(updated) Not quite Hobson’s choice … running as an under-the-radar independent for council? #bele11 #lg11

If there was ever a time to run as an independent – particularly for council – surely this was the year to get out around the streets and convince people to give new voices a chance – new voices that weren’t wedded to historic party policies, tribal politics and uniformed organisations of one for or another.

Roy Hobson - independent council candidate in Belfast's Victoria ward

Disappointingly, although Roy Hobson is running as an independent candidate for Belfast City Council in Victoria Ward, he hasn’t put any literature through the door of our old house. In fact, other than the SDLP, he’s the only council hopeful not to have sacrificed a tree to the electorate to plea for their vote.

In fact, other than a few posters and a sparse Facebook page which 13 people have liked (I can account for one of those), it’s difficult to find out much else about Hobson’s views. His website is sparse too. (There’s no contact information on the Facebook page or poster – other than his address less than half a mile away from our old house – so no way of easily contacting him before posting.)

He’s certainly not presenting the voters with a set of cast iron reasons why he’s the man to claim their “1” … no Hobson’s choice!

Update – and he’s certainly not making it clear that he still has links to the UUP in East Belfast!

Further update – Roy added a lengthy comment last night, outlining his party position as well as a run down on his policies.

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  • Roy Hobson

    Thanks for the interest. I can understand your frustratiion at not recieving a leaflet but………….

    I would just like to state as an Independent, unable to share costs with other party candidates, I was unable to do a postal drop across the Victoria Ward. First off it would have put me over the legal limits for expenditure, secondly as I have to pay for this out of my own pocket, and I cannot assure you they are not deep, keep a day job, as an independent have no right to access to media and also have a surname associated with a well known phrase…..Hence Hobson’s Your Only Choice.

    As for being unable to contact me, Belfast City Council manage quite well, as do the Electoral Commission, various lobby groups et al. I would remind you that I am just a person running this out of my house simply attempting to limit any personal danger as much as possible. As I gather you have my home address could you pass me yours, hobsonrobert AT sky DOT com, should save you from revealing all publicly and I will personally drop in for a chat.

    I am curious regarding my links to the UUP. I was a member for a brief while, I think some nine months, mostly due to my long standing friendship with Trevor Ringland, however I resigned because I was unable buy into their current position. I still have friends in the UUP, as I do have within Alliance, DUP, SDLP and other parties. I have yet to formally meet Dawn Purvis, but must say I am impressed with her work on education. I used to meet David Irvine does that mean I have close links with the PUP? In my youth those radical helicon days, I supported SWAPO, and just as an aside I am a cousin of Glen Barr. (Ah! So now I am a Vanguardista)

    As for policies:

    1) If you are going to elect a councillor it would be nice if he lived in the area, had turned up at the occasional community event in the last 12 years, let alone at election time.

    2) Planning In East Belfast and all over NI needs reform. From Land-banking by Govt. Depts. Such as Education, Belmont Pk being a prime example, “The Wilderness Area” being originally zoned for Belmont Primary School some 40yrs ago, perceived as being developed without due consent of residents. This of course being unnecessary as all permissions were granted and sold to the Education Board at the time. The issue being that such designation and planned future use should come before the public in the same time scale as a kitchen extension with the use it or lose it clause the public are subject to.

    3) Ormiston House. A major heritage site being sold off at a bargain basement price, outline planning being done in house by the DED, yet reluctant to covenant the sale to a developer so that extra protection to Gd II listing can be place on a developer. All I can say is Red Hall was Gd II listed, and I often gaze on an empty field. Having gone through this issue with them’s what know, it does seem that to disobey a listing order is contempt and could be treated in the same manner as contempt of court, immediate jail until judged that sufficient remedial action has been taken.

    4) Having worked for the odd Fortune 500 company, I am askance at how much money is wasted by Govt. In a business sense those responsible should be sacked. However as long as Orange and Green Party Politics remains, decisions will be made on these line to heck with what is pragmatic and sensible. Further we should be scrutinising allocated budgets, reigning back projects with an aim to protect as many council jobs, improve basic services, reduce rates at a time of recession and market Belfast. We market the City as a Tourist Hub, yet come to Belfast on Good Friday for your Hen/Stag night and tough if you want a drink.

    5) Education. Now that Kate Ruin has had her way, one can only guess for firm socialist reasons espoused on the mainland in the 1950’s. Those policies failed and social mobility has stagnated. We have to find away through that protects our excellent school system, young Mr McMoran and Ashfield being a prime example, stop the former Grammar Schools becoming Private/Public institutions. I would recommend reading Dawn Purvis’ work on education.

