Monthly Archives: February 2020

Moving To Online GPs?

Could hinder local CCG and ambulance support for patients

warns Rosie Cooper MP. Yesterday Rosie warned that patients living in West Lancashire who choose to register with online GPs based outside the area risk losing out on certain support from West Lancashire CCG or the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

“The unforeseen effect on registering with an online GP out of the area is that West Lancashire CCG does not represent or work with this online practice, as its partners are all West Lancashire based GPs.

Rosie has recently been contacted by a constituent who reports he had his NWAS transport provision to a referral appointment in Chorley cancelled at the last minute once it was identified that his online GP was registered in London, and so West Lancashire CCG refused to cover the cost of the transfer.

Rosie said “This highlights the unexplained difficulties with an online GP and one which has meant that an important medical appointment may have been missed by the patient and cost the NHS money due to internal financial policies. The Secretary of State should remedy these deficiencies or ensure that there is a duty to explain the consequences of an online or out of area GP service. West Lancashire CCG should not be denying support to residents who exercise their right to choose to access their GP provision elsewhere, be it online or otherwise, particularly when registering with a GP app widely promoted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“Patients should however consider this unforeseen effect before choosing to move. I have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who has been an advocate of this type of online GP system, to ask how he plans to mitigate the effects or at the very least ensure they are made clear to patients before they do move.

“I have also written to West Lancashire CCG to ask that they review this policy on provision of ambulance transfers and whether it serves the best interests of residents and patients in West Lancashire”.

Local medical services for local residents is surely a necessity? Unless this is a smokescreen for covering diminishing medical services while housing developments multiply the patient numbers? Sounds like another embuggerance factor at play?

The Oakland Golf and Leisure Pension Fund

In answer to a query about the disclosure of an Oakland Golf and Leisure Pension Scheme with Jonathan Russell Snellgrove and Sharon Marie Snellgrove both of Mill Cottage, 20 Rockery Road, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5AS as Trustees, all of the information is publicly available via Companies House,

under Oakland Golf and Leisure (UK) Ltd Registered Number 09350603.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09350603/charges

Charge 1 26/04/2019 Contains Fixed Charge(s) and Contains Negative Pledge. Persons entitled Lloyds Bank PLC.  Brief description.  The property known as 62 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 4AP registered at HM land registry with title number WYK690096. Contains fixed charge. Contains negative pledge.

Charge 2 delivered 10 September 2019 Status Outstanding. Persons entitled Jonathan Russell Snellgrove; Sharon Maria Snellgrove; Dcd Trustees Limited. Brief description; Contains fixed charge. Contains floating charge. Floating charge covers all the property or undertaking of the company. Contains negative pledge.

What is noticeable about the relationship of Oakland Golf and Leisure with Serco/WLBC is that while UK Sports Parks Ltd Registered Number 06874084 was finally dissolved on 13/04/16, WLBC had received planning application 2016/0040/FUL to vary 2011/0787/FUL on 12 January 2016 and Mr Harrison, Interim Director Planning WLBC, signed the permission on 22 February 2016. A simple search by any competent officer as required by due diligence, even at this late stage, of UK Sports Parks Ltd, would have exposed the directorship links to the issues of the unpaid HMRC £100,000 VAT liability. 

Let us be quite clear, that as it stands, parts of the Beacon Park Golf Course are unrecognisable from its former glory. It will not be restored for a long time.

The landfill project has produced huge sums of royalties to the various participants. The losers are the talented senior golfers and the council tax payers of West Lancashire. Perhaps Rosie Cooper MP will be active on their and our behalf to bring forward a public inquiry, and the sooner the better!

 

No Council Due Diligence, Less Council Control Over Assets

We recently wrote about “Local Council Due Diligence? Never Heard Of It!”

in respect of the Beacon Park Golf Course and the landfill royalty swindle thereon. Under the swindle, only Serco Leisure Operating Ltd, its West Lancashire Leisure Trust, and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd/Oakland Golf and Leisure (UK) Ltd had rights of development, resulting in WLBC turning a blind eye to the golf course ruination, especially crass in view of the £1 lease debacle!

But there was another element to this debacle, as we paid due diligence to the people involved in what a WLBC senior officer regularly referred to as “Oaklands”. We found rather more than he did about “Oaklands”. Because whereas WLBC council tax payers still have no financial gain, and very little leisure from the golf course wreckage, others have consolidated their assets.

