Trident, but not enough for the NHS? It’s not just sad, it’s fucking crap.”

Electoral reform, social justice and, of course, climate change, are just some of the Green Party’s policies, but why does that mean you should vote for Kat in the upcoming elections? “In the UK, it’s one side and the other, it’s based on a two party system and it’s time to stop that. A climate emergency is absolutely urgent; we’ve been on the right side of history for 40 years saying this.”

“our voters would be quite pissed off if we’d stood down. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just simply that” -Kat on standing against Soubry

“You should vote for something else other than the two parties to show that we need electoral reform, and that’s what we stand for.”

Despite all her views, many people have been questioning lately why Kat Boettge is still standing in the Broxtowe elections, despite the recent Remain alliance. This alliance has seen the Liberal Democrats stand down in Broxtowe, to theoretically enable a single Remain candidate to stand. However, both Anna Soubry and Kat Boettge are active Remainers, and Kat Boettge has refused to step down. Why?

“Locally, we weren’t made aware of any alliance, nobody asked us. Anna Soubry didn’t ask us, the Lib Dems didn’t ask us, our national party didn’t ask us to stand down.”

“If they had asked me to stand down, I would have said no because Anna Soubry, in regards to environmental politics, is so far away from where we stand, our voters would be quite pissed off if we’d stood down. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just simply that,” Kat explained.

“If you look at the last European election, which is the most relevant, in Broxtowe it was the Brexit party first, Lib Dem second, and I was third. Now, because the Lib Dems are not standing, I am the strongest remain candidate in Broxtowe and I am not going to stand down.”

Finally, something we can’t avoid: a couple of years ago Kat appeared on Channel 4’s


Kat among the pig-ignorants: Wife Swap

Wife Swap in a slightly odd Brexit special. What was that like?

“You only see snapshots of it. On the first evening I was at this social club, and I was literally surrounded by twenty or thirty drunk men shouting at me. They didn’t even know you could vote for an MEP, this was the level of discussion we were having. And I was standing my ground, and as I said the director said he couldn’t watch the footage fully because he thought it was so abusive and upsetting, and I was trying to be as diplomatic and withstanding as I could be, but it was constantly abuse towards foreigners, and they’re threatening, and this guy took me to wherever it was in London, where there were a lot of Bangladeshis, and they threw a lot of comments that were not shown. I was saying ‘there’s nothing wrong with Muslims, but what has this to do with the EU?’. The level of discussion was on such a low and uneducated level, I didn’t want to say anymore. What wasn’t shown was that I persuaded three of the men there to become Remainers, and they got it, but they didn’t show it because they didn’t want to be biased”.

Phew. Whatever your politics, Kat is a welcome splash of colour –albeit it shades of green- into what could otherwise be a pretty grey election season. Faith Pring




Here it is folks! The list of candidates that made the cut: we’ve explained the absence of the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party, so there are no great surprises but the immediate take-away is thus:

  • Labour, Conservative, Green, Soubry all there as expected.
  • Dave Bishop, aka Militant Elvis, got his ten signatures, so can stand!
  • A disillusioned, possibly out-of-pocket former Brexit Party who really should delete his Twitter feed is standing as an Independent.
  • A hateful dangerous candidate is standing in the form of Amy Beth Della Mura. Lets take a little look at this rather awful human.

She’s a full on, unapologetic fascist for starters, and standing int he Midlands could be for two reasons: one, she was banned a few years ago from going anywhere near the UK coastline – an ASBO put on her through frequent bogus suicide attempts that cost rescue services over a million quid.

Two: she’s going after Anna Soubry. While this blog has never been our incumbent MP’s biggest fan, we are shocked at the level of hate and abuse she receives – the full gamut of rape threats, death threats, etc. No one deserves anything like that, and the fact a professional troll is standing raises some grave questions: she has verbally abused Soubry while the MP was live on air, calling her a ‘traitor’ and the usual vile stuff that seems fine to spout these days due to the whipping up work of Farage, Johnson et al.

She is a dangerous, possibly deeply unwell person, and it is important that the police and public keep a very close eye on this potentially dangerous candidate.


We’ll be taking a closer look at a few surprises that have come our way in tomorrow’s blog: stay tuned! Lord Beestonia


by Chris Tregenza / Lord Beestonia


The weekend saw candidates descend on Beeston, with the Brexit Party taking a pitch outside Hallams, Anna Soubry’s Change for A Cup of Tea Party (subs, please check) outside Sue Ryder and the Liberal Democrat Party – well, just getting a bit of fresh air really, since they’re barred from standing.

It was the Brexit Party’s first proper unleashing of their new candidate, Calvin Robinson, who turned up with MEP and PPC for Ashfield Martin Daubney, who less lucky readers will know as the Men’s Rights Activist idiot who edited Loaded Magazine (and effectively killed it off by getting it’s circulation down to 10% of what it was when he took over).

It must have been some consolation eventually finding his constituency after earlier

Annotation 2019-11-11 215514

recording a video message talking of his wonderful first day of campaigning where he talked how “We’ve been out in Mansfield Town (not in the constituency); we’ve visited the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum” (in Eastwood, not in the constituency).

Yet it was all for nowt. Nigel Farage, that believer against the odds in the impossible; that patriotic stalwart of standing your ground; that not at-all chicken opportunist spiv bottled it. Pulling out all the candidates to seats won by the party whose Brexit stance is still described on their website as “The Prime Minister’s deal is not a proper Brexit…reheats 95 per cent of Theresa May’s deal…..Can any Brexiteer inclined to support this Treaty honestly say that it amounts to a proper Brexit?” Well, Nigel can, and now Calvin can, and funny how someone as steadfast in his opinion as Nige is can disintegrate so thoroughly when the Daily Mail throws a bit of criticism at him.

So Nige and Calvin out the race, the Lib Dems in enforced hiatus and Lord Biro at last getting his signatures to enable him to run, we are beginning to see the candidate slate take shape before the 14th November deadline.

We will be with you all the way, with the side of the campaign you won’t find anywhere else. We’d love it if you chipped in a few bob to help us do so – we’re all independent journalists and not in the pay of a political party/ lobbyist / media mogul. A few quid will do wonders, and keep local journalism keeping you in the know: click here to keep us running.

Now, over to Chris Tregenza for a look at what’s happening with the neighbours. Lord Beestonia



While Broxtowe is clearly the most interesting constituency in this election, we should spare a thought for our neighbours.

This Will Make The News


Uncle Kenny Land, aka Rushcliffe

A seat bound to receive national attention is Ken Clarke’s old seat of Rushcliffe. Uncle Ken won this seat for the Tories with 50% of the votes two years ago yet the results in this seat will define the election. Despite coming 3rd with just 4% of the vote last time, Rushcliffe is in the Lib Dem’s top ten target seats.

Rushcliffe is predominantly wealthy and suburban, and the only area of Nottinghamshire to vote remain in 2016. Just the sort of voters who will be attracted by the Lib-Dem’s small ‘c’ conservative-but-remain sales pitch. Throw in the way Boris Johnson treated the much respected (and arch-Europhile) Ken Clarke and there are a lot of disillusioned Tory voters. Labour came 2nd in 2017 (25%) but there is no way Conservatives are going to vote for Corbyn.

The local Labour party realise the threat the Lib Dems present and despite previous being pro-Corbynite leavers, they are now campaigning as remainers. This won’t win them any new votes but may stop the hemorrhage to the Lib Dems.

And there is the crux of the issue. If the Lib Dems can convince remain-Labour and remain-Tories to vote for them nationally, Boris Johnson will fail to get a majority and the Lib Dems will have 50 seats. However, their tactics may just split the vote and let Johnson back into Number 10 with a clear majority. Rushcliffe is the bellwether for the nation.

Rising Star

The three safe Labour seats around Nottingham will be pretty dull – Nottingham East,


Nottingham East

Nottingham South and Nottingham North. However Nottingham East candidate Nadia Wittome is a stand-out Labour candidate. Standing in Chris Leslie’s seat (who is also contesting it), Nadia is young, female, non-white and most importantly smart. She is also a strident left winger who believes passionately in free movement and the EU. So basically a poster child for the progressive left. With Chris Leslie unlikely to pick-up more than a few thousand votes, Nadia should be shoe-in and one to watch in the new Parliament.

Gedling – Held by Vernon Coaker since 1997, Gedling has a near 5000 majority. Expect to see that cut but if Labour loses Gedling then Corbyn is in a whole heap of trouble. In Newark, Conservative Robert Jenrick with his 17,000 majority in a strong leave area will not be wearing himself out campaigning this year. So you can forget all about Newark, just like us city folk normally do.

Bandit Country

Things get interesting in the north of the county with three unpredictable battles in an area which voted 70% leave.



Mansfield unexpectedly fell to the Conservatives in 2017 after being Labour for 80 years. It was one of Theresa May’s few success stories and represents the type of seat the Conservatives hope to win from Labour. Evidence from online advertising suggests Boris is aiming to secure the rural Labour leave vote to replace all the seats he will lose in urban remain areas. However, sitting MP Ben Bradly is not the brightest spark and his victory last time had more to do with local politics than brilliant campaigning. This election is a simple two horse race and expect a photo-finish.

Bassetlaw was comfortably Labour with no meaningful Lib Dem vote but outgoing MP



John Mann sold his soul to the Tories for a peerage. Coupled with one of the highest leave votes in the country and there is a good chance it will go Conservative. Something made much more likely because Bassetlaw Labour’s candidate was barred by Labour HQ and bitter in-fighting has broken out. A lot depends on how many of the area’s farmers have realised Brexit will be a disaster for them.



Ashfield’s out-going MP, Gloria De Piero, started political life as a Blairite remainer but pivoted to Corbyn’s hard-left leaver stance. I’m sure with her 441 vote majority, Gloria was absolutely confident of winning and the decision to step-down had nothing to do with the complete collapse of the Labour vote in the EU and local elections. In the latter, the Ashfield Independent Party (created by someone kicked out of the Lib Dems) took 30 of the 35 seats on offer. Now the council leader Jason Zadrozny is standing as MP and is suddenly a very vocal Brexit supporter so he is a real force to be reckoned with. The Brexit Party is also targeting this seat and it’s certainly on the Tories long-list so the Ashfield race is totally open.

Most Importantly

In our beloved Broxtowe we have a 2.5 horse race. Labour versus Conservatives with an


Anna Soubry wildcard. Labour are favourites but a lot depends on the manifesto. The more remain-oriented it is, such a commitment to free-movement, the more likely remain voters will go to Labour as the least worst option. However if Corbyn keeps on about respecting the referendum, there will be an exodus to Soubry. With the Brexit Party Ltd., candidate standing down it’s totally impossible to predict. Best keep reading this blog then… Chris Tregenza.

Politics By Design #1: Independent Group For Change.

by Chris Tregenza 

Over the course of the election campaign,our letterboxes are going to be choked with campaign materials on glossy paper that either go straight to the bottom of the cat litter tray or recycling bin. However, Chris Tregenza loves his campaign material, and wants you to as well. Thus, over the next few weeks Chris will be reviewing every leaflet that he gets sent – not for policy, necessarily, more for the aesthetic awfulness and other important considerations.

If you get a particularly interesting piece of campaign material from a Broxtowe candidate, send it over to mattgoold23@hotmail.com, and we’ll serve it up to Chris.

We start off with the earliest leaflet to go out, from Anna Soubry’s Independent Group for Change.



Oh  jeez. This is why you should pay for professional design and not rely on an intern who knows how to use Photoshop.

Colour Use

Not too bad when you consider all the political parties have nicked the good colours. The orange / pink / blue combination is a nice palette which works well on a dark background but is too weak when used on white.


Anna must have amazing eyesight because the 9pt body text is minuscule to my tired old eyes. No one is going to read anything this small.


She must be one of the most photographed back-benchers so why the hell are the photos so crap? The photos are tiny, it’s almost impossible to see Anna in them.



No obvious pork pies, just the usual half-truths we expect from our politicians.


God knows what Anna thinks the point of leaflet is. Rather than pitching herself as the “Remain” candidate or making the most of her outspoken, stand-up-to-power persona, it tries to do everything and predictably ends up doing nothing.


I doubt this will be the worst leaflet of the campaign but it sets the bar pretty low.

Chris Tregenza doesn’t have a real job so spends his time on twitter as @Tregenza 



Candidates stand-up – and are stood down / Elvis has entered the building.

By Matt Turpin




And we’re off.

The election has been called, and parliament (lawfully) prorogued. On the 12th of December we will go out and vote for our preferred candidate (or draw a vivid and anatomically unlikely obscenity across the ballot paper – hey, this is a democracy, do what you will). On the 13th, after staying up all night and getting overexcited when a returning officer starts progressing towards a stage in a featureless room in a municipal hall in a featureless town you’d not heard of ten minutes ago, we will know who is – or more likely, who could be – forming the next government. On the 14th we’ll stop being drunk and think ‘Ah well. At least we have a bit of time off work to look forward to’ before heading back to the pub and waiting for Christmas or the Apocalypse, whichever seems most likely to happen first.

Prognostications are not going to feature on this blog over the next 35 days. I once fancied myself as an East Midlands psephologist soothsayer – a Nottstradamus, if I may be so bold- but after multiple failures in reading the chicken entrails I’ve made the wise decision to roll away the crystal ball and just go ‘meh’ when asked what I think will happen. Meh.

One thing I can predict with utter certainty is that


“Ouch” I hear you cry “such partisan observations creeping in already?” No, this isn’t a dissing of the guys and gals in yellow, more that they have been told from up-high that they can’t stand a candidate.

“We are disappointed with this decision as we would have done very well. This is a hugely important election for the future direction of the UK”. Lib Dem councillor Steve Carr (Broxtowe Borough / Notts County Council) tells me “There are just too many pro Remain parties standing in Broxtowe and we don’t want the Tories or the Brexit Party to win.”


Can’t stand me now -Tim Hallam

It’s probably especially galling for 2017 candidate Tim Hallam: he’s been their official candidate since September, and de facto candidate for far longer though being an unchallenged incumbent.

An activist I spoke to this afternoon told me “I’m now expected to support and campaign for Anna Soubry. No. I won’t be doing that, and no one I know will. We’ll devote energy towards Jason (Billen, Lib Dem candidate for Rushcliffe) and that alone: I’ve no faith in Soubry and a vote for her is a waste. A Lib Dem could have pushed through the middle, but now we don’t get a chance”.


We won’t officially know the full slate of candidates until after applications close on November 14th, so expect surprises: such a high-profile bell-weather marginal with such a controversial incumbent is going to draw a lot of national media attention over the next five weeks.

We do have several certainties though

Labour: Greg Marshall.


Nearly grabbed glory in 2017, and probably would be our MP now if it wasn’t for the unexpected nature of the last election that left him on the back foot.

