Richard Tod – St Giles Ward
Richard, known locally as Rikki, is 68 years old and has been a resident of Desborough for 44 years. Richard has previously served the community on the Town and Borough Councils (he was the leader of the Borough Council from 1998 to 2003) and served as a School Governor at two local schools. Richard has two daughters who have lived in Desborough all their lives.
After leaving the political scene in 2003 Richard continued for two years to act as a trouble shooter and adviser to councils of all political parties, nationally, helping to improve their performance. Unfortunately, in 2016 his wife Nancy died. Since then, Richard has been travelling abroad and touring in his caravan around the UK, doing all the things they had planned to do together. Now however, Richard plans to come out of retirement.
He says – ‘I have been shocked at the collapse of democracy in Northamptonshire. Desborough tax payers do not deserve this. I am determined to use my experience to work with my colleagues locally and nationally to stabilise our local democracy and pursue Desborough’s interests in the future.’
On the campaign trail with Rikki Tod
Blog 22 April
What a day yesterday, street stall in the morning next to the cross and door knocking in the afternoon around the Grange. Apart from a brief shower, hot sun all day. Visitors to the street stall did not exactly overwhelm us as the town was very quiet, but we had plenty of thumbs up from passing cars. All very encouraging. In the afternoon we were joined by a few Party members from Kettering and Corby who helped with the door knocking. A huge thank you to them for their enthusiasm, and friendship. At this stage I am concerned that we will not be able to knock on everyone’s door, but we will do our best.
If we do not get to you, my apologies in advance, but if you have a question for us please contact us via the email below. We have managed to answer all the questions so far, I think and hope, to the satisfaction of the senders.
On a sad note, I have noticed an increase in dog fouling in the streets as we go around. I know the active monitoring of this is not a priority for the Borough Council, but it should at least be considered. What is strange is the number of doggy bags dumped on the street. If someone has gone to all the bother of picking up the dog mess than why drop the bag on the street? Some people really are difficult to understand. The first one was in our street and thought it was accidently dropped there but when I started counting two then three. This is not on. I would call my councillor but……….
Walking around the grange we noticed the weeds growing alongside the kerbs have blossomed, a bright display of yellow dandelions. Phil Sawford asked if this was part of the ‘Desborough in Bloom’ campaign? I will not repeat what the response was here.
Another batch of door knocking today, but I doubt many people will be in during this weather. If not gone off to a country park, watching or running in the London Marathon, they will be in their back gardens barbecuing and sunbathing.
Have a great day people, enjoy the weather.
For the record – Phil and Rosie Sawford are great supporters of ‘Desborough in Bloom’. They sponsored a tub, helped with the planting of the bulbs and bedding plants in the tubs along Station Road last autumn and Phil was kept busy carrying cans full of water up and down the road to top up the tubs.
Blog 19 April (still focused on the future)
For many people, talking politics is a complete switch off. But when you meet someone like Phil Sawford, who has been in it most of his life, and discuss what it all means and how it affects you directly, it becomes something else. It is a serious subject that can affect you and your family in so many ways.
We both love elections, we enjoy the ‘cut and thrust’ of serious political debate. Here is a synopsis of a chat I have been having with Phil. Political activist, ex-Leader of Kettering Borough Council and former Member of Parliament for the Kettering Constituency.
Neither of us can remember when we first took an interest in politics. For Phil, it may have been the Vietnam War or the nuclear arms race that threatened global annihilation. It was certainly way back in the swinging sixties. For me, it was the seventies and possibly a Welsh socialist father in law.
Experience over the years tells us that the debate generally splits into three time frames:
- Where we have been.
- Where we are.
- Where we are going.
In Desborough, at the moment there are many who want to talk about where we have been and that is quite understandable. Huge tax increases, votes of ‘No Confidence’, mass resignations, these are turbulent, even traumatic, times for Desborough residents.
Of course, people want to talk about how we got to the present state and some of the debate becomes a bit ‘tit for tat’. ‘I went to the meeting’, ‘Were you there?’ ‘They said’, ‘I said’ and so on……….