    6) Water Charges: Well one says yes another says no…..I say Yes and No. No to charges to NIW in it’s present state. Yes to a privatised NIW. On the BT lines so we all have a free share issue. Follow the UK pattern that has worked, developed by Malcolm Rifkind. A minimum of a Loan Guarantee, allowing NIW to accelerate works, this also moves a large number employees from government to private sector, redressing that balance, a five year plan employing many contractors, and a much needed boost to the local economy.

    7) Positive Action: As an old Boy Scout I learned to get up and do, not pick up a phone and moan “no one is doing anything for me” During the recent cold snap many parties did something positive, others measured their success by phone calls made. I bought some cat Litter, Dishwasher Salt, cleared what pavements I could, liaised with the local traders association and got Strandtown open for business, all before going to my day job.

    The above is just a little of what is in the leaflet so long desired. I apologise, I am truly Sin Fein, just an ordinary citizen possibly having a Victor Meldrew moment, as for web sites and FB pages, possibly a step to far considering I was talked into running at the eleventh hour. I have no party backing. I am an individual. If you would like to distribute my propaganda around your area I would be delighted. Any help is welcome. I and my sore feet will wish you farewell…..Dog Walkers in the park early, than a day posting leaflets, possibly attending the Hustings…….

  • Drumlins Rock

    We also have a “Hobson’s Choice” in Tyrone, although its a TUV one this time.

  • Roy – thanks for replying and outlining your policies. Hopefully all publicity is good publicity!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Roy, thanks for filling us in a bit, Alan has given us a few glimpses of the edges of the political contest, however your reply has brought up a few issues about campaigning, you mention being a last minute candidate and various other excuses, to be honest even in the larger parties its not a lot different for new faces, and the expenses allowance does reduce with multiple candidates, guessing your allowance would be about a grand, surely getting leaflets out is the priority? is the postal delivery not free for candidates?

    We have not used posters for council candidates in F&ST, should they have been the priority? Have you managed to raise any of these issues in in the local media to get yourself a profile before the election? and it doesn’t take much effort to run a facebook page, even better if you have a supporter to run it for you.

    I guess what I’m saying is to succeed outside of the main parties you either need a ready made community base you have served exceptionally for years, or put in an amazing amount of hard work and strong planning during the campaign period.

    Regarding you policies,
    1. is a personal attack on someone I presume, always dodgy ground to start on.
    2.& 3. good local issues and although I’m far from the city both have rang alarm bells when I have read about them.
    4. Stag do’s on Good Friday? if you put that on a leaflet thats all many people will remember! and bin it.
    5. The council has nothing to do with Education.
    6. The council has nothing to do with NIW.
    7. Good for you and the cat litter, but I made a few phone calls to roads service and got several miles on roads cleared.

    Sorry for picking on you but this is politics! All I can say is the amount of effort a candidate put into his/her campaign often is a good indication as the the effort they will put into the job they seek.

  • separatesix

    TUV not a Hobsons choice it’s the only choice for those who still have morals.

  • Well good as it always is to see a fellow Scout or former Scout running for election, I was disappointed when I came across the poster not to be able to find out the address of the printer and publisher….

  • Drumlins Rock

    ohh… it looks like Mr. Hobson dosn’t do his homework either, is it not a legal requirement to display them?

  • Hobson is not the only offender in this area in East Belfast that I have seen.

    Workers Party seem to have mislaid their addresses too.

    Anyone got any others?

  • Roy Hobson

    Thanks for advice. Yes the postal drop is free, however to cover my Ward of 28,500 the print cost alone exceeds my allowed budget. I agree with your point that council is limited in the areas of influence it has, however as an individual I am not. I believe these issues fairly reflect the concerns of Victoria.

    BCC rightly have a policy to attract tourists, mainly Hen and Stag and has developed a reputation as of being a good party venue. The driver, Belfast is open for business, hence the need to spend budget on nice copper things to attract tourists. I just find it odd on a major holiday weekend that a tourist cant even get a glass of wine with their meal…..The Ulster Museum is great but……………..In NI there are herds of Elephants sitting in all our rooms. I have no shame in asking the question or highlighting a point. In London during the Royal Wedding a wonderful performance based on verbatim notes made by the Special Branch of the day at Speakers Corner. The amount of antipathy raised by the Victorian Lords Day campaign raised in the mid 1800’s still resonates. I am of that generation of city dwellers who had our swings and slides chained up, not such an issue in the country as there are many other diversions to keep youth diverted. It does strike me that if Belfast is open for business it jolly well should be.