Conservatives: Darren Henry


After writing a piece about him a few weeks ago, he invited me out for a drink to meet him, which I thought was a quite noble gesture, especially as I assumed that the local Tories had deemed me persona non gratis. He proved to be perfectly affable company if political ideology wasn’t touched on, and I welcome his entry into the race over the cynical and tired expected candidate Cllr Richard Jackson.

Green: Kat Boettege


Buoyed by a new wave of consciousness on green issues, Kat standing is no surprise but at the chagrin of the Lib Dems, who assumed that standing down to a Remain candidate (see above) would mean an extension of the pact in more complex constituencies. Our second candidate with televison credits: as well as regular appearances on Notts TV she featured on a recent episode of Channel 4’s Wife Swap.

Independent Group for Change (subs, please check): Anna Soubry


In a normal world, the fact that our parliamentary representative for Broxtowe would be concluding what is highly likely to be her final campaign on my birthday would be a significant occasion to me, and perhaps a cue to start googling the most attractive champagne cork/ exploding firework GIFS. But no, these are no normal days and few politicians exemplify the strange days we’re in than Soubry: once a Tory loyalist and trenchant critic of anything outside that particular politic bandwidth, she’s now re-positioned as the liberal face of Remain without actually joining the Liberals. Now given a clear path by the Lib Dems, which might ironically see her once-nemesis Greg Marshall take power. Going to bring a LOT of interest from the national media to this seat.

Brexit Party: Calvin Robinson


Well, they did have a candidate in the shape of Duncan McCann, but he subsequently stood down citing ‘death threats’. In his place steps Calvin Robinson, a relative unknown who nonetheless will be trying to get his profile raised, if not actually standing a strong chance of winning.

Interesting fact: ‘ Broxtowe’ shares more letters with the word ‘Brexit’ than any other constituency in the UK.

and an exclusive for you….

Militant Elvis Scrap HS2 Party (I think): The Lord Biro, AKA Dave Bishop, AKA BusPass Elvis


Poet, pub raconteur and local marvel Dave has been contesting seats across the UK for over 20 years, and despite being the ultimate fringe candidate is a hugely welcome dose of satirical levity in an often grey field. Also, he’s had success, beating a Lib Dem candidate in a local council election in Clifton (though trailing far behind the Labour candidate), a feat he’s certain to repeat by default this time around

Dave rang me earlier this week ‘Look. I don’t expect you to campaign for me, or even vote for me. But if you’d sign my election papers I’d be really grateful’. How could I refuse? We met in a pub – appropriately as Dave loves a tipple – I signed and he spent the rest of the day collecting more signatures. He rang me this evening “I’ve got seven now (he needs ten) so it’s going well. Best of all, a load of blokes saw my rosette and gathered around me to sing ‘Hound Dog’. It was beautiful, and the best start to a campaign”.

It’s possible we have our break-out star.

So that’s the current crop: we’ll keep you updated all the way. We are planning to cover the campaign from a local perspective, and cut through the predictable party flannel and give an honest, independent take on things – while ensuring our small team of fresh reporters get trained and paid. Read more here, and if you’re feeling like you’d like to help out, then drop us a few quid here – every penny will be accounted for and used solely to keep you informed.


Nine and a half years ago, I decided to take my local blog charting the whimsical weirdness of the town I lived in and point it at politics. It seemed like it would be a fun thing to do for a short while, especially as the candidates included a former Central News presenter who was known by very few outside the East Midlands, and had hardly been on telly for two decades, but was well known to me as a avid TV watcher in the eighties and casual Prisoner Cell Block H fan. It should make for a few amusing posts, I imagined. Things got very weird, and to cut a story very short I found I was writing a blog more or less solely devoted to local politics, often driven by the sheer horror of what was out there when probed.

I’ve tried to retire many times, and felt that the successful action against Broxtowe Borough Council over the Summer was a valedictory moment, and time to step away. The Beestonian, which span out of this blog before assuming a life of its own and going on to greater things, was more fun to run. My day job at Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature was -is -ridiculously good fun as well as doing something that I believe incredibly deeply in: showing that the greatest step on the ladder in so many ways is to foster a love of reading.  I get asked to do a lot of community-based things, including taking a school governor role, sitting on the local Civic Society committee, and advising local individuals, campaigns and businesses how to promote themselves effectively. I was asked to -and accepted – a part-time position lecturing in journalism at Nottingham College. I have a lot on. This blog had been fun, but maybe it was time to walk away.

Then there is the most important thing in my life: my toddler son. He turns three this weekend – feel free to wish him another year of fun and silliness – and everything else is secondary to him. I was an unlikely political journalist; now I was an unlikely devoted father.

I simply can’t do it again – I can’t commit to the huge amounts of time, energy and terror of legal threats that a proper blog on the election commands. I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to not have to further burnish my credentials, to get my name out there, to demand attention from readers.

Yet there is a real problem with local political journalism right now: there’s simply not a great deal of it. I won’t get into the historical and complex reasons behind this – us hyper-local, utterly independent digital-first journalists are probably part of the problem. But while the 2010 election had many dedicated eyes upon Broxtowe, the 2015 and 2017 campaigns saw these becoming fewer. There are some fine local journos out there: Kit Sandeman, Hugh Casswell and Tony Roe are all brilliant professionals. Yet with so many battles to be fought, so many patches to cover, much goes by unreported.

To square this circle, I’ve decided to run an election blog, but not write it. I’ve put a call out for budding citizen journos to come forward and take over the blog: using my resources, contacts and platform to report on the campaign to win Broxtowe. In the same way I have an open editorial for The Beestonian, I want to give other journos the skills, experience and – this bit requires you, keep reading – funds to become proper trained local journalists. The more people have the skills to be able to speak truth to power, the better. If that can be the legacy of this blog, then great.

I’ve so far commissioned two very promising younger journalists with little experience, and they’ll be reporting for here very soon. Our editorial line is

  • Independence: none of us are members of a political party, and while I will take posts from those who are, it will be clearly stated next to their byline. Readers of this blog know I have a leftish streak, but find me an editor who doesn’t hold some sort of position and I’ll show you a viable Brexit deal. Independence will be the core of this blog.
  • Irreverence: I’ve done plenty of serious, straight-faced journalism in my time and its an important thing to have, but in the next six weeks it won’t be the theme. We won’t be doing po-faced polemics. We won’t be doing detailed examinations of policy. We will be doing critiques of the typeface of campaign material. We will be doing interviews with each politician that will ban party-line cliches. We will be doing anything that actually cuts away the huge amounts of crap that comes with each election and talk to YOU as an intelligent, curious reader rather than a reactive drone.
  • Broxtowe-centric: Boris Johnson is not standing in this constituency. Jeremy Corbyn is not standing in this constituency. Jo Swinson is…you get the picture. There will be mountains of stuff on those three, and other national figures, absolutely everywhere for the next few weeks. It’s unlikely we’ll find a fresh take on this, so we won’t bother. Our focus is SOLELY on Broxtowe, and informed by the fact we live in a representative parliamentary democracy, not a presidency. The diminishing nature of local media often gives us the feeling that the reverse is true; with ‘the provinces’ seen as the place to vox-pop on a weekday afternoon in a mildly condescending manner; I hope we can provide some form of corrective to this, providing something unique, dedicated and grounded right here.
  • Funded: and this is where you play a part.

This blog doesn’t cost a penny. It doesn’t carry advertising – aside from the stuff WordPress sticks on which a decent ad-blocker will hide and I never see from my end. I’m not in hock to some shady background figure pouring tons of funding in to serve as a propaganda tool (though if any shady background figures do want to pour money in then I best warn you I have called just about every election incorrectly and you’re best off sticking the cash on the lottery).

It will have costs to run: while I will be running the editing in my free time, the work carried out by my small team of journos will need some recompense: first, to cover expenses travelling and buying immense quantities of coffee; second, so in receiving a wage they can properly describe themselves as ‘professional journalists’. Journalism now is dominated by those who can afford to do it, as unpaid internships and volunteering are both a necessity for all and an impracticality for many: this explains why the majority of top level UK journalists in 2016 were privately educated against a national average of just 7% .

This has most likely seen a widening gulf in the last three years. While those non-state school journos are no doubt great at their craft, they are not representative and important voices are not being heard; the true diversity of the UK is not being heard. In some small way, we want to be part of changing that.

So out comes the begging bowl. I will pay for all expenses towards commissioned contributors here, and do so out of my own pocket. If you can help towards that, and then cover a fee for them, all the better.

I commit to not taking a fee, and ensuring all expenses are paid covered even if we only bring in a couple of bottle tops and a token from Beeston Beach. I will, the week after the election is over (and presumably when I can once again shutter this blog) publish a full breakdown on how it is funded: I will be utterly transparent.

So if you can dig into your pockets; if you can make this a two-way street we’ll make every penny donated worth your while: and perhaps play a part in changing how local journalism works:

You can Paypal here: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA . 

And to whet your appetite, an hour after this blog is posted the first two exclusive scoops of the BroxElects19 will be hitting the newstands. Or dropping into your inboxes – click the button in the top-right margin of this site to sign up and get an alert each time we post.

Welcome aboard. We’re in for one hell of a ride.







The Conservative Party Conference passes with a general sense of unity with only one key member of their parliamentary party being ejected by the police after disputing the freedom of movement of his partner and committing crimes against irony; and another celebrating the arrival of Black History Month by boasting about blacking-up because you obviously didn’t get the memo that racism is alright now, cos Brexit.

Cordiality reigns as all the dissenters who might have threatened shining a beam of reality into proceedings were handily booted out the party beforehand, followed by a hi-five to Xi Jinping and Recep Erdogan for the inspiration.

Back in Broxtowe Tory circles, this bonhomie is in short supply. To understand why, let’s draw our eye again upon perennial favourite of this site, Cllr Richard Jackson: borough councillor, county councillor, former leader of the Borough Council and, now Broxtowe’s own Miss Havisham.

When Anna Soubry decided to step down to form a party founded on principles of maintaining the status quo and therefore calling it Change, a vacancy appeared in Broxtowe. With Anna out the way, busy forming a party based on shared values, compromise and cool-headedness that subsequently disintegrated due to creative differences, a plum battleground seat was all to fight for.

It should have been a coronation. Jackson has been a slavish loyalist from the get-go, willfully serving County Councillor leader Kay Cutts with the unquestioning obedience of a hired goon. He stood aside from A-List Soubry in the late noughties. Want someone to defend the most outrageously awful behaviour from Cutts-by-name? Jackson’s your man. Destroy the actual council you are the actual leader of? Certainly, Kay. While that may have been akin to sawing off the tree branch you’re sitting on, Jackson could at least look forward to falling onto an inflatable cushion that would bounce him into Parliament and all the loveliness that come with that. Like Peggy Ollerenshaw becoming a Yellow Coat, like the Trotters becoming millionaires, the dream would become reality. The gold ticket to the chocolate factory would be his.

Except there was no inflatable cushion; rather a bramble bush.

Tories, I need not remind you, are pretty damn callous.

Conservative HQ stood three contestants: Jackson, Birmingham accountant Saqib Bhatti (a candidate that Getty Images must be desperate to snap for their stock photo ‘Apprentice Contestant’) and Darren Henry, a county councillor in, errr, Wiltshire. Both paper candidates, surely? It seemed pretty much certain that Jackson would be going home with the crown. After


Darren Henry in a previous favourite seat.

all, Darren Henry didn’t even make Broxtowe his first choice: he’d stood to be Conservative candidate in Kensington and Chelsea in the summer. He had already failed to become the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire. In 2015 he had a crack at becoming MP for Wolverhampton North East, somehow dropping 4.5% in an General Elections that the Tories got their first majority in 23 years. To lose one easy election may be regarded as unfortunate, to lose two -and then some – smacks of carelessness.

Each time he told the various electorates that he was entirely devoted to whatever position he applied for “I’m not a career politician’. If you can reconcile the facts with the statement, you’re officially a genius or immensely daft.

When that fell through he swore loyalty to Wolverhampton Wiltshire Kensington Broxtowe. Only Broxtowe. He only ever loved Broxtowe.

That’d never convince Broxtowe Tories desperate to provide the constituency with a candidate who was committed to the area, knew its singular nature, its idiosyncrasies, its strengths and its deficiencies? Know how it is vastly diverse: from the urban south to the rural north, and how that created multitudinous challenges? Jackson, for all his faults, has shed foot leather in every street and cul-de-sac, and has rapped his knuckles on doors beside the Trent to those neighbouring DH Lawrence’s birthplace. Of course, that’s what a sensible party that cares for its constituents would do. But this isn’t a sensible party. This is not a party that sees things as complex and nuanced. This is a party that is currently both polarised and rabid, bit by the Brexit Beast and now unable to see anything other than fulfilling the promise of a free unicorn for every Brit.

You see, loyalty is all well and good until the person you’re being loyal stops being loyal to the person above them on the food chain, and Anna Soubry has few friends left in the Conservative Party (to be fair, she has few friends in her own new party, of whom the few remaining MPs are only there cos Lib Dem yellow clashes with their evening wear / they went and got all new branded pens and everything and they’ve maxed out their vouchers to Rymans).

Jackson’s devotion to Soubz became toxic.

The meeting to decide the leader thus turned chaotic. There were tears-not metaphorical- actual tears. There were recriminations. The activist running the @BroxtoweConservatives Twitter account refused to carry on: they still haven’t posted since August 17th despite it being Quite A Big Story they’d selected a new PPC. Many activists and even councillors have made it clear that they’d refuse to campaign for it, and I’ve even had them leak to me: unprecedented since rumours are my photo is the dartboard choice of target in the Beeston Conservative Club. Quoteth them: “It has been horrible: it’s obvious that the numbers mean even (Jackson’s) own councillors were against him. It’s not fair and I won’t be doing the doorsteps when it comes to it’.

I never thought I’d type this, but strange days: if any other Conservative activists, councillors or otherwise, wish to contact me then mattgoold23@hotmail.com.


So, Darren Henry. Brexit Brexit Brexit. Broxtowe Broxtowe Broxtowe. He’s your man -hey Wiltshire! Hey Kensington and Chelsea! Hands off! He don’t love you anymore.

He’s got some catching up to do in getting his face out there. No worries! Here he is getting on fine with utterly neutral Ruth Hyde, the Chief Executive of Broxtowe Borough Council and in NO WAY WHATSOEVER biased towards the Conservatives and the way that, when in office, they had a habit of selling off the Town Hall at a bargain price to members of the same (misogynistic, homophobic) Evangelical Alliance she is a member of. And in no way is agreeing to appear in campaign material by a Conservative Candidate (who isn’t the former head of the council. Sorry, Cllr Jackson) is in any way a dubiously legal display of an apolitical stance.


I’m absolutely sure this is all a huge mistake and Henry will remove the tweet well before Hyde urgently emails him to request removal.

And yes, his account is most definitely a campaign account. It’s called @votedarrenhenry.


