Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 23, 2018

Six Years And Waiting

WLBC has a Council Plan 2018-21 on the Full Council agenda this week. As ever it includes leisure facilities. Under the heading “Developing new leisure facilities as health and wellbeing hubs” it states “Significant physical improvements to the borough can be achieved through replacement leisure facilities in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk. Our leisure facilities are the biggest assets we have for supporting and encouraging people of all ages to live active lives and enjoy healthy lifestyles.

“Collaborating with the West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group around options for incorporating a health centre/doctors surgery into the facilities will in the longer term provide a wider range of opportunities for further promoting health and wellbeing in the community and also help to reduce build and operational costs. 2018/19 will see: Completion of soft market testing. Business case development. Completion of design process. Progression to next phase of design and procurement”. Impressed? Don’t be! Remember the leisure development case for the Beacon Park Golf Course?

“Relevant Portfolio Holder: Councillor D Sudworth. Corporate & Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee. Members Update 2012/13.

“The trust partners have examined the previous financial years and membership records of the golf course. The information provided by DCT confirmed that the golf course had been losing money during the past two years, as a result of falling memberships and increasing costs. An assessment undertaken by Serco indicated that the finance position of the golf course would improve under a trust arrangement, providing savings for rates (NNDR) and improvement towards VAT payments. However the underlying trend of reduced memberships would need to be reversed together with improvement across casual income lines in order to ensure long term viability.

“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure [Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd] provided an opportunity to improve facilities, retain or increase future membership and increase income. Serco have now concluded their discussions with Oaklands Leisure and have been able to project a positive financial position in future years. However the initial years of the improvement works will require Serco to cover operating losses.

“Serco have proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and have agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period. The surplus income share is based on 3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and Serco Leisure Operating Limited.

“The proposal includes investment into the golf course and facilities, reshaping of the landform to enhance existing golf holes and practice facilities and create a new 9 hole short course. Remodelled driving range outfield and target greens . Provision to enhance internal facilities in the golf club house and entrance area. The work is to be phased in over two years 2013-15 and has an estimated investment/enhancement value for the golf course of approximately £500,000”.

Before we get more pie in the sky as in “We will engage and empower our local communities to “Sustain leisure facilities where possible through different models of service delivery and budget control” might we conclude there will be no one third of anything proposed by the existing model provided by Serco and West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, and the concept of their landfill created none playable 9Hole course and none playable footgolf course both needing re-profiling is unacceptable to West Lancashire council tax payers? Six years and waiting? Or enough is enough!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 23, 2018

United Utilities Challenged Over Flooding

The local Labour Party claims “Burscough residents will have been pleased to see the recent news that the Environment Agency (EA) are to invest £100,000 for a surface water plan in the town, although full details are yet to be announced. The efforts of the EA are in direct contrast to those of regional water company, United Utilities, which has been challenged to do more to improve the borough’s drainage systems following a public grilling at the Flood Forum organised by Rosie Cooper MP and after being asked by Labour councillors to appear before the council’s Corporate and Environmental Overview and Scrutiny.

“While Lancashire County Council, as the Local Lead Flood Authority, has also come under scrutiny for its role in tackling flooding, it is the reluctance of United Utilities to invest in improving the drainage infrastructure that is the main headache for local flood campaigners. United Utilities is the only organisation involved with a significant budget with which to address flood problems but is unwilling to increase the scale of drainage as this would also require the costly addition of more water treatment works .

“West Lancashire Labour will continue to keep up the pressure on UU and the County Council to improve matters. If you are concerned about flooding in your area, please contact your local Labour representative who will do their best to help”.

At Full Council on Wednesday there is an item “Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) Advisory Boards – Motion Included on the Agenda by Burscough West Councillor Andrew Pritchard  on Behalf of the Labour Group; This Council believes that in the interests of protecting homes, businesses, farms and infrastructure from the increasing risks of flooding, that Government must now move forward on Schedule 3 of the Flood Water Management Act 2010. This would see the establishment of SUDs Advisory Boards created and set up in England. Accordingly, this Council instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to seek prompt action in respect of SUDs Advisory Boards and to clarify the Government’s current position and intended timeline for implementation of Schedule 3 of the Flood Water Management Act 2010″.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 22, 2018

You Can’t Buy Knickers In Tatty Ormskirk

In an exchange of views with Our West Lancashire  a lady asks “Why would people want to come into a tatty town. I have lived here all my life and it’s dismal. What happened to the buzzing market, the shops were you could buy everything you needed? Now you can’t even buy a pair of knickers unless you go out of town”.

