Monday, 15 April 2013


On the 31st of March I resigned from Bolsover DC and Hodthorpe and Belph PC when I moved to the West Country. My thanks to everyone who has read or commented on this blog. I am sure we will all keep a collective eye on the goings-on in Bolsover.

Here is a letter I printed and distributed to every house in the ward before I tended my resignation.

Dear Resident,

Two years ago I asked for your support to fight Alkane, provide facilities for teenagers, and challenge waste by Bolsover Council.
Fortunately we did stop Alkane, however you may not know what is being done for young people. New teenager play facilities will be installed in both Hodthorpe and Whitwell this year and Extreme Wheels will be running open sessions at Hodthorpe Recreation Ground every Wednesday evening from 5pm to 7pm and on Bakestone Moor Recreation Ground on the first Tuesday of each month from 7pm to 9pm. Thanks to the wonderful volunteers (more needed!), and the generosity of those who gave funding, we have also started a voluntary youth club on Tuesday evenings in Friendship Hall from 7pm to 9pm.

I have had less success with challenging Council waste. Bolsover is the only Council to ignore independent advice and pay its Councillors the highest basic allowance in the country. Along with their travel expenses, and luxuries like a new civic car, it leaves a large bill. In two years Council housing rents will have gone-up by nearly 15%, and many people on Council tax benefit face cuts. Public toilets have closed and the Council’s Community houses are also threatened.

Most worryingly of all, in spite of the enormous opposition from the people of Bolsover town, the Council has cut a deal with a supermarket chain that will see the town’s cherished Sherwood Green buried in tarmac and the Council’s modern offices demolished. As part of this project Bolsover Council have wasted over £5M buying and renovating Clowne Campus and over £2M will be spent on another new office in Bolsover. Unsurprisingly the Audit Commission assess that Bolsover Council is one of the worst in the country at showing value for money.

Over the last two years hundreds of people in Whitwell and Hodthorpe have sought my advice. I have enjoyed helping them and living in this area. I recently qualified as a Children’s Social Worker and am now moving to a new job in the Welsh borders. This means there will be a by-election in Whitwell and I hope you will have the opportunity of voting for a Green Party candidate again but that depends upon someone coming forward to stand. These are difficult times in the village and representing your community is more important than ever. If you are interested in standing email me on, or call me on 726349. Don’t worry if you’ve got no experience, the Council provides training, all you need is the passion and commitment to make a difference!

I wish you, and your family, well for the future.

 Cllr Duncan Kerr (Green Party)

District Councillor for Whitwell and Parish Councillor for Hodthorpe.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Every little helps....................Tesco’s shareholders

Every little helps..........................................Tesco’s shareholders

The future is supermarkets Bolsover’s Labour leader Eion Watts would have us believe; Tesco’s in Clowne and Shirebrook, Morrison’s in Bolsover, he’s pushing his overfull trolley to a gleaming future. Sir Terry Leahy, the old boss of Tesco’s would agree with him he’s happy to be quoted as saying that the closures of smaller shops and businesses are a positive progression for our economy.

If Eion drives his Merc down to the Gander lane distribution depot in Barlborough he might be a little surprised that the 400 workers just made redundant by Tesco’s “re-structuring” have a rather different opinion.

This is the reality of supermarkets; they are not in it for communities. They profess ignorance when horsemeat is found in their beef burgers; drive prices so far down that diary farmers go out of business, exploit public funding for apprenticeships, require workers to be available 24/7 and then relocate their depots with the minimum consultation period.

Is this the future we really want for our towns? We do have a choice in the matter – we could have a Council that fights to protect local shops and diverse local businesses and plans for a thriving high street and busy markets; or we can elect a Council that puts its faith in the likes of Terry Leahy. The choice is ours, but remember if you play in the dirt, you get dirty.   

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

“I know you’ve lived here all your life and never got into trouble, but we don’t want you here anymore so here’s a few thousand quid for you and your family to bugger off and not come back”.

Russia? Syria? China? No, this is the reality of Welfare “Reform” in Britain in 2013. A whole new class of refugees forced into a perpetual revolving door of financial inducements to move on, and as there are some 400 Council’s that’s a lot of travelling. It’s a vision which will take as back 100 years, even the workhouse kept people in their own locality, welfare reform just gives them one way ticket to nowhere.

Most galling of all we see that Labour Councils are the first to implement this Tory agenda – with Brent offering £6,500 :

It makes no economic or social sense, in the short term the family and human costs will be massive, in the long term they will break our society. It is the single biggest issue of the moment and the Green voice must be heard.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Your actions shout so loudly I can’t hear your words

Goggle Cllr Watts, leader of Bolsover DC and you’ll soon find him indulging in some rather pathetic anti-Thatcher rhetoric. May-be that’s because we have to go back 30 years to find any remnants of socialism in his life. Both of them have uttered some distasteful words but how do their actions compare?

Thatcher famously flogged Council houses at a discount, she managed to shift well over one million during her time, but thirty years on the concept of socially rented housing is still around and needed more than ever. So what has Watts and co done? The rent increases they have pushed through last year coupled with the one they are proposing this year amounts to an average of nearly 15%, that means rents doubling every 10 years, during the biggest recession in our lifetime. With policies like this Watts will finally do what Thatcher failed to do and make consign Council housing to history? To make matters worse the Council doesn’t even need the money, this year the Housing account is predicted to take over £5M more in income than it needs in expenditure. The money will all go to the bank with the balances doubling over the next three years.