I get wind that the interim monitoring officer responsible for the gross mishandling of my complaint against Conservative councillors, that was upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman last month, has been given his marching orders. I feel no gloating schadenfreude at this news, rather a deep sense of disappointment that another scapegoat has been pushed forward to take a hit and thus distract from the deep rot myself and Thomas shed some light on in our investigation into the council.

If you’d like to contribute to enabling us to keep on probing and ensuring that local democracy is kept accountable and working for YOU, then we will greatly appreciate a couple of quid thrown our way. We’ll probably do it anyway, but doing it with some funds to cover the gallons of coffee we get through makes it feel a little more like we’re doing something worthwhile and not screaming into the void. Takes a minute by clicking here and accepting sincere thanks from Thomas and I.

Broxtowe Borough Council Found At Fault By The Local Government Ombudsman (again).

And this time it’s personal.

Hello, it’s me again. I have some news. I can also once again call myself Lord B: for reasons set down below I’ve had to be plain Mr B.

It feels strange writing about local politics in this strange time of chaotic national weirdness; it feels parochial and trivial against the constitutional contortions and internecine warfare that is witnessing, like staring up at a dying sun, the Conservative Party collapses in on itself.

Yet their is relevance as the local scene can often feel like a microcosm of the national, and after what I’ve been through over the last 18 months, which I will try and describe here, has much cross- over maybe not in scale,  but in the behavior of those who feel that ruling is not an honour, not a responsibility, but a given right.

It also has a happy ending, of sorts. Let’s hope I’m ahead of the national picture on that one.

If you’ve read this blog over time, you’ll be aware that myself and Thomas Roberts conducted a very deep, very detailed investigation into Broxtowe Borough Council, and how the Conservative administration, in cahoots with the senior management of the council, had created a chaotic, toxic environment that had serious financial repercussions on the authority.

This financial black-hole, not helped by costly pay-offs to staff dismissed in unfair circumstances and the appointment of expensive temporary management staff, led to a rapid sell-off of assets. One such building put on the market was Beeston Town Hall, home to the very council that was selling it. The symbolism would make even the broadest satirical hack blush.

Thomas and I identified many bad actors, and called them out. This was at tremendous


Cllr Crow: not happy

risk: we know that the then head of council Cllr Richard Jackson was looking to sue us at the time and we know he even tried to bring in the police at one point. Chief Executive Ruth Hyde was livid at our revelations, especially when we revealed the conflict of interest she had with selling the Town Hall off to a branch of the homophobic and misogynistic Evangelical Alliance, of which she was a member. Everything therefore was assiduously cross-checked, researched in multiple different directions and sources vetted, cross-examined and, naturally, given absolute anonymity and protection. It was the most intense journalism that I have ever done, and the most terrifying. Yet it had to be done. Nobody else was doing it.

 If you’d like to support our investigative work, a small donation will be mightily appreciated: every penny will be spent on coffee to accompany hunching over screens for hours reading pages of terminally dull spreadsheets:  https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA

It also really, really annoyed the council who assumed we’d trip up and leave ourselves open to being sued. That frustration boiled over at a council meeting on the 7th March 2018 where the Town Hall’s fate was sealed. Tory Councillors attacked the work Thomas


Proud racist Cllr. Philip Owen

and I were doing, calling as ‘fantasists’ and so on, knowing full-well that as observers to the meeting we had no right of reply. The public gallery, full of people who had no previous experience of attending council meetings, were amazed at the arrogance “I thought you were joking when I read your stories of what goes off here” said one “Now I’m surprised you kept so calm”. It was a disgraceful display, not least from the awful, outright racist Cllr Philip Owen, pomposity made flesh.

Worse was to come. As the meeting broke up I was talking to a couple of others who’d witnessed the farrago. Suddenly, a hand was on prodding in my chest and I looked down to see Cllr. Shane Easom, Kimberley Tory. He was at first incoherent, then I realised he was livid as I’d mentioned his dog in a story. To update those who aren’t regular readers, Cllr. Easom loves his town so much he was caught on CCTV letting his dog shit in the park and not clearing it up. He ranted that the dog had since died, with some bizarre implication I was somehow to blame. I’ve been blamed for many things, but killing dogs isn’t my thing. I’m not a Liberal Democrat.


While I was trying to absorb this bombshell, Cllr. Mel Crow, who has form in behaving awfully, launched a pincer attack and began to harangue me. This was, it is important to clarify, all within the council chamber. She told me Cllr Easom had been ‘very close to that dog’, and then called me a liar and writing untruths. Crow is a solicitor, so I’m sure that she would sue me on the spot should this be true: my legal experience only goes as far as doing the photocopying at Nottingham Law School a decade ago. I pointed this out, inviting her to take us to court, and she stormed out, mouthing ‘fuck off’ at me.

I’m seen some awful behaviour in local politics, but this felt coordinated with intent. It was intimidation, orchestrated to stop me reporting on their misdeeds.

And it worked.

I left feeling sorely depressed. All the work Thomas and I had done was to nowt. They ruled, and they did with arrogance and accountability. They could lie, they could disassemble, they could fib with impunity, and there was no sanction against them. For what it was worth, I filed a complaint with the council about member’s behaviour, and effectively wrapped up ten years of running this blog. I wrote a final piece about how flat-earthers now ran the (pancake-dimensioned) world, and packed in.

I received acknowledgement of the complaint – put it out of a tetchy stubbornness, more than anything- and then nothing. I repeatedly asked what was happening to it, but no response. Only when my repeated public tweets started to gain traction did Broxtowe respond, three times claiming they’d contact me the following day: this never happened, and when I queried this they told me not to contact them on Twitter, but directly. Sterling work, comms. team.

They did nothing. The complaint sat there, ignored, while councillors carried on being awful. My suspicion that they didn’t want to investigate as they didn’t want to be accountable was confirmed. Reluctantly, and only after much nagging, did they interview witnesses from the public gallery. Nine months after the event, of course, when memories wouldn’t have been as sharp (both witnesses later contacted me highly annoyed that they were called so late, when they couldn’t remember clearly and obviously had more scruples than the councillors in wishing to present as honest a picture of the event as possible).

Meanwhile, the Cllrs. Crow and Easom were interviewed. The usual process in any meeting is to keep notes of an interview, at the very least for your own record. Yet these were not kept. Or were they, but withheld purposely? Incompetence, or something much worse? Either way, not a good look, and grossly unfair.

I was tempted to give up on multiple occasions. The investigation was clearly partial and would not be conducted fairly. Time passed, life happened. My beautiful baby son grew into a wonderful toddler. We started house-hunting, and found one, from where I am typing right now. My magazine thrived. My day job became more fascinating and enjoyable. Good books were read. Bad books were discarded. I grew a beard. My wife commented it was ‘almost like a real beard’. I shaved the beard off. Cllr Owen, the bigot’s bigot, was reported to the police for racist remarks.    Local elections were held, and the Tories lost their control. Time passed, life happened.

Yet I’m a stubborn bastard at times. Of course it would be a whitewash, I reasoned, but I’d make them do their jobs to the end. So I persevered, and each time they thought I’d let it drift away, I’d ask for an update. Broxtowe Borough Council’s own complaint code says it aims to resolve all complaints in 20-days. After 200 days of non-resolution, I decided to take things a step further. I called in the Ombudsman.

The LGO (Local Gov. Ombudsman) oversee councils and I do not envy their workload. They also deal with social care cases, in a sector that has had itself gutted by Tory austerity. I didn’t expect much from them, but I was wrong.

They took up my case that Broxtowe were not investigating my complaint seriously, and their clarity, professionalism and openness stood in stark contrast to Broxtowe’s behaviour. They kept me constantly updated, telling me how Broxtowe were not handing over requested documents or prevaricating in some way or another, and how they would persevere regardless. And so they did. In early July 2019, they reached a conclusion.

The council were found to be in fault in multiple areas:

20. The Monitoring Officer spoke to one of the councillors about the complaint almost
a year after the incident. The Council delayed speaking to the councillor and
failed to keep a record of the discussion. This was fault.
21. The Monitoring Officer did not speak to the other councillor, but instead relied on
an email about the incident which she sent before Mr B complained. The Council
should have told the councillor about the complaint and it should have written to
both councillors with its findings. It did not do so; this was fault.
22. The Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Independent Person, decided in
June 2018 that Mr B’s complaint about these two councillors did not justify the
cost of an external investigation, but that the Monitoring Officer should make
further enquiries. The Council should have written to Mr B to tell him its decision,and the reasons for its decision. It did not do so; this was fault.

As a result, it is not clear if the Council decided that the complaint merited formal investigation, or whether it was decided more information was needed before it could reach a decision on whether a formal investigation was needed.

23. In any event, the Monitoring Officer did investigate the complaint. The policy says
that where a complaint merits investigation, the Monitoring Officer will appoint an
Investigating Officer, who can be a senior officer of the Council. The failure to do
this resulted in an inadequate investigation and significant delays.

24. The failings in this case have caused Mr B frustration and put him to avoidable
time and trouble. He has also been left with uncertainty as to whether a different
decision would have been reached if there had been no fault by the Council.


TLDR: My complaint was in turns ignored, not taken seriously, and whitewashed.

Jeez. The system works. At least, the ombudsman part works. The council, who for years I’ve been shouting about and tirelessly researching, writing and risking my livelihood over, have been found to be an utter mess. But it didn’t stop there.

You may note that I said that the Ombudsman reached these conclusions in early July. You may take a look out the window, and note the browning leaves and shortening days show its September. You might wonder why I’m only just telling you this.

Because even after THEIR OWN OMBUDSMAN had found against them, Broxtowe refused to admit fault. They would not apologise, they would not pay the suggested compensation. They held out for another two months. I rang the Ombudsman, and asked what was happening. They were as bemused as I was, and explained this wasn’t usual. Being legally barred from writing about the council, once a strand of income and reputational worth for me, was extended for another two months.

Eventually, and I don’t know why, they buckled. Two days ago Broxtowe Borough Council admitted culpability in screwing up my case, and agreed to pay compensation and issue a full apology (yet have to be received. If previous trends govern when this will be, it will be a nice letter to arrive with the Monarch’s telegraph wishing me a happy 100th).

Now I’m free to talk about this, I’m going to start asking some questions.

  • What was the Chief Executives role in this? Did she try and stop / slow down the investigation?
  • Did Cllr. Richard Jackson exert pressure on the Monitoring Officer to not investigate fully, due to the delicate timing moving into an election phase?
  • Why were no notes kept of the meetings with councillors? What was said?
  • Why did the council refuse to accept the LGO’s findings?
  • Will they reexamine the complaint in light of the findings of the ombudsman?
  • Now the investigation is over and Broxtowe has been found at home, will Cllrs. Crow, Easom and Owen care to repeat their claims on record? I will happily take you to court, and invite you to do the same to me when I am now free to describe you as nasty people in politics for nothing but their own gain?
  • Will the new administration: a rainbow coalition of Labour, Lib Dems and Indies, take a serious look at what is happening within the council’s senior management?

I will not let this drop.  I’ll also be resuming investigations into the way the council was ran during the Conservative rule, and how the sacred split between the executive and the political may have been compromised. I won’t be the only one: while I have had to publicly quiet about this for a year and a half I have kept fellow journalists informally in the loop, and the council’s seeming desire to brush their behaviour under the carpet has only led to a greater scrutiny. Some pending cases look like being very revealing: now I’m at liberty to write about them, I will be doing.

Returning to the bigger picture – and in the couple of hours I’ve been writing this I’ve been idly glancing over at Twitter and seeing more political drama pop up than an entire year’s worth pre-2016 to the extent I can’t even confidentially tell you who is in power right now – there are parallels, and I’m not just saying that to get this blog’s readership extended beyond the borough’s borders.

They can lie. They can abuse systems. They can obfuscate, they can arrogantly assume that they are born to rule, and you are born to be their lessers. We currently have a government led (citation needed) who lies to get by. Being a clubbable type of guy, he’s been given a free pass to do so by many sectors of the media and the political sphere because they wish to be clubbable guys.

But the mask can, and seemingly has, slipped. The lies, the gaslighting, the denial of reality is being called out. Boris Johnson is proving to be a tetchy incompetent mess, not the saviour his followers – and terrifyingly, his own ego – assumed. Dominic Cummings is being exposed not as a master strategist, but a yobbish bluffer. The edifice is disintegrating, the narrative changing.

There are those who I will disagree with on most policy who do at least share some common ground with me: the framework of democracy can be frustrating, can seem arcane: but if you arrogantly assume it does not apply to you, then you are mistaken. There are enough people left to make sure you will be pulled up, you will be resisted, you will be pushed back. I write about local democracy not because I want to bring it down: I write about it because I am a huge believer in it, and feel a great need to protect it from those who seek to damage and destroy it.

My own 18 month experience has been depressing, disheartening and at times made me wonder what the point was when Jarvis Cocker seemed to sort it out in a song a few years ago, but with a bit of tenacity we CAN beat them. One small local government case is nothing compared to the vastness of dysfunction right now, but for me it has blown flame back onto the kindling that needs to be burning. As Boris Johnson would no doubt put it, in the hope we would lie prostrate and supine at his superior Latin aphorisms, Illegitimi non carborundum.

We’ll say it as it mean to be said, and with resolution to resist: Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down.


Throughout the case, the LGO assigned me the name ‘Mr B’ to assume anonymity. I was tempted at times to ask them to change it to ‘Lord B’, if not just to confuse former Tory Cllr. Adam Stockwell, who, not being the brightest of bulbs in a field of dull bulbs, once tweeted about my hypocrisy of both being ‘A Lord and a supporter of socialist policies’. Thank god Stapleford booted him out.



The Tater-Haters of Broxtowe Borough Council.

GUEST POST FROM Llywellyn Pollick

  • Broxtowe Borough Council slapped down by Ombudsman

  • Cllr Crow, deputy leader of council, in ‘maladministration and injustice’ scandal

  • Councillors bullied, harassed and lied to street trader

  • Cllr Crow refuses to apologise, blames everyone else


Stephanie Hather is the sort of person you’d think would be extolled in the highest terms by Conservatives, especially those of a Thatcherite bent. A small-business-creating entrepreneur and single mother, she is the very model of a self-starting individual trying to make her way in life independently.

It was therefore a shock when she found that bringing a business to Kimberley didn’t result in open-arms from the local Conservatives councilors, but a systematic attack of such pettiness, nastiness and – it seems –downright corruption that the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has just ruled Broxtowe Borough Council is guilty of ‘maladministration and injustice’, dishonesty, and other criticisms. Which is exactly what we’ve been writing about for some time. Let’s go back to October 2016.

That’s when Steph first decided to take her business –a jacket potato stall- up to Kimberley. She’d successfully ran the stall in Stapleford –also in Broxtowe – without any concerns. She expected the same response in Kimberley- where she’d lived all her life -and assumed when Broxtowe Borough Council referred the application for a trial period it would be a mere formality. Broxtowe’s three councilors – Richard Robinson (Labour), Mel Crow (Conservative) and Shane Easom (Conservative) were duly asked – Robinson immediately responded saying he was happy for Steph to have a trial, Easom didn’t seemingly respond, but Crow wasn’t happy, claiming that the stall would impact on existing businesses.

