13th April 2016
For: Marple, Marple Bridge, Mellor, Mill Brow and Compstall
Hello, Marple North Electorate.
My name is Kevin Dowling.
I am the proprietor of The Springfield Hotel, one of the oldest (established 1971) businesses in Marple. I live, work and spend most of my time in Marple, a community I recognize, am committed to and care about. From May 2011, until May 2015, I was a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Marple South. I have resigned from the Liberal Democrat Party and at the forthcoming local elections, scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 5th 2016, I will be standing as an Independent Candidate for Marple North, which is the Electoral Ward where we all live, the one wherein we have the vote.
As an Independent Candidate, I have no affiliation to any political party.
As a former Councillor I have seen how party politics consistently stifles local government, how it devours the time and energy of our locally elected representatives, how they can become enslaved by National Party dogma, occupied with issues that they can have no influence over whatsoever, issues that they were not elected to give their time to. Often this serves to distract them and sometimes even detach them completely from local matters, matters that they were elected to give their time to. I have concluded that as a councillor, there is no way out of this situation as long as you are a member of a political party. This observation though, is a criticism of the party system in local government and not of any person.
Local Councillors should be concerned with and dedicated to local issues.
Although wider issues can impact locally, and Local Councillors should be in touch with these, Marple Councillors should primarily be dedicated to Marple matters. We only have to take a quick glance at some of the ‘motions’ that are proposed for council. These motions take up hours of preparation, sometimes days. This preparation is then followed by hours of debating time, at Full Council Meetings. These motions are often irrelevant to the whole of Stockport let alone our local community in Marple. My policy is a simple, all-encompassing one. I will dedicate my time and office to being a Marple North Councillor and focus on issues that matter to the local community.
Issues such as; Vehicular traffic congestion, parking, school places, public realm, transport, affordable housing and more.
It is not my intention to bombard you every few days between now and the election with repetitive leaflets, giving the same old message, telling you who can win this election, who can't and why. Therefore, this letter will be the only written communication you will receive from me during this campaign.
It would, I believe, be a fantastic result for democracy, Marple in general and Marple North in particular, if an Independent candidate actually won this time, instead of representatives of the same old parties.
Myself and the current, small band of supporters I have, believe that there is support for Politically Independent Representation in Marple. Support for councillors whose prime objective is to use their time and office in the preservation and development of Marple North. Preservation and development which is in the best interests and wishes of the Local Community.
Marple has not in a long time (if ever) had the opportunity to consider an Independent candidate, so I present this opportunity before you. I would not presume, as others have done and are still doing, to tell you who you should vote for. I will be completely advised on the future of my independent candidacy by your actions at the 2016 ballot box.
Every single vote for Marple Independent Kevin Dowling on Thursday, May 5th 2016, counts towards the future of Marple - it's now up to us.
Kevin Dowling tel: 07876 568 902
The resignation of Patrick McAuley
Council leader Sue Derbyshire asked Patrick McAuley to take special leave or be removed from his post on the councils’ Executive. This came after a meeting in which Patrick was aggressively abusive to the point Sue feared for her safety.
Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident with Patrick and he resigned from Stockport Council’s Executive soon after. He has since made a number of claims which are not true.
Our interest is not to ‘hound’ Patrick – we want him to be well and happy – but it is important residents have the facts about the claims so they can make up their own minds.
This is the statement from the Liberal Democrat group on Stockport Council:
At a meeting of Executive members on 7th April, Cllr McAuley became overly aggressive, shouted and had a threatening manner. Cllr Derbyshire felt very intimidated by him and decided to leave the room, fearing for her safety.
Similar situations involving Cllr McAuley intimidating other councillors have happened in the past. Cllr McAuley had initially performed well as an Executive Member but his performance deteriorated during 2015. So far in 2016 he has missed 18 key meetings, often citing health reasons. He has clearly been under much pressure in his public and private life.
As councillors are not employees and do not get “sick leave”, Cllr Derbyshire offered Cllr McAuley the equivalent of compassionate leave. However, because of the level of his aggression, she had to reserve the right to remove him from his office if he would not take leave. Unfortunately he has now chosen to resign instead.
Was Patrick ordered to bury a report regarding Stockport market?
No. Patrick says he ‘refused to bury a report’ but in his own resignation letter he highlights why the report he refers to was not ready for publication (“[the report was drafted] before officers had seen or even received the results of the consultation on the Market.”)
As Patrick acknowledges, the details of the consultation with traders did not even arrive until 7 April. This was the day of the meeting referred to above.
Everyone surely wants our historic market place and Stockport’s market traders to have a sustainable future. One where they are no longer reliant on an annual subsidy of more than £200,000 of taxpayer’s money. Consultations with the public and with traders have only just been completed. It seems Patrick is hoping to take advantage of genuine concern about the future of the market and is using it to distract attention from his aggressive and unreasonable behaviour.
Patrick claims he was offered “hush money.” Is this true?
No. You can see for yourself in the letter that Sue wrote back to Patrick the day after the meeting referred to above. Councillors are not employees and do not get ‘sick leave’. Cllr Derbyshire offered Patrick the equivalent of compassionate leave after he had missed 18 key meetings in the first three months of 2016 alone and was, sadly, no longer performing to the standard required.
Patrick claims he missed meetings due to his children being unwell. Isn’t it unfair to criticise him for this?
In the first three months of 2016 Patrick missed 18 key meetings citing reasons such as his health but some that he ‘forgot’ or ‘have assignments to get in’.
See for yourself the record of meetings and reason given for the absence.