All of this is very interesting and, if anyone wants to know what Desborough Labour Party has been saying over recent years, all they have to do is go to the Index on the Desborough pages on the website to see copies of our election leaflets and newsletters (see the link below).
Mostly, on the doorsteps, people want to talk about the future. Where are we going and what needs doing in our community?
The whole structure of local government in Northamptonshire is now up for debate. The County Council and the Borough Council may well cease to exist within a couple of years.
So we have a dilemma, what should we do on Saturday? Stay in Desborough on the campaign trail or go to a meeting in Kettering to discuss the key issues in respect of a ‘Unitary Council’ ahead of the debate at next week’s ‘Full Council’ meeting of the Kettering Borough Council?
If we are to have a Unitary Council covering the North of Northamptonshire what does this mean for Desborough?
- Will we have a single representative for the 8,960 electors or will we have a large rural area attached as part of the electoral division?
- Would it make sense from the outset to have ‘all Postal Ballots’ to encourage greater participation in the democratic process? Would this give more people a sense of ownership of the new council? (If you add up the cost of hiring the premises for Polling Stations, the numbers of staff involved, the cost of transporting the polling booths, ballot boxes etc, it could possibly be a cheaper way of doing it).
- What services and responsibilities might be ‘devolved’ to Town and Parish Councils and how will they be paid for?
- What will the cost of this reorganisation be and what savings could be made in the long term (economies of scale)?
- Will it lead to better services for local people?
- What about the future for council tenants in Desborough? (Corby Borough Council and Kettering Borough Council still have a large number of council houses; Wellingborough and East Northants have transferred all theirs to Housing Associations and, as I understand it, have no council houses in the traditional sense).
So many questions and so much to consider as we enter a period of great change. Whatever the outcome, we want Desborough residents to have their voice heard in this debate.
We could spend a lot of time discussing yesterday. Neither of us like the ‘yah-boo’ sniping that often dominates the political discussion of today. We would rather talk to people and hear their views about tomorrow.
We will be out and about between now and Polling Day doing just that.
(If you want to let us have your thoughts and opinions our contact details are at the bottom of this page)
Blog 17 April
A key question on the doorstep is ‘What are you going to do for us?’ It’s a fair question that should be put to all candidates at election time. Although just a brief response is a lot to cover on the doorstep and a lot to put in a blog.
That is why Labour candidates will be working hard over the coming days to communicate with as many of the 8,960 electors as possible to let them know where we stand and what we want to do in respect of a whole range of issues in our community. At each election Desborough Labour Party has put out leaflets which clearly state our position on some of the key issues of the day.
(click below to see what we said during the Town Council elections in 2011)
(click below to see what we said during the Town Council elections in 2015)
As it stands the next Town Council elections are due to be held in May 2019 and it will not be possible to do a huge amount in just 12 months. It is also hard to set out a programme as we do not know what financial situation we could be inheriting. However, Desborough Labour Party has identified the highest priority issues for the first few weeks and our general principles. After that it will be a matter of seeing what is possible in the short term.
In all our leaflets, and on the internet, we have stated our position quite clearly: Labour councillors will ensure that –
- All non-committed expenditure is frozen with immediate effect.
- The Town Council conducts a full review of all committed expenditure to establish exactly how much has been spent, how much is in balances and what contracts have been entered into.
- Steps are taken, as soon as possible, to bring the ‘Parish Precept’ into line with that of other, similar, local Town Councils and reduce the tax burden on local residents.
- There is full disclosure, openness and transparency in all council matters.
- They are available and accountable to local people through regular newsletters and advice surgeries.
Over and above that, we will be working on ensuring that Desborough gets its fair share of our County and Borough tax contributions. For far too long we seem to have been giving and not receiving. In this we will have the support of our colleagues on the Borough and County Councils.
The task for the newTown Council is huge. Listed below are just some of the areas we have been asked to prioritise by the people we have spoken to so far. The Town Council cannot actually fix these things itself, but we can make a lot of people uncomfortable until the Borough and County councils do.