Indeed, Steph’s stall in Stapleford had been lauded by local councilor Richard Macrae (Independent) who noted the increase in footfall the van created and the subsequent benefits this conferred onto other business ‘Plus, no one was doing what I was doing” Steph explains “I run a convenience outlet, not a place to come and have a sit down. How it would be competing against other businesses is beyond me” No evidence other than anecdotal was given for this –nevertheless, the trial was cancelled a day later.

Just like that, a business was stopped from trading. That wonderfully useful and ultimately meaningless explanation of ‘unforeseen circumstances’ was given, and when Steph pressed for more detail, none was forthcoming. Councillor Crow had effectively kicked her out, and wasn’t willing to explain why.

Steph, obviously bewildered and out of pocket after this, turned to Councillor Robinson for support. He was shocked at the way Steph had been treated, and took her case up. He won her the right for another trial, one day a week, for 12 weeks. Problem sorted, yes?

No. Here’s where it gets weird, and where the smell of corruption moves from a slight whiff to a full-on stink.

Steph turns up to her pitch to find that the council bollards blocking her pitch were  padlocked, meaning she couldn’t move them to access her pitch as was originally arranged. She rings Broxtowe, who explain it’s not their padlocks. Nevertheless, they get to Kimberley and use bolt-cutters to chop through the chain, and put on new , council padlocks and give Steph a key. “they had no idea who had put the locks on” Steph explains “It was obviously to stop me trading”.

Kimberley Town Council, who were almost definitely behind the bollard-chains, then upped the pettiness. “You’re parking on some ornamental mosaic tiles’ they claimed, despite the very clear fact that  Steph wasn’t. “You need a dropped kerb” they moaned –despite the fact there was already one in place. The determined pettiness was off the scale.

Then, in July 2017, a three-tiered planter was placed on her pitch. When she queried why these had been moved there, she was told that that was there proper home – they’d only been temporarily moved to make room for Christmas decorations. Now, local authorities sometime get a bad rap regarding inefficiency, but taking 7 months to move a planter is something else.

Things got personal. Kimberly Town Councillor John Sissons visited her van and, in public, told her ‘You and (Councillor) Robinson have got your faces in the paper –now piss off”. He then took to Facebook to launch a tirade against Steph (below). This is a public figure, and one that in 2015 told the Eastwood Advertiser he was ‘shocked at the level of bullying and harassment’ at Kimberley Town Council. Here’s some choice Facebook moments from the delightful Sissons (click each image to read):

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“I was born and bred in Kimberley” Steph explains “They are meant to represent me and support small businesses, not abuse me”

Steph doggedly pursued her complaint through the council, despite numerous attempts to stonewall her “They were obviously hoping I’d lose interest and go away. But I have seen corruption in action in other work I’ve done, and I’ve always been disgusted by it. I wasn’t going to go away”.

The complaint overran massively with Broxtowe trying to push it onto Kimberley Town Council, who in turn passed the buck back to Broxtowe. The whole process was an utter shambles. £200 was offered to Steph in an attempt to make her drop the complaint.

“It’s not about the money” she explains “There is something much more important at stake here”. She continued to pursue her complaint.

The Ombudsman was duly contacted, and took up the case. They were not happy at what they found. The subsequent report was issued to the council in August, but not put in the public domain until November, when it was sneaked out in committee notes. It is, especially for an organization that usually couches criticism in measured language, scathing. (See page 33 onwards here).

Screenshot 2018-12-14 at 14.54.21

From the LGO report

“We’ve done nothing wrong” claimed Councillor Shane Eason in October 2017, before using the Donald Trump method of obfuscation “It has become a political witch-hunt”. Not so, claim the LGO. Yet not an iota of responsibility or regret expressed by the Kimberley Councillors.

Broxtowe have now agreed to pay a paltry £600 to settle the matter, and an apology given. Not from Cllr Crow, however, but from an officer. Indeed, the cowardly Councillor still refuses to accept responsibility for her actions, blaming officers for the mess ““I think the whole thing is a great shame. Due diligence was not done, and it should have been done by the council officers.” she told the Nottingham Post. This is spineless, dishonest and testament to Councillor Crow’s lack of self-awareness.

Kimberley Town Council also continue to deny they did anything wrong. They are in a pretty poor state anyway, with mass resignations, intercine squabbling and a febrile atmosphere at meetings. Such is the awfulness of the situation they allowed notorious local bigot and Beestonia regular Darren ‘BNP’ Warner on board recently.

So, what conclusions can we draw from this mess? Why did Councillor Crow take against Steph and her potato fan with such vociferous energy? Could it be to do with wanting to protect a friend’s business, a local outlet that is frequently featured in Anna Soubry’s newsletter? Is this the way Kimberley works now, that unless you’re mates with the ruling party you are about as welcome as a fart in a crowded lift?

Perhaps before she does the honorable thing and resign, Councillor Crow can explain?

I also hope that our MP and self-professed champion of local democracy Anna Soubry will call for an investigation into Kimberley Town Council, as she did in 2015? Then, the council had Labour Borough Councillors doubling up as town councillors, though she stressed that it was not a political act to call for scrutiny (though that investigation turned up nothing of note, and commended the council of being well-ran!). For consistency’s sake, she will call for an investigation into KTC in her next newsletter, otherwise a lot of people in Kimberley might conclude she is a partisan hypocrite.


Every tier of Tory-ran Government, from the national picture to the town council, seems in disarray. let’s start zooming in:

NATION (UK): I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon so the government might have fell since I last checked, so there is no point in trying to give an overview on the appalling state of affairs. Our own MP is at war with her own government, it seems.

COUNTY (Notts): The Kay Cutts led, Tory-ran County Council decided, after spending eye-watering amounts on consultants, that it wouldn’t pursue its plans to scrap Broxtowe, Gedling et al and merge them into a single county.  An absolute waste of time and money.

BOROUGH (Broxtowe): The Town Hall debacle, which my predecessor on this blog covered extensively, will actually COST £100,000+ to sell, rather than making bringing in any extra revenue. A public asset is being not just given away, but costing a huge amount of money -your money- to give away.

TOWN(Kimberley): See the mess above.

Every single one of these screw-ups was easily avoidable. All of these screw-ups were down to arrogance, inter-party politics and an absolute disregard for the people they serve. Remember that when they come knocking for your vote early next year.


Flat Earthers and Farewells.


A couple of weeks ago I had cause to walk across Nottingham Market Square, and seeing a stall decided to see what it is pushing. I was half expecting a worthy environmental cause, or perhaps one of those strangely niche far-left organisations that somehow cling on to the hope tomorrow will be the first day of the Glorious Revolution. However, what I found outdid even the most zealous Stalinist in terms of utter delusion. For this was a stall of flat-earthers.

FLATEARTHI remember a time when the term ‘flat-earther’ was a useful term to apply to the craziest ideas, the least logical and most far-off opinions. The Flat Earth Society was all but dormant, aside from a few over-ironic folk who probably thought the words’ wacky’ and ‘zany’ were perfectly fine to use, especially when wearing a comedy tie.

Yet now, and if this doesn’t make you want to repeatedly punch yourself in the face you’re evidently the new Buddha, belief in the earth being flat is on the rise.  Reason is slipping away. Homeopathy still makes billions of dollars a year despite being utterly, utterly refuted. Anti-vaccination groups are given space to espouse views that critically endangers millions of innocent children. The Enlightenment seems to be in a state of retreat.

I stood by the stall a while and watched. I tried to assess what led people to be so determinedly evangelical about such an easily-refuted idea. One of the stall-holders was arguing with a guy I ascertained was probably a scientist. The latter chap was explaining clearly that the earth was demonstrably, irrefutably an oblate spheroid, in a calm, polite mannered voice. Yet the flat-earther was wide-eyed, barking back that it was ‘fake, fake, fake’. The (presumed) scientist used rationality to back up his arguments; these were countered by ‘You have to watch this video on YouTube’. I watched, incredulous, resisted a temptation to ask if flat-earth belief was a global phenomenon, and made my way across the slabs.

Which brings us neatly to Broxtowe Tories.

I haven’t written anything since the vote on the Town Hall. Some of you will have heard I’ve quit writing about politics. That’s sort of true, I’ll explain later. Before I do stop though, I want to fire some parting shots on why the current crop of Conservative councillors at Broxtowe Borough Council are up there with Flat Earthers as evidence-ignoring, dogma-dripping enemies of reason*.

Many of you will have attended the very packed full-council meeting to decide the Town Hall fate.  Many of you would have had their first experience of such a meeting. Most of you will have been utterly horrified at the level of debate. I followed from home – childcare commitments and an ongoing complaint with the council meant it was impossible to attend – but I followed from home.

I was also sent a full audio recording of the meeting. I’ll be putting that online soon, with subtitles (the audio is a bit iffy, even with editing), and let you judge for yourself. Face still unpunched? When you get to the part about how Sarah Palin is a shining example of Evangelical Christianity I’m afraid that even Neo-Buddha will be mashing their fist in their face.

Very real concerns such as the blatant conflict of interest of Ruth Hyde and an officer overseeing the process were shrugged off. Claims that the sale will stick a million into council coffers were put out, despite being demonstrably untrue. Councillor Richard Jackson and the majority of his councillors (that he allows to speak) are, and I say this dispassionately and as a statement of fact,  liars.  They have lied on record and I explicitly state this and invite them to sue me if they feel it to be untrue. They have lied in public office. They are a disgrace to democracy, but very much with the spirit of the times.

The argument was, of course, turned from the one we clearly set out as objections into ‘These godless heathens at Beestonia Towers are goat-worshipping haters of Christianity and this is driven purely by that’, as predicted. Lies were told, smears were smeared, and the narrative was purposely changed because the actual concerns – see Beestonia passim – are irrefutable. If you can’t deal with reality, make your own.

Which gets us back to the flat-earthers. Add to them Donald Trump, who lies with such


Jackson and Hyde. Nothing to see here, folks.

abandon fact-checkers just shrug their shoulders and prepare for another late night of evidenced refutation. It’s contagious: the rise of far-right populism embodied in unironically named ‘strong men’ (have you ever seen such a thin-skinned, fragile-ego, emotionally-stunted bunch in your life?) has spread around (along?) the world. Lies become canon. Orwell’s dystopia was a system of rationality where you wouldn’t just say that 2+2=5, you’d absolutely believe it, and love those that told you it to be true.

It’s a global mess, spurred on by those who have repurposed the word ‘elite’ to something that best describes them to ‘anyone who has ever read a book’. Broxtowe has been infected by this virulence, and it is almost utterly galling.

Yet there is hope. We can turn the tide.

Of course, the most obvious, if not immediate, is to vote the idiocracy out. There are elections in May. While Beeston has no Tories in it (which is why they like to give the town a kicking), they do exist in the hinterlands: Bramcote, Chilwell and Attenborough. They will come knocking for your vote in a few months. When you find them on your doorstep, (politely) explain why they won’t be getting it. And actually, bloody well vote. Local elections have appalling turn-outs but are often the most directly important ballot you’ll be asked to cast.

If you’d like to do something now – heck, there might not even be a council very soon to vote on if Jackson gets his way – then here’s a few tips:

  • There is potentially going to be a legal challenge against the Town Hall sale, keep your eyes peeled. Donations and/or pro-bono help will be required.
  • Listen to the audio when I post it later this week, and read the annotated fact-checks. Get angry.
  • Write to the National Secular Society. I’ve been in touch and am progressing a case, but more support will only strengthen this process.
  • Write to Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column: strobes@private-eye.co.uk
  • Write to your councillor -especially if your ward is represented by a Conservative. Ask them to justify the sale, and beware the traps and false-narratives they’ll try and foist on you.
  • Write to our MP – politely -and again, don’t let her twist it away from the facts, as she is wont to do.

Take a stand. Make Planet Earth Spherical Again.


As a few of you will be aware, I (Matt) will be calling it a day with this blog in its current form.

When I started this place up it was intended to be a fairly whimsical take on my town in the style of one of my journalistic heroes, Byron Rogers  . Politics was an accident: in 2010 I wrote a couple of pieces about the forthcoming election and they were well received. I live-blogged the count when such a thing was not done by the more established media organisations, and it turned out to be a winner. I also started to get my first bits of hate-mail, but it was easy to ignore.

Back then, covering Beeston/ Broxtowe politics meant I was merely one perspective out of many. The Nottingham Post had dedicated patch reporters who would cover just about every council meeting and keep a watchful eye on whatever shenanigans shook out of the Town Hall, the BBC was pretty well-funded locally and the Beeston Express was still active.

That plurality started drying up rapidly. The Nottingham Post vastly reduced its coverage, the BBC cut back allocated budgets and the Beeston Express has gone into seemingly eternal hiatus. This is a common story across the UK: as the business model of the commercial media is diverted into digital ad spends, and the license fee is at the whim of the Department of Media, Culture and Sport, oversight gets drained away, and politicians are emboldened to behave appallingly.

This is not an attack on the aforementioned media organisations. The Post has a fine local journo in Kit Sandeman, who I’ve found to be diligent and smart in his work. Tony Roe at the BBC got a cracking scoop with his Redwood Crescent exposé (a story that is far from over, and if my sources are sound, will hopefully see the police asking a certain councillor some interesting questions) and his award-winning colleague Hugh Casswell is a bright young talent. Yet resources being what they are, and with their beat being rather huge (the complex move towards unitary councils alone is a massive amount of work to cover) things are easily overlooked.

This has left this blog taking on a role it never really asked for: the first place people come to when a story needs to be covered locally. It’s a real honour in many ways, but a tremendous responsibility. Breaking the Broxtowe Scandal story earlier this year was something Tom and I are very proud of: the sources that came forward and trusted us were terrific, the bravery of those willing to stick their heads above the parapet inspiring. Broxtowe Borough Council really is an organisation that fits the phrase ‘lions led by donkeys’ to a tee.

Yet it takes its toll. The hate-mail – vastly in the minority, but disproportionately lingeringthreat1 after reading -puts you on edge. It now usually comes via anonymous email (ironically where a method used by many of my best sources to cover themselves from leaking).  The legal worries that accompany publishing allegations are often overwhelming: this makes the level of fact-checking involved a lengthy, often tedious process**.

Verifying sources, scouring documents, interviewing, researching, writing then rewriting then rewriting then rewriting  – it takes time and patience. I currently have both in short supply***.

The responsibility is occasionally terrible. If we are leaked a story, or fed a strong lead, then to not research and publish it is akin to being complicit in the sin committed. Who else, after all, will cover it? “I always wondered why someone didn’t do something about that” runs the activist meme “Until I realised I was someone”. I’ve never aspired to political office. I’ve never felt tribal towards a political party. I’ve definitely not done this for money. I simply love where I live, and feel obliged to defend it.