Of course people miss meetings through health reasons from time to time. But most reasonable people would feel that after missing so many meetings, it was even more important to take the advice of the legal and subject experts at the Council. Particularly the advice on the important issues regading the market’s future that Patrick was ignoring.
Does Patrick have a point about the consultation on Stockport market?
As Patrick was the Executive member for issues regarding the market, this was actually his area of responsibility. Unfortunately the market currently does not makes ends meet. Over the last four years the Council has had to provide more than £800,000 of subsidy to cover costs. That’s why we want to do something about it.
Patrick complained that proposals did not completely remove the need to provide this subsidy. They didn’t. But the only way to completely remove the deficit would be to close the Market entirely. Surely this isn’t what anyone wants at all?
Patrick claims Neil Derbyshire is Sue Derbyshire’s campaign manager. Is this true?
No. Sue’s re-election campaign is managed by local activist Danny Langley and former Manor councillor Jenny Humphreys. The “imprint” on any leaflet issued by Sue or the Lib Dems in Manor ward lists “J Humpreys” as the publisher of the material. Jenny is Sue’s election agent and the main point of responsibility. As Sue’s husband, Neil volunteers to deliver leaflets, stuff envelopes, and send e-mails to the core team of volunteers regarding team meetings. He is not “Sue’s campaign manager.”
Patrick claims Neil Derbyshire demanded data of residents/voters/Lib Dem members – is this true?
No. Patrick made this claim in August when he himself was the subject of an internal complaint on his data handling. This was followed by Patrick’s resignation as the local membership secretary. In the seven months since making the claim, Patrick has not able to provide evidence of it.
Again, this is likely to be a diversionary tactic – it is in fact Patrick that has been written to with a warning regarding the Data Protection Act 1998.
As for Neil Derbyshire, he is not a party member, has never asked to be given data, and would not be provided with data of residents or local party members.
If Patrick was aggressive to Sue as you claim were there witnesses and have you involved the Police?
Unfortunately it has been necessary to speak to the Police. There were witnesses in the meeting and the statement above is one agreed by all of the people at that meeting, except Patrick. Clearly no one has any interest in a witch hunt but no one should fear for their safety at a council meeting.
If Patrick is publishing things on the internet and in e-mails to residents which are not true, can’t you do anything legally?
Regrettably it has been necessary to seek legal advice regarding defamation. We have also liaised with the Information Commissioner’s Office because it appears Patrick has abused local residents’ personal data for his own ends in breach of the Data Protection Act, and with the Electoral Commission.
Is it fair you mentioning Patrick’s health?
Patrick has been perfectly frank, truthful and open about his health and we have tried to provide every support. Some of this he has rejected. Our hope is that out of the political sphere and the inherent pressures of representing residents he can thrive.
Nevertheless Stockport Lib Dems’ priority has to be the safety of its members. More than one local party member has expressed concern about being at meetings Patrick might attend. His behaviour has been completely unacceptable, and Sue was left with no choice but to remove him from the Executive if he did not take the offer of special leave.
If you have a question regarding claims you have heard that have not been covered here, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the first three months of 2016 Patrick McAuley missed 18 key meetings.
4 January 2016: Meeting: Portfolio briefing, Reason for absence: “I completely forgot about the meeting.”
13 January 2016: Meeting: Town Centre Committee. Reason for absence: None given, substitute arranged.
14 January 2016: Meeting: Executive Briefing Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
18 January 2016: Meeting: Portfolio briefing, Reason for absence: Patrick cancelled the meeting 3 minutes after it had begun.
21 January 2016: Meeting: Executive Team Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
25 January 2016: Meeting: Portfolio briefing, Reason for absence: Patrick cancelled the meeting 9 minutes before the meeting was due to begin.
28 January 2016: Meeting: Full Council, Reason for absence: None recorded
4 February 2016: Meeting: E & E Scrutiny, Reason for absence: None given.
4 February 2016: Meeting: Executive Team Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
4 February 2016: Meeting: Executive Briefing Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
8 February 2016: Meeting: Portfolio briefing, Reason for absence: Patrick cancelled the meeting 15 minutes before the meeting was due to start: “I’ve got two assessments tomorrow I need to revise for I don’t see anything urgent on the agenda is there anything urgent?”
16 February 2016: Meeting: Executive, Reason for absence: None recorded
25th February 2016: Meeting: Executive Team Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
7 March 2016: Meeting: Portfolio briefing, Reason for absence: Patrick cancelled the meeting with less than one hour’s notice: “I’m going to have to cancel this meeting again, as I’m not well again, which means I won’t be at committee either.”
7 March 2016: Meeting: Health Scrutiny, Reason for absence: unwell (see above)
10 March 2016: Meeting: E & E Scrutiny Agenda, Reason for absence: None given.
10 March 2016: Meeting: Executive Team Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
10 March 2016: Meeting: Executive Briefing Meeting, Reason for absence: None recorded
These do not appear in the Council website but are essential for a Portfolio holder to carry out their role. They usually involve a number of senior officers so if they don’t happen are quite disruptive and a waste of valuable time.
Executive members do not appear on the list of attendees to scrutiny committees they are there so members of the Council can question them on Portfolio issues. Attendance is expected of Portfolio holders.
Executive Team Meetings
The Executive meets to discuss the issues and work collaboratively. Attendance is a part of Portfolio responsibilities. Meeting times had been re-arranged to suit Patrick’s external commitments.
Executive Briefing Meetings
Wider briefings with the most senior officers of the Council on issues that are coming up for future consideration, again crucial to the role of Portfolio holder.
The monthly meeting of all councillors. Executive members are expected to attend and take questions from members of the council.