I am a pensioner. I was a strong supporter of the rights of elderly and disabled residents of West Lancashire to receive equal treatment from the old Tory WLBC that unfortunately did not agree, leading to the social exclusion of some immobile disabled residents. My personal suggestion of honouring the County Regiment led to us having probably the proudest day ever in West Lancashire, with the help of Cllr Adrian Owens who wrote "You will be pleased to learn that this evening the motion passed unanimously. Colonel Amlot from the Regiment was accorded a standing ovation and we look forward to a parade and march through Ormskirk next year. Thank you". After the Parade I wrote to Cllr Owens "I was reading through the emails we exchanged after I made the suggestion to honour our County Regiment. As you said today, we got there in the end, and what an end? This celebration of our Regiment was quite simply, as my original mail said, the greatest honour of all. To see all these young people who risk their lives for us was so moving. Little did I know what Council could do and how our residents would react to it all. Well, we should all be so proud of this great day. I know I am".
West Lancashire Ormskirk & Southport NHS Trust hospitals report 17 new cases of coronavirus infection today, that’s now 4,570 infections, and 3,998 infections per 100,000 of our population.
NHS England has sadly notified two deaths recorded at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. There have been 240 deaths in West Lancashire.
Almost a quarter of Lancashire hospital beds, and nearly all of those in critical care, were taken up by coronavirus patients when the county’s Tier 3 lockdown future was decided. There was widespread criticism in Lancashire towards the Government’s move to place the entire region under the toughest Tier 3 rules, ignoring a plea from councils for the fate of each of Lancashire’s 14 local council areas to be considered separately.
The Government has since released the reasoning behind its decision about the regulations that will come into force across Lancashire when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
The brief summary acknowledged that Covid rates had shown “improvements in some areas” but noted that “pressure” remained on the health service in the county.
NHS data reveals some of the considerations that have weighed on the controversial call to impose Tier 3 status. As of last Tuesday (November 24) just 24 hours before the final tiering decision was made, there were a total of 682 people being treated in hospital for Covid across Lancashire.
Although it was marginally down on a week earlier, when the 700 mark had been crossed for the first time during the pandemic, it was far higher than the 563 peak reached at the peak of the first wave in mid-April.
Of the 682 Covid patients in Lancashire hospitals earlier this week, 617 were occupying general and acute beds, with a further 15 in a high dependency unit and 50 receiving treatment in level three ventilated beds. That meant Covid patients accounted for 48 percent of all those in critical care across the region and 24 percent of those in general and acute wards.
The leader of Lancashire County Council has called for local politicians to have more say in the decision making process behind the Government’s Covid-19 tier system. Well, spare us from this verbal tripe!
The leader has a CBE. I doubt it was awarded for excellence in Covid-19 and what that pandemic has brought us. Some political nonentities are routinely given these meaningless gongs just because they turn up and take the party line and the allowances that go with them.
The leader said he was extremely disappointed that the whole of Lancashire will be placed in Tier 3 restrictions when the current lockdown expires on Wednesday. Actually I’m disappointed in the bullshit that divides the county and the boroughs. Opinions don’t count, it’s facts, science and professionalism that do. Just down the road from us Liverpool’s main Hospital Trust has the third highest number of Covid-19 deaths in England. And as we showed yesterday, within our own borough, in the last week, contrast Skelmersdale Ashurst that recorded a total of 406 infections, up 9.1% (24 new cases) with Hesketh Bank & Tarleton recorded a total of 92.2, down 66.7% (8 new cases). Which tiers would he put them in?
Alongside leaders from other councils in Lancashire the leader had proposed that the county be divided into two different tiers to reflect the areas different coronavirus rates.
This would have meant Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, Chorley, South Ribble, Ribble Valley and West Lancashire going into the lower Tier 2 restrictions. The rate of Coronavirus cases might be reducing right across the county, but there is a wide gap between the highest and lowest rates. The leader said it is always a balance between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods, and getting that balance right will always be difficult. Sorry but it’s too difficult, and dangerous, for me to be in his hands.