Over the past few years, I’ve been very lucky in life. I get paid to write in a job I love. I meet fascinating, phenomenally talented people I’d once never have dreamt of being able to talk to. The Beestonian magazine goes from strength to strength. A play I’ve co-written is getting some very encouraging attention. And best of all, I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful son (who turns two next week). All these things bring me joy, happiness, a decent wage and a faith in humans.

Politics does none of those things. So it has to go.

However, I have given Tom the keys to this blog**** and I hope he accepts. He has the energy, the brains and the prose-panache well beyond my reach. I am very lucky to have found him, and when he is writing for huge publications I will be proud to say he cut his teeth here.

I’m also looking into how to train up community journalists professionally: after a decade I’ve picked up a lot I would love to pass on.

I will not miss the meetings. I will not miss the anxiety. I will not miss the reams of documents that get anonymously dropped into my inbox with no instructions to where the treasure is buried. It’s been fun, and I hope I’ve made a bit of a difference in illuminating local government. It’s been a riotous blast. Thanks for reading, and the loveliness I’ve received over the years.

And if you’d like to buy me a pint…well, I’m not going to stop you.  I’ll use any donations over the price of a pint to buy time for Tom and I to hand-over (probably in a pub, for efficiency). Drop us a couple of quid by clicking here: ta Matt have one on me. Bye bye, I’ll miss you, and remember, it’s not you, it’s me xx



* No, it isn’t just Tories. I remember a cringingly awful debate in the Town Hall about global warming, when a Labour councillor, thankfully long-departed from office, explained that polar ice cap melting was not an issue due to observations he’d made with the ice in his scotch. I was willing the world to end after hearing his logic.

**I have had many verbal threats but as yet only one attempt to start proceedings: from Anna Soubry’s bully-boy partner, Neil ‘shonky builders’ Davi(d)son. It failed but did the trick in putting the frighteners up me. As Davidson’s former firm Persimmon were recently in the news due to paying the boss a £75million bonus for knocking up craply-built properties partly subsidised by the same government Soubry is part of, I’ll add ‘greedy shits’ to ‘shonky.

*** This post alone has taken the best part of a day to put together. The irony of writing about how little time I have while spending that time moaning about how little time I have is not lost on me.

**** I’m personally hoping he covers a story about how a local Tory councillor placketthas been expressly told he isn’t allowed to stand in May, after being removed from Soubry’s office after making a series of angry and threatening misogynistic remarks. I’ll spare naming him for now, and instead, put up a random photo of a councillor.


Twelve Reasons Why The Town Hall Sale Must Be Halted

Posted earlier on the Beeston Updated Facebook Page

.Please share widely.

Today is D-Day folks. The day the Town Hall may be, by consent of elected members of Broxtowe Borough Council, be moved from the public – who built it 82 years ago for us to proudly use in perpertuity, into private hands.

A few things to remember.

1. This was not in any councillor’s manifesto. Not a single one. There are elections in May: if they are confident this is what the people want, let them present the case then and let us decide.

2. The bid process, as has been repeatedly shown, has been flawed the whole way. The bidding system was unequal, opaque (until we leaked it) and bizarre gagging orders were attempted to be imposed on the community bid as a condition of bidding.

3. The church bid was pushed as the best option by an officer who himself was connected to the Evangelical Alliance, the umbrella group of churches that also cover the winning bid.

4. The final oversight of the bid process lies with the the Chief Executive. We have shown her connections to the Evangelical Alliance suggest conflicts of interest. These should have been declared.

5. The Chief Executive’s husband was also shown to be a senior member of a church which was also part of the Evangelical Alliance. Again, this is an undeclared conflict of interest

6. People have claimed that the Evangelical Alliance is somehow a broad church encompassing many different varients of faith. However, the EA threw the Oasis Church group out of its organisation when it showed a more liberal approach to homosexuality. This suggests a rigid system of beliefs that is not compatible with providing truly inclusive community services.

7. The church has stated it would use community usage as a recruitment tool. This again is not compatible with a truly community asset

8. Churches, mosques, temples etc are absolutely fine buying property for their own use on the open market. Their members are free to worship as they choose. That is the beauty of a free, open, secular society. However , this is not the open market, and the decision to give the church the Town Hall can be interpreted as an effective subsidy – our council tax being used to further the church’s aims. The other part of the deal that respects the freedom of religion – that is freedom FROM religion – is not being kept here.

9. As has been detailed by Jim Donaghie, who has vast expertise in the field, as the building houses servers for two Borough councils, secure relocation costs will amount to a huge figure that will leave the money accrued from the sale vastly depleted.

10. There has still been no coherent position on where a new council chamber with public access will be located.

11. There are several legal procedures not fully undertook as part of the process. I am afraid I have been advised to not yet make public what these are, but I have pushed them on to a Beeston councillor.

12. The whole narrative of the town hall has a huge elephant in the room- that is WHY are the council selling a public asset we built for ourselves 82 years ago? The answer is that they have squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees and temporary staff to hide a long-standing scandal entirely of their own making. They have not challenged central government on why Broxtowe receives one of the worst local government settlements in England: to make sure they do not rock the boat and potentially jeopardise their career. Their own personal ambitions have supplanted public service

Tonight we can show them that this will not stand. Until every one of the 12 points above are effectively answered, the sale must not proceed. Their is no mandate.

It is important you show the councillors who they actually work for. They are our servants. It is our Town Hall. We are a strong, diverse inclusive community and we can stop this and restore some faith in local democracy.

Town Hall at 6.45 – entry is (for now) free.

We can do this.


  • Town Hall set to be sold to Evangelical Church tomorrow

  • Further links between Cheif Executive and Evangelical Alliance

  • Call for public inquiry into Town Hall sale.

Our last post calling into question the impartiality of the bidding process for the Town Hall drew a strong reaction, and with that, some bizarre accusations.

One recurring one, which looks very much like a coordinated attack, claims we are ‘anti-Christian’ and are doing this out of spite towards the church.

This is absolutely untrue. As stated before, a secular, liberal democracy works on the principle of freedom of religion coupled with freedom from religion. That is, as a fan of secularism, a principle we live by and allows us to have friends who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindi and so on. It is the backbone of a diverse and tolerant society. This concerted attempt to create a false narrative that we are all anti–theists, rather than concerned citizens demanding due-dilligence, is pretty nasty

There is also an argument that perhaps the Broxtowe Chief Executive, Ruth Hyde is only a peripheral figure in her involvement with the Evangelical Alliance, and while she may appear in the newsletter we showed last post, the association ends there.

Well, seemingly not.

Here is the website of Sutton Bonington Baptist Church, which is also under the Evangelical Alliance umbrella.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 12.35.16

It’s listed on the Evangelical Alliance’s own website as a church under its banner

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 13.09.14

Who is this chap, mentioned as part of the leadership team?

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 12.34.59

It seems that not only is the Chief Executive’s husband a member of an evangelical church, but an elder and part of their leadership team.

Now, of course this might be a different Ruth Hyde mentioned.  But if not, this is another link that surely should have been registered as a conflict of interest. Otherwise the decision-making process, where the buck stops with the Chief Executive, could look compromised.

Another slew of social media comments on our last blog made allegations of ‘brown envelopes’, ‘backhanders’ and suchlike in relation to the whole matter. We categorically DO NOT believe that is the case and still hold on to the belief that most people at the council, including councillors of all parties, are decent people with a love for the community. However, we also believe that to maintain trust in politics all perceived conflicts of interest must be declared.

That is the case we are stating. Let’s hope that’s what the one the council responds to tomorrow (Wednesday) night.









The efforts to flog the town hall have long been mired in controversy. It is an unpopular move to save a failing council at a time when their own financial mismanagement has slowly eaten away at reserves. However, the actual tendering process has raised serious questions about the council’s impartiality.

The Beestonian reported months ago on the close relationship between the Council Officer in charge of the sell-off and one of the bidders. That Council officer provided advice to all three bidders and provided a recommendation to the council despite being a member of a sister church in Nottingham, and having attended the missions of the Evangelical Alliance, a homophobic and misogynistic umbrella group that includes the group bidding on the Town Hall.

Whilst further investigating the Evangelical Alliance following last week’s comments from Jim Donaghie the Beestonian came across further evidence of their connections to the council.

We can exclusively reveal a leaflet from December 2015 released by the Evangelical Alliance featuring our very own Council Chief Executive, Ruth Hyde. Hyde appeared to help them pitch their new service to help you become a trustee of Christian Charities both in the UK and abroad suggesting that whilst a relationship may not persist they certainly felt comfortable prominently featuring Hyde in their magazine:



Was this link declared? As the buck stops at the council with Ruth, if she has not made her link to the recommended bid from the church, then this does not look good.

It should be made clear at this point that the Beestonian has no issue with Christianity. Our problem originates not with the Evangelical Alliance’s religion but with their approach to the LGBT+ community and women. One of our two major contributors, Tom Roberts, is bisexual and has had unpleasant encounters with the Alliance’s teachings. Ultimately Beeston prides itself on being an open and tolerant space and our civic buildings should not be sold on to a group that judges members based on their sexuality.

A tolerant, secular democracy is defined by a simple attitude to faith: there should be freedom OF religion; there should be freedom FROM religion. As the Town Hall is meant to be used for community usage, and the nature of the sale effectively subsidises the church. That’ll be with YOUR council tax.

This follows hot on the heels of the council dismissing one of its senior officers on charges that appear to relate to preferential deals (watch this space). This was the one successful outcome (out of four!) for the council from its year-long investigation into former council officers  (see Beestonia passim)and suggests that the council takes potential misconduct very very seriously. We are sure they will apply this same scrutiny to those involved in the town hall sell-off.

What Can I Do?

We get this asked frequently: people feel powerless. The next elections are in May, by which time the Town Hall will be lost and Broxtowe if the experts at the LGA are correct, will be bankrupt and consumed by Nottinghamshire County Council, and local democracy further eroded. We can not wait. Here is what you CAN do:

  1. On Wednesday (17th October), at 6.45pm, the full council will meet in the very same Town Hall they are looking to sell. This meeting will see the councillors who represent you vote on whether to hand over the building to the church, rather than the strong, viable and truly inclusive community bid put forward at the same time as the Church bid. We want you there, in the public gallery. It’s free because it’s your democracy. At least for now.
  2. Add your name to this letter being put forward by Beeston resident: simply leave your details in the comments on this article, or email me confidentially and we will pass your details onto Ed: mattgoold23@hotmail.com. You can also, if a member of the Beeston Updated Facebook group, ask to be included: https://www.facebook.com/groups/815338891820008/permalink/2112873665399851/
  3. Write to your councillor. THEY work for YOU. Put forward your concerns politely that the sale is flawed and a public, independent inquiry should be put in place before any sale happens. Who is your councillor? Armed with just your postcode, you can find out here, with contact details.
  4. Write to your MP. Yes, we have had our battles with Anna Soubry in the past, and she has been surprisingly taciturn on this issue, but we believe she would not like to see local democracy damaged and community ignored in the way the council are planning. Politely contact her on anna.soubry.mp@parliament.uk.
  5. Don’t lose hope. We have this one last chance to ensure that the much-loved totem of local democracy stays in public ownership. We can do this.





Jim Donaghie is a community activist committed to keeping the Town Hall in public hands. After last night’s announcement that the building will be recommended to full council to be sold to a church group with some pretty nasty views, he comments here:

Before I start I must declare my interest at this point, I strongly advocate the retention of the town hall for use within the community.
Many of you will be aware that Broxtowe Borough Council, (BCC), are currently looking at the disposal of Beeston Town Hall. The point which has now been reached is that the council are preferring “community” bids as opposed to developer offers. The process has reached the point where two bidders remain, the Beeston Town hall Community, (BTHC) bid and a bid from The Redeemer Church, a “plant” offshoot of the large Cornerstone church situated on Castle Boulevard in Nottingham.
The BTHC bid centres around leasing the Town Hall from the council and running it as a charity run community hub, offering meeting space for local clubs and organisations with the possibility of expanding into other areas of community benefit.
The Redeemer church bid is purely to turn the Town Hall into one of their churches, where they can hold Sunday services and host other church-related group activities through the week.
In the interests of investigating whether both organisations could benefit from use of the town hall, meetings were held between the two groups. The BTHC group was more than happy to offer the church the use of the town hall on Sundays and rooms through the week for their groups, however the church position was that they wanted sole ownership of the building for their own use and therefore a compromise could not be reached.
It has now been announced today, that the recommendations of the BCC officers to the council, is that the Town hall be sold to the Redeemer church.
Whilst I accept I am biased on the subject and this may be seen as sour grapes I’d like to make a couple of points that may not have been obvious or known.
When the church says theirs is a “community” bid, they mean their own community not the wider community of Beeston. On their own website, they declare that the church is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and the Evangelical Alliance. Both of these organisations are strictly against homosexuality and single-sex marriage. They are fiercely Christian organisations. It is the position of both organisations that all pastors and elders within their churches are all male, as they say that is what their scriptures teach.
Suddenly their “community” is getting smaller, don’t apply if you are homosexual, don’t apply if you follow any religion other than evangelical Christianity, and don’t apply if you are a woman, if you have any aspirations of leadership.
Can anyone really say this is a “community” bid in the spirit that I’m sure the council meant?

I would ask anyone that wants the town hall to remain the property of the people of Beeston to contact their local councillors, (details on the BCC website), and tell them what you think and do it now. The full council meeting is on the 17th of October and I would also urge anyone with an interest to attend that meeting to show their support for the property of the people of Beeston, to remain our property.


  • Tory Councillor Philip Owen: helping those suffering domestic abuse is “political correctness gone mad”

  • Councillor Owen ‘Must step down or be sacked’

  • Redwood Crescent residents stonewalled by the council; possible criminal investigation on cards?

  • Town Hall: latest news.

  • Soubz v Cllr Doddy: round one to Soubz

  • Beestonia was right: Borough to be swallowed by County.

Is what we do important to you? Do you support local investigative journalism? If yes, then please consider making a donation to keep this site running, every penny helps us keep up the work : https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA

Councillor Philip Owen is no stranger to these pages, having pursued a personal crusade of nastiness during his tenure as a Borough and County Councillor. He has struck again, and we think it’s time for him to step down.

Lisa Clarke, nurse, mother and feminist activist tells us why

This week in an official Nottinghamshire County Council meeting of the Children’s Committee, a meeting where councillors decide how our money is spent on supporting and protecting our children, Chair of the committee Philip Owen publicly stated that the police policy to prioritise domestic violence, modern slavery and hate crime was “political correctness gone mad”.

When questioned later about his comments in a radio interview he went on to state that the police only focus on these matters because it is fashionable to do so. Finally, he added that these issues were not the priority of his constituents who were more concerned with shed break-ins and robberies.

The councillor’s comments have rightly been widely criticised by commentators and attracted local media coverage. Leader of the Labour Group, Alan Rhodes, has asked Philip Owen to “consider his position”, intimating that he should at least resign his chairmanship of the committee in question. But, assuming Councillor Owen does not choose to voluntarily resign, what is the long-term impact for Nottingham County residents?

