Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 28, 2017

Hustings Or Social Media Debate?

We live in the age of debate by social media, and on the eve of the Derby Ward by-election a classic example was on show earlier, when the Labour Cabinet Member for Housing and Landlord Services Jenny Patterson stepped into a debate with Adrian Owens on the OWL Facebook publication about the sheltered housing green bin charge. If social media helps to achieve a high turnout it can’t be bad!

Jenny  wrote “As you are well aware Adrian, the green bins are not a statutory service. WLBC lost £950k funding which used to pay for the green waste. What services would you have cut to cover this loss? And let’s be clear on sheltered services. The service charge covers grounds maintenance – not a gardening service [not forgetting landscaping]. There is a deficit of £millions over the next 3 years. Maybe if your conservative pals – you know – the ones you wanted to be the leader of only 2 years ago, had had the foresight to generate income by installing solar pv on our housing stock when the feed in tariff was still worthwhile there would be the funds in the coffers to cover all services. But instead you decided to close sports centres, charge for bulky household waste collections, and let businesses like Matalan leave West Lancs”.

Adrian  replied “Thanks for the comment Jenny. We can debate the wider issue on many occasions, not least in the Council Chamber. This post is about the treatment of residents of sheltered housing over a narrow point. I believe the council’s stance is unjust and that they are currently not getting a value service for their service charge. Cllr Wilkie will no doubt respond in the near future”.

Jenny  “Cllr Wilkie does not use social media, but you’re very welcome round for a discussion at any time. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story though Adrian”.

Adrian  “The facts are as reported by QLocal – no one has disputed them. I’ve written to Cllr Wilkie. I’m not expecting a reply from him via social media”.

Jenny  “The facts are that the Tory Government that you stood as MP for in 2010 has decimated Lancashire. We have lost £950k which used to fund green waste collections. Sheltered services have had supported persons funding withdrawn which has had a huge impact on what we can offer. Had you been in attendance this evening to see one of our residents given the freedom of the borough for all the good work he has done you could have raised the issue directly with the portfolio holder. But it can wait for the next Full Council meeting where I’m sure you’ll be able to explain how you would pay for all the things we would all love to see, but realistically cannot offer in this climate”.

Adrian  “I would only add that with a surplus of £391,000 in the most recent financial year, there is clearly some room for maneuver in the WLBC finances and things are not quite so parlous as you make out. A rigid approach to these sheltered housing residents would seem to be the sort of heartless approach you deplore in your comment above”.

NB Cllr John Hodson  has added the following comment “Adrian Owens also recently attempted to take the Labour Administration to task on the issue of Building Control budget which he thought we should be cutting even further, stating that ‘we were not vigorous enough’ in seeking further reductions. The Tory Government’s assault on Local Authorities by opening up their Building Control Services to the private sector which subsequently undercut LA’s causing them to reduce the numbers of staff and has had the effect of diluting this highly important sector which no doubt will come back to bite the Tory Party which Adrian was an ardent member of until his recent spat with his fellow West Lancs Tory Leadership and Cllr Westley. Green bin (and other) crocodile tears indeed.”

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