He said we know there are still serious pressures on the hospitals and we really want to see that number come down. We also know rates have come down significantly since the time when we were placed in the original Tier 3, three weeks before this lockdown began and in the west and north of the county this is particularly pronounced.
He said was naturally disappointed by the decision to put the whole county into the same tier, and would be speaking to the Government about what the measures will be for coming out of Tier 3. He also thinks it is important that local leaders have more input on these decisions as we know our areas best. Rubbish. What does he know about West Lancashire?
He will also be stressing that more support should be available to people who test positive so that they can afford to self isolate. He would ask that everyone in Lancashire continues to work together and follows the rules to drive the infection rate down even further to strengthen our argument that restrictions should be eased. And he would also like to thank everyone for their sacrifices throughout this difficult and unprecedented time.
I don’t want his thanks. I want a national spirit of stubborn defiance against this pandemic by everyone isolating safely and helping our NHS. Have you noticed the fleeting mention of the NHS in his speech, of “hospitals”? This Lancashire leader has forgotten the scenes we all see. Perhaps it’s because his party has put it up for sale, what with the Virgin Care sell-out in our borough to name just one?
So while he contemplates his navel from the comfort of the leader’s parlour, or whatever, the real fight against Covid-19 takes place in hospital wards and operating theatres. They are the nearest places to complete devotion and commitment any of us will ever see.
And now turn to Rosie Cooper who yesterday wrote “Once again, the Government has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Instead of dealing with Coronavirus based on the science and figures, lazily they have just decided on their tier levels at a County level without due regard to local variances.
“Ignoring the facts of the situation, including falling Covid rates locally here in West Lancashire and the calls by local leaders, Government has continued with restrictions, disruption and misery for my West Lancashire constituents and businesses who will now remain in severe restrictions until at least 16 December despite the reducing levels of Covid”.
Local variances? Science and figures? Skelmersdale Ashurst and Hesketh Bank & Tarleton? Which tier for them, Rosie?
And our third great leader, WLBC’s Ian Moran who writes “The news that West Lancashire will be placed in Tier 3 which is the “very high alert” level when the national lockdown ends next week is a devastating blow to our business and local communities.
“We have all worked so hard to get the number of Coronavirus cases down and this decision today does not feel consistent especially as we are in a better place here than some areas of the country who have gone into a lower tier.
“All the Council Leaders across Lancashire requested a more targeted approach so for areas such as West Lancashire businesses could operate safely and keep our local economy moving and this request has not been considered. We do want everyone to be safe but this blanket approach means that communities and businesses are being restricted unnecessarily by this decision.
“I am very angry about this decision and that we have not been listened to. I am extremely concerned that the hospitality sector which is so important in West Lancashire may not fully recover from this decision today and we will continue to keep working to get out of this tier as soon as we possibly can”.
Consistency? Skelmersdale Ashurst and Hesketh Bank & Tarleton? Which tier for them Ian? Which will you target? And how?
“Flooded of Burscough” writes about his recent experience of contact with “Authorities”. It’s something we all try to avoid, contact with them, but sadly never achieve.
He writes “Readers will detect a very different tone to my submissions to WLR today. This is because I am rather conflicted. Throughout life I have been brought up to be decent, and when someone offers an apology, then I should be man enough to accept it with grace. I would love this still to be the case, but very nearly 5 years battling to save my home from flooding has brought me into very close contact with persons in Authority and though I had always been respectful of them throughout my life, it has come as a bit of a shock to me to finally realise my unerring faith in their honesty and integrity was seriously misplaced.
“In correspondence with the Authorities, I have learned to focus on what has not been said, rather than any replies that are made, as it seems to be the case than many within the Authorities do not want to be found out telling lies, but neither do they wish to tell you the whole truth, so this is regularly withheld and this is to the detriment of the Public that the Authorities serve.
“There are many people who are as good as their word. I hope that everyone who knows me believes that to be the case. There are those who will make their way through life making promises of good deeds in the future which never materialise. These people quite often get to the ‘top’, leaving a catalogue of broken promises and disappointed people behind them. They don’t care if that is the case, they have a different mindset and can fall asleep at night without any thought for those who they have trodden upon.