Thatcher allowed some of the money from Council houses sales to be used to build new Council houses, Watts has a better idea. He’s making so much money from rents that he proposes to use £1M this year rising to up to £1.7M year to build new council houses. Does it matter where the money comes from so long as the houses are built? Yes it does – paying for new council houses from the rents of current tenants is like asking just current patients to pay for hospitals or families to pay for schools. We should all contribute to the cost of new housing, that way we also make sure the rents remain affordable.

Another Thatcher legacy was the poll-tax – by trying to levy a flat rate tax she made sure that the poor made a disproportionately large contribution and protected the lifestyles of the rich. Bolsover under Watts’s leadership have designed and even more oppressive scheme: forcing every working age person on Council tax benefit to pay 8.5% of the bill. This imposes an additional tax paid only by the very poorest in our community and use the money to subsidise the highest basic allowances of any District Council in the country as well as the £1.4M cost of refurbishing the Council’s palatial new offices at Clowne.

Finally Thatcher of course said there is no such thing as society, and not to be out-done Watts is making sure that there is no such thing as a Community, by personally proposing the closure of all community houses in the District unless some Parish Council, rich benefactor or fairy godmother comes forward to pay for them!

If you still prefer words to actions Councillor Watts – here’s an idea. Why not sign-up to the pledges that your colleagues have made on must prefer words to action Cllr Watts how about signing the statement on Its launched by members of your own party who haven’t forgotten what the Labour party is supposed to be about. Have a word with them, you might that you don’t have to leave your ideals in the past.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Campaigning for justice

I've written before about the sheer cruelly of the welfare reform act and its pleasing to see that the Campaign to Defend Council Housing are now co-ordinating a national campaign of opposition. There also a group called Councillors against cuts  which I have supported.

National Campaign for Benefit Justice
Tenants, Disabled People Against Cuts and other campaigners are linking up in a national campaign against attacks on Housing and other Benefits. 40 people from 31 campaigns, tenants and trade union groups met on 19 Jan in London and agreed to build an umbrella campaign to oppose attacks on the poor and to fight for benefit justice. The PCS trade union, with members in Job Centres and Benefit offices, and Unite trade union are among those backing a united campaign.A 7,500-strong facebook group Bedroom Tax...think its unfair...join the fight here were represented, along with pensioner, women's and unemployed groups. Initial plans include a protest in February and a Benefit Justice summit and further protests in March, one month before further devastating benefit cuts including the 'Bedroom Tax' hit in April 2013.The Campaign for Benefit Justice agreed this statement:
Cuts in benefits are an unjust attack on the poor. Cuts concentrated on Housing Benefit are already breaking up families, communities and support networks. They will mean poverty, debt and evictions.
We oppose all cuts in benefits and tax credits. We did not cause the banking and economic crisis and will not be scapegoated to pay for it.
We reject false divisions and stigmatisation of people who are low-paid or unpaid.
We will join with local and national campaigns including disabled peoples, tenants, unemployed workers, trade unions, students, pensioner, single mothers and others to oppose benefit cuts.
We will support and link up local campaigns.
We oppose all evictions and legal action against those hit by benefit cuts and support all actions taken in defence. Sign up to support the Campaign and statement by emailing

As a Children's Social Worker I have already made a number of presentation about the impact of these changes on children and if anyone wants a copy please email me.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Value for money?

We hear a lot of wittering from Eion Watts and co about attendance at Bolsover Council meetings and I wouldn’t want anyone to be misled. So here are the facts taken from the Council's  own published records for 2011/12.  If I was the leader of his party I'd stopped pointing at other people.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

A message to you Eion

A message to you Eion (Leader of Bolsover DC)

Hi Eion this is the blog that you don’t read and keep telling me that no-one else reads. You mention that at every single Council meeting which is kind of you and the least I can do in return is to suggest some ideas for your very own blog. Here are some suggestions of things we’d all like to know but only you can answer:

·         How luxurious are the beds, and how good are the meals, in the Union Jack Private Members Club which the Council has footed the bill for when you were on Council business in London?

·        How you entertain yourself in your Mercedes Benz on your long and lonely drive to your meeting in Kilmarnock for which the Council paid you over £230 in travel allowances when the train could have cost less than half the cost?

·         Where will any Parish Council, Councillor or Voluntary Organisation get the money from to take over the running of the District Council’s three Community Houses as you proposed last week?

·         What other District Council services you intend to also try and off-load to Parish Councils or voluntary organisations so you can carry on paying yourself and other Councillors the highest basic allowances of any District in the country?

·         Why are you spear-heading Cameron’s attack on the poorest in society by imposing an 8.5% tax hike on those working age families unfortunate enough to claim Council Tax Benefit even though it’s forecast to cost Bolsover DC more to collect it than the Council will get from it?

·         How many miles has the very opulent civic car done in its first year of use?

And if you get bored of writing about Bolsover DC I’m told people in Barlborough would like to know your views on how much of their Parish Council expenditure has gone on legal costs and compensation payments to staff.

Go on Eion, give openness a go, surely you have nothing to fear from the people?