Paying Council Tax for Counsel

A jobsworth is a person who uses their job description in a deliberately un-cooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. The term can also be applied to those who uphold petty rules even at the expense of humanity or common sense. But sometimes enough is seen to be enough. As it is in West Lancashire Borough Council with specific application to the Burscough area floods and the scandal of the Beacon Park Golf Course ruination for the filthy lucre of royalties being paid to Serco et al.

So, as you might expect, better to ask the relatively new Chief Operating Officer, for her guidance as to the circumstances that may arise when West Lancashire Borough Council requires the advice of counsel on matters pertaining to council services as they affect council tax payers.

“In the recent very menial case of the Ashurst Ward elected member who by her ongoing, six months, absences from council meetings, albeit still receiving allowances, was within hours of being dismissed from elected office, WLBC decided it needed the advice of counsel rather than a decision of the WLBC lawyers/legal officers. The cost to taxpayers, £800, was for “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” [Backdated, of course].

“By comparison, in Burscough, homes and streets are often flooded by surface water and raw sewage, yet campaigners against this are driven to despair by the opposition of WLBC and LCC and the failure of United Utilities to provide what should be standard health and safety conditions, enjoyed in most of the borough.

“Also by comparison, Serco Leisure Operating Limited trousers annual contracted payments to provide leisure services which in some instances fall short of acceptable standards, witness cockroaches in swimming baths.

“And at the Beacon Park Golf Course the appalling “development” by landfill to create some illusionary improvements that have destroyed much of the course and facilities has led to the unaccountable creation of royalties, the unaccountability of value added tax on the imported landfill services, and the involvement of companies, partners of Serco Leisure Operating Limited, with records of huge VAT avoidance. How does the WLBC Constitution allow for these condoned contracts/relationships with convicted companies?

“As for the creation by council of Tawd Valley Developments Limited, property developers, there has been much public concern that no elected members serve as company officers, and council tax is possibly at risk without public accountability.

“Noting the ease and speed with which WLBC obtained the advice of counsel for the menial Ashurst elected member case, probably now filed under “public stitch up”, might I, as a council tax payer, be allowed the same facility of a counsel for an inquiry into the upcoming finalisation of the WLBC leisure contract extension, including Beacon Park Golf Course, with Serco; ditto for the hard working members of the Burscough Flooding Group who simply want modern standards of drainage and sewage, and ditto for an examination of the circumstances surrounding what were “secret” committee considerations and decisions of the creation of Tawd Valley Developments Limited without elected member participation?

“All of the above under Freedom of Information Act 2000 if that is what it takes. In the belief that taxpayers are entitled to equality with elected members and officers I would formally ask that WLBC is able to provide counsel with the experience to match the seriousness of the issues raised here”.

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