Listed in no particular order, they are as follows:
Development and growth. At the moment, because the Town, Borough and County Councils have failed to put a development plan together for the town, developers have an open goal to do as they like. Some have suggested this was intentional, but I could not comment on that. The Labour team aims to review and update the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ so that we have a sensible blueprint for future development.
The services available for this growing town are inadequate to say the least. At this time, I have no idea where all the allocated money from the development so far has disappeared, but it has not been spent in Desborough.
The Library. Need I say more? What a mess, when the first thing any civilisation in history establishes is a library, the Conservative Council drags us right back to the Stone Age. There were libraries in the dark ages for goodness sake.
The Lawrence’s factory site, the disgusting mess that fouls the High Street next to the chemist, and the lack of parking provision do very little to encourage in-town shopping. If elected, I will do all I can to kick start some regeneration in the town.
Fourteen years of Conservative control of the Town Council. I wonder, did anyone ask them what they were going to do? Hang on, they did tell us in 2003 as I remember (click here)
The Lawrence’s site
Desborough High Street
Jobs. The Labour Party always fought against huge warehouses taking up good industrial development sites. These monstrosities offer little in the way of good paying jobs and few skills to encourage higher rates of pay. We need to be finding new sites and new employers.
Young people. At the moment the prospects for our young are nowhere near what they were when I was a kid. Brought up in the worst area of Glasgow, kicked out of school at 15, I still had an offer of two apprenticeships, the potential of eventually buying my own home, a national pension scheme paid out of my National Insurance Stamp and an integrated nationalised public transport network to get me where I wanted to go at a reasonable price. Never mind an efficient NHS with a promised cradle to grave, health care and free university education. So, what can we do to improve the prospects for the young? Start by talking to them and understanding how they view the world. Then working out what we can do to help.
Community Safety is now a growing concern in the town. I have just received a letter from the police advising me to keep everything locked up and take my sat nav out of my car. Desborough at one time was the safest place I knew to bring up my kids. Cuts to the police and the removal of the Youth Team by the County Council as too costly, has become a major cost issue, far outweighing any savings they have made. Every town and village in Northamptonshire is screaming out for more Police. Desborough must shout the loudest to make sure we are highest on the list, until we get some sanity back in Government.
Pot Holes and poor pavements. The costs of paying claims for damage to cars has doubled over the past few months. Motor cyclists and pushbikes are in danger of serious injury. The Health and Safety Commission talk a lot about trip hazards in the workplace, what about Desborough Streets? Again, Desborough needs to be talking the loudest and we are capable of doing just that.
Obviously I can’t cover every issue in a blog but, along with my colleagues, I will do my best to ensure that the electorate know where I stand on a whole range of local issues between now and Polling Day. I will also be interested to hear what candidates from other parties are saying they propose to do.
(If you have a question my contact details are at the bottom of this page)
Don’t lose your voice
On the street Stall in Station Road encouraging people to take part in the democratic process by getting on the electoral register, applying for a Postal Vote or a Proxy Vote.
Blog 14 April
Beautiful day to get out and about in town, meet people and talk politics. Standing on the street corner in the morning and walking the streets in the afternoon. Getting out and talking to people can be challenging, and, at times, quite sad, listening to the daily issues some people have to face. Dunkirk Avenue is a case in point. Families have had to move home because of the disruption by the lorries from a nearby development. How can this happen? Desborough however has not lost its sense of humour. A lot of fun is mixed with the more serious aspects of canvassing and there was quite a bit of laughter today.
I had a chance to relive my teenage years when Mark Watson let me loose with his scooter. A short trip round the houses and I was back to my days as a Mod riding my Vespa to the coast. See the picture below. Before you ask, no, we did not ride on the pavement and Phil did not ride without a helmet.
Below – Our Battle Bus (Austerity version).
I would like to thank all those people who support our campaign and said they would give us their vote. For a politician there is no better feeling than when you know you are on the same wavelength of so many people. Living in the town, sharing their hurt, anger and frustration and knowing it was all so unnecessary.
