Barlow's Beef: Would councillors do this with their own money?


This week's column is like orienteering: you need to read the clues to know where you are heading.

In July 2013 Wilmslow Town Council wanted to spend £12, 700 on a chain of office. Cllr Gary Barton commented: "This is an asset for the Council so it is not money that's disappeared but money transferred into assets. I think the investment is well made."

Clearly the people of Wilmslow did not and after much public protest the 'investment' was shelved.

Wind forward to January 2015 when the Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council suggested that iPads should be purchased for all members of the council at a cost of £7K. Not what you would consider essential spending in theses austere times.

Now Congleton Town Council is in a bit of a tizzy. The council decided (as councils do) that it would be of great advantage to local taxpayers to have a digital sign in the centre of town disseminating council information.

They considered it so spiffingly beneficial that residents would be willing to spend £25,740 of their own money on such a sign. Well... they didn't actually ask residents their opinion but opted to buy it anyway.

So eager were councillors to broadcast information they paid a 'deposit' of £20K in August 2013 to the proposed supplier. Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm making a sizable purchase and the supplier demands a deposit I feel the need for some form of legal protection.

A request for anything more than ten per cent and I'm suspicious. Not so Congleton Town Council who coughed up £20K of taxpayers money up front without any guarantee of any kind for a digital screen that simply failed to materialise.

According to the Congleton Chronicle, Congleton Town Clerk told the Finance Committee that the supplier "clearly wants to supply the unit but has not been able to muster the resources to make it happen."

My maths is not great, but isn't the balance just £5,740? Did Congleton Town Council really hand over £20K to a supplier of such insignificance that he could not find £5K to fund the balance? Err... yep, that's exactly what it did.

Councillor Sally Ann Holland said, "We have been hoodwinked. Plus by the sound of it we're not going to get our money back." (source Congleton Chronicle)

No kidding?

And that, my fellow taxpayers, is why I do not support town councils. They are just another layer of politicians who simply cannot resist squandering our money.

We already bankroll MEP's, Westminster, and Cheshire East just how much 'government' do you want to pay for? How about a council to represent your street or avenue? The possibilities for bureaucracy are infinite.

Macclesfield is next in line to form a Town Council. Do you think they will be any different?

Answers on an iPad or digital display to: ohno@ivebeenhad.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Derek Stevens
Tuesday 10th March 2015 at 2:01 pm
Perhaps the Congleton Councillors who squandered the £ 20k could make amends for their serious errors.

As a Congleton Business Rates payer may I suggest that they purchase their own sandwich boards and parade around the town with the council news

I am willing to supply waterproof dunces caps to them. just in case it rains
David Hadfield
Tuesday 10th March 2015 at 2:07 pm
I like Vic Barlow's thinking ............... he's a breath of fresh air compared to many of the fuddy-duddy half-baked Councillors we've got running the show at the moment.

Well done Lisa for securing the services of Vic Barlow now his old paper has disappeared.

BTW, Who in their right mind would pay a £20,000 deposit on something totaling £25,000 ?
(Serves them right that they've lost their money ........ Oh No, i forgot, it's OUR money) !
Stuart Redgard
Tuesday 10th March 2015 at 6:37 pm
I am pleased that Vic has started to contribute on this excellent local news service. However, I would like to "leap" to the defence of the Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council who is reported as having "suggested that iPads should be purchased for all members of the council at a cost of £7K". I like the editor of this site (Lisa) were both present at the January 2015 meeting when Councillor Watkins (Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council) gave his report. Councillor David Jeffrey was also present and Lisa and David exchanged comment on this matter in a previous article.

It's obvious to me that the three of us there heard the same same words spoken by Councillor Watkins but interpreted them differently.

What do they say about "communication" being 93% non verbal!. The very subject Councillor Watkins was commenting on when talking about iPads!!
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 10th March 2015 at 10:29 pm
One thing which Vic will have to do is differentiate between Wilmslow and Alderley Edge (he never quite managed this when writing for the Macclesfield and Wilmslow Expresses) one piece of copy will not suit two audiences.

Stuart- you have been dragged in to Vic's generalisations, WTC and AEPC are totally separate entities, however, speaking of current technology, Cllr Frank Keegan blustered that AEPC meetings will be "videoed" (what a quaint term)
So, that is something to look forward to.

Has anyone heard from Frank recently? He has really been very quiet of late. One could be forgiven for thinking that he's deselected himself from the forthcoming elections.
Vic Barlow
Thursday 12th March 2015 at 11:14 am
Mmm...interesting point.
So, bear with me, if I want to express an opinion about the function of local councils I need to name each one of them individually.

This could take a while.
Pete Taylor
Thursday 12th March 2015 at 2:52 pm
The masthead of your pieces for the Wilmslow Express used to say "An alternate look at Life in Wilmslow" (or something like that) but quite frequently the entire copy was about Macclesfield; Wilmslow did not feature at all.

Just recently the disquiet about how one-party AEPC and one-party WTC (very recently we elected two independents) have handled issues (mainly but not exclusively) to do with housing development in Wilmslow and the allotment saga in Alderley has been manifest. This has resulted in the formation of two independent groups, Residents of Wilmslow and Alderley Edge FIRST both have the same basic aims- to get Councillors to listen to the electorate who put them there and to kick party-political voting issues out of local Councils. This is why I'm suggesting that you may need to adjust the detail of your output to different audiences, depending on which issue is being discussed.

I look forward to your contributions with some anticipation.