“So the question here is, “Is this a sincere apology”? I don’t know, but because of my background I will accept it as such, but it is conditional. It needs to be more than empty words, it needs to be backed up by positive steps to support the Public you serve and do the right thing. Please show the residents of Burscough, and particularly Crabtree Lane, what positive steps have been taken by WLBC to resolve the plight of the residents you serve over the last 5 years.
You may also wish to consider whether misleading our MP Rosie Cooper was acceptable.
WLBC Letter below;
“I am in the process of reviewing the correspondence that has either come in directly to the Council from yourself or via the MP and will respond fully in the very near future. However, I must express my sincere apologies for not sending on the notes of the meeting that was held with the County Council, Lead Local Flood Authorities and United Utilities. This was entirely my error, and having checked my emails I have realised that, whilst we did send them to the MP, they were never sent directly to you. I now attach them for you and am quite happy for you to share them with your fellow residents. I will be in touch shortly. Regards”.
Readers might wonder why it takes “reviewing the correspondence” by an officer paid to work for the public before bothering to reply?
It’s reported that West Lancashire Borough Council has given its own housing developer permission to build 44 homes despite opposition from existing residents. Council-owned Tawd Valley Developments can now press ahead with plans to erect 36 houses and eight flats across two sites in Skelmersdale.
After permission was formally granted this week, two separate applications will see 27 semi-detached properties built on land off Northfield and nine houses and a block of eight flats at Brierfield, Digmoor.
Both applications were provisionally approved by the council’s planning committee at public meetings in April and have now been ratified by Heidi McDougall, Corporate Director of Place & Community. Dozens of objections were received against the Northfield plan as well as a petition signed by 145 people.
Among the various reasons cited were the loss of green space and impact on wildlife; the amount of other homes being developed nearby; the limited parking for existing residents being further reduced; potential to create more flooding problems; and the lack of services such as schools and GP surgeries.
Although less objections were raised to the Brierfield application, concerns were also raised over the loss of green space, reduction in parking spaces and impact on living standards for existing residents.
Council officers concluded the developments were acceptable and would have no detrimental impact on each area or neighbouring properties. Work has been ongoing for several months to clear and prepare the land for housing and there is now nothing halting the full development.
Tawd Valley Developments Ltd was formed in 2019 to build 340 homes over five years and the council says it having its own development firm will give greater control over the types of properties being built as well as enabling profits to be ploughed back into services hit by government cuts.
Of major interest are the conditions laid down for the United Utilities’ Property, Assets and Infrastructure as stated “A large trunk main crosses the site. As we need unrestricted access for operating and maintaining it, we will not permit development over or in close proximity to the main. We require an access strip as detailed in our ‘Standard Conditions for Works Adjacent to Pipelines’, a copy of which is enclosed.
“The applicant should be instructed to lay their own private pipe, to United Utilities standards, back to the existing main. If this should involve passing through third party land United Utilities must receive a solicitor’s letter confirming an easement, prior to connection. “A public sewer crosses this site and we may not permit building over it. We will require an access strip width of six metres, three metres either side of the centre line of the sewer which is in accordance with the minimum distances specified in the current issue of “Sewers for Adoption”, for maintenance or replacement.
“Therefore a modification of the site layout, or a diversion of the affected public sewer at the applicant’s expense, may be necessary. To establish if a sewer diversion is feasible, the applicant must discuss this at an early stage with our Developer Engineer at email@example.com as a lengthy lead in period may be required if a sewer diversion proves to be acceptable. Deep rooted shrubs and trees should not be planted in the vicinity of the public sewer and overflow systems. Where United Utilities’ assets exist, the level of cover to the water mains and public sewers must not be compromised either during or after construction”.
To the WLBC Corporate Director of Place and Community Copy to MP Rosie Cooper, from Gavin Rattray
“Thank you for your letter of the 21st October 2020 regarding the ENTEC 2010 Burscough Flood Investigation Report. It is notable that 10 years after the event, WLBC are formally confirming that the report was not shared with planning policy colleagues when formulating the 2012 local plan and not shared formally with councillors but only informally shared with some councillors.
