Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 18, 2018

The Dreams Of Barrie French

Despite the Champion Letters  re-housing Barrie French from Ormskirk to Skelmersdale, which he denies, he’s reporting on a dream he recalls in fine detail, ranging from “the Queen opening the new Skelmersdale train station” to the “new Skelmersdale and Ormskirk Accident and Emergency Opening and saving three lives”.

He mentions a new Ormskirk Bypass, a new bus station, using Section 106 cash for cycle ways, and, no doubt his star project, a new Derby Street bridge. Just for good measure he hopes WLBC councillors will have their salaries cut and would like the savings spent on flowers on roundabouts and cutting grass verges.

And then he woke up. But ever the optimist he declares “sometimes dreams do come true”.

Sorry Barrie but in the world of local politics you should “expect the worst and get it”. The only winners are the planners and bean counters. As reported today we council tax payers are paying £500 annually in our council tax for council officers’ pensions. That’s not a dream, that’s reality.

Barrie also spotted this dangerous example  of the car on the pavement syndrome, parked almost against a tree forcing our disabled friend into traffic. No police, you see, but we might just spot them in OUR dreams?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 18, 2018

The Death Of Political Trust, If It Was Ever Alive?

As reported in the Champion , members of the Aughton Residents Group (2012) feel misled and betrayed by Labour WLBC over the new 2018 Local Plan. It’s not the first time, as history proves with reference to the Tory 2013 Local Plan. Parrs Lane is and always will be a source of Aughton’s anger and contempt against WLBC and the land developers with their long held options.

But seldom has such betrayal come with the costs to council tax payers of the Parrs Lane dispute revealed when I asked WLBC “Would you be kind enough to supply me with a) the full cost, including all legal advice and legal representation, to WLBC of defending the appeals, and defending the applications to develop the land referred to above and b) was the full cost mentioned in a) above awarded to WLBC on the presumption that costs follow the case?”.

Answer “The Council is unable to provide an accurate figure for the “full cost”, as it does not generally record officers’ time spent on dealing with applications and appeals, given these are part of their normal workload. However, the Council has paid Counsel’s fees for legal advice and representation in the sum of £81,248.35 in connection with the two joint planning inquiries held in 2016 and 2018. Of that figure, £44,592.75 was incurred in connection with the first inquiry and £36,655.60 for the second inquiry. Costs do not follow the event at planning inquiries and, generally, they are only awarded if a party behaves unreasonably and puts the other party to unnecessary expense. No such applications were made at the two inquiries.

“Following the receipt of the first decision in August 2016 (it was a joint inquiry with Redrow, the second being published in December 2016) following the inquiry in May 2016, the Council successfully challenged the decision to grant planning permission for the Wainhomes development. As part of those proceedings, and as costs do generally follow the event in civil proceedings, the Council successfully recovered its costs in the sum of £37,511.50, so there was no cost to the Council for challenging the decision”.

There is an ex gratia scheme for re-determination inquires where the Secretary of State decides, on the basis of legal advice, not to defend a challenge brought and submits to the Court’s judgement (see previous paragraph). In such circumstances the Secretary of State will consider what went wrong and whether an ex gratia payment in respect of the costs of the redetermination is appropriate. Following the receipt of the redetermination of the appeals decisions in March 2018, the Council submitted a claim for Counsel’s fees in the sum of £36,655.60. Further, as part of that claim, the Council has included a claim for officer time. The latter was recorded for this second inquiry, as the Council was aware of the ex-gratia scheme and that it would be able to submit a claim under it. The total sum which has been claimed is £51,962.60. A decision is awaited.

Now, as the Labour group refutes that any betrayal has taken place, we are asked to believe “that the proposals out for discussion offer a host of positives in that a greater degree of control over what type and in which location is on offer by giving a longer term degree of strategic planning which in turn will bring great benefits to the borough of West Lancs”.