    Council and NIW…..well it does seem to me that BCC spend an awful lot of time and money clearing up after the regular annual flooding of the lower N’Ards road which involves Councillors dealing with rightly angry constituents who have had their homes ruined AGAIN. Every thing links.

    If we keep our thinking and spheres of influence in defined boxes, we only increase cost, divest ourselves of our legal and God given right to challenge what we perceive as wrong and by doing so make tomorrow better.

    Glad in your area where a couple of phone calls worked, however Belfast with it’s hundreds of miles of pavement (the cars were pretty much ok) overwhelmed the DOE and Council. Having worked in Finland and Latvia it is mandatory for the public to clear the pavement in front of dwellings and business…..It takes 15 mins in a morning. Positive action. Help yourself and others. A phrase comes to mind. Pick up your bed and walk.

    Over the past 40 years our folk have sat back and a culture of “who is going to sort this out for me” has grown up. The Civil Service entrenched, unwilling to had back power to elected officials. Elected officials still locked in Orange and Green battles, others due to what are perceived as safe seats, doing little or no constituency work…..lets get councils working.

    I can assure you that if not elected I will remain active in my area and be a thorn in the side of the establishment. I personally can no longer stand idly by.

    Now time to get the old feet moving……Leaflets and letter Boxes.

    I agree with your point re effort……is it not also true the amount of effort shown prior to running, by attending PACT committies, getting involved in the community, attending public meetings that sort of thing would also be an indicator……On that front I have no fears……indeed one of EB’s sitting councilors has not been seen for the past eight years at least not in the constituency, he doesn’t even live in Belfast, a lovely man, but so sure of his position he feels no need to campaign at all due to his surname being near the beginning of the alphabet and that in EB he picks up transfer votes from another party who’s supporters are Unionists with a small u………..Now on that bench mark I and virtually everyone else are steets ahead……..

    As for Mr Hobson TUV Tyrone…..The Hobsons came to Ulster in 1601 and settled around Benburb. It is more than likely we are related. If that Mr Hobson is going to be a hard working man for all, my best wishes.

  • Roy Hobson

    Re: name and address of printer. It was an error at the printer, quickly remedied by a label on the back of the poster…..there may be one or two that slipped through but I can state at least 99% do have the label attached. This may be masked by the post to which the poster is attached, but I can assure you it is there.

  • Phew … ‘cos the £5,000 fine would be steep!

  • Roy Hobson

    Dear Mr Drumlins…..Guess you did not read down the page, yes it is a legal requirement and yes the name and address does appear.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hi Roy, your response hadn’t come up when I replied, thanks for the clarification on the posters and other issues.

    In some ways you risk falling between two stools, the local issues and the big issues, if you over focus on the first like Ormiston House you risk becoming a “one trick pony” (a Dr Deeny type) if you focus on the latter you are irrelevant to the role your looking. Politics however is almost as much about the machine as the policy, look behind the DUP & SF success and you see efficent machines. If you want to suceed get that machine in place!

    There are still quite a few Hobson’s in the Blackwater area, must run through the register just to see sometime!

  • My understanding is that the information about the printer should appear on the ‘face’ of the poster. I don’t see how that can be the back of the poster, especially if that is then obscured by the post on which it is displayed.

  • Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962, paragraph 28 says

    Subject to paragraph 14, any person who—N.I.

    (a) prints or publishes, or causes to be printed or published, any bill, placard or poster having reference to an election, or any printed document distributed for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate; or

    (b) posts or causes to be posted any such bill, placard or poster as aforesaid; or

    (c) distributes or causes to be distributed any printed document for the said purpose;

    shall be guilty of an electoral offence if the bill, placard, poster or document does not bear upon its face the name and address of the printer and publisher; and for the purposes of this paragraph the expression printing includes any process for multiplying copies of a document, other than copying it by hand.

    On the other hand, I’d imagine that the fact that the lack of “imprint” information was spotted by the candidate and a label applied – even if it is out of sight – would lessen the crime!

  • andnowwhat

    Oops, I was about to write an impassioned defence of Hobson (fair play to hi and all that) then I had a better read of his policies I recanted.

    Dear me, did I recant.

  • Roy Hobson

    Mea Culpa. Thanks for highlighting the relevant passage. I will be reporting this matter myself. I have no defence. I did attempt to check this out, even contacted EONI, but due to holidays they were running a skeleton staff and the chap I spoke to whilst not saying it was ok never gave a definte no.

    But plain as a pike staff in the lit. Amazing when in a panic you cant see the hand infront of your face.

    Thanks again.