A Lack Of Respect For West Lancashire Residents?

We residents of West Lancashire often seem not to respected by politicians. Here in Aughton, we continue to raise the issue of the Westley lies accusation, that in petitioning against the Tory local plan he himself was reported by the independent press for what he said. It was nasty and malicious, and untrue. It was a complete lack of respect. But he knows no better.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 (3046401)
Calls for councillor to quit after ‘waste of time’ slur
by Danielle Thompson

AUGHTON residents are calling for Councillor David Westley to resign – after he called the two-year campaign to keep Parrs Lane in the greenbelt ‘a waste of time’ and alleged that door to door campaigners had told lies.

After Colin Atkinson, chairman for the Aughton Residents Group (2012) raised the issue of the formulation of the neighbourhood plan to discuss the future of Aughton at public question time at the Aughton Parish Council meeting on Monday December 9, Lancashire County Councillor Westley, who represents Aughton and Downholland told Colin Atkinson that campaigners had wasted two years talking to the Borough Council.

He said: “The campaign was a disaster, lies were told door to door and the campaign was a waste of time”. He then walked out of the meeting at Aughton Village Hall amid shouts that the campaigners had not lied, jeers and calls for his resignation.

The matter of big party disrespect is what Our West Lancashire opposes

They claim “When Councillors do decide to attend meetings and work with their residents and electorate, there is evidence of disregard for those they are supposed to represent. In February 2016 five Labour councillors and a candidate attended a resident group meeting. Emails were subsequently seen by the Champion where they discussed that the groups needed to be got ‘shut’ of and be ‘banned’ from Council buildings.

In 2017, a Cabinet Member for WLBC had the audacity to suggest that residents shouldn’t be able to sign petitions on certain matters. The Council’s Solicitor had to step and correct him on the matter. At an October 2017 Borough Council meeting, every single Conservative councillor walked out! Swathes of West Lancashire were left unrepresented for half of the agenda. Extra support for events in Ormskirk and pension justice for women born in the 1950’s were debated , all without a single Conservative voice in the room.

Things not always as they seem…

There is a perception that politics can be a bit of a ‘closed shop’, hard to get into without knowing the right people and hard to progress in if you’re not in with the right crowd. Unfortunately, the actions of the two main parties in West Lancashire don’t help clear this up. As some examples of this attitude, too many for a full list,  –

In April 2019, during the election period, the council invited only one of the Knowsley ward candidates, from the ruling Labour group, to a meeting for Ormskirk’s town centre businesses. Concerns were raised before the meeting about the council’s approach and ignored, giving one candidate an unfair advantage.

The 2014/15 planning committee for WLBC was made up of three members of the same family, all Councillors. That meant that one household controlled an eighth of the entire planning committee. Council and committees should be representative of the local population.

The LCC Gravy Train

Out of 42 Conservative councillors on Lancashire County Council, 33 of them have special responsibilities. With these responsibilities comes extra money, £7-8,000 on top of the £10,000 normal allowance. These special responsibilities and allowances are handed out by the Council Leader. Only 95 MPs can get Ministerial pay – that’s less than one third of MPs in the current national government, compared to more than 75% at County Hall in Preston.

Apathy and disregard of voters, nepotism, and greed

What can be done about it? We, OWLs, propose a cut in the number of councillors on WLBC from 54 to 36. We want to see a reduction in councillor allowances to the level of Lancashire averages. We suggest a cap on the amount of Special Responsibility roles at County level.

Clearly, the culture within the big two parties needs to change. The residents that councillors represent deserve respect and their money should be spent fairly. OWL is wholly committed to putting residents first and foremost, you can read our policies here, see the progress we have made so far, and get in touch if you would like to get involved and bring about more change.

Why vote for party politicians tomorrow?

As we all know the two big parties are stopping Brexit, the biggest democratic vote ever delivered in this country. They simply can’t be trusted. If you vote for either of them tomorrow, you will be endorsing their Brexit policies at a local level. Whichever party gains most seats, or loses less, will claim that as a victory. You can envisage the headlines. But you can use your vote to endorse your leave vote in 2016 by spoiling your ballot paper by writing Brexit across it. There are some wards where you can vote for the independents. Do so if that is your wish. Otherwise, protest at the sad spectacle of this once great country on its knees to the EU because of May and Corbyn, and say no to their policies, no dirty deals on customs unions!

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