Yet the next sentence puts the blame on the “previous Conservative administration”. Which brings us back to why the Labour administration won in court and lost in current planning criteria while knowing the court case victory was incidental and pointless. Political trust? Pull the other one!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 18, 2018

Brexit “One Daft Opinion Poll”?

On BBC Newsnight  this claim by “remoaner” MP Ken Clarke who said “In the end, we’re a parliamentary democracy. I don’t think we should have decided all of this with one daft opinion poll”. Ken Clarke, Conservative MP, also says that “parliament has got to start functioning properly”.

How nice to be told it wasn’t a legally binding referendum, just an opinion poll! 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 18, 2018

Not Virgin Care Again?

  has announced its Preferred bidder chosen for 0-19 public health services. It’s Virgin Care Services Limited  after a re-evaluation of the bids was completed. Grim news for the people of Lancashire whose experiences of the service are mixed, to put it mildly.

The services, which include health visitors and school nurses, were subject to a legal challenge by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHT), who questioned the county council’s procurement process following its original decision to award the contract to Virgin Care in November last year.

Following a hearing in the High Court in London in April, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith set aside the decision to award the contract. He raised issues with the record keeping in the final stage of the procurement process, the moderation element of the bids. Now this part has been re-run with a new independent panel of senior experts, who found the Virgin Care bid scored more highly than the joint bid made by LCFT and BTHT, who currently provide the services. Only two bids were received to provide the services.

The contract award decision is now subject to a 10 day standstill period, which is a legal process required under EU procurement law. In the absence of any challenge, the county council then intends to enter into a contract with Virgin Care for the provision of these services.

The existing contract will continue to be run by LCFT and BTHT until the end of March next year, ensuring no disruption to services should the appointment of Virgin Care be confirmed after the end of the standstill period.

County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, stated “Virgin Care has now been selected as preferred bidder to provide a range of new public health services for children aged 0 to 19 after the conclusion of this procurement process. The law requires the county council to open services such as these up to competition where they are not provided in house. In February 2017, the previous administration chose not to do the latter and instead decided to conduct the procurement process in the open market.

“This contract will ensure there is a consistent range of 0 to 19 services across the whole county, available to all, with additional support for those who most need it. Our aim has always been to help narrow the gap in health between different groups and communities, while integrating more closely with other children’s and family services. We know this is an unsettling period for staff and once the standstill period has been completed they will be fully informed about the next steps”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 17, 2018

The Theresa May Humiliation Continues

Never mind that 17,401,742 votes were cast for the UK to leave the EU. Every day brings a new example of the EU’s failure to negotiate Brexit in good faith. Tonight, Sir Christopher Meyer , a distinguished diplomat, described the latest news as “This is another humiliation. How many more are we going to take? May should not have gone for 15 minutes to be told it’s for us to come up with fresh proposals. Enough”.

Refusing to agree how financial services should be conducted, despite the UK’s offer to allow EU firms based in the UK to continue trading as before. Being not prepared to grant import certificates to UK organic farmers until after Brexit, when there be a nine-month waiting period. Threatening to stop our aircraft from taking off and blocking Eurostar trains from entering the Channel tunnel.

The EU is revealing itself to be little better than an aggressive bully when it does not get its way. Then there’s the game-playing, with Barnier promising us the best ever trade deal one day and withdrawing the next.

Theresa May has told EU leaders she is prepared to consider extending the Brexit transition period as she called on them to show “courage” and come up with “creative” ideas to break the current deadlock.

At a summit in Brussels  the Prime Minister said Britain would be open to the idea of staying tied to the EU beyond the end of December 2020, even though that could mean paying billions more to Brussels.

Last week the Telegraph revealed that Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, had proposed extending transition by another year, to the end of 2021, to allow more time for a trade deal to be worked out. And on Wednesday Barnier said “much more time” was needed to find a solution to the Irish Border question”.

