2 April 2012

This may be the answer - Pt 1

I have touched on this subject before but I am beginning to think that Xenophobia is the explanation of what has happened in Somerton, particularly with regard to the actions of Somerton Town Council between August 2008 and October 2009. The following is the Wikipedia entry for 'Xenophobia':

Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange."[1] It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".

Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted antipathy towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races (Webster's)

The Dictionary of Psychology defines it as "a fear of strangers". As defined by the OED, it can mean a fear of or aversion to, not only people from other countries, but other cultures, subcultures and subsets of belief systems; in short, anyone who meets any list of criteria about their origin, religion, personal beliefs, habits, language, orientations, or any other criteria. While some will state that the "target" group is a set of persons not accepted by the society, in reality only the phobic person need hold the belief that the target group is not (or should not be) accepted by society. While the phobic person is aware of the aversion (even hatred) of the target group, they may not identify it or accept it as a fear.

A clinical definition is: An irrational fear of members of a certain race foreign to one's own, often adjunct and secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Also: One of the attitude groupings characteristic of The Authoritarian Personality.

A xenophobic person has to genuinely think or believe at some level that the target is in fact a foreigner. This arguably separates xenophobia from racism and ordinary prejudice in that someone of a different race does not necessarily have to be of a different nationality. In various contexts, the terms "xenophobia" and "racism" seem to be used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race, ethnicity, and ancestry). Xenophobia can also be directed simply to anyone outside a culture, not necessarily one particular race or people.

I hope to develop this thread in future entries.

Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly

1 April 2012

The truth is out there............

I have decided to break my silence and explain my actions here in Somerton. I am a member of an international group of numerologists, the Numerology Collective, and we work to achieve political change through the use of a system known as 'numerical asymmetry'. We assess the ability of a community to achieve change by numerical analysis of the place and all its characteristics.
Because of the huge level of public cynicism, we have found, over the years, that it is far better not to mention numerology. As a result we disguise ourselves as ordinary people and enter into a community quietly in order to go about our work whilst attracting as little attention as possible. I decided that a more transparent strategy, that of political activist, would distract the community whilst offering me the chance, under the guise of Freedom of Information enquiries, to examine town records for further proof of our theories.
Somerton was chosen as a project site because initial research suggested that there was an underlying 'primal thread' within the community which might, if encouraged, lead to what we refer to as 'External Transmutation' or ET.
I ran into a huge and unplanned problem in Somerton (reduced to 2, characteristic - Receptive) on 27th October 2009 (reduced to 8, characteristic Power or Sacrifice), when 12 (reduced to 3, characteristic - Self expression) members of Somerton Town Council (reduced to 4, characteristic - Creation) resigned during a meeting at the Tin Dunny (reduced to 4, characteristic - Creation). This was the first and best confirmation that our numerical analysis of Somerton, its community and people, indicated that Somerton could be a 'seed' or 'prime' community.  Analysis of the names of those resigning, all 12 names reduce to 8 whose characteristic is Power or Sacrifice, shows that those individuals were guided by a higher power, acting upon their subconscious.
Wherever I looked in Somerton, the analysis was quite consistent. Somerton was absolutely bursting with what we refer to as 'Change Energy' or CE for short. Quite early on I recognised the Lady Smith Memorial Hall (reduced to 5, characteristic - Action) as a place of 'transition' or 'Change Initiation', a characteristic which was confirmed by the events that took place there.
The formal analysis and initiation project in Somerton is now coming to an end but it has also brought us to a beginning. Somerton has an important legacy which we hope will be the start of something far bigger.
Through analysis of the data collected here in Somerton, the Numerology Collective, hope to create a matrix against which other UK locations can be analysed to assess their suitability for change. What Somerton has shown is that by simple manipulation of the numerical data, unbelievable power can be released at a truly primal level where the actions of individuals represent their truest nature. Through that expression of truth, so comes change and that change is not temporary but ongoing.
We at the Numerology Collective believe that Somerton may become the very core of a revolution here in England, a mechanism which only needs to be wound up by the celestial clocksmith to tell us when our time has come.
Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly (reduced to 5, characteristic - the constructive use of freedom)
Read more about the Numerology Collective here

28 March 2012

Changing of the (old) guard......

Since my post on 4th March, listing the major players in Somerton's Old Guard who spoke at the Public Meeting on 29th February, it has been drawn to my attention of a change in personel at Langport's Masonic Lodge 2038.

In early March 2012, Mr Paul Audemars, now one of the Old Guard stalwarts, was secretary of Lodge 2038 but, since 4th March, he has been replaced in that position.

