Ray Puddifoot – Strong leader, aloof bureaucrat or poor communicator?

Yesterday I highlighted a number of issues in Charville ward in Hayes surrounding potholes, flytipping and lack of grasscutting on the UKIP Hillingdon website. Because of the council website constantly flagging up ‘error’ when reported, I wrote the post and as stated sent a link through to relevant people by email to address the problems.

Romney Rd alleyway H3 dumping 2Those people included the three ward councillors, the local MP, the councillor listed as being responsible for heritage and environment and the council leader, Ray Puddifoot MBE.

Below is the email that I sent

Good afternoon
As the LB Hillingdon website is once again refusing to allow me to notify issues in Charville ward, please find below a link to said issues that we have highlighted on our website
I would appreciate it if these can be passed on to the relevant departments and email addresses for said departments made available so I can rectify future issues with them directly
A local resident would also like to bring to your attention a skip that has been outside Romney Parade for 6 months and is now a serious rodent hazard. (Pictures attached)
I have copied Cllr Markham in as environment champion at the council
Thanks for your assistance

I received a prompt reply from Cllr Beulah East thanking me for bringing this to her attention, followed by the below email from Ray Puddifoot
Ray PuddifootCliff,

Let me explain to you how an elected Council works. The borough is divided into geographical wards each represented by three councillors, with the exception of Harefield where there are two. Every four years in each ward the local residents elect the councillors that they wish to represent them. When residents have an issue in their ward to contact one of the councillors who will take up the matter on their behalf. I have no idea where you live but you can find the councillors for your ward on the council website. As you failed to get elected as a councillor the Council as an organisation will only react to you as a resident.
Cllr Markham is the Hertage Champion not the Environment Champion.
Regards
Ray
PS Please feel free to put this response on your website to avoid any further confusion.
I felt that this required a further reply, posted below
My reply to Councillor Puddifoot
Dear Ray
Thanks for your reply, I have posted it on our website to ‘avoid confusion’ as you requested.
I am well aware of how the council system works, having now stood in a local election and by-election in Charville ward. This is why the ward councillors were copied in on the email so they could follow it up – Cllr East has acknowledged receipt of the email already.
However, as leader of the council you are no doubt aware that your website has a section where individuals can report incidences of flytipping directly. I have attempted to use this service on several occasions and it has yet to work properly – Local residents have contacted me because they too have been unable to report these issues by what is an approved channel, hence my email copying in the councillors.
As leader of the council I thought it prudent to send an email to you so that you could investigate and hopefully rectify why this service is not working on the site, or highlight it to the person responsible for IT. Having run a successful business before, I was always appreciative of my customers bringing any customer service issues to my attention if they had not been able to deal with them via channels available.
If it is directly down to the councillors to rectify all such issues, then why are Hillingdon Council requesting people to volunteer as ‘Street Champions’ to highlight such problems in their area? Indeed, why do you have sections on the Council website for problem reporting if this is solely the job of the Councillors?
I am also aware of a case in West Drayton surrounding traffic issues on Swan Road where two of the elected councillors brought residents concerns to the attention of the council, backed up by a large petition (Reported on this week in the local Gazette newspaper). Not only did you reject this out of hand, but the residents cannot get an answer as to why and your replies by email to them personally have not only failed to illuminate the reasons but in some cases have been extremely curt. If you suggest that residents put all issues through their councillors, then why are you then not listening via the channel you yourself have advised both them and myself to use?
Hillingdon people mag Ickenham
Furthermore, UKIP Hillingdon are getting an increasing number of enquiries for help regarding street cleanliness, housing issues and planning. This would suggest (As backed up by street surveys we have carried out) that residents are unaware of who their councillors are, despite the council spending over £100k per year in self promotion via the internet and the ‘Hillingdon People’ magazine.
This would also suggest that you, as leader of the council, need to review your strategy on how you get information out so that local people can contact those you say are responsible for dealing with the issues rather than having to come through us to get a resolution. Having said that, we have two Labour Councillors in Charville ward and no Labour councillors are ever referred to in Hillingdon People so it is hardly surprising that residents have a very low recognition of those elected to represent them. Even when they do, as per the example in West Drayton, you simply seem to ignore them if they are not of your own political stripe.
Ickenham paper delivery Hillingdon PeopleIt is also noticeable that those residents do not have any problem contacting our branch despite having a limited budget to get our information out and a small team of volunteers to deliver it (Hillingdon People is delivered by paid companies, as can be seen in the picture to the left, out of taxpayers money)
Outside of election times, I am as you say merely a resident as I did not get elected. Interestingly enough, your candidate for Charville, Mary O’Connor,  also failed to get elected in the two contests last year yet is now listed on LBH website as the ‘Champion’ for health, wellbeing and disabilities. One has to ask how someone who has been rejected by the people at the last two attempts can be in a position of influence (No doubt with the associated allowances and expenses) with no mandate, yet you appear irritated by the local chairman of a major political party bringing resident’s issues to your attention? Can you explain the difference between myself as a resident and Ms O’Connor as a resident?
It is also telling that you say that you have ‘no idea’ where I live – You were quite happy to have your picture and quotes on leaflets promoting Ms O’Connor in both elections where it states that she is the ‘only local candidate standing in this election’ (below)
OConnor local
This either suggests that you know where I live or were knowingly putting out a false statement of knowledge on election material?
As for Cllr Markham, he is listed on the council website as being the ‘Heritage and Environment champion’ – I would say that local green areas come under environment, wouldn’t you? If not, then again I would suggest that you speak with your IT people to update the site to make it more accurate and help to direct residents to the relevant ‘champion’ for their particular issues.
Summing up, can I thank you again for pointing out that future issues should go through the councillors.
Whether that will get the desired results when on a number of occasions they are blatantly ignored by yourself despite major residents support remains to be seen.
It would appear that the ‘Cabinet and strong leader’ model that Hillingdon Council employs means that a large number of borough residents are disenfranchised – Interestingly, of the eight councillors listed as being on the cabinet, only one (Cllr Burrows) represents a ward south of the A40. (Cabinet below)
Hillingdon council cabinet
To this end, UKIP Hillingdon will continue to work with local councillors from all parties and local residents via any means available to us to try and improve our area, including petitions and where necessary peaceful demonstration.
Your continued use of a failed ‘Town Hall Pravda*’ to constantly promote your political aims whilst not providing clear contact points, disdain for the concerns of local people and your appointment of fellow party members to positions of power when they have been rejected at the ballot box by the electorate are all pretty clear by your recent actions.
I know some political leaders (Especially in the EU) like to operate that way, but expected better of the leader of Hillingdon council. Still, if the ‘tache fits….
Stalin 3
 Kind Regards
CLIFF DIXON
 * ‘Town Hall Pravda’ – A phrase used by former Conservative Communities minister Eric Pickles MP to describe local council magazines such as Hillingdon People. Government guidelines state that such publications should only be put out a maximum of 4 times per year – Hillingdon Council put out 6 editions per year.
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