“What an utterly pathetic spectacle. The British PM begging the EU to stay in for yet another wasted year. How can the snivelling Tory party sit back and let this woman humiliate our country. She MUST go”. 

NB As usual, May kissing the EU Juncker is headline news again .

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 16, 2018

Conservative Cock-up In Scandal Hit South Ribble

The Lancashire Post  and the BBC report that Labour has taken control of a Tory majority council following an “internal war” amongst Conservatives. South Ribble Borough Council leader Mary Green resigned on Monday saying she had been subject to “threatening behaviour”. Losing one leader may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose three in as many years looks like carelessness. South Ribble Council has been mired in scandal since early 2016 and never seems to have recovered.

At the heart of the authority’s problems, is a huge split in the ruling Conservative group. As the council staggers and sways from leader to leader, there are many in the borough crying out for stability, urging councillors to get their act together.

Labour councillor Paul Foster  was voted the new boss at a meeting hours later after his party and Lib Dems formed a minority administration. Mr Foster becomes the fourth leader in just over two years.

An ‘extraordinary meeting’ of South Ribble Council lived up to its name when the Conservative-led authority installed a Labour leader to run the borough. Paul Foster was voted in to the top job, just hours after former leader Mary Green quit the role.

Deputy leader of the authority, Cllr Caroline Moon, told the meeting that Conservative party rules meant the group could not nominate a new council leader until it had elected a leader of the party and she then sought to adjourn the meeting until November.But the absence of nine Conservative councillors meant the group was minus its usual working majority and Cllr Moon’s request was rejected.

Liberal Democrat leader David Howarth, who had called the meeting, was left unimpressed. “We are here to elect a leader of this council…and this council is not run by the standing orders of the Conservative group,” he said. Cllr Howarth also criticised Cllr Green for a “lack of judgement”, but praised her time as mayor describing the outgoing leader as an “excellent ambassador for the borough in that capacity”.

Meanwhile, Labour condemned those who had failed to attend the meeting, claiming it was part of a “boycott”. “Each and every one of the South Ribble Conservative group should resign first thing in the morning,” Cllr Foster said. “You are the ruling party and you have a responsibility to lead this council,” he added. But after Cllr Foster was himself nominated to take over the authority, the Conservatives did put forward their own nomination Cllr Moon.

Cabinet member Warren Bennett defended the move, telling the meeting that party rules meant only the deputy leader could be nominated. And he denied that there had been a boycott.

“A member could not be proposed from the Conservative group other than the acting leader. Caroline Moon has not just been proposed because [there has been] a Labour nomination. It was the Liberals and Labour who brought this motion, it wasn’t brought by the Conservative Party,” he said. “There are lots of insinuations about why people aren’t here tonight, but there are lots of reasons why people don’t attend an emergency meeting – it’s not in everybody’s diary, it’s just a fact,” Cllr Bennett said. Cllr Foster was approved as leader by 20 votes to 19, with one abstention – meaning Cllr Moon’s nomination was not formally considered. Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Foster said “We’re going to take control of this council and, whether it’s for three weeks or three months, we’ll do right by the residents”.

Cllr Howarth predicted that the “factionalised” Conservative group would call their own extraordinary meeting at a later date to try to reinstall a Tory leader. Coun Moon was unavailable for comment after the meeting. The new cabinet at South Ribble comprises Cllrs Paul Foster, Mick Titherington, Sue Jones, Jane Bell, Matthew Tomlinson and William Evans. Individual portfolios will be announced shortly.

South Rabble Conservatives, as they are now known, are paid a basic £4,605 annual allowance, + the usual perks for office. They should be fined for their absence! 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 16, 2018

Aughton Dog and Gun Site Proposed For Development

Pedigree Homes, associated with Cerda Planning , is proposing a small housing development behind the Long Lane Dog and Gun pub.

