Monthly Archives: October 2017

Tory Pattern Of Failure To Attend Meetings Emerging?

Jenny Forshaw holds the Cabinet Housing Portfolio, and as such has a special interest in the Beechtrees Revival Plan. The day following the Tory walkout of Full Council there was a scheduled meeting of the Estates Revival Cabinet Working Group at which Beechtrees was to be examined. Members are Councillor Ian Moran (Chairman), Councillor Jenny Forshaw (Vice-Chair), Councillor Frank McKenna, Councillor Paul Moon, Councillor David Westley, and Councillor Kevin Wilkie. But Westley and Moon were absent.

Beechtrees Revival is a major investment, initially proposed in 2013/14 [click to enlarge] and described by its Tory instigators as “This proposed scheme would be great news for Beechtrees. We want to revitalise the estate and make it an even nicer place to live, and make our homes places where people will want to settle long term”. But it was held up by government changes to housing finance.

On Facebook “Jenny Forshaw is at West Lancashire Borough Council. 19 October at 10:11 Ormskirk. At the Estates Revival Cabinet Working Group going over Beechtrees with Ian Moran and Kev Wilkie. A bit of a pattern emerging here… Tories once again. In fairness, Wyre is a long way for Cllr. Moon to travel from. No excuses for the Leader of the opposition though”.

How ironic is it that the double-council hatter Moon is referred to as having a long way to travel, from Wyre? Moon is paid two council allowances and it was always the case he would have conflicted interests, depending on his declared home in Hesketh Bank or his declared home in Preesall? Westley, resident of Halsall, no excuse? Remind me again

Wretched Tory Political Stunt Replaced Political Service

As we all know, because Wally Westley has told us via a public statement on the West Lancashire Conservative website, Tory Councillors on West Lancs Borough Council staged a mass walk out at last week’s Full Council Meeting but, he claims, only after the conclusion of the Council’s business”. And he threw his toy out of his pram

and what followed was more of the pure bullshit expected of the abysmally run local Tory party. Westley has been a councillor since 2002, and he appears to be in blissful ignorance of the Borough Constitution up-dated 21 August 2017. Part 4 – Rules of Procedure 1. Council Procedure Rules 11. MOTIONS ON NOTICE 11.2 Motion set out in agenda Motions for which notice has been given will be listed on the agenda in the order in which notice was received, unless the member giving notice states, in writing, that they propose to move it to a later meeting or withdraw it. 11.3 Scope Motions must be about matters for which the Council has a responsibility or which affect the borough. So let’s be clear, conclusion of the Council’s business is a matter for the Mayor, not a bunch of Tory recalcitrants.

Westley continued in his statement “It is my firm belief that Motions should be relevant to the Council’s business…Labour had put 6 Motions on the Council’s Agenda, 5 of which had nothing to do with the Council’s business” So which of the Motions affect the borough? The Council Management had decided they all did, why else would they be on the Official Agenda. So in effect Westley has challenged the Chief Executive and her team. Of the six Motions, five were directly relevant to West Lancashire’s residents. Small Business Tax Burden; NJC Pay; Ormskirk ‘Night Market’; Student Accommodation; WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality); Minister for Older People. And one, Policing of Events at Orgreave, indirectly relevant as policing of our borough is a major issue.

How these people allow themselves to be led into oblivion beggars belief.

As ever, this Westley shambles gives the opportunity of ridicule to its opponents, taken with glee by Our West Lancashire . “In our last newsletter we focused on the poor attendance records of some councillors. Last Wednesday was the latest meeting of the Council. Of little surprise was the absence, once again, of the councillor with the worst attendance record. He will now drop below 20% attendance.However, more surprising was the walk out staged by the entire Conservative Group part way through the meeting.

They left the field of play for important motions on: * the £1.3 million funding gap facing West Lancashire as a result of our high percentage of student housing; * a motion on Ormskirk’s recent night markets; * and a motion on the injustices caused to women in their late 50’s and 60’s arising from the equalisation of the state pension age.

