Category Archives: NewsWatch

Putting Ashurst At The Top Of The Agenda?

** ATTENTION ASHURST RESIDENTS **

It seems there was more going on in Ashurst ward than the long absence from council meetings of the Labour Cllr Hodson. There was going to be an intruder into the Skelmersdale Labour comfort zone. An independent candidate was on the scene, and making many friends and supporters.

Meet James Upjohn who had published a manifesto for the May 2020 local elections, only for the coronavirus to delay him for a year.

He wrote “Driving around Ashurst, it’s clear that it’s one of the nicer parts of Skelmersdale. We have The Tawd Valley to the west, Westheads Clough to the south, Beacon Park to the east and Cobbs Clough to the north! We are literally framed with biological heritage sites, an abundance of wildlife and areas steeped in natural beauty. What a fantastic location.

“Ashurst SHOULD be one of the most desirable places to live in all of West Lancs and Skelmersdale as a whole SHOULD be a commuters paradise with it being the gateway into both Liverpool and Manchester. Look how conveniently placed we are on the map! Less than 40 mins to both major cities, beaches, world-class shopping at Liverpool One & The Trafford Centre, we really should have people falling over themselves to live here!

“Years of neglect means that we can’t shake the poor man of the borough image that Skelmersdale has though! Of course, there’s been a lot of government cuts but that doesn’t excuse West Lancs sitting on £26 million of OUR money in useable reserves. Why aren’t our councillors actively campaigning that we spend some of it on making Skelmersdale a better place to live?

“ALL 7 wards of Skelmersdale are considered the most deprived in West Lancashire and among the most deprived in the whole of Lancashire! (West Lancs CCG report 2015) Ashurst is lacking many things that other areas of similar population, across the UK, take for granted. This includes a decent number of good parks, a reliable and efficient bus service and a hall that can be used for all types of functions. One of the greatest tragedies in Ashurst was the giving away of our Community Centre to be used as private enterprise.
“Wandering around Ashurst, it’s clear the council are starting to tackle our litter issue but there’s so much more that could be done! With so many volunteer groups springing up, taking matters into their own hands, it’s easy to see what has prompted the council into their new found enthusiasm for litter! Ashurst lacks litter bins and lacks anti-litter campaigns to bring about the generational change that’s needed here. This is an easy fix and our councillors should be actively working towards these things.

“Take a walk along our black paths and you’ll see years of decaying leaves everywhere and the abundance of constantly flooded subways! I’m actively reporting these but would love to be in a better position of influence to lobby LCC for a permanent solution!

“It’s time we had someone that will Stand Up for Ashurst and I want to be that person! Please like my page, go through my posts and see everything I’ve been doing to Stand Up for Ashurst, the place I live and love!

“The amount of land earmarked for future housing developments in Ashurst is frightening. There’s too many new houses being thrown up without the infrastructure to support them and someone should be standing up for the residents and saying ENOUGH! (I’ve looked through all the council meeting agendas and can tell you this has NOT happened! No councillor speaking out publicly at our meetings against these things!)

“We at least deserve councillors that give us the voice we need so we can go from being a decent place to live to being an AMAZING one. I want to represent you, I want to stand up for you and I want to bring about the REAL change that’s much needed. Let’s work together to give Ashurst residents they say they deserve in our Borough Council meetings.

“At the end of January 2020 I created Skem First. I did this because I realised that our town needed a central online hub to bring all of Skelmersdale together. With so much happening in Skem and most people finding out “after the event”, it’s my hope that Skem First becomes the go to group to find out what’s happening in and around Skelmersdale”. 

He’ll be back for May 2021, you be sure of it! Doesn’t sound like HE will miss six months of council meetings?

On Common Decency And Honesty, Right And Wrong

Readers will recall the expertise recently called on by WLBC from the QC Jacqueline Lean

There are some concerns around West Lancashire about the extreme and costly measures the Borough Council took to retain the Ashurst councillor absent for six months and then to blandly ignore the decamping of the Aughton & Downholland councillor to London. Both of which council tax is paying for. So it seemed natural to raise the issue and seek to complain to WLBC about it.

But the wheels of local authority justice, having been literally in overdrive to retain the Ashurst councillor in post, went into dead slow, and the “procedure” and ultimate consideration by a monitoring officer. Well, no thanks, been there, done that! 

So I wrote “I think we are in danger of missing the entire point of what is happening in this borough. Out of 54 elected members we have had instances of two elected members not attending for up to six months but presumably being paid their allowances. But while in respect of council business they were not and have not been missed, the public perception is different.