This is awful news. Can you imagine Ormskirk being knickerless? 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 22, 2018

Scruffy Village

It’s well known how useless 5 local ward councillors can be. Aughton proves it. But why do they ignore what they see? As you know only one lives in the parish. And he has numerous responsibilities earning him multiple allowances. So what is the excuse for this disgusting neglect  on the Town Green foot-bridge where last year’s autumn leaves are still rotting as we recall what Cllr O’Toole has among his re-election priorities “Preserving essential frontline services such as litter picking, road sweeping and grass cutting” and what Cllr Stephenson seeking re-election told us “Already there has been an improvement with the road and pavement sweeping”. Really? Pavement sweeping? Are they looking at it  and ignoring it ? Do they walk down to the station and see this  overgrown mess behind the Police Station that could be solved by one of them calling Merseyrail to sort it out? Probably! This is our scruffy village. 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 22, 2018

When Will WLBC Members Do This?

A few days ago a Wyre resident wrote “Taking my hat off to [Labour] Cllr Terry Lees today, who put himself out amongst the public in a local supermarket to answer local residents questions and concerns. Terry was there alone  without help from other Cllrs, and without the nonsense restriction to be found in Council Chambers (of a limited number of pre-chosen questions from the public). It was a refreshing change to find a man who certainly seems to care, even if the task to remove the powers that be for real change to occur appears mammoth”.

Who if any among our WLBC members might do this? Don’t hold your breath.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 22, 2018

Less Of Their Lordships, If You Please

As we know, the “Remoaner Lords” by use of their treacherous antics want us to remain in the EU customs union. Interesting comments include “But only 44% of peers voted for the amendment. Perhaps we might conclude a majority didn’t want it? Should 16 year old peers should have been allowed to vote? The vote was advisory, our representatives should overrule it? They’re old and so were doing it to spite young people”? All plausible?

Perhaps we might see more red buses ?


Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 22, 2018

Recall Of Politicians

The “Recall of MPs Act 2015” provides for a recall petition to be triggered if a Member is sentenced to a prison term or is suspended from the House for at least 21 sitting days. If either occurred, the Speaker would give notice to a petition officer, who in turn would give notice to parliamentary electors in the constituency. Unfortunately the Act seems not to apply to local councillors.

Nor, sadly, does it apply to anti-democrats, as a letter to the Telegraph tells us “It is ironic that the anti-democratic elitists calling for a second EU referendum have chosen to name their campaign People’s Vote. Believing that those who voted to leave the EU were obviously too thick to understand the wall-to-wall scaremongering of Project Fear, they have now decided to insult the electorate’s intelligence further by claiming that their coalition of the deluded is for “the people”. Fortunately, the people aren’t as stupid as they think we are, and we can see their purpose. It’s time they got the message: you lost the vote, get over it. It’s called democracy”.

Perhaps a new party being formed might be of interest?   A fresh approach. Much of politics has lost touch with the core values that underpin our country, whether it be democracy, self-determination, justice, the rule of law, our heritage, or even the freedom of speech and civilised debate. These values make up the foundation of a healthy and prosperous society, and if our mainstream politicians won’t stand up and fight for them, we will.

“We will empower local people. The Foundation Party will always prioritise helping local people and local communities. There is a serious disconnect between the political elite and what people want. We will change this by bringing democracy back to our communities.

“Local councils are dominated by the larger political parties and they select loyal party members as their candidates. This means that when issues have to be decided many councillors pay more attention to their party whip than to their electors. Our councillors will be free to speak up for their electors, something which only councillors not subject to a party whip can do.

“Our elected councillors, members, and volunteers will work more closely with communities and campaign to bring about greater autonomy for local authorities so that your voices will be heard”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 21, 2018

Petition To Abolish The Unelected House of Lords

Have you signed the Petition to “Give the electorate a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords”?

The House of Lords is a place of patronage where unelected and unaccountable individuals hold a disproportionate amount of influence and power which can be used to frustrate the elected representatives of the people.

Already  there are 71,422 signatures and at 100,000 the Government will respond that this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

The House of Lords is being abused by our elected officials by filling it with cronies. It costs our taxpayers around £100 million a year (probably much more) The undemocratic House of Lords is the largest parliamentary chamber in any democracy. It is surpassed in size only by China’s National People’s Congress.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 20, 2018

Wasn’t It A Crime That Aughton Police Station Was Closed For So Long?