All these were important matters and yet the so-called ‘main opposition’ had gone home. Residents who voted Conservative deserved better. They got it, asIndependent councillors from Our West Lancashire remained to scrutinise and challenge the ruling Labour group instead”. And they quote Cllr Marianne Overton, Leader of the Local Government Association Independent Group “The most important point is not who ‘controls’ the council, which is a rather outdated approach to local government, but who leads it. Who sparks the creative vision and leads the council to success in serving its residents? Who listens, considers fairly and makes good decisions for their residents?”

Westley said “Motions should seek a meaningful outcome and not just be used as an opportunity to stage a meaningless political debate and the writing of a pointless letter to the Government”. Remember the walkout and that statement when you are invited to vote for Westleyist candidates next May. The other day Residents of Aughton Park received these cards  from dumb and dumber, their councillors who had walked out and left Aughton Park unrepresented and you will note their assistance and advice is by phone or email. “Working hard for the people of Aughton Park”. What a cynical claim! “We walked out on the people of Aughton Park” is exactly what they did.

LCC To Take Enforcement Action Against Cuadrilla

Councillors in Lancashire have turned down the latest of multiple applications from Cuadrilla for more time to restore a shale gas site near the Ribble Estuary. The county council’s development control committee voted instead this morning for enforcement action against the company for not returning the Becconsall site to farmland by the agreed time [pic from Frack Off].

The deadline for restoring the site, which is in the Green Belt and next to an internationally-important wildfowl reserve, had previously been reset by the council four times. Councillors said the decision, which went against the advice of planning officers, was to prevent further harm to agriculture and anxiety to local people. Members of a local campaign group applauded when the vote was taken.

Theresa May on fracking at PMQs “I think shale gas does have the potential to power economic growth in this country. I think it will support thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industries and in other sectors and it will provide a new domestic energy source and we have more than 50 years of drilling experience in the UK and one of the best records in the world for economic development while protecting our environment.

“The shale wealth fund is going to provide up to one million pounds of additional resources to local communities. Local councils are going to be able to retain 100% of the business rates they collect from shale gas developments. We will be bringing further proposals in relation to this during this parliament because this is an important source of new energy and I think it is right that we ensure that we use this and take the benefits of it for our economy, for jobs and for people’s futures”.

A week earlier Dennis Skinner MP asked for seismic surveys in his constituency to stop as there was intermittent discoloured mains water being produced. This was denied by INEOS.

In a letter to the government   [click to read]   nine environmental organisations have told the government they have “growing concerns” about the fracking process. The groups, including Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for National Parks, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and WWF, wrote to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, saying fracking threatened UK commitments to tackle climate change. Mr Clark is expected to give the final go-ahead imminently for fracking at Third Energy’s well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

How Small Sam “Blasted” The Mayor

The “Double Tory Revolt” report a few days ago by Roger Blaxall of QLocal was reminiscent of the apparent bravery of Sam “Pick up thi Musket” Small of the First Foot Guards at Waterloo?

Mayor Neil Furey was “blasted by local councillor Sam Currrie” after a motion was put forward by the Labour group to accept a new Vice Chairman for a committee post previously held by Cllr Pryce-Roberts. Tory Cllr Currie Able Seaman RN Rtd questioned the decision and asked if it had anything to do with her poor attendance at meetings or her career as a senior lecturer at Southampton University.

Not just any plain dry as dust lecturing but Senior Lecturer in the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering. And, she worked as a lawyer and before that in a number of operational and managerial roles for A.P. Moller/Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd. Not to mention her extensive experience of lecturing and running programmes at Liverpool John Moores University and lecturing in Greece and Iran. Teaches BScHons Maritime Business, BScHons Maritime Law and Business, MSc International Maritime Law and Business, MSc International Shipping and Logistics, just to name part of her expertise. Published author of ’15 Years of Shipping Accidents”.

Bearing in mind the WLBC Code of Conduct training programme a few weeks earlier at enormous expense paid to Geldards Law Firm  that Sam may have attended but was probably the recipient of their 170 or so pages of advice on how to behave, especially “you must treat others with respect”  click to read, did Sam have a rush of blood to his head?

