Dear Mr Cox,
I am a Clayhanger resident and I make this complaint on my own behalf. Where I make reference to ‘the residents of Clayhanger’, ‘we’ or ‘our’ it is that I concur with the views of other residents, not that they concur with me or that I represent them in anyway. I have made every effort to be factual in my complaint, but should I be incorrect, I would welcome your advice.
I live on the estate off Northfields Way. As you may know, there has been a second illegal encampment on Northfields Way which was moved on Wednesday 10th February. There had been another encampment prior to that and as a Street Champion for Clayhanger, I have made many reports of fly tipping, drug use, the keeping of horses on land adjacent to Northfields Way and loitering over the past 3 years both to the council and the police. I met with Area one partnership in the summer of 2013 to discuss my concerns and have more recently had discussions with Cllr Wade, and before that former Cllr Cassidy, regarding the same.
Some months ago, Cllr Wade informed me that the council were viewing proposals to erect some sort of barrier to Northfields Way to stop the loitering, fly tipping and illegal encampments. This was great news but I was well aware that we had to wait our turn to gain access to the limited pot of money.
The second encampment seemed to me to be a logical trigger to assess whether the cost of the combined clean ups and legal action would outweigh the cost of the barrier. I was hopeful that ‘our turn’ would come and the barriers would be put up.
For the duration of the second illegal encampment, there was much discussion on social media – pages to which I am aware both Ben Brittain and Cllr Ferguson have access and follow – and a petition started by Cllr Wade to bring the need for barriers to the attention of the council. The information I was gleaning through these posts was that Cllr Wade would be pushing to secure the funding for the barriers and that the process for moving the illegal encampment was in place.
I was shocked therefore, to receive the attached flier from Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain through my letter box on Thursday 11th February stating that funding had been secured on 4th February and that the barriers would be erected in due course. Ben Brittain also confirmed this on his Facebook page. As the news spread through Clayhanger on social media, it soon became clear that there was no official confirmation that this was the case. I have myself read the minutes of the planning meeting from the 4th February on the council website and can find no reference to Northfields Way in this document. I hope that I have been looking in the right place.
My complaint is that both Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain have deliberately mislead the residents of Clayhanger in the announcement of the securing of funds for the barriers on Northfields Way when it would seem that this is not in fact true. In addition, myself and other residents were annoyed that the information regarding the supposed secured funds was not released on the 4th February when the second illegal encampment was in situ. Had this been known my fears, and theirs, over further escalation of illegal behaviour on Northfields Way, once this second encampment had been moved on, would have been allayed. I cannot know why Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain would make this announcement but it would lead to me believe that they would hope to gain some popularity among residents using a highly emotive issue. My belief is further strengthened by Ben Brittain’s post on his own Facebook page, as – I paraphrase – he would not want to disappoint us by telling us about something which might not happen because then we would be upset and annoyed with him. I don’t think that it is for Ben Brittain to make decisions regarding the release of information which would, if it were a fact, be available for public view on the council website.
Furthermore, Cllr Wade seemed to have no knowledge of the securing of funds which also raises the question of motive from Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain in releasing this information to the residents of Clayhanger. Why would Cllr Ferguson be party to this information, but not Cllr Wade?
Cllr Ferguson and Cllr Wade are elected to represent our views. They are not elected to make decisions whether to release or withhold information or to release any statement which cannot be verified as fact. Ben Brittain is not elected to represent anyone as far as I know.
Although not part of, but certainly relevant to my complaint, could you advise me on the current situation regarding the erection of a barrier on Northfields Way?
Thank you, Mr Cox, for your time and I hope to hear from you very soon.
As a matter of curtesy, I have CC Cllr Ferguson and Cllr Wade.