I’ve been writing a letter to Cheshire East Council today and thought you might like a copy (for your files).

Dear Sir, I write to inform you of the immediate suspension of my Council Tax direct debit.

This is a neutral act intended to protect the council from concerns of a similar nature. I would also like to make clear that the decision to ask NatWest to stand down from their commitment to activate said direct debit is entirely unconnected to any concerns they may have about my continuing to finance a complete fiasco.

Nor is it related in any way or influenced unduly by the accolade ‘Filthy Liars of the Year’ awarded to Cheshire East Council by Private Eye.

Pretty poor show of those chaps at Private Eye to do such a thing after all the contributions Cheshire East has made to their satirical journal.

Did I tell you suspending my direct debit is a neutral act? I did. Forgive me it’s just such a handy little phrase to use when you don’t have the bottle to say what you mean.

It’s like a secret code that let’s people know without actually telling them. It’s very clever.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes suspending my Council Tax payments.

This is of course a temporary measure until I conclude a full investigation. I’m in the middle of appointing my Investigation Committee at the moment.

Once I have the committee’s (redacted) report, I shall refer the matter to Cheshire Police who are a bit snowed under at the moment. So it’s likely to take, shall we say, a couple of years to reach a conclusion?

Isn’t that better than ranting and raving at the council?

I do believe if all residents who felt aggrieved followed my example and suspended their Council Tax payments (only as a neutral act) and held their own investigation everyone would get along so much better.

Yours (not quite so ‘neutral’), Vic Barlow That’s fair enough don’t you think?

I’ll let you know the outcome.


On Bank Holiday Monday Mrs B talked me into going to the Trafford Centre. I don’t know why I said I’d go, probably better than a visit to Ikea but, hey, we’ll save that for another day.

We were motoring along quite steadily in moderate traffic until we approached Stanley Green Retail Park when suddenly the A34 was gridlocked.

I thought there was a major accident until I realised that the road works I first encountered about two years ago are still ongoing.

Okay, it’s a big job I get that.

What I don’t get is why along the length and breadth of this major artery there was no work being done in broad daylight with traffic considerably lighter than normal.

Considering the cost to transport, industry and trade of these major bottlenecks, you would have thought a full crew cracking on with the job at speed would have been an elementary prerequisite.

Apparently not.

My years of working in the USA have stupidly led me to believe that the wheels of commerce must be kept turning at all costs even if that requires contractors working by arc lights throughout the night.

It seems like work schedules on the A34 are carried out to suit the contractors rather than the multitude of businesses relying on the swift movement of both people and goods.

As for any concern for road safety it’s a joke.

Clearly such major works carry a significant risk for road users but the lack of any urgency in completing them is a farce.

No doubt all the council boxes will be ticked so that’s all right.


How much do you pay to have your hair cut? Anything more than £10 and my hairdresser will come round and mow your lawn as well.

You’d be lucky to get a coffee for a tenner in a ladies salon. Well, you might get a free cappuccino but wait until you get the bill from your stylist. EasyJet will take you to Prague for less.

Mrs B is pretty good with money but when it comes to the body beautiful she seems to lose her faculties.

Don’t let on, but I just counted up all the years-younger promises made on her potions and lotions. If they are only half true she’ll be back in school by September.

To justify their outrageous prices cosmetic brands try to baffle with science. What the hell is a magnetised haematite cream? I know what it costs but I’m damned if I know what it does.

What about P2 Fifty? Sounds like an Inland Revenue form or an American spy plane. Who in their right mind would buy those TV beauty products that change your voice to that of another woman?

‘Because you’re worth it,’ is a shortened version of: ‘We’re charging you ridiculous prices...

because you’re worth it’.

Women can be so gullible. Okay, ladies, before you start banging off angry emails consider botox, currently the number one nonsurgical facial treatment.

I’ve seen more trout-pouts than Rick Stein since botox came along.

It’s not nice. You don’t see men spending money on useless creams and potions.

Well, not during a beer festival.

By Guardian columnist Vic Barlow