The old Cottage Fields Sports Park Limited, Director Jonathan Russell Snellgrove, became UK Sports Parks Ltd Company Number 06874084, ultimately dissolved on 13 April 2016 after concluding a massive VAT avoidance of £100,000.

Who can forget that “Serco have proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and have agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period. The surplus income share is based on 1/3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, and Serco Leisure Operating Limited”. And as SLOL lays claim to ownership of the Leisure Trust their share is 2/3rds? Below, we turn to the remaining beneficiaries of the landfill.

“Oaklands” and its directors. Jonathan Russell Snellgrove and Sharon Marie Snellgrove, both of Mill Cottage, 20 Rockery Road, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5AS, who we now find to be Trustees and members of the Oakland Golf and Leisure Pension Fund, address 94 Consfield Avenue, New Malden, Greater London KT3 6HE,  VAT ID GB 313356928.

Described as the “Mortgagor” of a property at 62 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds S18 4AP, the Land registry shows the property sold for £678,500 on 26 April 2019, the same date the Chief Land Registrar was notified of a mortgage deed between the said Trustees (the Mortgagor) and the Lloyds Bank plc (the Customer).

What with all of this wheeling and dealing based on the landfill royalty, the tax avoidance and evasion, the only innocent people, the council tax payers who want to play golf, can perhaps benefit from street golf?

Just don’t play it on Long Lane, Aughton!

Serco Dividend “Back From The Dead”!

Shareholders in Serco plc are to benefit from their first dividend in 6 years after the outsourcing “giant” triumphantly returned to growth.

It will pay shareholders 1p per share, with “boss” Rupert Soames hailing it as an important milestone!

But there is apparently no truth in claims being made in West Lancashire that the profits made from leisure offshoot Serco Leisure Operating Ltd division at the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill royalties project enabled this astonishing “1p” dividend to be declared.

The payout has lifted shares by 4.7%. Serco is ridden with its criminal electronic monitoring of dead or imprisoned criminals. Soames exposed the small amount of landfill royalties Serco received to Rosie Cooper MP after her pressure for them to own up. Soames describes the news as “escaping the gravitational pull of past mis-steps” [mis-deeds?]

Serco Leisure Operating Ltd declared profit for the year ended 31 December 2018 to be £2,643,000, increased from £2,131,000. The Directors did not recommend the payment of a dividend. 

The Festering Sore of Flooded Burscough

It’s not unusual to detect the aroma of impropriety and bullshit around the handling by LCC of the Jacobs Report news today. Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) are stakeholders in the process and provided much of the flooding information. However, LCC obfuscated and kept their editing of the report secret from BFG and the public. BFG state “We don’t know how much they edited the consultants’ report nor do we know how much they guided the consultants, because LCC wouldn’t let us communicate directly with the consultants except for one occasion when they were present. Nor would they let us see the draft report”.

So what does LCC have to hide?

As represented by LCC Councillor for Burscough and Rufford Eddie Pope, not a lot, apparently, if you read the Champion article. But while he was fulsome, even verbose, with his press statement, he, and an LCC Officer, are reported to have walked out of a meeting called by LCC because a Burscough resident declared his intention to record the meeting. However, there is no law which prohibits a member of the public from covertly recording a conversation or a meeting of which they are a part.

Perhaps Cllr Pope is not conversant with “Open and accountable local government” unless he is seeking press co-operation? We do have strong, 21st century, local democracy where local government bodies are genuinely accountable to the local people whom they serve and to the local taxpayers who help fund them. It is a legal duty for the local government body to follow the new provisions.

We report on a timeline of the festering dispute BFG has with LCC. 9 August 2018 “LCC ask us to meet with Jacobs to help them and also told us in the same meeting that once the Jacobs report was draft we would get to meet Jacobs again and comment on it. LCC supplied the minute taker who takes notes and the notes don’t reflect all of that information. LCC then remain incommunicado until November”.

In November 2018 “BFG and LCC walk round flooding hotspots in Burscough with Jacobs and supply a large amount of flooding information collected by residents”.

On 11 October 2019 “Jacobs report was published draft in October 2019 and passed to United Utilities (UU) and WLBC (and possibly the Environment Agency (EA) also) for review”.