There is now a mood for change. ‘We need our town back.’ Said one Desborough woman. Another woman told us she wanted it to ‘…go back the way it was.’ and spoke affectionately about former Labour Councillors Walter Manton and Harold Goodman, it made me realise that when we speak of Labour’s ‘Proud History’ in the town we are going back well over sixty years. Many of the people who have moved to the town more recently will not know of Desborough as it was, or the work done by people like Tony Allen, David Coe and Phil Sawford. It may be difficult for them to visualise a Desborough with influence at all levels of Government.
A Desborough where people would stop Councillors in the street to air their views and know they were listened to. The theme is the same from most of those who remember what it was like before the Conservatives took control. For the newer residents the theme is ‘Anything must be better than this.’ On that I cannot disagree.
All that said, whoever takes control of the council must take on what the Conservative administration could not cope with. After 15 years of failure the rot is well established. It needs to be reversed and positive outcomes seen in only a year before the next election. We can expect no assistance from the leadership of the Borough or County or indeed Parliament, although we will press for it. They have consistently failed to help their Conservative colleagues in Desborough, so we can hardly expect them to support any other group in the Town.
Cooperation by all parties will be needed to reverse the direction the Town is now heading. That includes those disgruntled Conservatives, embarrassed by their local Party at the moment. Everyone has a value, a skill or experience and everyone can contribute. The challenge is daunting, exciting and with the town’s support, will be achieved.
Out canvassing in Dunkirk Avenue area.
Blog 12 April
At the time of writing, I have not been contacted via my Blog by those who asked questions on Facebook. I am always happy to answer questions via my blog and happy for anyone to take a screenshot of it. However, I do retain all copyright if they wish to use it or any part of it, elsewhere.
The failures by the County and Town Councils have left us with an opportunity. Things will change, even if they do not split the county in two. We must grasp this opportunity with both hands, feet and teeth. It is possible, that by working together, using our combined resources, locally and nationally, we can, indeed, make Desborough great again.
I said in my last Blog, no more talking of the ‘Good old days.’ But let us now look at the ‘Bad old days.’ And see what can happen if we do not take this opportunity. Reflect on what happens when politicians make promises they cannot keep.
Labour’s draft ideas for the new Town Centre 2003
My last Blog was about what can be achieved when people work together. This time I want to talk about what happens when they do not.
Let us discuss Desborough Town Development. Can anyone remember that? Many people in the town worked on it and I still have a few of the responses.
Above is part of the original concept we created for discussion with the community. The initial idea came from some guys in the Kings Arms when I was chatting to them one day. I still have some of the feedback letters and forms people sent in. I paid for this drawing and original research from my Borough allowance for expenditure in the community.
The idea was to make this self-funding through the sale of some development land and help from the Borough and County budgets. After some debate, more meat was put on the bones of the idea. Unfortunately, in 2003, we lost the election and the Conservative Party took over the project. After some reluctance on their part but sterling work by Phil Sawford and the remaining Labour County and Borough Councillors they finally adopted the idea in 2004.
So far so good, but then nothing happened. The promises faded and the links between the various levels of democracy died as the Conservatives took over. Gone was the communication and teamwork, in its place argument and blame. Conservative manifesto promises of a swimming pool and a Gold Street roundabout, never materialised. Even the community working group, set up to help design the leisure facilities, was disbanded.
Lawrence’s site 2006 Lawrence’s site 2018
Below is the link to the final development policy. Read it and weep. There is no pleasure in saying we told you so, but we did.
(click below for PDF version)
Desborough deserves better and Desborough Labour Party want to make sure it gets better.
Blog 10 April
Had a few days away from canvassing and have had time to think. What am I doing getting back into all of this? I am 68 relatively fit and have a caravan. I could be continuing my travels around the country. Doing a few hours work each week to help pay for it. No worries, go where I like, do what I want, when I want. If I have had enough of the Peak District I just up sticks and go somewhere else. Wales maybe? The truth is I would love to be doing that, but I have watched everything we worked for in Desborough, all those years ago, just disappear. Desborough used to have a voice all the way up to Parliament.