Mayor Furey stated this was a personal attack on Cllr Pryce-Roberts and made a thinly veiled threat of legal action against Cllr Currie. Sam, having none of this is quoted “Frankly, if the mayor of West Lancashire doesn’t allow members to question the legitimacy of someone being on the council yet working some 250 miles away then I would question what his role is. His position is supposed to be apolitical but he seems adamant on going along with Labour “cover ups”. [No Tory cover-up has ever been committed in WLBC!]

“The good people of Skelmersdale South have a right to know who their elected member is [they’ve known since 2010] and as I stated on Wednesday before I was ordered to keep quiet, Cllr Pryce-Roberts should declare how much time she actually spends in West Lancashire. As for Cllr Furey’s “get my solicitor involved” comment I say “bring it on”. If speaking out against undemocratic members gets me into a spot of bother then so be it. My only concern is for the people of West Lancashire. Not for the feelings of the mayor or indeed any other elected Labour member”.

Read that again “My only concern is for the people of West Lancashire”…so much concern he walked out on the people of Aughton & Downholland he allegedly represents at Full Council. So let’s see if in the fullness of time someone has the balls to take legal advice on what if any spot of bother Sam is in.

Promises Promises?

In a letter to the Champion “RW details supplied” questions the result of the EU Referendum “as it is based on dubious facts”, one being that “of those eligible to vote only 37% voted leave (yes, only 37%) and are changing the course of this nation”. Read the letter here  [click to read]

You will find no mention in the letter of the word “democracy” about this narrow but clear constitutional decision. Nor is there mention of the role of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), and the duty on the Electoral Commission to guarantee the referendum legality, which it did.

As for the “only 37%” to leave, general elections have produced governments with 36.9% in May 2015, 36.1% in 2010, 35.2% in 2005, 40.7% in 2001, 43.2% in 1997, and 41.9% in 1992. In post war Britain no government was elected with 50%, the highest being 49.7% in 1955. All those governments changed the course of this nation. Where was the right to take back something that turned out not to be what was promised in any of those elections? Who believes anything politicians tell us other than with a pinch of salt? But for the record “Leave” gained no advantage in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

RW wants us to take heed of the consequences of the referendum for young people. Why, aren’t there any consequences for we oldies ? That wasn’t a consideration when we joined the “Common Market” and we weren’t asked “Do you really want to participate in a common state?” as in a “Remain” vote meaning that Britain is all squared away and ready to continue the march toward political union? Not for me thanks. I was 11 years old when we already knew in 1950 what the future held “Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation ..” The Schuman Declaration May 1950.

It got worse “By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe.” — Europe Declaration made on 18 April 1951, at the signing of the Treaty of Paris establishing the ECSC.

“This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.” European Political Union without end, Amen.

And this “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe.” — Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Chancellor in International Currency Review Vol 23 No 4 1996

“Of course the European Commission will one day become a government, the EU council a second chamber and the European Parliament will have more powers.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing MEPs November 2012. Do I really want Frau Merkel leading the UK by the nose?

The ultimate lie “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.

Not dubious lies, blatant lies, like those concerning the four applicant countries, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway, who would have to hand over to the Community their fishing waters, the richest in the world June 30 1970. So determined was Heath not to offend his prospective new partners that he decided not to challenge them. Britain would simply accept the illegal new fisheries policy, even though this would mean handing over one of her greatest renewable natural assets and would spell disaster for a large part of her fishing fleet. And it did.

Remember June 1975? The month when inflation hit 27 percent, its highest level in history and 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. The supporters of the ‘Yes’ campaign, including the leaderships of all three political parties, did little to disillusion them. The message was that a ‘yes’ vote was all about protecting ‘jobs and prosperity’, offering the lifeline Britain’s ailing economy required. As for any fears that there might be moves towards “an Economic and Monetary Union” and “fixed exchange rates for the pound”, the Wilson Government’s own leaflet to every household promised categorically “this threat has been removed”.