On 6 December 2019 “BFG ask for a copy of the draft report and LCC refuse several times”.

On 20 January 2020 “Jacobs report amended by comments from FRMA and re-issued final”.

February 2020 “LLC write to us and state, “The report from Jacob’s perspective is final in that they have completed their technical appraisal. For us this means a draft “final” report. It will remain draft until we sign it off as complete. The report is being shared with the group in advance of it going public. If the group identifies errors or omissions relating to the data you have provided, then you can raise them with us”.

On 18 February 2020 “LCC Councillor Eddie Pope hand delivers a copy of the final Jacobs report to Burscough resident Bernie Webster with draft written scrawled on it in felt tip. The Councillor said, “I’ve had a quick look through and there’s nothing in it to stop the development” (some paraphrasing).

On 19 February 2020 “LCC invite us to a meeting then cancel it on the morning of the meeting. LCC then remain incommunicado”.

On 20 February 2020 “Though LCC having confirmed a meeting at under 24 hours’ notice, Mr Webster is the only one able to attend, so he attends by himself. Prior to the meeting Mr Webster tells LCC he wants to use some method of recording the meeting agreeable to LCC, because not everything has been recorded in the past. When the meeting begins Rachel Crompton and Eddie Pope walk out after Bernie says he is going to record the meeting and then begins to record for the benefit of the BFG members unable to attend. Mr Webstater states that recording won’t be distributed to anyone else if LCC wish but that made no difference”.

On 21 February 2020 “Mr Webster writes to LCC to say how sad he is that LCC left and asks for another meeting to be arranged at their convenience and is any method of recording agreeable to LCC such as voice recording or stenographer. LCC are incommunicado”.

It’s reported that Mr Webster has opened a personal complaint about an LCC officer. BFG are in the process of making a complaint to LCC about the scope of the report, which misses some of the biggest problems, lists the responsibilities of UU, LCC, and WLBC, and misses some of the flooding responsibilities and their failure to consult with their stakeholder BFG.

It’s like the misleading 2016 S19 report on the Boxing Day 2015 flood all over again. Then LCC obfuscated in order to refuse to acknowledge photographic/written evidence of flooding provided by BFG. That stank too! Perhaps it’s not so much a festering sore as festering LCC grade bullshit but which is funded by we taxpayers?

Tax Avoidance, Evasion, And Landfill Tax Fraud

House Of Commons Debate On Tax Avoidance And Evasion

House of Commons Hansard 25th February 2020 included “The moving target of criminality, as it relates to landfill tax fraud”. Is the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill  soon to be investigated by HMRC? 

Mr Kevan Jones MP (North Durham) (Lab)


“I wonder whether the Minister thinks that there is a strong ethos of enforcement within HMRC, especially on landfill tax fraud, which I will speak about. In a case I was involved in, HMRC was not interested unless there was more than £20 million a year in evasion. Does that not send a signal that some people can get away with evading large amounts of tax, because there is not an ethos in HMRC to properly investigate?”

Steve Barclay MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury


“As a point of principle, HMRC always seeks to collect the tax that it is due. One of the areas of innovation—I will come on to such areas as Making Tax Digital—is about making that easier for HMRC, but I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman is making a point more about fraud than error. The underlying principle is that HMRC always looks to collect the tax that it is due, but if he has a specific point on a constituency basis, I know that my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will always be keen to discuss it with him, because he has a zeal for cracking down on any such practice”.

Mr Kevan Jones
“On the analytics, what is HMRC doing to track individuals who set up companies, fold them after two or three years and then open up new companies? A constituent came to me with a case in the cosmetic surgery industry where the same individuals moved from one company to another while owing huge amounts to the Inland Revenue and to local councils in council tax. What is HMRC doing to track these individuals? The three individuals involved in the company my constituent highlighted to me have evaded huge amounts of tax”.

Steve Barclay
“The right hon. Gentleman raises an important point about the moving target of criminality and the ingenuity of approaches to evade tax or abuse the tax system. That is partly why I referred earlier to the fraud service set up within HMRC in 2016. It is also a key part of how technology is used in a dynamic way within HMRC to tackle that moving target of criminality. As I said in answer to his earlier intervention, if in their surgeries Members are told of case involving firms or local authorities in their constituencies, that intelligence is obviously of relevance to colleagues, and I can commit that the Financial Secretary would take those forward”.

