We no sooner write about low standards in the West Lancashire Borough Council that we hear about even lower standards in the Lancashire County Council.
LCC has a Conduct Committee, after its Standards Committee was abandoned in 2012. “The purpose of this Committee is to determine whether a councillor or co-opted member has failed to comply with the Council’s Code of Conduct and if so, to determine what action, if any, to take. The Committee also considers the granting of a dispensation to a member or co-opted member allowing him/her to participate in any discussion at a meeting or vote in relation to any matter in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.
“The Committee will normally be dealing with confidential information and consequently the greater part of its meetings will be in private. Further information about the Committee can be found in the Constitution.
“All County Councillors will represent their communities and bring their views into the Council’s decision-making process, i.e. become the advocate of and for their communities; deal with local issues and act as an advocate for constituents in resolving particular concerns or grievances”. You are a member or co-opted member of the Lancashire County Council and hence you shall have regard to the following principles – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership”.
Email to WLBC Cllr Owens “You wasted your time collecting signatures for your petition which I have just dispatched to the bin. I have previously explained at length to you why our HWRCs are closed but if you tell me which part of the government instruction “stay at home, except for essential journeys, in order to protect the NHS and save lives”, you do not understand, I will do my best to explain it to you in simple terms.
I know that government is reviewing this matter and if they change the classification of ‘essential journey’ to include a trip to the HWRC, then of course we will reopen them. In the meantime, Lancashire will abide by government instructions. I cannot speak for any other local authority so you will have to ask them why they are prepared to encourage their residents to make none essential journeys.
County Council Leader Geoff Driver has been criticised by an Independent Borough Councillor after he described resident concerns over the closure of household waste sites as a waste of time saying he had “dispatched to the bin” a petition from more than 260 concerned West Lancashire residents.
Ormskirk Councillor Kate Mitchell from Our West Lancashire described Cllr Driver’s outburst as “rude and petulant”.
“As Leader of the County Council, he should reflect on the concerns of local residents who signed this petition and the many others from across Lancashire including our Borough Council Leader, Ian Moran and the other political groups at County Hall. His response was a disgrace to democracy.”
However, within hours of the petition being received, LCC shifted their position, issuing a new press statement in which they talked about plans for a re-opening of the waste and recycling sites.
Cllr Mitchell said “It seems our petition, along with many other voices, has helped to shift the County Council forward. Our petition called for a plan for a controlled re-opening of the sites, and it seems that is now what the County Council are moving towards. What a pity that County Councillor Driver has to be so dismissive of the views of Lancashire residents that he binned those concerns immediately upon receipt”.
Press release from OWL: A petition launched by Our West Lancashire and signed by more than 250 residents has been sent to Lancashire County Council this morning calling for a controlled re-opening of Lancashire’s waste and recycling centres. The move coincides with news that waste centres in Merseyside and Greater Manchester will be opening in the next few days.
Our West Lancashire now say that Lancashire risks standing out like a sore thumb in refusing to change. OWL Chairman, Cllr Adrian Owens “Recent guidance is that household waste and recycling centres should be open wherever possible. Some have not shut at all during the crisis and many more are now re-opening.
“This petition shows the strength of feeling in West Lancashire. I hope it will encourage Lancashire County Council to catch up with their neighbours and re-introduce this important service for residents. It can be done safely as other councils have shown.”
Driver has form. For the record, Lancashire County Council Conduct Committee Minutes of the Meeting held on Tuesday, 13th August, 2013, “The Committee considered a complaint made under the Code of Conduct by County Councillor Bill Winlow against County Councillor Geoff Driver. The process for the consideration of complaints in accordance with the principles agreed by full council were set out, along with the specific issues in the case as set out in the report. Resolved: That, having regard to the views of the Independent Person, the conduct of County Councillor Driver at the meeting on 21 May amounted to a breach of the Code of Conduct in that he had failed to treat Cllr Winlow with respect. Resolved: That, i. having regard to the views of the Independent Person, County Councillor Driver should provide a written apology to Cllr Winlow in respect of Councillor Driver’s conduct at the meeting on 21 May. ii. the terms of the apology were not prescribed”.
Seems nothing much changes at LCC, low standards stay low even 6 years on! And LCC takes the vast majority of our council tax to be led by this!