Day 86 – Of Mayors and Men

Yesterday was a very strange day. It was a day when SMS tried to present a petition containing nearly 8000 signatures to Phil Simpkins (Chief Exec of Bedford Borough) having given him a week’s notice that a small delegation would be coming.

We requested that either Phil, the Mayor or the highest ranking person in the Borough should be there to accept the petition.

The notice we gave was also copied openly to the local press – newspapers, radio and TV and to all 3 MPs – Nadine, Alistair and Patrick.

So, at the appointed time, SMS arrived – about 25 adults and children – good-natured, happy, concerned taxpayers and voters. The sort of people that give up their time for their communities; help raise money for local charities; sit on parent-teacher committees or who are governors.

The Mayor was inside Borough Hall; SMS was outside.

A security guard emerged to say that only 2 people would be allowed inside to present the petition as agreed (?).

SMS asked if the Mayor would like to come outside.

Apparently not.

A stand-off ensued for 5-10 minutes during which the assembled media seemed part amused, part astonished.

Eventually SMS walked inside to hand over the petition to see the Mayor scuttle away to leave “someone else” to accept it.

Scary people, these taxpayers and voters, with their “loaded” petitions.

This story could run and run (a bit like the Mayor)…but quite frankly, it’s just our senior local politician getting himself into a bit of a pickle. Remind us again why some of us voted for him?

Perhaps you would like to contact your local councillors to let them know what you think of this.

Links to Press Coverage of petition day
BBC 3CR – 1hr 55mins in…
Heart FM
BBC Look East – 6:30pm news item (second after Norwich South Bye-Election)

7 Responses to Day 86 – Of Mayors and Men

  1. Ed Thomas says:


    I present these statistics in honour of John Goldsmith (In future, please stay seated and stop walking around the table when answering questions as it is very, very annoying!).

    During Bedford Borough’s Mayoral Election in 2007, Frank Branston received 15698 First Preference votes. Bedford Borough’s Population at this time was 154900, which means 10.1% of the people of Bedford Borough (New Unitary Authority) voted for Frank Branston to be Mayor. This doesn’t sound very good does it Frank! But statistics are statistics, as John, Brain et al keep telling us. Yes, Frank, you could argue, the 154900 does include children, but again, we could say the 100,000 plus non-voters were washing their hair or watching repeats of BBC’s Eldorado.

    Yes John, I did find these numbers through the Internet, so I cannot reliably say if the Harper Schools figures have been taken into account. What I can say there is no traffic between 7.45am and 9am at the Sainsbury’s roundabout over the last three weeks!

    ED (In a weekend mood, have a good one!)

    PS – Just seen Look East on I-Player, statistics can confirm the Mayor is a 100% bottler. Next time, Mr. Mayor, you must remember to hire bodyguards when meeting those scary young children with petitions supervised by their parents. I would hate to see Frank in a crisis, for example cat stuck up a tree. However, it was nice to see my friend on television, Brain, it was an Oscar winning moment. Those recent people management courses must be working!

    Mr. Mayor, if you are reading this, please could you define the council’s term for ‘substantial’!, as this word was clearly misrepresented on Look East.

    Also during his interview did you notice how he never mentioned listening to the people and using the consultation results to help the council make their final decision, instead he just gave his pro 2-tier opinions.

  2. Only a parent says:

    I was in town this morning around 9.30 and was chuckled immensely by the borough council asking people to sign their petition to help with the western bypass. It was a proper stand with around 6 canvassers. So Mr Mayor, you are happy to allow your council to go out and get signatures but not accept the SMS petition in person. Mmm the old english idiom of the pot calling the kettle black comes to mind.

    By the way i refused to sign it even though Bedford does need a western bypass but i have standards that i stick to, maybe Mr Mayor should !

  3. Leodis says:

    More numbers for Lenny at Borough Hall to consider from The Telegraph website:

    Despite Gordon Brown pledging to safeguard spending on schools and universities, government documents show that the total education budget will fall by £100 million after the next election.

    The disclosure is in statistics that detail the true scale of the Government’s budget reductions for the first time.

    And that is just the revenue budgets!

    …still believe the pot of gold will be there?

  4. Helen says:

    I had to smile to myself when watching the Mayor on Look East.
    Slumped in a chair……tie askew……incoherent argument….yet proposing to RAISE STANDARDS…..lololololol

  5. Sally says:

    I just want to say a big thank you to all the lovely people I met in town today whilst out petitioning for SMS, and that includes the very few who expressed support for change. It was great to talk to you and to hear your views.
    As a humble parent volunteer I must admit to having felt abit daunted at first, at the prospect of approaching complete strangers, but was quite taken aback by the number of people coming up to me throughout the day ready to sign up in support of retaining 3-tier without my even needing to ask! I can honestly say the strength of support for retaining our 3-tier system was truly heart-warming and surpassed all my expectations.
    I would strongly urge all those who hold positions of responsibility in this Borough to listen to the people.

  6. Sue says:

    Just to add my “here, here” to Sally’s comments about petitioning.

    Being the type of person who will take a “long cut” to avoid anyone with a clip board I was not sure what to expect, so thank you to all you lovely people I spoke to yesterday!

    I was amazed at the number of people who approached me because they wanted to sign. At one point I had a 5 stong que waiting patiently. Even on my way back to the car I was stopped by someone wishing to sign!

    A significant theme which has been expressed to me passionately during several conversations both yesterday, and from previous discussions with parents, is that people who have moved form areas with 2tier education systems all say that they far prefer our 3tier system!

  7. […] 50-75% of people stop, smile and support us (why not read Sally and Sue’s comments to Day 86 about petitioning in Bedford Town Centre last Saturday). Another 10-25% of people can be won round […]

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