Whoever that “Champion” is, is bound as are all elected councillors, to the seven principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. He’s bound by the maxim of “You are accountable for your decisions to the public and you must co-operate fully with whatever scrutiny is appropriate to your office”. And “You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of your authority and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions”. And “You must always treat people with respect, including the organisations and public you engage with and those you work alongside”. And “You must promote and support high standards of conduct when serving in your public post, in particular as characterised by the above requirements, by leadership and example”. [LCC Last Updated – 23 May 2019 by Full Council-Owner – Democratic Services]
The Burscough Flooding Group themselves have operated in the knowledge that if and when they needed the help of elected members of the WLBC and LCC, they could point to those standards and believe they would receive assistance with their endeavours.
One elected member, Cllr Pope, born in West Lancashire, has lived in Lathom for the last 28 years. He’s employed as an accountant by the University of Central Lancashire. A member of the Alt Crossens Advisory Group, claiming to be a “Staunch supporter of the Green Belt and maintaining essential council services, he seeks to support local business and community by creating a safe, healthy environment, with minimal council charges. Cllr Pope is available to help local people and be a voice for the residents of Newburgh Ward”. He is paid £4,842 by WLBC for his efforts on behalf of Newburgh residents, currently showing 77% attendance.
Cllr Pope became the County Cllr for Burscough and Rufford in May 2017. He chairs the LCC Pension Fund Committee for which he is paid £7,620 towards total allowances of £18,451 by the LCC last year.
But Cllr Pope seems to have had a spat with Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) that represents fed-up flooded out, unsafe, Burscough residents. There is clearly no love lost in the relationship. The residents of Burscough do not like to be flooded, as you can imagine. So Burscough is stuck, unwillingly for many of its residents, with LCC Cllr Pope until 2021. They quite reasonably look at the obligations contained within the opening paragraph above.
Not everyone will be aware that before BFG met Jacobs Engineering and shared their evidence and knowledge of the flooding problems in Burscough, Cllr Pope was thought to have praised the BFG work for the community.
And they may not be aware that Cllr Pope is believed to be requesting a meeting with the Chairman of Burscough Parish Council, in order to complain about BFG doubting LCC’s honesty and BFG delaying the Jacob’s Flood Report for 7 months.
It follows a meeting arranged between two LCC Officers and Cllr Pope with the Vice Chairman of BFG. Very fortunately the BFG Vice Chairman was anticipating that LCC might have deliberately arranged to meet BFG when only one person could attend (because it was a weekday and LCC gave less than 24 hours notice) and that they might either try to bully him into accepting the finalised Jacobs report on Burscough’s Flooding Problems without time to review it, or they might try and shift the blame onto BFG for LCC’s long delay getting Jacobs started on the project. LCC’s further 2-3 month delay editing the report, LCC’s month long delay first arranging a meeting with BFG followed by their cancelling twice.
“In all LCC had delayed the Jacobs flood report for Burscough approximately 7 months; and that is just one reason our Vice Chairman wanted an irrefutable record of the meeting. He’s a retired police officer and so was very open and polite in emailing LCC in advance stating that he wanted an accurate record of the meeting and LCC could record it themselves for both parties which they ignored; and again politely telling LCC again on the day of the meeting as soon as he started recording”.
As the Secretary of the BFG has revealed “I’ve heard the recording and I can tell you it’s 9 minutes long and isn’t very exciting, more a record of what I think is unusual behaviour by a politician, i.e. leaving a room with a microphone on in it and drawing a Council Officer out of the meeting to stop it.
“Obviously, we don’t expect LCC would uphold any complaint from a residents group about LCC’s contempt of residents but we can joke that the sight of a retired police officer armed with questions and a recording device definitely put the wind up LCC and Councillor Pope.
“All joking apart now, LCC’s seemingly deliberate delays, means the Jacobs report is too late to either improve the drainage conditions or stop the second phase of YTF. Yet the first phase has already increased flooding on the A59 and Crabtree Lane;
and the second phase is going to add further to the regular flooding on the A59 and at Langley’s Brook”.
You could be forgiven for thinking it is the residents of Burscough and the BFG who are compliant with all of the standards listed in our first paragraph, and they should have every expectation that any and all people elected to public office can prove to be compliant with them too?