The One Minute Decision That Will Ruin Ormskirk Market?

“The Ormskirk Market report was passed by the WLBC councillors on cabinet in less than 1 minute with no questions asked or comments made”.

OWL WLBC Elected Councillor Adrian Owens recently wrote “Seldom can I recall a council decision so poorly made and so poorly justified as the council’s planned changes to the operation of Ormskirk market from April. I’d much prefer to be able to show you the officer report which went to the council’s cabinet and critique it, but the report is private and confidential”.

WLBC publishes “Open data in the public sector is about increasing transparency and sharing the information we hold with the wider community. The Local Government Transparency Code places requirements on local authorities to publish information in order to increase democratic accountability and make it easier for local people to contribute to the local decision-making process and help shape public services.

“Council expenditure, Procurement information, Payment Performance, Organisation chart, salaries and pay policy, Fraud, Land and property ownership, Social housing assets, Trade union facilities, Council constitution and meetings, Council tax, Elections, are all listed under transparency”.

Sadly, transparency in and by WLBC is a disappearing trait. There are some serious issues, eg flooding in Burscough, the Ormskirk Market, the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill royalties, and West Lancashire Leisure Partnership Cabinet Working Group to name but four.

You may have seen this on WLBC Twitter and Facebook.

“Customers and visitors love Ormskirk Market, as this wonderful review shows. Come along tomorrow (25Jan) and see what our great market has to offer #Ormskirk #OrmskirkMarket –”

But Christine Fairclough wrote “Did you see Michael Portillo at Norwich’s award winning market this week. Some interesting ideas about markets. Great British Railway Journeys prog”

Andi Fowler wrote “A day out”? How? It takes an absolute maximum of an hour to go round the market, and that’s being generous……

And Mark Roughley wrote “Ten minutes and you are done unless you want to go in the charity shops”.

How NOT to make a decision and NOT bring the public, staff, and traders along with you.

From Cllr Adrian Owens  “…it seems from the reaction of the council since then, that the attitude of “least said, soonest mended” prevails. Unfortunately for the council, public disquiet understandably continues, so I will try to shed some light on the matter.

“The decision was taken by the council cabinet (7 Labour councillors who hold the senior decision-making positions) in June last year to approve changes to the operation of the market from April 2020. The report before councillors gave the impression that the changes were required to save money and that the market traders had been widely consulted and were in favour of the changes. The report was passed by the councillors on cabinet in less than 1 minute with no questions asked or comments made”.

He goes on “No relevant officer attended the [Market] meeting. This pattern of rapid decisions by cabinet followed by no chance for effective scrutiny is a sustained pattern at the council. The first three questions I asked at Overview and Scrutiny Committee this year received the answer “We don’t know” from the officers present”.

“We raised questions with the council’s health and safety manager. After two weeks he went away on holiday with the questions unanswered. I raised concerns with the portfolio holder, Councillor Yates in November. He promised to keep me updated about his discussions with officers. Nothing. I asked questions of the Council Leader, Councillor Moran in the council meeting in December. No answers. I corresponded again with Councillor Yates at the beginning of January…well you can guess the result”.

There will be council elections in May. Will you vote for people who remain oblivious to the Local Government Transparency Code for their own ends?


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