Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 27, 2016

Who Would Be Daft Enough To Hold The County Council’s Highways and Transport Portfolio?

Incumbent County Councillor John Fillis johnfillis surely attracts the longest civil “rap sheet” in the county? Potholes anyone? All the fault of John Fillis? No buses? All the fault of John Fillis? Derby Street bridge? All the fault of John Fillis?

He’s adamant that Lancashire County Council is not a bus operator and has no statutory duty to provide or operate bus services. If it was the will of the council to consider supporting the loss of commercial services then Preston, South Ribble and West Lancashire services should have been considered by the committee, to name just a few. He’s pointed out that the county council plans to introduce community run bus services for areas left stranded. Capital funding would be used to buy or lease minibuses and the county council would maintain the vehicles while the councils would operate costs such as drivers, fuel and management of operations.

Cllr Fillis recently incurred the wrath of Cnty Cllr David O’Toole because O’Toole’s choice of two roads for repair, Granville Park and Winifred Lane in Aughton, were turned down by Cllr Fillis. Outrageous, declared O’Toole, who lives in Granville Park.

But Cllr Fillis does attract poor publicity for his tardiness in replying to emails from county constituents. An example came to my attention from an organisation named Protect Rural Ormskirk. “Protect Rural Ormskirk is a group working in the interests of the people of Ormskirk and the surrounding area, to put forward alternatives to the current bypass proposals which we do not consider will provide the best solution”.

The correspondence starts in sorrow on 4th June 2015
“Dear Cllr Fillis,
It is with a heavy heart that I have to write this e mail to you after such an enthusiastic start you made to your appointment at LCC which we all supported and looked forward to. If you remember back in 2013, we met in the Green Room to discuss improvements to the traffic flow in Ormskirk and you were extremely enthusiastic about new proposals particularly changes to the traffic lights at Ruff Lane but many other items. As chairman of the group Protect Rural Ormskirk, I am writing to express concern that nothing seems to have been done over the last two and a half years. You have promised on several previous e mails that a group would be formed at council level to progress ideas.
You indicated that the Mousel report had shown that the Bypass proposal was not feasible and that the route would be taken off the restriction list for building etc. None of this has happened and it is most frustrating that a new fresh approach at LCC should end up this way. I have previously asked to meet you again to express concern but you thought it prudent to wait till progress was made.
Do you feel that we are being unfair asking for more information and progress? I understand you have all of Lancashire to contend with but the time for progress here in Ormskirk is well overdue. I look forward to hearing from you, hopefully with some good news
Alan Syder. Chairman. Protect Rural Ormskirk

Moving on a year, we find more frustration and another emissile to Cllr Fillis
Dear Cllr Fillis,
Please find below a copy of an e mail I sent to you almost one year ago. I sent you copies of this several times afterwards and I even posted a copy through your home door but to date have neither received an acknowledgement or reply. You will also remember meeting me on Morrisons car park a few months back when I raised this subject with you and you said you would check and get back to me. Again no reply. The comments in the original e mail remain pertinent today, just a year further along the line with no action. I find it difficult to understand why no changes have been made to improve the road layout and all your hopes are lying in what I call soft actions, trying to persuade the public to change their behavioural patterns with cycle ways, trains and buses being improved. It is well known that rural community needs follow different patterns.

Additionally I would like to raise two other points with you. Firstly the recent road works debacle on the A 59 entering Ormskirk from the University side of the town. The works are understandable but the detour route chosen by the authority leaves many residents aghast. The detour redirected traffic travelling west on the A59 into Knowsley Road then left into Moor St and finally left again to eventually rejoin the A 59 at the west side of the park. This action directed all the west bound traffic into one of the busiest areas in the centre of the town and caused considerable unnecessary further congestion. If the detour had made the A59 one way WEST and the traffic leaving the town centre travelling east directed into Ruff Lane to the traffic light junction with Knowsley Road hardly any congestion would have resulted. In fact Protect Rural Ormskirk suggested this route change to members of West Lancs and Lancashire Council in 2009 as a permanent change but clearly it was totally ignored.

Secondly several spots around the town display notices advising of a weak bridge and weight restrictions limited to 18 t on it, due to an unsound structural problem. I ask who is responsible for these actions when clearly there is no chance of them being enforced. I also ask who is bringing forward proposals to rectify the problem in an economic and viable time scale. Taking everything into consideration I think you would appreciate that confidence in the council is running at an all time low and would ask you to go some way towards rectifying this by answering this e mail but statistically I suspect this to be unlikely
Yours Alan Syder Protect Rural Ormskirk Chairman

21st April 2016 and another emissile, this time to LCC Leader Jennifer Mein

“Dear Cllr Mein,
Below is a copy of an e mail I sent to Cllr Fillis on the 8th April. To date I have received neither acknowledgement nor reply and this is consistent with the numerous e mails I have sent him since June 2015. I also delivered a copy of the first e mail to his home address thinking I must have the wrong e mail address for him, but again no reply. Do you condone this sort of action from Councillors in your cabinet and if not can you obtain some response. I am sure that this type of interaction or lack of it, with the electorate, will quickly dissolve any support Labour have had previously
Yours Alan Syder

And the reply “Dear Mr Syder, I’ve spoken to Cllr Fillis and understand you have now received an acknowledgement, in time he will reply more fully, Regards, Jennifer Mein”.

And to reach where we are today, 25th May, the emissiles have gone to old Uncle Tom Cobley and all including all the local press.
Dear Cllr Mein,
As you will note from the items below it is now four weeks since you kindly prompted Cllr Fillis to acknowledge my e mails to him. He responded that a reply would be prepared and sent as soon as possible. Well as the saying goes, a day is a long time in politics so I wonder how you would express 28 days, probably in light years. It is of course possible that he is waiting until the 4th of June when it will be exactly one year since my first unanswered e mail was sent to him but I doubt it.
As a result, I feel it necessary to ask you now to place this matter into your complaints procedure and I will be happy to attend any hearing to express my frustration with an elected politician who seems to be incapable of attending to basic matters. My sympathies lie with you having to deal with this but I seem to have no alternative
Yours. Alan Syder. Copies to:-Protect Rural Ormskirk Committee. Cllr Fillis. Ormskirk Advertiser. Ormskirk Champion.

It would appear that Cnty Cllr Fillis might be using the mushroom method of case management by keeping everything in the dark and occasionally letting in just a little light. It doesn’t endear him to council tax payers, road users, and bus users (we wish!). Perhaps these emissiles from and to Alan Syder might suggest county councillor allowances should be paid on results, in which case would John Fillis have earned his 2014/15 total “pay” of circa £26,000 plus expenses? We can but wonder.

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