Knowing that Mr Audemars was secretary of a Masonic Lodge did make me wonder whose interests he was representing when he joined in the continuing attack on the current Somerton Town Council. In this country, everyone is free to join whatever organisation they wish (with a few particular exceptions) and the Masonic Brotherhood has an enviable reputation for charitable fundraising. However, the Masonic Brotherhood also struggles with the burden of being, in the 21st century, less a secret society and more of a "society with secrets", the most intriguing of which is the membership of any given Lodge. 

It came as something of a surprise to me to learn that there are some 88 Lodges in Somerset under the 'Provincial Grand Lodge' including 2 in Langport, 4 in Yeovil and 9 in Taunton. There are also listed some 24 'Mark Lodges' and another 12 'Royal Ark Mariner Lodges' and I am unclear whether these 36 Lodges overlap with those under the 'Provincial Grand Lodge'. Whatever the case, it is clear that there is a substantial Masonic membership in Somerset and it is a reasonable to ask if, in his involvement with Somerton's Old Guard, Mr Audemars is seeking to protect or defend the interests of any of his brethren.

I doubt that I will receive an answer but it is reasonable to ask the question.  

Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly

22 March 2012

South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation commission presided over by Desmond Tutu. Human Rights activists who looked forward to Reconciliation and peace at the end of the civil war in 2009, expected the LLRC (The Lessons learnt and reconciliation commission) to play the same role. But it did not due to various reasons. The main obstacle being that witnesses who came forward to give evidence before the commission were not given protection. There can be no peace or national unity without reconciliation and reconciliation has to be based on Truth and Accountability. (Quoted from this article.)

18 March 2012

The poison spreads........

In the light of last Tuesday's Council meeting, it was interesting to read an article published in today's Sunday Times on a similar situation unfolding in David Cameron's own constituency. The similarities are remarkable.

What is worrying is that other people are beginning to see that the abolition of the Standards Board for England might be a bigger mistake than anyone thought. Certainly, Minister Pickles clearly doesn't get the significance of the abolition. Or maybe he does. It may well be that Minister Pickles actually wants the ground floor of our 'democracy' delivered into the hands of self-interested Local, District and County Councillors. Maybe Minister Pickles is just hiding behind the 'Localism Bill' whilst he privatises this particular aspect of our democratic process.

Whilst I didn't attend last Tuesday evening's meeting, the reports that I have heard and read make it out to have been an unpleasant affair. Somerton's 'Old Guard' were in attendance and displaying the remarkable degree of 'denial' which has become their calling-card.

The disturbing aspect of their behaviour is the anger and intimidation that they display which, as is the case in the Cotswold example (above) can only be seen as suppressing the involvement of the wider community. In other words, obstructing democracy. But that was what Somerton's Old Guard has always been about. Plus sa change.............

Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly

13 March 2012

From the archive

With the publication of the External Auditor's Report, I thought that it might be interesting to reprint the first M&B entry from way back in 2006. It makes interesting reading now that we know a little more of what was going on.

Village Hall meeting - 27th November 2006
Somerton never fails to surprise me. On the surface its a quiet west country town with quiet residents and a reserved demeanour. But still waters run deep as they say and last evening's meeting about the proposed town hall is a case in point.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the 'Somerton Community Hall Support Group' in order to report progress with 'the project'. The first half hour was taken up with an exhaustive Q&A session with a range of questions put to prominent town councillors. The questions dealt with the hall as if it were a live project yet the councillors made frequent reference to the fact that funding for the project would only be available if and when town assets were sold. And about that there was no certainty whatsoever.

That was an interesting position to take when, at the same time, the Town Council were also displaying three sets of drawings of what the proposed hall might look like. These drawings were not a set of rough sketches but a set of well laid out architects drawings, produced by Messers Boon Brown of Yeovil. So clearly, whilst the project hasn't any funding and whilst possible funding is entirely dependent upon other factors, the Town Council are issuing instructions to one firm of architects to draw up proposals.

Another interesting issue was that of a possible building budget. The figure mentioned last evening was £400,000 as this was the likely sum of money to be raised by the Town's sale of the Etsome Terrace site to the local Primary Care Trust. Now that deal has been abandoned before and there is no certainty that it will go through this time but the assumption is that the money raised in the sale will be used to build the hall. But there are a number of caveats around that sum of money.

Firstly, if the land is sold, any community hall project must be started within 3 years of the sale or the County Council has the right to claw back £140,000 of the capital. (They sold the land to the Town for the express purpose of building a new hall and this clause is inserted to make sure that the site or the funds arising from any sale will be put to that purpose.)

Secondly, the £400,000 is not unencumbered. Some £140,000 is 'profit' derived from the rise in land value since the Town bought the site. But the balance ie the purchase price, was funded through a loan which the Town is still paying-off and will be for some years hence. So, if £400,000 is brought to the party only about a third of that sum is 'free'.