Perhaps you despair at the disappearance of police from our roads? Never mind being told they are there, that “policing is different”. It might be, but front desks at police stations with those blue signs are symbolic of law and order. Now, if there is a police station in your area you are privileged, as we are in Aughton.

But as is now well known, in January, following some “internal damage” to the ceiling of Aughton Police Point at Town Green railway station, the police point was closed. Residents contacted West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper who was concerned at this closure after such a lengthy battle to get the police point reopened a few years ago and she sought immediate action to get the work done and restore the police point for the residents of Aughton .

It has since transpired through MP Rosie’s investigations that damage occurred in January, and on Lancashire Constabulary becoming aware of it, closed the police point. However, it seems that blurred communication lines [aka cock-up] meant that this was not ultimately reported to Merseyrail until March after Rosie had reported it to both agencies!

Merseyrail then carried out prompt remedial works and have now supplied Lancashire Constabulary with a direct reporting line for any future issues. Rosie Cooper said “What a mess! Part of the ceiling falls through at Aughton Police Point and it takes two months to report this to Merseyrail. Meanwhile, Aughton residents are left without their local police point.

“I’m pleased that there is now a direct communications link between the Police and Merseyrail so this shouldn’t happen again, and more importantly the work has been completed and that the police point is now open again.

“Residents will be delighted to hear that Merseyrail have also indicated that they are formalising a lease agreement with Lancashire Constabulary to secure the future of the police point for the foreseeable future, should the police wish to continue with a presence at Town Green”. And THAT might become another story!

Rosie Cooper and Aughton Parish Council previously brokered a deal in 2012 securing the Police Point at Town Green station which was extended in 2015

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 19, 2018

Fixing The Tory Mess?

Reading the full page advert of the local Labour Party in the Champion today seems almost like reading a declaration of war. Which I suppose it is.  It is even brazen enough to mention the 13 years of Tory mess under the leadership of Our West Lancashire’s “boss” Cllr Adrian Owens and Cllr David Westley, a linking of local political names that might stir recollections best forgotten.

But no mess by Labour, who claim that since 2015 they have been getting on with the job of improving council services and businesses across the borough because, “Under the Tories’ spineless rule West Lancashire was heading for real decline”. To which some might say that decline arrived some time ago.

If this is indicative of the next two weeks then political blood will flow. To refer to “..a Conservative Administration too busy fighting each other and splitting into different factions and parties to bother with the concerns of West Lancashire residents. One Conservative even broke away and set up his own conservative “Our West Lancashire” party as an ego-stroking exercise”. Ouch!

All of which might remind us that some years ago, didn’t we have a West Lancashire First party of seven Labour members who claimed the “dogmatic” and “Stalinist” approach of the Labour Party leadership in West Lancashire left them with no option but to resign? Was that ego-stroking?

Papers reported that “John Fillis the leading rebel and now head of a political association calling itself West Lancashire First, said he recognised that the mass departure would embarrass Mr Blair. But, he said, their decision would be embarrassing at any time. “It just got to the point where we had had enough,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned, politics are not about personalities. They’re about real people. That is where the Labour Party is going wrong. The bureaucracy means that the views and concerns of the actual voters are being taken for granted”. The rebels accused the ruling Labour group of being “in it for themselves”. Such is the disaffection, said Mr Fillis, that more than 200 members have left the local party in the last 12 months.

“It’s mainly the bureaucracy of it all” said Mr Fillis. “We continuously found ourselves at odds with the Labour leadership. This position was compounded by the continuous bullying, harassment, physical intimidation and racism within the West Lancashire Labour Party. We’ve asked the Labour Party to do something about it, but nothing’s been done, not even when we wrote to Tony Blair.”

“Labour’s majority in the council chamber was reduced to one. Mr Fillis and his allies say they are prepared to work with the Conservative opposition if they come up with “good ideas”. Geoff Roberts, leader of the Conservative group, said he and his colleagues would “not be getting into bed” with the rebels. However, he would be “quite happy” to support any proposals on which they agreed.

What was that about a declaration of war? Well people do have long memories! 17 years long! But they might fade behind the great work Labour has done to defeat developers at Parrs Lane, where Labour could send the Aughton Park incumbent back to her home pastures in Halsall The Labour borough development company to start addressing housing problems will resonate with many, while any fight against a privatised utility company with limited investments in poor sewage will be a winner.

“West Lancashire First” or “Our West Lancashire” nor the time between them prove if nothing else that local politics is seldom boring.

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