Thursday, 22 December 2016


Sarah Paton
Image result for leopard change its spots picture

and the leopard and its spots

David Attenborough might attempt it with his magical Planet Earth  cameras. But  to change a leopard`s spots as the saying goes is of course impossible. Certainly impossible for Sarah Paton the new Carlisle boss of Riverside Housing Association.

And yet, changing the Riverside leopard`s spots appears to  be the main job  ahead for Ms Paton. She started work  as North Regional Director eight weeks ago to do just that.

How she will fare changing leopard spots it is not yet known. Just as unkown as where Ms Paton came from. Riverside is keeping us guessing on both matters.

But what is known is that Ms Paton has been brought in from outside the Liverpool-based organisation. And that for Carlisle city councillors appears to be a plus factor.

That factor added to Ms Parton`s conciliatory approach in her PowerPoint presentation to the council`s Community Overview and Scrutiny Panel was a noticeable contrast to the bossy dictatorial ways of her two predecessor Carlisle bosses, Messrs Patrick Leonard and Dean Butterworth.

Some councillors went so far as to describe Ms Paton as a breath of fresh air.

Of course, there is a big gap between a good first impression and  changing the spots of the leopard, as Ms Paton was reminded afterwards in the council minutes of her PowerPoint presentation.

The minutes said this:

“ Members felt that the community commitment that Riverside had shown at the time of the transfer had diminished and they were disappointed that Riverside had not consulted or communicated any changes in recent months with the Council directly.

“Members hoped that the relationship could be repaired.” 

So what now? Ms Paton will spend only half the week in Carlisle on leopard spot changing, the rest being spent in Newcastle, the headquarters of Riverside`s new northern region.

She will therefore have less time in Carlisle than her two much- criticised predecessors who  both worked full time in the city.

But what Ms Paton will have is the same right hand  man  in Mr Paul Taylor, Riverside`s Assistant Head of Operations who served both Messrs Leonard and Butterworth in that role.

Paul Taylor
PAUL TAYLOR..."cease to exist."
Mr Taylor sat beside Ms Paton at the PowerPoint presentation just as for 14 years previously he  had sat  beside her predecessors at  most  meetings of the panel over that time.

Mr Taylor helped Ms Paton to respond to  criticism at the meeting that Riverside had failed in Carlisle by not becoming involved in the the community

Riverside he  said, had moved away from traditional tenants` groups nationally as tenants no longer wanted that type of engagement.

Many Riverside tenants and leaseholders would say that this statement is rubbish.

The truth is that Riverside abolished all tenant groups in Carlisle when it took over the council houses 14 years ago. Since then there has been no democratic community engagement. None at all.

Mr Taylor played a big part in all  this denial of democracy and human rights. He went as far as to disclose his outrageous bullying abolition plans to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel soon after the Riverside takeover.

Referring to one group at that time he told the panel  the group would cease to exist. But he did not tell the panel that he was powerless to make sure it ceased to exist. This was an arrogant empty threat.

And the group, very far from ceasing to exist has been increasingly active over the last 14 years in holding the shambolic Riverside organisation to account.

That group, Carlisle Tenants and Residents Federation publishes  this blog. Week  by week over the past  years the blog has recorded Riverside`s serious failings in Carlisle and its steep decline as an effective organisation.

The blog is therefore now very happy to record that the phrase “cease to exist” is nonsense as far as Mr Taylor is concerned.

The blog now asks:

Will the phrase  “cease to exist “ be anything more than nonsense when  Mr Taylor`s colleague, Ms Paton tackles  her big new job?

When she tackles the leopard`s spots?

Will they cease to exist?

Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803.

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