“The rest of your response raises more questions and concerns than it solves with some of my points not responded to. It is clear that you have found difficulty in gaining relevant information that needs responding to, some of your comments relate to hearsay and presumptions, therefore for this and the other reasons that I state below, I believe that the way forward is an independent inquiry into the commissioning, production, publication and implementation of the report and its findings. Unless, you can convince me otherwise, it looks as though taxpayer’s money has funded this report and in the “Public Interest” the public require answers to the many unanswered questions over the failure of this extremely useful report to inform staff, all types of councillors, partners, residents, consultants, developers, businesses etc.
“It was Trevor Dunn as the Principal Engineer who was sent this document on 30 March 2010, I would have thought it extremely unusual and strange if a few people in Planning were not aware of Burscough’s flooding problems and the commissioning of the ENTEC report. If no one in the Planning department was aware then it has major problems which reflects badly on WLBC.
“The ENTEC report was not referenced in the WLBC produced SFRAs 2010, 2012, or the new Draft SFRA L1 Feb 2017 whereby it took until December 2019 to produce the final version which was substantially different to the draft version and which now contains the ENTEC report. Nearly 10 years from its publication it becomes part of the SFRA providing valuable information on flooding in Burscough! The report also did not inform the 2012 Local Plan due to its absence. That raises serious questions about other local and regional documents that it should be connected with and the partners who needed/required this information. I understand that the ENTEC report is now available on the Council’s website, can you inform me when this happened?
“I have seen copies of all the MSfW Meetings from 16 October 2012 to 26 January 2016. The 27 November 2015 minutes are missing. The members attending these meetings voted not to publish minutes for meetings following the 26 January 2016, therefore no minutes exist from that date. Previously I was not aware that this ENTEC report was a discussion point in the MSfW minutes, however, I have checked this again following your letter and can confirm that there is no mention in the MSfW minutes of the ENTEC report and in many of the meetings it is only Trevor who attended from WLBC. I would welcome it if you could provide me with a copy of the minutes that contain the discussion on the ENTEC report. I found that in the 13 sets of minutes, issues concerning Burscough only occurred three times, this is a concern due to the flooding and developments ongoing at the time.
“I have copies of WLBC Interagency Meetings of 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th and the last copy is dated 11 November 2009 and therefore before publication. It is possible that there could be mentioned in the Interagency Meetings sometime after this meeting. I have noticed that they don’t show any attendance from LCC.
“I observed in the 7th meeting minutes that “M R said that UU would object to any development proposals for Burscough within the next few years due to capacity problems in the sewers and pumping stations serving the area”. Also, in another section “D R stated it would be necessary for an FRM1 form to be submitted for the requested drainage study by end of August if it was to be included within the 2009/10 funding programme”.
“These documents are better presented than the later MSfW meetings minutes. I would be grateful if you could provide copies of these Interagency Meeting minutes which I currently don’t have. It was noticeable that again Trevor attended most meeting, however, the minutes show connections to issues involving Planning staff. I would have expected that due to their importance that these minutes would also be shared and available to Planning colleagues.
“From your letter you state that you have no reason to believe that the report was deliberately kept a secret. That does not provide a convincing outcome due to the findings which clearly shows the actions that limited its circulation. An independent investigation is the only way that this can be determined, however, the issue is still the limited circulation that occurred.
“There are many compelling reasons as to why it may not have been circulated: • Impact on YTF and other potential developments planning permissions decisions • Cost of implementing for FRMA partners • Restrict income from new housing • It raises point about what parts of the recommendations have been implemented • Increased costs and additional work for developers • Could be used against the council in potential appeals • Could be used by insurance companies against the council.
“This document was commissioned by an individual/committee in consultation with others within WLBC, also the decision to withhold circulation could have involved other FRMA partners. It is unclear where the funding came from, was there funding from other sources and was it from other Government departments. If any funding resulting from taxpayers money has been used then a full inquiry should be undertaken into: • Who requested this and who authorised the payments • Did it comply with procurement procedures • Were there formal communications with Burscough Parish Council, if not why not • What happened regarding circulation to the partners, via WLBC website and the Public etc • Why did WLBC not provided it to Burscough Parish Council when undertaking the development of the Local Neighbourhood Plan.