Rosie Cooper MP has been to the Beacon Park Golf Course

to see the landfill, including the unlawful excessive landfill now being moved around the course to lessen the effect of the “footgolf” and new “9Hole course”. Serco Leisure Operating Ltd, Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd (and associate companies) and WLBC, must now be investigated as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has committed.

David’s Got Talent

You remember Aughton’s Got Talent

the annual Aughton “Showbiz” extravaganza shows? Run by Dr David Gallagher and Eunice Woof MBE, they were highly successful for charities like the Queenscourt Hospice and The Stroke Association.

Well now, it’s been announced that David Gallagher will perform a “One Man Show”, probably for the British Heart Foundation at Aughton Village Hall on Saturday 5 September 2020, 7.00. – 10.30 pm

Tickets will cost Adults £10, Children, senior Citizens £5.

Dr Gallagher writes

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Four crossed out… three crossed out … around two hours of entertainment, well that’s what I’m calling it anyway, for your delight and delectation at the Aughton Village Hall.

“I will be doing my: Impressions; Comedy act; Magic Act; Singing Act;
Dancing Act.

“Not necessarily in that order and not for that long either, maybe an hour and a half?…What do you think I am, superman or something? I also apologise in advance for unconsciously ripping off any previous catchphrases, jokes or material that comedians have done in the past and who have influenced my comedy style. It is quite intentional, I mean, unintentional, not the style… no…oh I give up.

“Plus I still need a lot of practice on my magic act, which is rather sketchy at the moment. I do have some tricks up my sleeve, though.

“Singing and dancing act, well that’s quite different, both of them together at the same time?… Well, I’m not quite sure about this one just at the moment. This is subject to a clear bill of health from the doctor and it also involves me dual- or double-tasking, whatever you call it…is it multi-tasking? I will have to ask any ladies who come on the night.

“And…I will be wearing a series of disguises (or maybe just silly hats depending on the budget) throughout the evening.

“The bar will be open and refreshments at the interval, if I manage to rope some people in, I mean, I am nearly 100% positive that there will be some biscuits and cake left.

“Anyway, all proceeds above what I’m paying to hire the hall and all my expenses and that…no I won’t be chauffeur-driven to the Aughton Village Hall… I will be either on my bike or in the Chicago car, well that’s what I call the All that Jazz or Honda, don’t ask me what the registration is… I am saving that for my Memory Act, which I am not doing this time because of possible litigation from some Count somebody or other.

“All the money, except any that potentially might rest in my current account for a bit until I work out how much I have lost on the night, will be going to named charity, British Heart Foundation? So come on down, the price is right, and it will be nice to see you, to see you, nice. I want to tell you a story… what do you mean, he’s before my time, just like that! My coffee has gone cold while I am writing this, so I will have to put it in the microwave.

“Songs? Don’t laugh at me cause I’m a fool; Singin’ in the Rain; Moon River; Strangers in the Night; Hushabye Mountain; Heartbreak Hotel; The Boxer; The Wanderer; Somewhere; The Good Life; My Way.

“Comedy Act? School register. Poems; A reading from the book of D.

“Piano? The Wind; The Rain; The Sea; Butterflying Theme

“Piano/ Vocals? Blues Rejection; Chardonnay

“Guitar and Vocals? The Rain; The Stranger; Edyta Butterfly”

There will be tea, coffee, biscuits and some cakes for the interval. The bar will also be open. Put it in your diary.

Cutting Councillor Numbers? All Our Yesterdays! Nothing Today!

The scandal of over-representation of the public by elected members is overdue for correction

On Tuesday, 7 April, 2015 the West Lancashire Conservative Group launched its Manifesto for the Borough Election on the 7th May 2015. The then Leader of the Council, David Westley said “The Conservatives have an excellent record over the last 14 years whilst in control of the Council, providing fairness for all [Really? Pensioners losing an annual travel grant was fairness? Discrimination against the elderly was fairness? Probably, to an ignoramous!] low council tax, value for money frontline services and investment in our town and village centres. Our Manifesto builds on these achievements and provides a clear choice for the all the residents of West Lancashire”.

The manifesto included “Councillors & Elections. Reduce the number of Councillors by at least a third and move to single ‘all-out’ borough elections every four years, saving more than £100k a year”.