Another point which was mentioned was how the building might be built or, more accurately, how the materials and labour might be purchased. It was proposed to the meeting that Tony Canvin, the well known builder and local and district councillor, would use his 'buying power' to negotiate the best deals. It was proposed that there would be no tendering evidently because tendering is a tedious process which doesn't offer any benefit.

Now this last point is interesting. If there isn't a tender document, how will the Town ever know what its getting for the money? If there isn't a tender document, how will the money be accounted for? If there isn't a tender document, how will the Town know what the specification should have been? The answer is that without a tender document the Town will never know what it paid for and there will be precious little accountability.

And this is 'local democracy' Somerton style. I wonder what the Audit Commission would make of it all?

More later.


9 March 2012

Rodney's Ramblings

The Western Gazette carries a report describing the Public Meeting held at the Tin Dunny (aka Edgar Hall) on the 29th February (The article is available in the 'Press Coverage' section of M&B). As the report describes, the meeting was well attended, particularly by members of Somerton's Old Guard including none other than Rodney Briggs. (Rodney is the husband of the current 'assistant' to the Town Clerk, Mrs Sherry Briggs.) Rodney made a rambling statement which is worthy of repetition here (please note that the capitalisation and punctuation are mine):

"We have just heard you repeat (Vice Chair read statement and letter) what seems to be Somerton Town Council's standard mantra for this business 'it was in the statement of fact' 'it was in the Auditor's revised statement of fact'. Who supplied the information for the statement of fact if it wasn't Somerton Town Council? The auditor was only in this office, in the council office for about half a day. After that you took it upon yourselves, I believe, to supply them with information. Am I correct? And you claim that you were doing it to save money, to save the costs of the Auditors coming to the office. Very laudable except when I put in a Freedom of Information enquiry to say how much money you saved, you couldn't answer me. You said, 'we don't know, ask the Auditors, they keep careful records'. But none-the-less, the Auditors received the information for this famous statement of fact from Somerton Town Council. Now this worried me a lot because our chairman was in charge of that operation and he demonstrated considerable bias against his predecessors in a meeting when he said, 'there's no smoke without fire'. So why on earth are we sitting here listening to this nonsense that's cost us so much money when quite frankly I think the whole thing was a complete stitch-up and we've just heard more of it."

From my reading of Rodney's contribution, and from my experience of Rodney in the past, Rodney isn't really interested in 'Public Documents' or the Public's right of access to such documents and, in that regard, Rodney has much in common with the Keenan/Canvin regime. No, it would seem that Rodney is bothered about the source or sources of information describing what went on within Somerton Town Council pre-27th October 2009. I don't know if Rodney is being deliberately thick but the source of that information is Somerton Town Council's own records, the very Public Documents which the Keenan/Canvin regime went to such extraordinary lengths to keep secret.  

When I started to research the Public Documents held by Somerton Town Council I was very quickly denied access by the Town Council. Ultimately, the Information Commissioner ruled against the Town Council but the Town Council's actions seemed to me to indicate that they would very much prefer that I did not have access to their records. Like Rodney, this worried me a lot and I did consider that there might be documents in the records that the Town Council would wish to hide. What I did not consider, and what the External Auditor has shown very clearly, was that it was not 'documents' that were the real concern. The real concern was the 'absence of documents'.

It is clear from the External Auditor's Report that Somerton Town Council was transacting much of its business in breach of its own rules and regulations and, as a consequence, decisions were taken in secret, out of public view and without any formal record of who did what, when and on whose authority, if any. But the failings catalogued in the External Auditor's Report were not isolated incidents. They were, in fact, more contemporary illustrations of a well established culture within Somerton Town Council which stretches back to 2002 and probably well before that.

Speaking personally, I doubt that the true scale of unlawful activities undertaken by Somerton Town Council will ever be fully understood. The records of Somerton Town Council, prior to 27th October 2009, were maintained in order to obstruct enquiry and I doubt that anyone will ever take the time to find out what was going on in previous years.

As I have often said, Somerton Town Council (pre-27th October 2009) was the perfect illustration of a delinquent Council, willing to ignore both its own rules and Parliament's legislation. People like Rodney should be concerned not about sources of information but about what the information (or lack of it) says about those that it describes.

Till next time, I'm still

Niall Connolly

7 March 2012

Raybouldi declared insane.
News from colleagues of internationally renowned criminal investigator Gary Raybouldi suggests that the great man has gone completely mad. Un-named sources say that the stress of the failed 'Crockery Investigation' has caused Raybouldi to crack completely. At present he is held at a secure unit in Castello Pitnino where reports state that he spends his days dressed only in an outsize diaper and endlessly repeating the phrase, "It's a conspiracy". Raybouldi is not expected to return to active duty and will probably see out his time behind bars and well away from the public eye.