A flyer  shows the site, access down the side of the pub , keeping clear of the bowling green, and the Dog and Gun will be the venue for a public consultation event on Thursday 1st November 2018 from 3pm to 7pm.

Cerda Planning is based at Vesey House 5-7 High Street Sutton Coldfield. It’s client include Taylor Wimpey, Bovis Homes, Marstons Inns and Taverns, Galliford Try, to name a few.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 16, 2018

The EU And The Culture Of Deceit

“There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified”. Prime Minister Edward Heath , television broadcast on Britain’s entry into the Common Market, January 1973.

What have we sacrificed? The UK would be a part of an “ultimate creation of a European federal state, with a single currency. All the basic instruments of national economic management (fiscal, monetary, incomes and regional policies) would ultimately be handed over to the central federal authorities. The Werner report suggests that this radical transformation of present Communities should be accomplished within a decade”. (PRO/FCO 30/789).

For years British politicians have consistently tried to portray it to their fellow-citizens as little more than an economic arrangement: a kind of free-trading area primarily concerned with creating jobs and prosperity, which incidentally can help preserve the peace .

As for the subordination of Britain’s courts to the European Court of Justice, Lord Chancellor Lord Kilmuir wrote “I must emphasise that in my view the surrenders of sovereignty involved are serious ones, and I think that, as a matter of practical politics, it will not be easy to persuade Parliament or the British public to accept them. I am sure that it would be a great mistake to underestimate the force of the objections to them. But these objections should be brought out into the open now because, if we attempt to gloss over them at this stage, those who are opposed to the whole idea of joining the Community will certainly seize on them with more damaging effect later on”.

Heath was sent off to Brussels to negotiate the terms of British entry. And when he made his opening speech to the other member governments, he could not have been more fulsome in expressing Britain’s desire “To become full, wholehearted and active members of the European Community in its widest sense, and to go forward with you in the building of a new Europe”.

On the very day the applications went in, June 30 1970, the Six hastily approved the principle that member-states should be given “equal access” to each other’s fishing waters, under Brussels control. A Scottish Office memo put it into context, that ministers were being told how important it was not to get drawn into detailed explanations of just what problems might lie ahead for the fishermen because, “in the wider UK context, they must be regarded as expendable”.

Geoffrey Rippon MP claimed Britain had retained complete control over the waters round her coastline, knowing that this was simply not true. So barefaced was this deceit over fishing rights that successive governments and fisheries ministers would continue to obfuscate the truth of what had been done for the next three decades. In June 1975, the month when inflation hit 27 percent, its highest level in history, came the referendum, Surrounded by all the evidence of a major economic crisis, the British people voted by 2 to 1 to remain in a “Common Market” which the vast majority believed was intended to be no more than a free-trading arrangement.

We’ve been deceived from Wilson to May. The culture of deceit has brought us to the embarrassing EU offer to Theresa May that she may address the EU27 for TEN MINUTES before a dinner tomorrow night (after which she will withdraw to allow them to discuss their position in her absence)!

As Mrs May stated yesterday “The EU says there is not time to work out the detail of this UK-wide solution in the next few weeks. So even with the progress we have made, the EU still requires a “backstop to the backstop” – effectively an insurance policy for the insurance policy. And they want this to be the Northern Ireland-only solution that they had previously proposed. We have been clear that we cannot agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom”.

On this front she noted the section of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act agreed unanimously by the Commons earlier in the year which makes it “unlawful for Her Majesty’s Government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain”.

As written today by author Dr Sheila Lawlor , “The EU has only wanted to offer us a bad deal “designed to discourage others following where Britain has led”. But now the Prime Minister “should heed not the EU, but her own people”. “The European Commission itself says that “Over the next ten to 15 years, 90% of world demand will be generated outside Europe”.

I have lived through the last war and since July 1945 to date there have been 20 general elections. Not one has been challenged on the basis that “the people” needed a second vote. The calls to challenge the choice to “Leave” made by 17,410,742 people in the binding EU Referendum are undemocratic. Some people might be asked why their allegiance to the EU now surpasses that of the sovereignty of their own country.