Moving on to October 2018

the WLBC Labour Group issued a press statement that included “At the recent meeting of West Lancashire Borough Council, Cllr Adam Yates of Ormskirk’s Knowsley Ward moved a motion to reduce the number of elected members.

“West Lancashire Borough Council has recently begun a full organisational review, in order to ensure that the council remains sustainable in the face of further austerity cuts to council funds by the Conservative Government. The motion to review councillor numbers, which was seconded by Cllr Yates’s fellow Knowsley Ward councillor, Cllr Gareth Dowling [ Later corrected to Cllr Adrian Owens] is in response to this review, as the restructure could allow for a change in the role of a councillor and therefore the number of members needed.

“This Labour administration has a strong track record of looking to offer value to residents, having previously ended the free bar for councillors, which was enjoyed by the Conservatives under the Finance Portfolio of Cllr Adrian Owens, and having continuously frozen allowances since we took control, including for the next two years.

“It makes far more sense to look at the overall number of councillors we need, which is why I have called for the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to be contacted. We hope to get the ball rolling ahead of the SORP report, due to come to Council in July 2019, which will give us a much clearer idea of how the council can be restructured to provide the best value and quality of service to all residents”.

But now, the future of all of Lancashire’s councils could depend on whether the county can strike a devolution deal with the government, and the conditions attached to it. The region has been told that it should simplify its multi-layered local authority system in return for extra powers and cash.

Officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) informed a meeting of Lancashire’s 15 council leaders that a “revised” structure would be expected for a devolution settlement, Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver has revealed. Depending on any future agreement, that could result in all of the region’s councils – county, district and unitary – being radically redesigned or disappearing altogether in their current form.

The region would also have to create a new combined authority and establish an elected mayor – similar to the roles formed in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region – who would ultimately be responsible for the devolved arrangements.

Council Comments

Reaction so far from the district and city councils to the latest proposals has been limited. But West Lancashire Council leader Ian Moran said the government’s demand for reorganisation was far from definitive.

“They told us we should have a good look at it, but didn’t say we absolutely had to reorganise. Devolution is supposed to be about power coming back down to the people, not being sucked to the centre in Preston. It shouldn’t be about taking services further away from the people.

“If we have to merge any of the districts, then that is something for the districts themselves to decide. Senior civil servants have said that any combined authority should be based on local economic drivers – and ours are over towards Liverpool and Manchester. So whatever we do has got to be right for West Lancashire” Cllr Moran said.

The government has been offering local areas devolution deals for just over five years and, by 2019, ten agreements were in place with different parts of the country, six of which have resulted in the formation of mayor-led combined authorities.

The additional powers and cash on offer vary from one place to the next, but typically include control over integrated transport, adult education and strategic planning. The minimum cash offer from government for such a deal is usually an additional £30m every year for 30 years.

Some of the more ambitious agreements, such as that covering health in Greater Manchester, attract much greater sums. But the deals have proved politically and practically difficult to negotiate in some localities, not least here in Lancashire, where there are more councils involved than any other area which has so far agreed a devolved set-up.

As ever, to quote Lewis Carroll, ‘The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam today”.

What Will May 2020 Bring Wally Westley?

You may recall, May 2015

when Westley claimed to the Visiter “OWL is less of a political party and more about failed political ambition together with an ill thought out set of policies designed to grab a headline than bear serious consideration”?

Stupidity personified, as we all know. By February 2020 OWLs “less of a party” now have 6 West Lancashire wards. That’s some failure? That’s not “grabbing headlines” but gaining seats. That’s not “ill thought out policies” but policies the public voted for. And we have another OWL policy for the public to consider, especially for Aughton given the huge allowance amounts disclosed today,

“Councillor allowances or “pay” in West Lancashire is voted on and agreed by… you guessed it, councillors themselves. Our West Lancashire believe that this process should be more transparent than it is. That’s why today we are publishing our submission to the IRP for all to read. What’s more we are calling on the Labour and Conservative groups to also publish their stance on councillor allowances by releasing their submissions to the IRP.

“There is though a small group of outside people who advise on allowances. They are known as the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). This month, they have asked each of the three political groups for their stance on councillor allowances as they conduct their review before providing their advice”.

We should be told in time for the May 2020 elections what each party stance is. He who pays the piper calls the tune?