So what saved us all from complete integration? It was a matter of the £, that nobody can take us into the single currency without the consent of the British people. After over many years of sneaky surrender of our democracy, by staying out of the euro we have retained the future of our country in our own hands. And if you don’t think that matters, ask the Greeks and all the countries of the EU that don’t have vast manufacturing industries to rely on, just the lowest status inflicted on them by unelected EU officials. Not for me thanks! In simple terms, I look at a trade deficit of £71billion with the EU in 2016, and an annual gross membership contribution of £13billion to the EU budget. Not for me thanks, that’s a bad deal!

This country, my country, is in big debt trouble. How much good has it done us to be in the EU? Our national debt is the total amount of money the British government owes to the private sector and other purchasers of UK gilts. In August 2017, UK public sector net debt was £1,773.3 billion equivalent to 88% of GDP [Source:1 ONS public sector finances- HF6X]. The interest payments on UK debt are anticipated to be £48.6 bn (3% of GDP). All of the above makes me a committed and democratic leaver.

New Chief Executive and Director of Resources for LCC

The county council’s employment committee has agreed to recommend the appointment of Angie Ridgwell as interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources of Lancashire County Council , subject to the recommendation being accepted by Full Council later on today (26 October). In her most recent role, Angie Ridgwell has been Director General, Corporate Services at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, since October 2016.

Prior to this she was Director General for Finance and Corporate Services at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Before joining central government, Ms Ridgwell  was Strategic Director for Corporate Services and Strategic Director of Organisational Design for Bristol City Council and Chief Executive of Thurrock Council. She has had a career working with a range of local authorities, government agencies and the private sector.

Leader of the council, County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, said “We had an excellent field of candidates and it is testament to Angie’s considerable range of knowledge and experience that the committee felt able to appoint her. This is a crucial time for the county council, as we face an unprecedented financial challenge. Our restructure of senior management recognises that challenge and required us to find an exceptional candidate, someone who not only has highly developed skills as a visionary leader, but also has the necessary professional finance qualifications and experience of managing the finances of a major organisation. Angie fulfils both of those criteria and I’m confident that she can lead us through the implementation of the restructure, and more importantly, play a key role as we plan a positive course through the challenges we face to enable the county council to continue providing key services to the people of Lancashire.”

Ms Ridgwell said of her appointment “I’m extremely proud to be joining Lancashire County Council, one of the largest local authorities in the country, in this exciting new role of interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources. I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge ahead and I am sure that the county council’s members and employees have the passion, commitment and expertise to rise to that challenge and continue to provide the services that the people of Lancashire value so much.”

Popish Disregard For The Views Of Residents?

In a letter to The Champion, Burscough resident Gavin Rattray reminds us of the 96.3% support for the parish poll rejection of the Yew Tree Farm housing development, and the 4,000 signatories to the Parliamentary petition against it. Yet a political claim has recently been made that Burscough residents’ want the development to go ahead. Read the letter here  [click to enlarge]

Newburgh Cllr Pope lives in Lathom, an area not known for raw sewage rising up from inadequate drains. Borough Cllr since 2006, now a recently elected County Cllr for Burscough, (which IS known for raw sewage rising up from inadequate drains) and Rufford.

In the memorable WLBC Full Council meeting on 16 October 2013 Cllr Pope is recorded as having voted FOR the Local Plan including Yew Tree Farm. And it is his remark at a planning meeting that draws the ire of Gavin Rattray.

Perhaps SOME Burscough residents DO want the development? Perhaps they are the 3.7% who didn’t support the parish poll? But five years on and no end in sight to regular raw sewage events will not endear Pope to those who suffer from them.

Why The Secrecy? Frightened We Might Have Clapped Our Hands?

Following our “More Secrecy At Council” article about the Senior Management Structure being held in secret, the story is out. Quite why the saving of over £100,000 a year on a Director level overpaid jobsworth post should have been a secret beggars belief. Perhaps the sounds of us clapping our hands at the loss of another huge salary might have been unbearable? West Lancashire Borough Council has agreed changes to its senior management team, which will save more than £100,000 a year, whilst continuing to deliver on its ambitions for the Borough.