Already the local radio coverage has largely reduced this to a poor use of language. The concept of “mis-speaking” is a popular get out clause at present for politicians at all levels. In truth, the attitude that this betrays and the consequence of what has been said is both damaging and wide reaching.


Cllr Philip Owen, alert as ever. Will Kay Cutts and Richard Jackson do the right thing and throw him out the party?

Nottingham has only recently been celebrated as a beacon of good practice in terms of it’s handling of misogyny and hate crime  – an approach so successful it has been proposed that it should be rolled out nationwide. So can Councillor Owen really single-handedly undermine our progressive stance?

Well, for a start, he is being very modest both about the power he wields and his scope of responsibility. As a County Councillor Owen has a far bigger remit than simply representing his own constituency. Every member of a committee contributes to decisions made that affect funding and provision of services for the whole area of Nottinghamshire County. In this case, as chair, Owen is responsible for ensuring that the issues and services most vital to our children and families are discussed, prioritised and adequately resourced and funded. We rely on this man – and the team he chairs – to provide effective care and support for the children in our area.

At the very least Councillor Owen’s words show an alarming lack of knowledge about domestic abuse and its wider effects on children and families. For a start, it seems he is judging the priorities of his constituents based on what he hears most in conversation. People talk to him about robbery of their sheds and houses and these, therefore, are the matters of most importance. By contrast, he appears to insinuate that because he is rarely approached about domestic violence, that it is not a significant issue; that it, therefore, does not warrant the same level of his time and consideration, or, in turn, the funding he part controls.

The very nature of domestic violence is that victims do not often talk about it openly, especially given that women (the overwhelming majority of its victims) are so often living under threat of harm to themselves or their children. In fact, they avoid talking about it, not just because it is deeply personal and difficult area of their lives, but because talking about it would be likely to threaten the safety of them and their family even further. The most dangerous time for any victim of domestic violence is when they try to leave.

Given their circumstances and experience, I am hard pressed to think of a less likely confidante for any woman in this predicament than a middle-aged, middle-class, male councillor with a reputation for nastiness and a void of empathy,  so it is hardly surprising that this is not a matter  Owen has to face on a regular basis. In fact given that his views on the matter have now been publicly shared, he has just made that far less likely, and indeed removed any chance that someone might view him as a route to support.

There are multiple barriers for women escaping abuse in seeking and receiving support: actual physical danger of attack, fear, feeling that you are responsible, lack of refuge places or family support. Congratulations to him for having just put up another obstacle!

Domestic violence, some statistics suggest, affects one in four women in their lifetime and there is a reason that Theresa May, leader of the Conservative party that Phillip Owen claims to represent, has prioritised it recently – it is increasing. Looking at convictions alone the volume of successfully prosecuted domestic abuse cases rose in 2015/2016 to 100,930, an increase from 92,779 in 2014/2015.

This is the highest level ever recorded. In short therefore, even if he was not chairing a committee (a role which affords him a substantially increased allowance) and even if Owen’s only responsibility as a councillor were to his own constituents in Kimberley and Nuthall, it is highly unlikely that he could afford not to prioritise domestic violence support in his area.

The scale and impact of statistically proven male violence against their partners, in the home, is such that it is highly likely that at least one person in the very room in which Owen spoke these heinous words is experiencing or has experienced a form of domestic abuse themselves. It also means that, potentially, one in every four of the women he claims to represent may need domestic violence support at some point.

I think we can all agree that any crime is a traumatic thing to experience, and nobody should have to tolerate having a shed broken into or being burgled. I don’t doubt that crime is rising, the cut’s Owen’s own party have made to national policing budgets have had a huge impact https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/police-funding-cuts-failing-to-respond-rising-crime-terror-inspectorate-report-efficiency-home-a8044866.html – but, is the rate of these crimes really as high as one in four; and – even if it were -what is the comparable damage and trauma, and how relevant are those issues to the safety of children?

NSPCC data that suggests that over 140,000 children in the UK live in households where high-risk domestic abuse takes place. This means there is serious risk of injury or death. The most basic training in Child protection teaches that the existence of domestic violence in a home is one of the single most important indicators of risk of harm to a child. This is why if police attend an incident in a family home they HAVE to report it to children’s social services.

This is without even considering the long-term psychological damage and life-limiting potential of witnessing a parent abused by another parent. Let us not forget that children are victims of domestic abuse too. It is both truly terrifying and unforgivable that the Chair of the children’s committee at Nottingham County Council is so very ignorant of this matter. By not recognising domestic abuse as an issue – including as an issue for children – not only he is doing them a disservice, he is potentially complicit in their ongoing entrapment and abuse.

When it comes to attitudes around violence in relationships and families we all have a choice – to be part of the problem, or to be part of the solution. It’s clear he has chosen his side. We the people of Nottingham County can only hope he reconsiders. The consequences if he doesn’t will be severely damaging. Will Kay Cutts now ask for his resignation from the County Council, and will Richard Jackson do similar for the Borough? If they truly believe in Theresa May’s stated belief in tackling domestic violence and modern slavery, then they will. If they are happy to serve with a bigotted misogynist in their ranks, expect him to be spouting more ignorance at the next council meeting. LISA CLARKE.



Apologies for the delay in this update: as you will know if you follow my other week, i’ve been rather busy.


I wrote the following on Facebook immediately after the meeting:

Right, a quick synopsis of the council meeting tonight regarding the Town Hall.

Before I was leaked the confidential papers about the bidding process to keep the building in the community, the council were ready to vote to make sure that that bid would not be accepted, and that the Church bid would be the only one going forward.

We changed that. Thanks to whoever leaked the document to me, the people who subsequently analysed it, and all those who turned up tonight – they all made the council keep the community bid in the running. It’s not the war won, just a battle, and there will plenty more fights to come.

They didn’t accept this defeat lightly, however. The Leader of the Council, Conservative Richard Jackson called the leak and the exposure of the conflicts of interest as ‘disgusting’ ‘untrue’ and claimed I was a member of the community bid – I’m not and the community bid will be lodging a formal complaint as such.

But the leak shone a light where it needed to be shone and exposed the council. They claimed it was a ‘disgrace of democracy’. I would argue quite the opposite – the disgrace lies solely with the ruling party of the council, who for personal gain hate transparency, hate public input, hate democracy.

The fight continues. Thank you, everyone.


So, a victory of sorts for the community bid, although it is clear the council are desperate to get the building off their hands as soon as feasibly possible.


But again, I attended a council meeting and was subject to being lied to and my professional reputation trashed by councillors that write about – with no right of reply. I do have an outstanding complaint, which was, by the council’s own guidelines, should have been dealt with in 20 days. It’s now 120. As such, I’ve opened a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman on this failure by the council to reserve the case, and will be taking further legal action in due course. The council treating the people they are tasked to serve abysmally? Well, what a neat way to segue into the Redwood Crescent debacle….




I visited Redwood Crescent on a warm day back in May, and met Kris Poole and Robert Pitchfork to talk about what was happening on their street. What they told me shocked me: and as regular readers of this blog know the utter ineptitude of the current administration  I intended to write up a piece a few days later, but circumstances conspired and a few months on it still sits half written and much-added to on my hard drive.

In brief – very brief, because the amount of stuff the wonderfully tenacious Poole and Pitchfork have turned up deserves to be given credit, and will be published soon – Broxtowe bought up a row of garages on Redwood Crescent and sold them at a startling discount to a company, Precision, that was ran by a guy who’d already screwed up a build in North Notts. The developers then built some atrocious houses – or rather, didn’t build them, leaving them an absolute eyesore in the centre of the close. Who allowed this, and who knew what seems to either point to gross ineptitude, or something rather more sinister and corrupt. If info I’ve received recently checks out, we can assume the latter and expect a few arrests down the line. Small consolation for the residents, who have to live with this mess on their street.

As with any brewing scandal, the story moves fast, and from what I heard happened at full council when residents got to ask (carefully pre-approved) questions to the council. As usual, they were stonewalled:

To Cllr Kerry  The council’s Garage Strategy put forward the option of demolishing garages in order to redevelop land for affordable housing. Can you please explain how the sale of land at Redwood Crescent to a developer who then wants to rent them out for over £1000 per month fits with this?

Cllr Kerry: “Due to an ongoing international investigation, legal advice is that I am unable to talk about this”.

To Cllr Jackson: When did you first become aware of possible improprieties in the way that the land at Redwood Crescent was handled and how did you attempt to rectify that situation for the benefit of residents?

Cllr Jackson: After taking external legal advice I am unable to answer until internal investigation has concluded. Investigation findings will be published as soon as allowed.

Open, transparent, democratic. None of these words are in Kerry or Jackson’s vocabulary, it seems.  Perhaps after sacking Councillor Owen, Councillor Jackson can also do the honourable thing and follow?

He won’t obvs, but maybe something else will force his hand. If it’s not an impending criminal charge (watch this space) then maybe it will be the civil war in his own party. Yes, the Tory Brexit schism has hit Broxtowe….


Broxtowe Councillor John ‘This budget will stop cancer‘ Doddy is also the chair of Broxtowe Conservatives but isn’t content to swim in such a small pond. What he really craves, and which sources close to him tell me has become an obsession, is to be an MP himself. There is one impediment to this: we already have one here. I’ve written about her once or twice.

Yet this is a party where Brutus would feel great kinship, where Boris  Johnson’s personal ambition overrides any sense of duty; where the whip’s office seethes with conspiracy and threats; where Jacob Rees Mogg can seize power in a coup so subtle we’re only just realising it’s happened. Doddy decided to try the ol’ dark arts himself.

Seeing that Soubz was in a position of vulnerability through assuming the pariah status of the Tory’s voice of anti-Hard Brexit, and noting her small majority will disappear when the next election is called (November?) due to a resurgent UKIP targetting her seat, he decided to survey local members on their thoughts on her performance. The results of this would then be very powerful ammo for calling for her deselection, and leave the path clear for Doddy to march into the Commons.


Unfortunately, he bungled it, and Soubry got wind of the survey and hit back in the strongest terms. I’ve printed it in full here as it is quite scathing, and gives some startling insight into the workings of the local Tory party:




A complaint about Doddy was submitted by Soubz to Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis, though asking him to make an ethical / procedural judgement on this is like asking Piers Morgan to do some proper journalism. 

Stung, Doddy put his tail between his legs and retreated, sending Soubry this contrite-soaked reply:

doddy two.png

Blimey. And just as internal divisions within the party in Westminster put the public well behind their own careers, so to in Broxtowe. Wonder why your complaint hasn’t been dealt with, why Councillors ignore you, why that bit about ‘representing residents’ seems secondary to their own ladder-climb? Wonder no longer.


You’ve probably heard of the plans to abolish Broxtowe, and have the county council absorb it and other borough councils. I have been predicting this for some time and pointing out that the trashing and degradation of a once-great council is not an accident, it is ideology. I was accused of scare-mongering and peddling conspiracy theories about this, but its now proven to be true. This story obviously deserves more than a brief footnote, and I will try and do it justice soon.  For now, any financial help to keep this blog running and allow me to take time out of freelancing to write it is appreciated: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA



  • Conflict of interest suspected in the bid process
  • Officer in charge of bid process has links to evangelical church bidding
  • Local gov procurement expert damns council’s process
  • Calls for bid process to be restarted with greater transparency
  • Legal action being prepared against council

In our last report, we scrutinised documents we were shown that outlined the process the council used for assessing the future of the Town Hall, in particular bids that would have ensured the building would have remained in community hands.

While we were looking through the documents, we were tipped off that there was another potential conflict of interest involving the officer advising on, and evaluating, the bids. This brings into question the neutrality of the bidding process – as well as the flawed methodology employed in the process we outlined in the previous article, a major breach of the procedure may have occurred.

One of the bidders, as we briefly mentioned in previous article, is a local evangelical church, which we shall not name for now. They are pretty much awash with money, having several rich backers and a tithe system that has allowed them to raise millions in funds to increase their property portfolio.

It is a member of the powerful Evangelical Alliance, a growing organisation of churches which, while doing a fair bit of good work at home and abroad, have a stridently homophobic attitude and advocate gay and lesbians ‘transform’ and join the church. They are quite a vocal bunch, and not fond of dissenting voices: organisations that advocate that gay love is, well, love, are thrown out of the organisation. But my personal views on this should not taint my oversight of the process, right?

What struck us about the leaked notes on this bid was how positive the evaluator judged the bid, in both language and willingness to take it forward.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 13.13.44

Compare to the community bid

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 13.14.23

This is simply untrue. Yet if it wasn’t for getting sight of this leaked document, this would have been hidden from sight. Rendering a document non-public allows a multitude of sins.

Before we get to the information about why this might be so, and why the process looks subject to a conflict of interest, we were contacted by a procurement expert / Member of the Institute of Purchase and Supply who came across our campaign. She was horrified by what she saw

…really looks like the weightings prove that the council are favouring certain bidders which in my mind is unethical and against procurement guidelines…


…I am sure they will have broken more than one guideline. I recently had to back off an interview panel because I knew one of the candidates and I fail to see how someone with a personal interest in a bidder can form a major part in the assessment and awarding process.

(that bit will become clearer further down the page)


I know the govt depth I worked for would never have allowed such a shambles!


Is it just a lack of professionalism, or is something more sinister happening?

The aforementioned officer (who had control of the evaluation process and wrote the leaked report) is a key member of the church bidder’s sister church in Nottingham, a fellow member of the Evangelical Alliance. His family members are also personnel at the church, and he has conducted missionary work on their behalf.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 13.25.28

website screengrab

We have strong evidence to suggest that the officer did not declare this potential conflict of interest and offer to be recused from the process. In not doing so, we believe his professional neutrality could not be guaranteed, and the process was thus inherently flawed.

More evidence to back this up comes from a further reading of the document. While the rules towards bids are applied stringently on the community bid, with no supporting evidence requested, extra time given, the church bid gets an unprecedented extension to its bid

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 13.34.04

We have not named the officer to avoid embarrassment to himself and his colleagues, and we hope that his failure to disclose this conflict of interest was an oversight, rather than a clear case of pushing through his personally preferred bid. Either way, we do feel that the process is invalid and the council should rethink the process from scratch, with much greater transparency and emphasis on retaining the building for public use. Flogging it to friends is not an option.

I am aware at least one party is ready to issue a legal challenge made via the Local Government Ombudsman and other routes if this is not the case and the council bundles through the report’s findings to be voted on by Full Council.

The Town Hall should represent the best of local democracy, a monument to transparency. Tonight we will find out if those who sit in it are worthy to do so.




  • Community bids already stacked against commercial bidders.

  • Council valuations show huge uncertainty.

  • Community benefit undervalued.

  • Lip-service and nothing else?


We were shown confidential documents earlier this week relating to, amongst other things, the future of the Town Hall. They have rejected the community bid to keep the building in the hands of Beeston, whose predecessors built the hall.

