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!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 12, 2018

Dismal Tory By-Election Result For Tanhouse

Labour  held Tanhouse at the By-Election yesterday with Ron Cooper receiving 464 votes, in which the Conservative candidate A L Blundell was dumped on, with only 49 votes! The Independent candidate Aaron Body received 129 votes.

The local Tory slide towards oblivion continues. Is 49 votes the lowest ever for any candidate in West Lancashire? No, also in Tanhouse July 1997, Tory 45 votes! Also, Tanhouse 2001, Tory 49 votes! 

Meanwhile, the OWLs  are reporting that “Scrutiny is important…which is why it is sad that the local Conservatives didn’t even bother with last night’s meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee. This is where questions can be asked regarding the Council’s officers and external providers and their performance. There are real challenges for West Lancs right now, and the so-called opposition are consistently and repeatedly falling way short – or not even bothering at all”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 12, 2018

Burscough Calls On WLBC To Defer Development

On 1 October WLR drew attention to the appointment of Jacobs  (as the authority’s framework consultancy) to undertake a study which will consider the catchment and surface water flood risk in Burscough. The commitment was welcomed by MP Rosie Cooper.

In view of the study, Burscough Parish Council has written to West Lancashire Borough Council “To John Harrison and copies to Kim Webber and Cllr John Hodson-:

“Dear Mr. Harrison,

“As you may be aware the Lead Local Flood Authority have commissioned drainage consultants Jacobs to survey and report on flooding problems in Burscough, through funding from DEFRA.

“In light of this we would ask that decisions on current applications in Burscough, with particular reference to 2018/0837/FUL Victoria Park, are deferred until the results of the survey are known! Our concerns with this application, as per our response, is that the proposed attenuation is not sufficient to prevent further flooding in the Crabtree Lane area, contrary to NPPF.

“A further consideration is that the results could impact on both the current and future SFRA’s plus the proposed replacement Local Plan, due shortly to go out to consultation.

“Yours Burscough Parish Council”

Jacobs is renowned for its world-wide  high class consultancy record.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 11, 2018

County Community Transport Budget Cut Confirmation

Wasn’t it just a few days ago the Leader of LCC was claiming the county budget could soon be balanced? Now, it looks as though it is being achieved at cost to vulnerable people. Lancashire County Council’s  cabinet has confirmed a reduction to the budget which supports community transport services, following a public consultation.

The consultation was launched after it was proposed to reduce the financial support for community transport operators by £175,000 over two years to contribute to savings needed to meet a forecasted council funding gap of £135m by 2022/23.

Community transport in Lancashire is provided for people who are not able to use mainstream public transport and includes Dial-a-Ride , group transport, and community car schemes.

County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said “As a council we have to make some very difficult decisions to balance the books and make savings in almost every area of the council’s work. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to let us know how they use these services, and how they may be affected by any changes. Following this decision we will look to minimise the impact of this budget reduction as much as possible for those who use community transport”.

This is a shameful decision, but not unexpected. No cuts for special allowances for almost all of the party politicians in control of the County, just the easy targets! “Savings in almost every area” doesn’t reach the special ones!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 10, 2018

Is There A Housing Crisis Or A Population Crisis?

Anyone with an interest in the proposal by West Lancashire Borough Council to build “the exciting vision for an ambitious West Lancashire”, (or should that be an ambitious developers’ charter for West Lancashire?), will be aware of the new Local Plan proposals with its included Table 4a; Housing and Employment Land Requirement by Plan Period that discloses Option E for 2012-2037 Option of 15,000 dwellings, or its 2012-2050 Option 22,800 dwellings.

There being no apparent population crisis in West Lancashire we then notice the apparent influence of the Liverpool City Region as the SHELMA seeks to identify the Objectively-Assessed Need (OAN) for West Lancashire and for the Liverpool City Region as a whole.

In fact many comments have been made at some public meetings already, and MP Rosie Cooper has said that she does “not believe that West Lancashire Borough Council should build houses for Merseyside’”. She wrote Thank you for contacting my office recently to raise your concerns over the proposed local plan and the impact it will have on habitats, farmer’s livelihoods, road congestion, power and water supplies, and sewage treatment. My advice to any resident who is unhappy with the draft local plan is to fully engage with the consultation process and give their views on plan through the formal channels, addressing each issue and explaining in detail why it is an issue.

“I have heard the figure of 16,000 houses being mentioned which I believe is very high and I do not believe that West Lancashire Borough council should build houses for Merseyside. I do not support continued development on the green belt but only so much as is necessary to meet the needs of West Lancashire residents. As you will be aware, I do not have any decision-making power over what the council chooses to do, including the development of thelr local plan. I will continue to represent residents and ensure the council are fully aware of the views of my West Lancashire constituents.

“I have brought your concerns to the attention of John Harrison Director of Development and Regeneration Services for West Lancashire Borough Council, and asked that this matter be investigated. I will contact you again once l have received a reply”.

But it isn’t just Merseyside (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens, Wigan). The list of local authorities included in the “Duty To Co-operate Statement” also includes Chorley Borough Council, South Ribble Borough Council, and Fylde Borough Council.

So is there a housing crisis or a population crisis in West Lancashire, and if there is evidence for it, what housing might that be? By WLBC’s own admission there is no brown field land available, so all new housing will be on green belt land, sold by farmers at 10 times the price of land for agriculture, that price then to be reflected in house prices.

By chance a letter was published in the Times a day or two ago . It questions an opinion of the National Housing Federation that if we build 340,000 homes each year until 2033 we will avert the (current) housing crisis by supplying enough houses to satisfy demand (current). But “the population of England will have increased by 5.5million by 2033…the ability of the population to expand at a rate that exceeds the capacity of the services (only one of which is housing) that sustain it should be self evident”.

We know all about that, capacity of services, ie infrastructure, so poor in West Lancashire as to be described in some cases as pitiful. Will it change? Not a chance!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 8, 2018

Nil Spend On Flood Defences? Whoops!

In a recent Freedom of Information request to West Lancashire Borough Council the resident asked “I would like to know how much has been spent on flood defences over the last 5 years. In addition, I would also like to find out how much the council has spent repairing flood damages”.

WLBC has embarrassed itself by replying “Thank you for your e-mail of 1 October where you requested information about spend on flood defences and repairs within West Lancashire over the past 5 years. I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is NIL. However, Lancashire County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority for Lancashire and they may be able to provide further information relating to your query”.

But is that NIL response true? When WLBC posed its own question “Who is responsible for Hurlston Brook  in Ormskirk?” it stated “The West Lancashire Borough Council states publicly that it is responsible for the section of Hurlston Brook which runs through Coronation Park, Ormskirk. The trash screens are routinely cleared on a rota basis to allow the free flow of water and during expected severe weather the screens are checked on a daily basis”.

How strange that Hurlston Brook  [pics QLocal] doesn’t appear in WLBC’s own records. Who regularly cleans the screens and checks them when needed on a daily basis? What does it cost, where is the budget for it? Does WLBC pay the Environment Agency to undertake it? Giving a false answer to a FoI could lead to an appeal and a decision of making an unlawful response, and that would be disgraceful.

In some recent cases of Freedom of Information requests in respect of flooding, residents have been declared to be “vexatious” because they are persistent in seeking credible responses. As we reported a few days ago WLBC was deemed guilty of a breach of the FoI Act itself through its tardiness in meeting a deadline. Vexatious? Of course!

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