At its meeting on 18 October 2017, the Council agreed the voluntary redundancy of the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing, in a move which means that together with previously agreed measures, the Council will make a total of £267,000 in efficiency savings next year from restructuring. Who knows, the leisure business of WLBC might have been different if the vast income from the council owned Beacon Park Golf Course landfill  had come to the council rather than to private developers!

Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of the Council has said “The Council is under financial pressure, with the need to make an estimated £2.7m of savings over the next three years, and we are keeping our operating arrangements under regular review. The changes will enable the Council to make a significant saving, whilst continuing to deliver the Council’s priorities.”

From 1 February 2018, the Council’s management team will comprise:
Kim Webber – Chief Executive
Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey – Director of Housing and Inclusion
Heidi McDougall – Director of Leisure and Environment
John Harrison – Director of Development and Regeneration
Terry Broderick – Borough Solicitor
Marc Taylor – Borough Treasurer

In terms of transparency the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing post carries a remuneration of £78,515 per annum. A redundancy payment of £84,323 will be made to the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing. Council policy is that when making posts redundant there should be a payback period of less than three years. The changes agreed by Council provide a payback period within 2.87 years.

Redundancy costs have been calculated in accordance with the Council’s Redundancy Policy, which complies with the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006. Pension strain cost will be paid to the Pension Fund of £175,998. The pension strain cost has been calculated in accordance with the Local Government Superannuation Scheme Regulations.

Efficiency savings of £267,000 will be made by the Council from restructuring in 2018/19, £174,000 of which will be made by the General Revenue Fund, and £93,000 by the Housing Revenue Account.

Council Protest

It might have occurred to readers of WLR that over recent times, vitriolic claptrap has been the forte of people who not only insult their electorate as in the “Aughton Doorstep Liars” and the “Backward Aughton Residents” episodes but who walk out of Council meetings so as to leave their local electorate without representation. And those same readers might wonder if the “walkers” will claim their full members’ allowance for part-time attendance? Or might they be considered redundant?

A Press Release from the Labour Leader states “Councillors and local residents were left shocked on Wednesday night following a Full Council meeting of West Lancashire Borough in which the entire Conservative Party abandoned the meeting only part way through. On the agenda for the meeting were seven important issues for debate, discussion and decision ranging from supporting small businesses in Ormskirk and West Lancashire to campaigning for a Government Older People’s Ministerial role.

In response to Cllr John Bullock’s motion to try and better balance the tax burden on local small businesses that seem to be disadvantaged in comparison to larger multinational companies, the Conservative Leader Cllr David Westley replied that the motions were “pointless” and that he and his colleagues would be leaving the Chamber. This happened just a few minutes after 9pm, with the meeting not closing until 10pm.This left many many thousands of residents from across the borough completely unrepresented with Tory Councillors laughing and waving as they exited, including most notably Cllrs John Mee of Tarleton and beaten parliamentary candidate Sam Currie of Aughton & Downholland.

The wards of West Lancashire left without a voice at the Council include Aughton Park, Aughton & Downholland, Hesketh-with-Becconsall [could that be the “Moon Walker? ], Newburgh, North Meols, Parbold, Rufford, Tarleton and Wrightington.

And Cllr Moran said “This is truly shocking and awful behaviour from the 21 elected and paid Conservative Councillors who refuse to take part in council proceedings and represent thousands of their residents. “Not only is this damaging to their own party and I’m sure voters will vent their frustrations at the next round of elections, but it does little to inspire confidence in those of us working hard to serve and better our communities.

“To refer to motions around women and state pension inequality, supporting small businesses across West Lancashire and the Night Markets in Ormskirk, council tax and student accommodation all as pointless defeats the purpose of local democracy. I’d like to assure all residents however that despite the mass Tory exodus last week, Labour Councillors from across the borough regardless of where we represent will continue to work to represent residents from the entire borough”. And this  is the scene as the Tory benches are empty while Cllr Bullock addresses the meeting [click to enlarge].