“And because it is, apparently, a public intention by all parties in the borough that we should be represented by only 36 elected members, by their own policy we might conclude there should never have been an attempt to revive the representation of the Ashurst member, a process that cost taxpayers £800 for legal fees, and the fact of Cllr Currie admitting in public he lives and works in London. How can he represent me in the full range of duties he was elected for from London? It is safe to say we are witnessing the proof if it were needed that we are one third over-represented by our elected members.

“As for the Register of Interest, that completed by Cllr Currie is as if he was not now living in London, and you may not know that he has publicly used the media to state “My son lives 200 miles away just 2 mins from what would be classed as my “second home”. I have not seen him for 2 months”. Nor, I suggest, has any needy elector of Aughton & Downholland.

“Cllr Currie signed his Localism Act 2011 Notification on 7/5/16. It hasn’t been amended and I believe I am entitled to consider it is now untruthful and invalid. You write “you don’t feel that he represents you” but it’s more than that, it’s a fact that he doesn’t. He made a decision, he published it, he departed, and yet we still have a legacy of payments to him.

“Had common sense prevailed, we would by now have been two down and sixteen to go in the intended reduction of elected members to 36. I realise you will explain there is a legal process. How that will resolve my complaint I can only surmise. Using the Ashurst councillor model, officers will be ordered to obtain legal advice from a highly paid QC that miraculously converts six months absence to “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” and probably for Cllr Currie “the statute does, at least in its terms, allow Council to ignore a public resignation, allow an Aughton & Downholland councillor to live in London, and be paid the allowances as if he were not living in London”.

“For the record, on 23 May 2020 Cllr Currie publicly tweeted “The distinction between right and wrong was clear. They either apply to everybody or nobody”.

And to revert back to claims of “Living locally” as in “I now work for a local estate agency”  how local to West Lancashire was/is the estate agency “Entwistle Green Allerton” contained in his Register of Interest now and at the time Currie was wanting to be our MP?

Sad News For West Lancashire

Sadly three patients died from coronavirus at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals, reported as two having died on May 25 and one on May 24 but recorded today. Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has recorded a total of 138 deaths.

Yes Prime Minister Revisited Re 2020

Sir Humphry tells the Prime Minister Mr Cummins he misled the House Country

Sir Humphrey   “Unfortunately, although the answer was indeed clear, simple, and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated and the facts, insofar as they can be determined and demonstrated, is such as to cause epistemological problems, of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bear”.

Dominic Cummins   Epistemological? What are you talking about?

Sir Humphrey: You told a lie.

Struggling Skelmersdale Trader Screwed

While a Concourse shopping centre trader is pleading with owners to cut rent, the company concerned, London & Cambridge Properties, has made huge profits and for the last full year alone increased its underlying profits, described as key performance indicators, by 6% to £61,367,000.

“I’m paying full service charge for full complement of security guards, a full complement of cleaners but we’ve got reduced security and cleaning, reduced heating and lighting. Is that right?”

The business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, says requests to the operators have fallen on deaf ears, leaving him and others fearing for their livelihoods.

In the shopping centre only a small number of tenants, such as Iceland and Home Bargains have been able to stay open. Those forced to stay closed are now counting the costs of dramatic losses in income, with some attempting delivery services to make up some of the shortfall.

The owner said that his business has received a grant of £10,000 to help towards the drastic loss of income but fears this will quickly run out once rent and money owed to suppliers is paid out. A temporary suspension of business rates has also helped but the shop owner said that he paid about £1,500 a month to LCP to cover rent and utilities, as well as a further £3,000 annually for a service charge to cover other expenses such as security and cleaning staff.

He had hoped bosses would reduce these during the lockdown but said that numerous requests had been ignored. He said “I’m paying full service charge for full complement of security guards, a full complement of cleaners but we’ve got reduced security and cleaning, reduced heating and lighting. Is that right?”

The businessman stressed that traders were not asking for rent to be wiped off, but instead a small reduction to help make the loss of income more manageable and allow them to continue trading when possible. He suggested that the business rates being saved on unoccupied properties could cover some of the costs and that traders would repay any gesture from LCP by ensuring that there were still businesses around to attract customers when it becomes safe to do so again.

“They’ve done nothing since the start of this to help us, it’s not just me saying this. You should be helping us to pay rents to make sure we’re sustainable so you’ve still got businesses who can reopen. Support us, help us. We’re not asking for no rent, we’re asking to be in it together”.

A few years ago LCP stated it “is undergoing an ambitious expansion programme, not least with its current focus on local convenience parades in the retail sector”. That seems like it was bad news for the Concourse! £61million profits and its ambition to expand them even while its tenants are in trouble isn’t exactly philanthropic is it?