I remember I was in the store room of a factory climbing up the racking, (Yes, I know I should not have been doing that.) when Phil Sawford phoned me and said. “We have got it Rikki, we have got it!!” I dropped and broke my phone. Phil was our MP and he had been fighting to bring the A6 Bypass for Desborough up through the list of priorities. I think he knocked and kicked every door in Westminster that could help. The list was very long and Desborough a very low in priority. A momentous day for all of us. Given the delays on the by-pass last year we should never have used private contractors to build it.
There were many successes like that in those days, but people forget. The new street paving on Station Road, The New Library, The New Fire Station, David Coe and Tony Allen were to thank for those. There were others, but you get my drift. I know I am harping on about ‘The good old days.’ And I won’t dwell on it, but it goes to show what a cohesive team, working at all levels of the democratic structure can achieve.
Can I remind everyone that if they have any questions, my contact details are below. I am not getting into a Facebook ‘ tit for tat,’ or ‘He said you said,’ nonsense. Nobody likes it and it is more to do with ego than facts and debate. You know where I am if needed.
St Giles Labour Candidates Helen Wood and Rikki Tod out and about meeting local residents.
Helen and Rikki take advantage of the better weather to get out and meet voters on Saturday morning.
A pity we do not have an old style cobbler in town. All this walking. Phil Sawford and I were both saying we are going to have to get our shoes soled and heeled soon. I must admit we do have fun as we are going from door to door; most people are very receptive and join in the fun. The few who don’t, still give us a smile at least. Today I was challenged about an incident that happened in 1998. The couple were very unhappy about something that happened in their street when I was on the council. I had to admit that although we had taken action, I had not kept them informed at the time. These things do come back to haunt you. It ended well and they were satisfied with my answers, but a lesson for me I can tell you.
Trying to get around the whole of Desborough is going to be tough; so many new houses. Desborough is growing very rapidly and we don’t see much difference in our schools or surgery to cope. We even lost our large leisure centre for a smaller one, that makes no sense whatsoever. A lot to do if we get elected but so much uncertainty now about the future, it is impossible to make any commitments until the mess our Councils are in is sorted out.
What we can promise, is to work at town, borough, county and national levels with our fellow party members to ensure Desborough is not at the bottom of the lists of priorities. Phil Sawford’s experience and connections as a former MP will be called on to negotiate the minefield of national politics. My experience of working around the country and my large network of contacts will be useful I am sure. However, the main ingredient that makes our team a winning side is the enthusiasm of the younger members. I am told that Labour now has more new, young members than there are members of the whole of the Conservative Party. These are exciting and challenging times.
Blog 6 April
Some sad news of a personal nature to hit one of the key members of the Labour team has dampened my enthusiasm I am afraid. So, no massive update on the Blog today.
We will be using this respite to review our strategy on the basis of the feedback we are getting. Thank you to everyone who has contributed ideas and suggestions. It is not too late however for you to contact us. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01536 506580. Please leave a message if nobody available to answer your call.
Blog 5 April
I think it is safe to say that Spring has sprung today. Kids out playing in the street, lots of people walking in the Plens, the sound of a Dad being roughed up by his kids in a back garden and lighter nights. Walking round Desbrough today was fun. Everyone without exception smiled back at me. (Probably thinking I am some kind of weirdo, safer to smile back.) I quickly passed a guy with a pressure washer cleaning his car. Never trust a guy with a hose when you are obviously a politician. At one point I step out of a gate to be confronted by a huge Doberman taking its owner for a walk. I am not good with dogs especially the small ones that either bark continuously or fall in love with your leg. Give the Doberman its due, it just stopped and stared at me whilst the owner tried to persuade it to move on. I did not move a muscle.
I have been discussing the election with a few people, as you would expect, and one thing that people are now aware of from recent events is that deceit and outright lies are always found out when you are in public office. The use of fake news and political catfights are always unwelcome, embarrassing and counterproductive in politics. People detest it and it turns them off. Including me.
