39 Steps

Readers of a certain age will remember the film about Richard Hannay who becomes embroiled in an international spy ring related to the mysterious “39 Steps”. 

As it happens, a well known flood victim and resident of Burscough, Bernie Webster, has paid a huge “Thank You” to our MP Rosie Cooper and her team for all the work she and they have put in trying to hold the relevant authorities to account for the flooding in Burscough. Hence the 39 steps, an amazing 39 letters involving steps they have taken.

The picture below tells it all

Rosie and her team have put in a huge effort to encourage the Flood Risk Management Authorities to do the right thing and address the flooding issues which have blighted Burscough for more than a decade.

Bernie Webster writes “I personally see this as a vindication of my own position as well as that of Burscough Flood Group and Burscough Town Council, in our efforts to hold the authorities to account. I am sure that Rosie Cooper would not put in so much of her valuable time if she thought we were “crackpots” or were in any way unjustified in our efforts.

“The 39 letters shown are those addressed to me at my home address. In the main, they describe the work she has put in to holding West Lancashire Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, the Local Lead Flood Authority, the Environment agency, United Utilities and Jacobs International, all to account. As you can imagine, faced with the truth about their failures, they have collectively dodged responsibility. No shortage of “Greasy Weasels” here.

“I count 39 separate letters.  She is taking steps to put things right and have them all accurately tell the truth. Sadly, there is no “Mr Memory” in this plot, a “Tall order” indeed.

“Just in case anyone thinks I have a political bias, I can assure readers that I could not bring myself to vote for her party in the last election. Had my vote been for the person and not the party who lost fine individuals like Louise Ellman who lived in West Lancashire, then that would have been a different matter.

From Bernie Webster”.

Of course, this issue is not the end of it. Rosie Cooper takes whatever action she can in the face of the council officer classes. We know them well. When Cllr David O’Toole gave us his memorable thoughts on flooding and developers that “None of the Agencies have any concerns about flooding, we have heard that so many times in the past, then we go and allow a development, and what happens a few months later we have flooding”. And “We have heard from these organisations, particularly the United Utilities and the others that were mentioned, that there wouldn’t be a problem with flooding only to find there is a problem with flooding later on”, he was asked for an explanation of what he said.

As we wrote recently about the “WLBC Head Planning Prefect, the Head of Growth and Development Services, who has written “I have discussed with Cllr O’Toole in terms of what he meant by his statements, and he has informed me that he did not mean to imply we could not trust the advice of statutory agencies, but that rather his concern was that they do not always take on board the views of local residents when they consider that an area has had previous flooding issues. Members receive regular training with regard to issues of pre-determination and are bound by the Members’ Code of Conduct”.

So just why did Cllr O’Toole speak as he did? Perhaps it was the 25 years of living with the seven principles of public life? One of which might suit the situation? “Selflessness. Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest”.

Well, that could never work in West Lancashire if the officer classes decide elected holders of public office should act solely in terms of the developers and United utilities et al? In which case Rosie Cooper might soon be spending yet more of her valuable time in more letters!

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