Readers will recall the expertise recently called on by WLBC from the QC Jacqueline Lean
There are some concerns around West Lancashire about the extreme and costly measures the Borough Council took to retain the Ashurst councillor absent for six months and then to blandly ignore the decamping of the Aughton & Downholland councillor to London. Both of which council tax is paying for. So it seemed natural to raise the issue and seek to complain to WLBC about it.
But the wheels of local authority justice, having been literally in overdrive to retain the Ashurst councillor in post, went into dead slow, and the “procedure” and ultimate consideration by a monitoring officer. Well, no thanks, been there, done that!
So I wrote “I think we are in danger of missing the entire point of what is happening in this borough. Out of 54 elected members we have had instances of two elected members not attending for up to six months but presumably being paid their allowances. But while in respect of council business they were not and have not been missed, the public perception is different.
“And because it is, apparently, a public intention by all parties in the borough that we should be represented by only 36 elected members, by their own policy we might conclude there should never have been an attempt to revive the representation of the Ashurst member, a process that cost taxpayers £800 for legal fees, and the fact of Cllr Currie admitting in public he lives and works in London. How can he represent me in the full range of duties he was elected for from London? It is safe to say we are witnessing the proof if it were needed that we are one third over-represented by our elected members.
“As for the Register of Interest, that completed by Cllr Currie is as if he was not now living in London, and you may not know that he has publicly used the media to state “My son lives 200 miles away just 2 mins from what would be classed as my “second home”. I have not seen him for 2 months”. Nor, I suggest, has any needy elector of Aughton & Downholland.
“Cllr Currie signed his Localism Act 2011 Notification on 7/5/16. It hasn’t been amended and I believe I am entitled to consider it is now untruthful and invalid. You write “you don’t feel that he represents you” but it’s more than that, it’s a fact that he doesn’t. He made a decision, he published it, he departed, and yet we still have a legacy of payments to him.
“Had common sense prevailed, we would by now have been two down and sixteen to go in the intended reduction of elected members to 36. I realise you will explain there is a legal process. How that will resolve my complaint I can only surmise. Using the Ashurst councillor model, officers will be ordered to obtain legal advice from a highly paid QC that miraculously converts six months absence to “the statute does not, at least in its terms, allow a retrospective dispensation to be granted, and the point I have noted in para 13 above, it would be advisable for any decision on dispensation to be taken on 15th April 2020, if at all possible” and probably for Cllr Currie “the statute does, at least in its terms, allow Council to ignore a public resignation, allow an Aughton & Downholland councillor to live in London, and be paid the allowances as if he were not living in London”.
“For the record, on 23 May 2020 Cllr Currie publicly tweeted “The distinction between right and wrong was clear. They either apply to everybody or nobody”.
And to revert back to claims of “Living locally” as in “I now work for a local estate agency” how local to West Lancashire was/is the estate agency “Entwistle Green Allerton” contained in his Register of Interest now and at the time Currie was wanting to be our MP?