“We, West Blankershire, Want To Hear Your Thoughts About Our Financial Future”
In a word, it’s “Dire”. If you look at the WLBC Twitter you will see endless messages about “We are hiring”. But now, it seems our Borough might be going broke. And guess what, the council that blanks people wants us to help with the mess they have created!
WLBC claims “Like many organisations around the country, we are facing unprecedented pressures on our finances due in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic. When coronavirus hit, we quickly set up additional services to support residents and local businesses during the crisis, including a ‘food hub’ for vulnerable families and grants for businesses. Our essential services continued, including our refuse and recycling crews being out every working day and we faced extra costs such as buying protective equipment to help keep us all safe.
“These costs have come at a time when our own income, from services such as assisting with planning applications and leisure revenue (like swimming pools) has dropped. We have also faced a decade of substantial reductions in central government funding. As a result of all of this we need to work hard on behalf of all our residents to ‘balance the books’ as we keep moving towards being a sustainable council.
“As we shape our 2022/23 budget, which will include setting council tax levels for that year, we want to hear your views on how you think we can save money and increase income through our public consultation. To allow us to maintain our current levels of service, we are looking at all of our services to see where we can save money or increase our income to close the gap in our budget”.
Councillor Adam Yates, portfolio holder for Resources and Transformation, said “We were honoured to provide extra services during the pandemic alongside our other essential work to support people living and working in the Borough. But this has had a major impact on our finances. The government has not provided full compensation to councils such as ours to cover the costs of the pandemic, nor to cover the drop in income from the closure of our leisure centres and restrictions on other services.
“As a result, we need to look at our financial position and make some important decisions on how we continue to maintain our services. Your contribution is really important to us and will be one of the factors taken into account when we set our budgets for next year and subsequent years”.
“West Lancashire Borough Council only receives around 11% of the council tax paid to us by local residents. Most of the money raised through council tax goes to Lancashire County Council to provide services such as education, highways (including repairing potholes) and adult care services. The consultation opens on Friday 28 May at midday for six weeks. All feedback and comments are welcomed before the closing date of 9 July (midday)”.
“So please share your views with us by completing this online survey. The survey should take about ten minutes to complete. If you would prefer a copy of the survey in paper format, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org via our customer services team”.
Well, as I recall, I, and all my friends kept on paying our council tax. But WLBC hasn’t kept its promises to us. That policy of a reduction of one third of the number of councillors? Didn’t happen. And what we don’t see is any value from the Lancashire County. Appalling roads and poor maintenance of gutters and gullies, flooding repeated on a regular basis. Outsourcing of essential services, leading to poor housing conditions. Serco being paid for appalling leisure services and conditions.
And just remember when two councillors went AWOL and this Council spent scarce public money on legal advice to keep them in post when the logical response was “good riddance” and stop paying them! Aughton and Ashurst hadn’t missed them! Proof positive, too many councillors. All that lovey dovey crap between Cllrs Westley and Moran was just cringeworthy!
Leisure? Serco? Swimming pools? Golf course? Tell us what we’ve paid Serco during the pandemic, and then give them notice to bugger off. How many breaches of contract by Serco does it take to terminate them? Bring it in house with people we already pay wages to.
And just for once, tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about this crisis. Tell us the WLBC workforce will have to bear some of the misery. End free all day staff parking at Derby Street and other public car parks. End ANY staff perks that we pay for, share the pain! End free councillor parking, share the pain!
Assisting with planning applications? Is this true? Do I, not making any planning application, seriously financially assist my neighbour who is developing his private property to make his application? We should be told!