As we have shown in previous stories, severe mismanagement of the council from the current administration has led to reserves being plundered, staff morale crashing, massive legal and temp staffing fees and, ultimately, the flogging off of assets.

The most visible -not to say symbolic -asset to be flogged was Beeston Town Hall, mooted for giving to developers to plug the holes in budgets, or simply demolished. After a public outcry, councillors lied and claimed they’d never had demolition as a possible outcome: despite having it as an option on their public consultancy form!

Under pressure, they then opened up a process where community groups could put in bids to run it and keep it as it was always intended: a public building.

The documents we have been leaked reveal this process looks like a sham designed to doom all bids to fail. 

Could we also be cheeky scamps and ask that if you appreciate the work we do, it would be very helpful to drop us a few quid to help us continue? Thomas and I both spend many hours and drink much coffee digging through the stuff certain people don’t want digging through, and it would be hugely appreciated if you help pay for the time we’re not earning money elsewhere.  You can easily and swiftly put a few bob our way here: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA

Tom Roberts reports why.

The council obtained two independent valuations on the Town Hall which valued it at £425,000 and £1,000,000. For those with eyes it is clear that these values differ wildly and this itself should be cause for alarm. It is frankly irresponsible of the council to not obtain a third valuation when one is nearly two and a half times larger than the other.


It is unclear what would explain the £575,000 difference in value. It is the opinion of the architect that was commissioned by the Co-operative bidder than this may represent the difference between the value of the building “as is” and the value post renovation. Under the Co-operative’s unsubmitted plans, which included planned additions of shower blocks and a kitchen that total renovation and repair would cost approximately £800,000.

Amusingly, if you are living in a council property and commission your own repairs you are expected to provide the council a minimum of three quotations to assess best value.

As part of the request for community bids the price requested was for offers “in excess of £500,000.” This number is significant for several reasons, not least that it fails to match either the valuations or the average of the valuations.


The council reports provide a clear reasoning, during expression of interest two commercial bidders made offers of “around £0.5mn.” This is the figure that community bids were expected to make offers above and beyond. They were already being expected to match and indeed exceed offers made from the commercial sector. This is hardly in keeping with first preference being given to community bidders.

Beestonia understands that neither of the bids has matched this £500,000 figure and the Co-operative expressly pulled out because they regarded it as too high and it is, in fact, higher than one of the valuations obtained for the building.

The following is the weighting approved by the council and used to evaluate the bidders. As you can see the purchase price offered by bidders. The community benefit, the actual point of allowing community bidders to engage, accounted for a measly 5% of the Bid’s total score. This is seven times less important than the purchase price offered.

If we accept the value of the proposed use this, itself about the contribution the building can make to the local community, then the total value of the community portion of the community bid is approximately 20% of the total value of their bid.


It is further understood that there was an alternative measure proposed that would have assigned the community benefit a far greater importance, approximately 27%. Combine with proposed us this would have meant community use and benefit would account for approximately 40% of the total bid value. This was rejected by councillors at a previous meeting.

Councillors were reminded that both bids offered less financially than the commercial offers and that due to their nature they would be unable to apply national non-domestic rates (NNDR). In layman’s terms this is the building’s business rates obligation and the councillors are informed this will cost the council £10,000 a year.  There was also a heavy implication that they would need to justify their decision.

The Council also did not possess several documents that bidders had expected. Part of the council’s justification in selling off the building is the running costs are unsustainable due to repairs needed but no quantity surveyor’s report has been performed.

The Co-operative informed me that they had tried to commission a report, due to the nature of their renovations, but found the cost prohibitive for what was at the time a speculative process. The estimates they secured average approximately £4000, due to the size of the building and the complications of its current state.

Based on a conversation with the council the Co-operative found the building may need in medium term renovation work:

  • • The drains are entirely located at the back of the building, necessitating a system of pumps to properly parse effluence from kitchens and bathrooms near the front.
  • • The plumbing itself is in reasonable condition but apparently obsolete and as parts become scarcer will require replacement.
  • The boiler is in good condition but obsolete and has approximately 2-3 years of replacement parts available before it also needs replacing.
  • The basement regularly floods and requires pumping in wet weather to prevent this flooding.
  • The lift is obsolete (meaning parts are no longer available) and no longer compliant with modern disability law and as a council worker told me “you take it at your peril.”

Again, the Co-operative’s architect on estimated the work required at approximately £800,000. This is likely more than the current value of the building and is close to the highest estimated value.

The reports and surveys provided did vary dramatically in how up to date they were. Whilst many were from 2017, the most recent Insurance Risk Management report provided was from 2012. The Asbestos report came from 2008. There was no structural survey provided at all.

There is also the question of running costs. These were estimated at a whopping £107,748, an eye-watering sum by anyone’s standards. Whilst this estimate reflects the council’s current usage it includes the £25,600 in NNDR that none of the submitted community bids would be expected to pay.

It also includes the electricity cost as £26,188, this seems high but is explained by the council running their servers from the Town Hall. A standard- sized server, approximately 850watts, costs around £900 a year to run and the council has an entire server room within the Town Hall. The cost in 2017/18 as reported in the council documents was £22,260. Around £4000 less than the figure bidders were supplied.

Finally, groups were expected to provide significant detail whilst the council themselves remained vague. One of the biggest issues raised to me by the Co-operative and the Community Interest Bid was that there was no timescale for the Council vacating the building.

In the Co-operative’s case this provided a significant uncertainty that contributed to their decision to withdraw. They would either be required to postpone their purchase for an undefined period, making it difficult to reassure investors, or would rely on a rental income from the council that would be lower than the cost of repaying the investment.

The Community Interest Bid expressed similar anxiety around this withdrawal period. They would presumably be expected to arrange contracts with community interest groups, secure volunteers and organise their calendar without a clear idea when they would be allowed to enter the building.

In both cases this uncertainty, beyond that the council would have no presence in the “medium to long-term,” affected the bids.


It seems clear that the Community groups faced significant hurdles in attempting to secure the future of the Town Hall. Bids were expected to be “in excess of” the £500,000 offered by commercial bidders, a significant hurdle for non-profits. This is despite the building’s actual value being unclear and the council’s independent valuations varying wildly. A lack of a structural survey, despite assertions of the building’s need for repairs, represented a significant financial obstacle for many bidders and required them to over-estimate renovation costs. In this context, Beestonia asks how serious the council was about this community bidding process, and how fairly those bids were treated?

This is an on-going story and we will keep you updated as we receive responses from the community bids. As the council looks in deep trouble on the Redwood Crescent scandal, with possible criminal proceedings a very real prospect, we can imagine they aren’t too willing to give us a response: nevertheless, we will print when they do.


Doctor Coup

Due to a very busy few months relaunching The Beestonian magazine, setting up a new exhibition, looking after a toddler AND then doing my actual day job, I was resting this blog for a while. Co-writer Tom has also just done his finals, so was also indisposed sorting a post-uni career.

But a hugely intriguing but of gossip makes its way into my inbox, and while always reluctant to link to anything that comes from Guido Fawkes aka the thirsty much-chinny Paul Staines, but they’re reporting on a rather fumbled coup attempt from Cllr Dr John Doddy, who when not claiming the council budget will alleviate cancer (see Beestonia passim) is now positioning himself as John Redwood to Soubry’s John Major:


Local Government Association Agree With Beestonia: Broxtowe Is Unsustainable Under the Tories.


We have both been ridiculously busy recently with our non-Beestonian careers, so apologies for the lack of new posts here. This hasn’t been for a lack of material; rather, we have so much it can get dizzying. Broxtowe staff continue to leak details of mass dysfunction, and soon we will have time to sit down and put up the worst excesses. Bear with us: the whole process of research, corroboration and write up takes an awful lot of time. We are hugely aware that one loose allegation, one incorrect fact will see us hit with legal letters we would struggle to challenge with limited resources. And if you are from a proper news organisation, consider lending a hand, would you?

If you’d like to help us keep running this site, a donation to our PayPal ensures we can happily turn down other jobs and concentrate on this work: feel free to put a few quid our way here: https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA



One development we must put up immediately is that of a recent professional study of Broxtowe’s finances.

When we first made allegations that the council was squandering money at a terrifying rate, we were ignored, with Freedom of Information requests stonewalled. Then, with more insiders willing to disclose information the opposition parties at Broxtowe got on board and raised questions in the chamber, to which the work we have done here was ridiculed and we were labelled fantasists by Tory councillors (more on our complaint to BBC later). Other Tories threatened us with legal action. We were scaremongers, we were liars, we were pushing our own particular agenda. Not once did a single Tory councillor admit there might be a problem.

We reported that huge chunks of cash reserves were being used to pay off employees, hire lawyers and buy in interim staff at eye-watering rates. “We are the party of fiscal responsibility” we were told in response.

Step forward former Leeds City Council finance director, Alan Gay OBE. Mr Gay was tasked by the Local Government Association to use his extensive experience to evaluate the council’s budget for 2018-19.

This is the budget that we said would lead to the council collapsing within 18 months, and the ruling Conservatives claimed was strong, stable, and would rather amazingly help cure cancer. Ambitious!

This is the budget that we noted made no provision for the introduction of Universal Credit in Broxtowe later this year; would lead to further degradation of services and the attendant poor staff morale, and see the Town Hall and other assets sold off to plug the gap; and the ruling Conservatives claimed was visionary, fair and sustainable.

Mr Gay is, therefore, a much better person to ask. So he examined the details and found that no, the budget wasn’t sustainable. Due to the council’s massive spending on legal fees – see Beestonia passim – Broxtowe Borough Council was instead being driven into collapse, joining Northamptonshire and others in Tory councils that have slashed so many cuts into their services they’ve effectively bled to death:

‘Together this has meant a significant reduction in the council’s financial resources, and has therefore required major savings and efficiencies to be implemented in order to compensate.

‘The continued reduction in the council’s income and a further planned council tax freeze means that Broxtowe is now beginning to use reserves at a significant rate and must achieve recurring savings of £1m per annum by 2019/20 in order to remain financially stable.

‘This is a big challenge for a council of this scale and it is hard to imagine how this can be achieved without a real impact on service delivery.’ Alan Gay

The recommendation to raise council tax will most likely not be implemented – Cllr Richard Jackson is too much of an ideologue terrified of the damage that would do to his parliamentary aspirations to even consider a raise. Plus, there are elections next year….

So the council reserves will be drained, services cut and property sold off. This is YOUR council, and it’s being asset-stripped by a guy who will see a significant increase in his other wage packet should Broxtowe be swallowed up by the much better paying Nottinghamshire County Council and its responsibilities delegated in his direction.


Which segues nicely into our latest call to arms:

Town Hall updated poster 1st May (2)-1


We mentioned in a recent post how our attendance in the public gallery at a council meeting led to abuse from three councillors: Mel Crow, Philip Owen and Shane Easom. We duly reported these smears and attempts at intimidation to the council and promptly received a letter back. So far, so good, and we readied ourselves for the findings of the subsequent investigation, which we were told would be dealt with in 20 working days.

That was in early March – remember those heady days of Easterly Beasts, Oscar Ceremonies and it still getting dark early?  Those have long passed, but my inbox and front door mat remain free of response.

I rang earlier and as assured I’ll get a response soon. We shall see. Still, I urge you to join me in the public gallery at the next full council meeting on Wednesday 16th May. The ruling party are doing everything they can to shut you out of YOUR council so they can disamantle it with inpunity. Let’s show them that isn’t going to happen with us watching.







  • Syrian refugees ‘put at risk due to data breach by councillors’

  • Incident covered up, no investigation initiated.

  • Council takes action to deter public attending meetings


Into spring, and still, the shenanigans at the council continue. While the days grow lighter, our findings get darker. We will now present evidence on why the Council are putting lives at risk (and then covering it up) and how they are purposely doing everything they can to stop YOU finding out what they are up to.


A couple of years ago, Broxtowe took in four Syrian families, selected from refugee camps


Good to hear Cllr Owen!

after being rendered homeless due to the ongoing war. A noble gesture, even if our old friend Councillor Philip Owen voted to end voluntarily welcoming child refugees through his Councillor role at Nottinghamshire County Council. After a member of the public shouted from the gallery ‘How do you sleep at night?” he leered up at the gallery and gloated ‘Very well, thank you’.

However, some humanity prevailed at Broxtowe, and families were settled. These were, to quote our MP…

 …particularly vulnerable Syrian refugees. Some have experienced torture, physical or sexual abuse, some are made more vulnerable by disability or illness; all have had to flee their beloved country in fear of their lives. We can only imagine the terrors they have experienced.

So why, when they arrived, did their personal details get treated with such disdain?

In 2016, a member of the public was passing the former Crown Post Office when they noticed a piece of paper on the pavement. Evidently a public-spirited individual, they picked up the sheet, and before disposing of, had a glance at what was printed. They were horrified to find that the paper was of a highly confidential nature, containing as it did identifying details of the refugee families, with their full names (including children), ages and addresses visible.

Realising the gravity of this data, the member of the public took it immediately to Foster Avenue, and handed it in.

This serious breach should have led to an investigation into how such confidential information could be treated without care. The only four people privy to the data were two councillors (whose names we are withholding here), Chief Executive Ruth Hyde, and Cllr. Richard Jackson. One of these people was responsible for the breach, but our sources tell us that NO formal investigation ensued and no disciplinary action taken.

This is a potentially huge breach of data protection law, and we will be forwarding our findings to the relevant authorities to investigate.

We have heard several other stories of data involving members of the public being treated with such scorn by councillors, and are working to verify these right now. It seems like Broxtowe don’t really give a fig when it comes to info about YOU, but when it comes to hiding what THEY do, they are masters.



It is difficult to hold a council to account when they prefer not to tell you anything. One way to sneak around this obvious hurdle is the use of Freedom of Information requests, the humble FoI. We have submitted, between us, several requests and not a single one has received a real answer.

Requests for both the council’s finance data and proceeds from the town hall development received a stock automated response on the 8th of February (promising reply within 20 days) and have not been addressed since. Other requests have received woolly-mouthed deflections that serve no purpose but to protect the council’s information.

Our personal highlight was “please could clarify what you mean by the word ‘recent’.”

This will have consequences for the council as they are obliged by law to respond properly within 20 working days. The council may only breach this obligation if they do not hold the information (they do) or the cost to find the information would be too onerous (it isn’t). As such, they have been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

This is, however, online information. An email to all council officers, leaked to us, explains that there is an increasing crackdown on the members of the public who are in the public gallery. The council’s interim deputy chief exec has made a point of demanding that the public sit as far back as possible and leave as quickly as they can. Beestonia assumes that this is probably directed at us.

We will be inviting you all to the next full council meeting. It’s time for them to realise that they serve us.



We finish by adding this without comment, save for the one our mole sent ‘What a way to raise morale!’.

