Sunday Sermon Special

Rosie Cooper MP has commented on the announcement that West Lancashire is to be placed in Tier 3 level restrictions. She said “I very much welcome any interventions to stop the spread of Covid-19 which protect the health and wellbeing of my West Lancashire constituents, and saves lives.

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“While the restrictions are welcome in terms of reducing contact to bring down the spread of the virus, what is not welcome is the manner in which this whole fiasco has been handled, and the complete lack of resource being provided to support the restrictions.

“Residents and businesses have been left in limbo all week with Government leaks indicating what might happen, but no decisions made upon which to plan.

“I am still unclear on what financial support is coming to West Lancashire to support the new restrictions, have the council been given extra funding to start the food hubs again? Have the police been given extra resource or powers to enforce the measures?

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“As with many decisions being made by Government, they haven’t thought about or planned fully for the consequences. West Lancashire needs to be supported by central Government with funding and resource so that constituents’ health and safety is protected”.

The honourable lady knows, or should know, the WLBC is taking care of reserves we taxpayers have provided over the years. The first category of reserves are usable reserves, which “may be used to provide services, subject to the need to maintain a prudent level of reserves and any statutory limitations on their use (for example the Capital Receipts Reserve may only be used to fund capital expenditure or to repay debt)”. The useable reserves amount to £24,386,000 at March 2020.

“The Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability and has in place a formal Complaints Procedure, Anti-Money Laundering Policy, Whistleblowing Code and Anti-Fraud, Bribery and Corruption Policy. The Council has a zero tolerance policy towards fraud and corruption. The Council’s Whistleblowing Code provides the opportunity for anyone to report their concerns confidentially and enable them to be investigated properly”. Beacon Park Golf Course anybody, any takers for honourable whistle-blowers clearing their consciences? Public inquiry any time soon?

The Council terminated the contracts of 56 employees in 2019-20 in different service areas incurring liabilities of £2.397m (£0.288m in 2018-19). This consisted of 31 voluntary and 25 compulsory redundancies. The majority of the compulsory redundancies related to changes in the operation of the Ormskirk market, and involved the ending of part time contracts. Most of the market staff affected had other substantive contracts within the Council in Environmental Services.

During the past financial year it seems WLBC paid the £2,397,000 to 21 officers in bands £55,000-£59,999/ to £110,000-£114,999, all one-off redundancy payments. The redundancy slush fund was operating, exclusively, in robust health, unlike the stagnant but useable reserves that could be helping the “at risk of Covid-19” constituents Rosie Cooper is talking about! Tomorrow would be good!

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