“You will be aware that WLBC have a “Duty of Care” towards its residents, it is also required that WLBC provide an environment that is supportive, healthy and safe. As a number of locations within the ENTEC report have continued to have repeat flooding, it is also important to understand what actions were implemented following its publication: • What action was taken to implement the various action points, some of which were immediate remedial action points • Who was aware of this ENTEC report in both WLBC and external organisations • Was Burscough Parish Council made aware or consulted at any stage, before, during or after, the publication and its implementation? If they had been aware of its contents then they would have used this in raising objections on behalf of their residents • When were other organisations made aware of the content of this document?
“A number of the locations investigated in the report have continued to have persistent problems since its publication. In not making this report available to partners and the public, WLBC has allowed flooding to cause chaos around Burscough with people having to deal with repeated flooding and damage to their premises and land.
“It was notable that a few borough councillors were given preferential information by WLBC during the local plan consultation, therefore, please can you tell me which councillors the 2010 report was informally shared with? And whose decision it was not to share it with all councillors and the reason given?
“It is also equally notable that WLBC’s ability to investigate past mistakes and wrong doing is severely hampered because the Borough Engineer in office retired some years ago and its three most senior officers accepted WLBC’s offer of voluntary redundancy last year. It is troubling that they all had to be replaced with personnel with the equal skills and WLBC hasn’t provided an explanation why they were all given such a good opportunity to leave and what the cost to the public purse was. WLBC are currently denying a resident his freedom of information legislation rights in order to keep the cost secret. However, none of those difficulties explains why WLBC hasn’t viewed emails and records from the period and questioned the fortunate early retirees.
“One last thing, you stated that a further offer of a meeting has been made [presumably to me]. I haven’t received the offer, has it been lost or are you the victim of misleading information about me within WLBC. I do not want to be misrepresented, should WLBC make a genuine offer to meet then I would accept”.
Yours sincerely Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group
Sadly, one person has died at Ormskirk & Southport Hospital NHS Trust, registered on November 25. There have been 237 losses in West Lancashire.
There have been 23 new cases of coronavirus infections recorded today. The total is now 4533, that’s 3,965.7 per 100,000 of the population.
Tier 3 “can only meet other households in outdoor public spaces like parks, where the rule of six applies”.
Additional restrictions apply: You can’t mix with other households indoors, or in private gardens and pub gardens. You can meet in a group of up to six in other outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or countryside. Hospitality venues – such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close, except for delivery and takeaway services. Spectator sports cannot resume. Indoor entertainment venues – such as bowling alleys and cinemas – must close. People are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas.
WLBC declares “Car Parking-Income and expenditure”. A summary of the income and costs associated with off street Pay and Display parking and enforcement for the period 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019, is detailed below:
Income, Off Street Pay and Display Parking £625,506 Penalty Charge Notices £59,225 Other Income £1,824 Expenditure £506,447 Surplus £180,108
“Surplus” income is used to maintain and enhance car parks. This includes ensuring the lines and signs are legible and that the car park surfaces are free from defects”. How, if the “Surplus” is used as stated, “to maintain and enhance car parks” is it not expenditure?
Derby Street Monday – Friday
Up to 30 minutes free (parking ticket must be obtained and displayed). 70p for up to 1 hour; £1.10 for up to 2 hours; £1.60 for up to 3 hours £2.00 for up to 4 hours; £3.00 for up to 9 hours. Saturday; up to 4 hours free (parking ticket must be obtained and displayed) £3.00 for up to 9 hours
Benefits of working for the Council. Car Parking “There are ample car parking facilities at all of our sites and all Council employees receive free car parking”. Council tax payers should be told how much employee free parking adds to our council tax.
A reminder. September 2020 “From Planning Portfolio Holder Cllr Dave Evans “Following ongoing review of the effect of free parking on Ormskirk town centre, it is clear charges must be reintroduced to encourage more shopping custom and eliminate those who have been using the car parks for all day free parking. It has been found that some residents have parked up for the day getting the train to Liverpool, which is no benefit to Ormskirk or West Lancashire whatsoever”.