As a past Desborough Councillor, we always knew that, if you make promises you cannot keep, tell fibs about what you are doing or try to con the public in any way, you WILL be found out. However, it cannot all be laid at the feet of the politicians. The one way to keep politics clean is if more people actually vote and get involved with their councillors. The number of people who do not vote in local elections is incredible. I think a rough average is about 75% of people do not vote. If they did, the Impact on local politics would be fantastic.
When is the rain ever going to stop? After the elections I suspect. No leaflets today, a day off. However, looking through some of the old newspaper cuttings and campaign materials, I am amazed how the old battles are having to be waged again.
The high profile issue in the town today is the Library. I know that the people in town are fighting a great battle and I know some of our members are heavily involved, I am impressed with the action taken so far. Our Labour Councillors are putting as much pressure they can on the County Council and Government to reverse the cuts, but this is déjà vu. This battle has been fought before against Conservative cuts, many years ago. It should not be happening. I have, a couple of weeks ago, volunteered to help with the campaign and am waiting to be contacted. I am not sure if I can add much to the excellent work that has already been undertaken, but I suppose every little bit helps.
Amazing what you find in the old files. Memories of when I was first elected to Desborough Town Council 23 years ago.
Click below for PDF version
Another batch of leaflets, another rainy day. Getting more exercise in a day than in a whole month previously. The only thing I intend to lose this election is weight. Thank you, Fiona, for your assistance today and sorry about your hair getting wet.
The one thing I like about Local elections is the freedom from our parent Labour Party. This is truly a LOCAL election, where we decide our own priorities, design and print our own leaflets and select our own candidates. All from our own financial resources. Living in Desborough, we can focus on what really matters in our town. (Or should I say ‘Ar Tan?’) See our website for more information. https://www.ketteringlabourparty.org/fake-news/
Just been down to the Chemists where they are completing their new refit. Looking good. I also see the Gladstone Street, Co-op entrance is restored. The staff will be a bit warmer now I think. All this keeps reminding me that my front door needs repainting as well.Ah well, after the election I think.
2nd April 2018
- Another batch of leaflets to deliver. Why would anybody want to spend their Easter Break doing this? Its cold and wet and people don’t want to stand around and chat today so I motor on and get the job done a little quicker today. One thing that I notice yesterday and I have thought about. People seem more eager to talk about politics now. This is great and I am happy to indulge this new found enthusiasm. It would seem that out of the political disasters in the County and locally here in Desborough, it has made people sit up and take notice. It makes it harder for us politicians but that is as it should be. We should be challenged, not just left ‘to get on with it.’
1 April 2018
- Delivering leaflets around Desborough I often wonder why we cannot design a letterbox that stops the draught but also lets the letters in without scrunching them up or trapping the postman’s fingers? The upside of delivering leaflets is meeting people that I have not seen for a while and some I have never met before. My last batch should have taken me one hour but having stopped for a chat with so many it took nearly three hours.
- On my rounds, I am continually asked why the Conservative controlled County Council and Desborough Town councils have got into such a mess. I am afraid I have to say I have no idea. I do know that Labour had been warning the County Council about their annual budgets for years but, of course, were ignored. In Desborough, the people gave a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in the Council but again were ignored. What I can say is that Labour when in control, had none of these astounding failures and achieved a great deal more, despite the Government cuts from the Conservative Government at the time. We need to get to the bottom of the question, where has all our tax money gone?
Contact Richard Tod
Tel: 01536 506580
(Please help us to ensure that your comments, queries etc, reach the correct person by including your name, postal address and contact details in any communication. We may not respond if this information is not included.)
Promoted by : Richard Tod (Labour Candidate for the St Giles Ward, Desborough) C/o Kettering Constituency Labour Party, 12b Market Street, Kettering, Northants, NN16 0AH.
(Please help us to ensure that your comments, queries etc, reach the correct person by including your name, postal address and contact details in any communication. We may not respond if this information is not included.)