Perhaps Dr Lawlor tells the full truth, that “For the EU, the UK must not be allowed to rival the bloc as a free market competitor, enjoying free trade with third countries or being free to buy and sell non-EU compliant goods. It must conform to the bloc’s blueprint. There must be no competition from the UK’s free market economy, the antithesis of French dirigisme, on which the EU’s control and command model is cloned”.

Theresa May should get off her knees and stand up for the democratic mandate that gave her the authority to govern the UK.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 14, 2018

Road Safety Delegated To A Working Group

The parish council that currently holds £117,857 in its cash and short term investments, Aughton , still managed to scrounge £3,000 out of WLBC council tax payers towards the £6,000  for provision of Solar Powered Speed Indicator Devices in Long Lane and other dangerous locations.

Parish minutes show that in “July 2018 10986 WEST LANCASHIRE BOROUGH COUNCIL: a) Parish Council Capital Schemes 2018/2019: i) to report on the bid for partnership funding towards the provision of Solar Powered Speed Indicator Devices and to receive and consider approval of the Terms and Conditions which apply to the grant funding (details circulated to members) – the successful bid was NOTED, ie £6000 – percentage grant rate 50% (£3,000 APC £3,000 WLBC) and it was AGREED to approve the Capital Grant Agreement (document executed as a deed) to be signed by the Clerk/Proper Officer”.

After which “ii) to consider a Working Group – it was AGREED to set up a Working Group to consider the most appropriate locations for the Speed Indicator Devices (SpIDs), liaison with Lancashire County Council Highways, arrange site visits, etc. Additionally, consideration would be given to the use of CIL monies for SpIDs if the location(s) met the specific criteria. The Scheme would be reported back to the Parish Council for approval, once all issues relevant to the project had been completed”.

And in “August 2018 10992 MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES (for information only): b) Provision of Speed Indicator Devices (SpIDs) – to confirm the Working Group Meeting had been held on Wednesday, 18 July 2018 (refer Minutes July 2018, Para.10986 a) ii)”.

The local campaign for these essential aids to road safety has continued for four years, while the APC has dithered over spending cash. Now, it appears that progress is being made a and survey is under way at Long Lane/Scarth Hill Lane as these photographs below by Colin Draper today show





Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 12, 2018

DIY Gully Cleaning In Your Local Area

It’s with some irony that residents of West Lancashire have been asked for help to reduce the risk of flooding in our local area. It seems that LCC, with its vast resources that are dwindling down the drain by the day, won’t be clearing up to 300,000 blocked road gullies any time soon.

So, with DIY in mind, LCC states “It’s that time of year again, where wind and rain washes leaves and other debris onto drain gully gratings , which can then get blocked. Wet weather is predicted for this weekend according to the Met Office.

“So Lancashire County Council is reminding people to think ahead and reduce the risk of flooding that could affect your home, your family and your neighbours.

“Clearing a few autumn leaves off the grating on your property will help to keep the drains working better. Phil Durnell, Head of Highways for the county council, said “People can help reduce the risk of surface water flooding by making sure any drain gully gratings on their own property are clear of leaves and other debris, because these often act like a plug and stop the water from draining away.

“You might even want to check leaves haven’t blocked the gratings on the road  outside your property, and clear these as well but please take care not to put yourself at any risk from passing traffic. The county council maintains over 300,000 highway gullies to help reduce the risk of surface water flooding, regularly cleaning out those that we know can be a particular problem. When heavy rain is predicted we put extra teams on standby to help tackle any problems that occur”.

The county council has advice to people on practical steps that you can take to reduce the risk of flooding, what to do if flooding occurs and contact numbers for key organisations. One step NOT covered is how to obtain a council tax rebate for the work you will do for LCC!

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