As we wrote “You really couldn’t make it up! The “free parking policy nerds” in Derby Street Towers have lost the plot! Free parking meant free parking and people parked for free. But the nerds didn’t really mean it, or didn’t know what they meant! No surprise there then?”.
And, once again we wonder how the entirely free staff parking perk for up to 500 WLBC staff is of any benefit to Ormskirk or West Lancashire?
News from Lincolnshire County Council that its outsourced IT and finance contractor Serco is seeking to outsource roles to India. Serco, which “looks after” Lincolnshire County Council’s IT and finance system, is set to cut up to ten staff from its local team. It is understood elements of the company’s 38-strong Lincolnshire Government Partnership team, which oversees IT infrastructure and support to users, are being outsourced to Microland, based in India.
A company spokesperson said “Serco delivers a range of services for Lincolnshire County Council including customer services, finance, HR, payroll and IT, employing 350 people. We have started a consultation in process with the IT infrastructure function which is likely to have an impact on less than ten roles, when concluded”.
The county council’s partnership with Serco is worth £70 million. However, the contract, which was set to end in 2020, was beset by poor performance and difficulties in configuring software. The authority fined Serco more than £2 million for poor performance.
Despite this, in October 2018 the council voted to extend the contract for the provision of IT, payroll, HR, customer services, exchequer services and adult care finance until the end of March 2022.
In December 2019, it also agreed another £1.8 million spend to redesign its IT system. The investment saw it adopt systems from, and become part-owner of, Hoople Limited. Hoople oversees services including human resources, payroll and finance for a number of public sector shareholders.
This was after a number of “significant” issues with the council’s current system which began as Agresso and is now called Business World.
James Drury, executive director of commercial at Lincolnshire County Council, stated “Serco are currently reviewing how they deliver certain elements of the IT services provided to the council. Their aim is to create an improved service that better supports new, more flexible ways of working and provides better value for money. We understand that Serco have just commenced a staff consultation as part of this process”.
Imagine it “The authority fined Serco more than £2 million for poor performance”. Where is there anyone in WLBC with the balls to fine Serco for the appalling Beacon Park Golf Course landfill shambles?
that millions of people are refusing to pay the annual TV licence fee after backtracking on a deal to offer free access to the elderly.
The universal free TV licence for over-75s has ended with the BBC confirming they will now means-test those in that age bracket to determine their entitlement. And a third of over 75s households have still not bought a licence, three months after the changes were introduced.
The group “Defund the BBC” is campaigning to make the payment of the licence fee voluntary. Group member Calvin Robinson has now warned the corporation elderly Brits are ready to stop paying for TV access after years of underrepresentation.
Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Robinson said “We hear from so many over-75s saying, ‘actually, we’ve had enough.’ The BBC promised they would keep this licence free for us, they’ve gone back on their promise, it’s the final straw.
“They’re not willing to pay anymore and I think that’s fantastic, people are standing up and voting with their wallet they’re saying no. The BBC has underrepresented us for too long, why should we pay them for this?” Responding to threats of potential incarceration for those refusing to pay, Mr Robinson insisted attempts to launch legal action could seriously impact the BBC’s image. He insisted the corporation had failed to deliver on programmes aimed at core members of the public in a bid to appeal younger viewers among the “woke millennials”.
He added “They can’t take all the over-75s to court, it’s just not possible but if they did, how would it look? But then again, the BBC doesn’t tend to care so much about its image these days. They’ve been chasing this young audience, these woke millennials who aren’t actually interested in the BBC and they’ve been leaving the elderly behind. And now the elderly are saying, why should we bother?”
In a statement, a BBC spokesman said “The past few months have served as a powerful reminder of just how much the BBC matters locally, nationally and globally. Our programmes and services have never been more relevant, important or necessary”.
What a poor deluded bugger he is. The BBC is a disgrace. It pays huge sums annually for “talent”! Gary Linaker does one Saturday night football programme and somebody else does the Sunday programme for one tenth the salary! Spot the difference?