Back on form and still battling for residents

Randolph ContehConteh wants bigger involvement in local politics

Achieving your goals as a political minority is never an easy task, but as Randolph Conteh proves hard work can go a long way. Luke Powell spoke to the City Independent councillor about how he makes his voice heard

As a City Independent councillor for the last ten years, 52-year-old Randolph ( Randy ) Conteh’s has made a number of significant changes to the Penkhull ward he represents.

His biggest achievements, by his own reckoning, have been the transformation of the local Penkhull parks, where through various public consultation meetings – set up by Councillor Conteh – there has been a huge improvement to the area. Continue reading

1981 Shelton Riots

The showing this week of the biopic on the life of Mrs Thatcher will now doubt present her achievements in a rosy glow. Anyone living through that period who was on the left and politically active will almost certainly have a different view.

A seminal moment locally occurred on the weekend of the 11th ““12th July 1981 when the riots came to Shelton.

Rather like the events of last August the disturbances were born out of resentment and an intense disenchantment with the failure of authority. Like 2011 unemployment amongst the young was climbing and the consequences of Tory Chancellor’s Geoffrey Howe budgets of 1980-1 was to rapidly increase the jobless total. It is calculated that over 2 million jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector in the early years of the decade.

The riots began in Toxteth and spread as did the events of last summer to other major cities quickly. The list is a roll call of the great urban centres as Manchester, Leeds and London followed Liverpool. I was living in London at the time and can clearly recall walking over Greenwich Park and seeing the flames and hearing the disorder in Lewisham.

That weekend the troubles came to Shelton.

A party held at 45 Ashford St began to get too noisy and depending on whose side you believe the police responded or exacerbated the situation. One person in the house said that the police released dogs and batoned many of the party goers in a very heavy handed approach.

Predictably views were divided.

The chairman of the Police Authority a Labour Councillor called Harry Brown from Norton defended the police actions some community activists felt that there was an over-reaction. It was not racial as people at the house included black and white. Among the arrested were people from a wide area including parts of Abbey Hulton and it was the first time that Randolph Conteh’s name became known to a wider public.

The disturbances did not achieve much and rather like last summer authority were able to label those involved in the disturbances as hooligans and overlook the core issues of wasted lives and unemployment.

Blue Bins For The Enhanced Recycling Scheme Purchase Or Lease That is The Question

After doing some further investigation in to the Enhanced Recycling trial we have turned up yet another anomaly with the blue bins that leads us to believe the Elected Members were not furnished with the full facts when scrutinising the results of the Enhanced Recycling trial.

The EMB appear to have nodded the Enhanced Recycling Scheme through at the meeting 3 December 2008 only to have it called in by the Improving Communities Overview & Scrutiny committee on 24 December.

The O&S Committee approved the recycling trail with the following recommendations

  1. that following the train and before consideration of the rolling out of the enhanced recycling scheme, a detailed and evidence based evaluation of the trail be submitted to a future meeting of the committee
  2. that all members are kept informed of the relevant progress, reports and meetings are given formal opportunity to participate and give feedback

On 21 May 2009 the O&S Committee sat and heard the the detailed evidence based evaluation of the trial (all 6 pages of it) from Interim Assistant Chief Executive Mike Maunder and other officers.

that he had concerns with regard to the Executive Summary of the report and questioned whether the recyclable value was being maximised and why we needed to wait until the end of the year in order to ascertain the financial aspects of the scheme as he felt that an independent assessment should be carried out immediately. He felt that the decision to go down this route had been decided before the trial was even undertaken and that, even though there was no going back from this position, he was still not convinced that it was the most appropriate way to deal with the issue. He felt that a number of issues had not been given due consideration such as the cost of kerbside versus co-mingled collection and that no detailed analysis of cost had been undertaken. He asked what independent assessment of the current system had taken place and asked whether it was proposed to have one in the future.

Indicated that details of the savings etc. had been set out in the report which had been considered as part of the call-in. He indicated that it had been understood at the start of the trial that there would be a large take up but what was uncertain was the subsequent level of “tail off” that would occur. At the end of the year it would be possible to give members a better feel for that in terms of the trial areas. In addition, the other uncertainty was regarding the value of recyclables, which had therefore not been incorporated into the budget arrangements.
In response to a previous question about the costs associated with the provision of bins etc., he indicated that this had been part of a leasing arrangement and that it had been clear that as part of this agreement that, if we did not make this provision we would not have been in a position to proceed with enhanced recycling this year. If the trial had not been successful, we would have been able to recover the money for the bins because of the current national demand for them.

Which appears to indicate that he was telling the O&S Committee that the blue bins were leased rather than purchased which is in direct opposition to what Jane Forshaw said in her interview with Pits n Pots and which has been confirmed by the council, that the bins were indeed purchased.

So the question is, were to O&S committee able to make a qualified decision on the Enhanced Recycling trial without being aware of the full facts?

The O&S Committee members at the meeting were:

  • David Conway – Chair
  • Randolph Conteh – Vice Chair
  • Michael Barnes
  • Michael Coleman
  • Rita Dale
  • John Daniels
  • John Davis
  • David Sutton

The WRAP report commissioned in 2007 which was as far as we can tell ignored and not put before the EMB at the time was also mentioned in the meeting by one of the officers present.

In terms of the independent report, the national organisation WRAP had carried out a review.

Image used under license