Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, recently wished everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
He went on to tell us about 2019 having been an important year for the Council as “…we have implemented a new operating model and I would like to thank Council staff for their professionalism and continued hard work for the people of the borough”.
But how many new operating models have been introduced over the years, and with what effect? How many Chief Executives and Senior Managers have been and gone, generally taking large exit packages with them? November 2011 Bill Taylor leaves and “WLBC will have two senior managers sharing a new joint managing director role.
The council said the change will save £165,000 a year cutting the number of senior posts from seven to five” just as it was announced that services which could be chopped include free “poop scoops” for dog mess, which seemed appropriate timing? They also removed the council’s grant to a rural bus service running between Liverpool, Lydiate and Southport”.
November 2015, “Gill Rowe will take redundancy after a management restructure was voted through by Cllrs on Wednesday night”. In February 2016 came the new permanent management structure to drive forward its ambitious agenda for the borough, whilst saving the Council more than £104,000 a year. At its meeting on 24 February 2016, the Council agreed the move which will see the Acting Chief Executive, Kim Webber, re-designated as Chief Executive, Head of the Paid Service and Returning Officer, on 1 March 2016. Also, from 1 March there will be four new directorates: Leisure and Wellbeing Services; Housing and Inclusion Services (incorporating Transformation Services); Development and Regeneration Services, and Street Scene Services. The directorates will be supported by Legal and Democratic, and Finance and Human Resources Services”.
“This year has seen the completion of two great housing schemes, one at Walmsley Drive, Ormskirk and Beechtrees in Skelmersdale. The Walmsley Drive scheme was shortlisted for a national award, and the Beechtrees homes really enhanced the appearance of the area.
“We have also made significant progress on our proposals for new leisure and wellbeing hubs in Ormskirk and Skelmersdale. Work will continue on these projects throughout 2020. Each year the Council organises major events for local people to enjoy and to bring people into the borough. In 2019 the Green Fayre, Ormskirk MotorFest and the Ormskirk Christmas of Tales and Festive Lights Switch on were a huge success with MotorFest in particular attracting record crowds.
“With the new year about to begin I am really excited about the beginning of the new town centre for Skelmersdale, with building work scheduled to start on site in January. This is an incredibly important project, not just for Skelmersdale but for the whole of West Lancashire.
“2020 also sees a number of key developments moving ahead in Ormskirk town centre, including upgrading the pedestrianised area of Moor Street, which will allow for an extension of the historic twice weekly market. There is also the development and re-awakening of Wheatsheaf Walk as a public square, which vastly improves an important link between one of the main carparks and the town centre. This will positively impact the surrounding retailers, as well as the overall aesthetics of the town.
“These are just some of the exciting things we have to look forward to in the future as the Council continues to be ambitious for the borough, ambitious for its people, businesses and places and continue to strive towards achieving the goals in the Council Plan”.
Sadly, for many West Lancastrians, there are major omissions in the message. There is no mention of the upcoming developments of housing on our greenbelt land, there is no mention of the top secret Jacobs report on foul sewage flooding of Burscough, and there is no mention of the ongoing landfill royalty scandal of the Beacon Park Golf Course, which was planned for completion in April 2019 but we now know officially is destined to remain as a building site until late summer 2020. We might well ask, what is the future for these issues? We won’t be told by WLBC, but we will find out and tell the public about them.