Untitled design

…”you have been warned” the message of all great Bond villains there, being used to sign off a council email. Thankfully when Beeston finally declares independence we can be assured we have the ruthless (Ruth – Less, get it?) leadership we need.

Back soon!





All is well in the state of Broxtowe. We have always been at war with Eastasia. These are days of milk and honey. That is, if the latest hurried-out Conservative campaign leaflet is to be believed. Councillors (and rather dodgily, the Tory Mayor) are shown in soft-focus

tory leaf

photos grinning at the camera in various parts of the Borough, supporting community projects (as long as they don’t take more than five minutes, and they can keep their shoes clean), and saying what a great job they are doing.

Crisis? What crisis? There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SEE HERE. Life is rosy and they have in no way whatsoever engineered a crisis that will, in the words of a high-ranking Broxtowe officer ‘Kill this council within 18 months’. No mention of the scandal and cover-up presently not being very well covered-up at the council. No mention of the hundreds of thousands being haemorrhaged monthly on that scandal; no mention of the risk council tenants are under due to mandatory gas-safety checks not being conducted; no mention of the way that they are throwing up everything they can to stop you knowing what your council tax is going on. None of that. All is fine, as the leaky water main on Kirkbride Court isn’t leaking anymore*. Be grateful plebs, and move on. We are in control. Back to bed with you.

Similarly, this halcyon vision is one that is shared by the right honourable member for Charnwood Broxtowe, Anna Soubry MP. Her latest email also sees Broxtowe as basking in the sunlit uplands, with the ruling Tories community heroes bending over backwards to please those they serve. Hurrah!

Now cast your mind back to 2014, and events up in Kimberley. The local town council was accused, by a local neo-nazi named Darren Warner, of misappropriating funds, on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. However, although the council isn’t organised on political grounds, Broxtowe Labour Councillors were also town councillors, so she called for an immediate investigation. This is Soubry in September 2014

…there is concern that the Council’s reserves have all but been spent and Councillors are consistently denied financial details.
I have already written to the district auditors and will take up all allegations with the Borough Council’s legal department. It now appears there will be a by-election for the two vacancies and I hope voters will exercise their right and send a clear message to the controlling Labour group that they are out of order, undemocratic and spending tax payers’money irresponsibly.

An audit and investigation went to work, unpaid and hard-working town councillors were dragged through the mud and… the investigation concluded that the town council was actually well-ran and financially sound. Did Anna apologise? Nope. Instead, she ignored it, and took the Darren Warner, BNP organiser and frequent contributor to the proudly racist Nottingham Patriot website to meet then-minister Nick Boles as a ‘valued community activist’. As for the councillors who were absolutely exonerated, despite being dragged through the mud? Well, that mud stuck, and they lost their seats in the Borough elections the following year. Soubry was reelected as an MP. Nastiness clearly pays off.

So now a REAL scandal is happening on her doorstep (well, the doorstep to her office in Beeston; I have no idea what is happening over in leafy Leicestershire) is she calling out for an investigation? Is she sending out a warning that money is being squandered on a totally avoidable, staggeringly mismanaged scandal? Of course not. It’s as if she puts party first, constituents second.

But now the scandal/cover-up isn’t just a thing happening in the background, a buzz of trouble over on Foster Avenue. It is hitting home, and it’s hitting YOU. It’s hitting the council finance and could very well see the end of the council and the vital services it provides. Slip off your rose-tinted spectacles. Let’s look at our latest findings. They make for Grimm (sic) reading….

*leaks in other areas of the council, however, are rather rife.


A further issue with the investigation is that there are significant questions over some testimony provided. Decisions about the suspension of chief officers can only be taken by:

  • The council, or
  • An appropriate committee, or
  • The CEO acting under delegated authority

This is a limited number of individuals. However, according to several sections of Richard Powell’s report the decision to suspend one chief officer was taken by former Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Shane Flynn. At a separate point, Powell also states that the decision was taken by Chief Executive Officer, Ruth Hyde.

However, reports from a secret council meeting allege that the officer was told explicitly by Ruth Hyde that this was not the case. A quoted email from Ruth Hyde says that Ruth was “not responsible for the decision to suspend you as I was not here at the time.”

Our source suggests that there are two options. That Ruth Hyde lied in an email to a suspended officer and caused unnecessary harm due to the absence of any review, or she lied to Richard Powell about her role in sanctioning the suspension. If the former is true, then the council are liable for additional distress, if the latter is true then it casts doubts over the investigation itself and whether this suspension was handled properly.

Whilst we cannot reveal many details in the report they make for harrowing reading. The implications of this scandal reach far beyond the financial and affect countless lives. At the council meeting, the Conservative council voted against the union appeal, with little regard for the consequences.


Those following our work will have noticed the liberal use we make of the council’s open finance data. This is because it allows us to confidently state how much the council is spending by checking our figures against invoices. The Council are under obligation from their publication scheme to publish this data quarterly and it was last scheduled for an update in January 2018.

This update did not happen until late February 2018 and the council have now extended the deadline for the next quarter’s publication into May 2018. 3 months after the date it was published, not the date it was supposed to be released. This may seem petty but has a real effect on our work: despite publishing in February the released data contains no payments from 2018.


For us, this is a problem, it means that we now must wait a month longer to obtain figures for January. This makes it harder for us to scrutinise spending before the crucial budget and for the public to hold their government to account.

Sadly, this is a bit of a theme at the council with our FoI requests going either entirely unanswered or consistently deflected. A request for the financial data remains unanswered despite the council publicly releasing the data; estimates of proceeds from residential sites in the Beeston Square redevelopment has been unanswered and our request for specifics on the staff suspensions has turned into a farce of clarification and specification, now into its third month.

This has become so unmanageable that we have been faced with no choice but to report the council to the information commissioner, who oversees the public’s right to know. We’ll let you know how that proceeds.


Spending continues apace, as ever I (Thomas) am tracking spending with solicitors, Browne Jacobssen and the Venn Group Ltd who provide agency staff. Spending with the Venn Group sits at approximately £165,000 for the last 3 months and Brown Jacobsen have trousered a further £35,000.

Whilst I cannot provide a precise figure, due to the way the council releases data it appears that total spending on Agency staff at approximately £435,855.91 and on Legal fees at £131,500.68. If we include the settlements that have been paid then the total cost of this investigation appears to rest just over £600,000 in the last 9 months alone.

In this context it seems apropos to mention that the audit of the council’s 2016/17 accounts has been delayed from September 2017 and is expected to be delivered at some point this year. The reason given was that the auditors “wished to undertake further work and make additional enquiries of Council officers.” Which is certainly curious, even if we cannot confirm a link to our investigation.

Less amusingly it seems clear how vital this £600,000 figure is. The Policy and Performance Committee agreed on 18 January 2017 to an Employee Savings Programme intended to address a £600,000 per annum budget gap over the then medium-term financial strategy period.


Due to an exam the following morning, Thomas could not attend the full council meeting to discuss and vote on the council budget, so, with notepad and camera, I (Matt) went down to live-blog the event via FB. I’ve been to many, many council meetings at the Town Hall, but never have I seen such contempt for democracy, such utter cognitive dissonance, such disassembling, such absolute outright pomposity. To top it all, it ended with a report filed with the council complaints department after Tory councillors, clearly rattled by our revelations, verbally abused me in the chamber.

This was where the colossal mismanagement was made apparent. Broxtowe has been forced into dipping into its reserves to accommodate the cost of the scandal; to the tune of £1.2 million. Remember, this is a self-inflicted, avoidable wound. Cllr Richard Jackson, perhaps distracted elsewhere, has failed to negotiate a better central government with Westminster. Does he not have the same charm as other Tory Councils, stuffed with extra cash to stop their MP rebelling? Or, by letting Broxtowe suffer, his own career prospects as a future MP brighten considerably?

No plans have been put in for the introduction of Universal Credit to Broxtowe, scheduled for Autumn. This will very likely see a significant rise in rent arrears: Broxtowe are moving towards rents being collected weekly, and as the move over to UC leaves the recipient without anything for 6 weeks, will most likely lead to eviction notices flying out. Not a penny has been set aside to cushion this.

Opposition councillors stood up to express their utter dismay at the general situation. Council officers at senior level haven’t just been telling me that the council will, under current conditions, collapse within 18 months. Several have put forward this opinion, and when it was mentioned by opposition councillors, the ruling party jeered.

When the subject of the scandal/ investigation/cover up came up (since we revealed the story, councillors are getting the item on the agenda without fear) they prevaricated, obstructed or plainly ignored the question. Once Tory instead tried to talk about housing, despite this having nothing to do with the budget. His intention? After stinging attacks from the opposition, he would throw up five minutes of tedium, a droning word-salad to stop the attack.

Cllr John Doddy (Cons) went down an even more bizarre path, praising Cllr Jackson of a ‘radical, wonderful budget’ which, due to some money going towards parks, ‘Will significantly tackle the obesity crisis, which in turn will bring down rates of cancer’. Honestly. Vote austerity, eliminate leukaemia.

And on it went. Impassioned speeches from the opposition benches swotted away with every democracy-degrading technique in the playbook. Real concerns of Broxtonians don’t touch these people.

Then sleepy Cllr Phil Owen snapped awake, and stood up “I’m fed up with Beeston” said Broxtowe’s most bumptious man “I’m fed up with the moaning, all this about public toilets, about the Town Hall, everything. I’m fed up with Beeston’

On the public benches, a collective gasp. But he was far from finished.

“I’m fed up with those awful people, Beeston’s own Grimm Brothers writing fairy tales about us and the death of democracy. Fed up with it”, and as I heard the woman sitting next to me say “I think they mean you”, the Tory benches all glanced over, smirking and laughing.

Now, the thing about council meetings is that the public merely observes procedures. They do not have any right to say anything, they have no right of reply. So I had to have this happen to me without any chance of pointing out this was a slander, lest I was ejected. This was not a passing incident. This was targeted, designed to intimidate. And it did.

It didn’t stop there. After the meeting, I was talking to a fellow member of the public, who was telling me how depressed she was at witnessing, for the first time, a full council meeting. Suddenly, our conversation was interrupted by an irate Cllr Shane Easom,

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Glare he is: Shane Easom

currently under investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman for the mistreatment of a local resident (see Beestonia passim). Visibly angry, he jabbed a finger at me and launched into a tirade about the blog mentioning that he was fined for letting his dog poo in public, and not clearing it up. We thought this a very appropriate metaphor, but Easom didn’t want it brought up. He then mentioned that the dog had died two years ago, before swearing at me and storming out.

However, this was a two-pronged attack, and his former partner, Cllr Mel Crow, was next: “That story’s ten years old. How dare you, the dog died two years ago under tragic circumstances” Whilst Beestonia appreciates the implication that we developed time travel technology it raises one, speculative eyebrow at the implication that we did so simply to kill an innocent dog.

Also, when it comes to murderous brutality to canines, it’s the Tories who have strong form.


David Cameron, hunting foxes.

“You are disgusting’ continued the elected member for Kimberley, and one of the Conservatives top -tips to be a future MP.

“Not clearing up dog mess is disgusting” I countered.

“What you write is rubbish and lies” she shouted, now really annoyed. “Well, sue me” I replied: and believe me, she would. She is a lawyer, apparently, and would jump at the chance of serving us with a writ.

It shook me up, and shocked the other members of the public who witnessed it. “They can’t do that, can they?” asked one. “Report that immediately,” another told me. And so I did. It was an unsavoury, seemingly coordinated attempt to intimidate, and I hope Broxtowe take appropriate action. I’m not sure how much faith I have in the complaints process but will take to the ombudsman if necessary. I hope the ombudsman is local, and doesn’t have much else on.

A consolation is that our journalism has clearly shaken them. As someone once said, “If your journalism doesn’t make you enemies, you’re in public relations”.


While I was still sitting gob-smacked at Cllr Phil Owen’s comment that Thomas and i were ‘Beeston’s Grimm Brothers’, my neighbour in the public benches said “He acts more like a character from kid’s book, self-satisfied and pompous. That one by Kenneth Grahame” I think I get who she meant:

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Our sympathies to the council comms officer who had to put the news of the budget onto Twitter. Imagine having to do so knowing that the very same budget will lead to your job being even more precarious. Imagine putting a brave face on when writing it.

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In solidarity, we corrected it:

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We have been astonished by the reaction to these articles. This site has been running for just shy of a decade and has always had a decent amount of interest: Beeston is a highly-civic minded place, so this is perhaps unsurprising.

However, nothing has attracted quite so much attention as this series of articles. Our readership is in the thousands, and we have had a veritable tsunami of responses. These have mainly been from concerned locals, council workers and other people across the borough. However, we’ve also had responses from across the UK, particularly those who work in senior local authority positions. They are watching the story with interest and giving some very strong advice. To all those who have been in touch, thank you so much: we really appreciate it. If we haven’t replied to your email, our apologies. Please feel free to resend, and nudge as. The week following the initial story breaking saw so much correspondence flood in we know we probably lost a fair bit.

However, our revelations have also sparked a feeling of frustration. Readers are livid that this is happening and want it addressed forthwith. But how? We have a few suggestions that we really hope you’ll do asap

  • VOTE! Well, naturally. The next borough elections are in May 2019, however, and who knows what a state the council will be in then? So encourage you to do your democratic duty, but with the disclaimer, it might be too late by then.
  • WRITE TO YOUR MP. Assuming that is Anna Soubry, of course. Be polite, calm and factual. Ask for a response. Prepare to be disappointed: she has a habit of simply ignoring difficult questions that come in (I’m -Matt- still waiting for an explanation why she used the abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother as a fitting way of attacking me in public. It has been 9 months Anna. Get your skates on).
  • WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLOR. They have a duty to serve you: they do not rule you, despite what they may think. Send them an email asking for an explanation of why they think this is right, and what they are doing to address it. There are many, many issues we have uncovered lately to ask about, choose at will. You can send an email to your elected representative even if you’re not sure who they are, by simply going here: www.writetothem.com/ and entering your postcode. Dead easy: you can even copy in leader of the council, Cllr. Richard Jackson: leader@broxtowe.gov.uk Let us know how you get on.
  • WRITE TO BROXTOWE’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RUTH HYDE: you can get her on ceo@broxtowe.gov.uk
  • GET THIS STORY TO OTHER MEDIA: Send this blog up to larger organisations than us two part-time citizen journalists: email/tweet/ FB The Nottingham Post, the Independent, The Guardian. Perhaps the most interested party will be Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column, which focusses particularly on local gov shenanigans. Email
  • STAY TUNED! We are looking into arranging a major public event soon, to show the Councillors we demand they stop their asset-stripping, fiscally ludicrous craziness. The first manifestation of this will be a council meeting in May. More info to follow,
  • DONATE TO OUR FUND: We do this work in our spare time, which we don’t have a great deal of. As such, a few quid to keep us in coffees, cake and suchlike are most welcome and show us (and others) that there is a hunger for local investigative journalism. It’s easy to do: go to https://www.paypal.me/BEESTONIA