Category Archives: NewsWatch

Paying Council Tax for Counsel

A jobsworth is a person who uses their job description in a deliberately un-cooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. The term can also be applied to those who uphold petty rules even at the expense of humanity or common sense. But sometimes enough is seen to be enough. As it is in West Lancashire Borough Council with specific application to the Burscough area floods and the scandal of the Beacon Park Golf Course ruination for the filthy lucre of royalties being paid to Serco et al.

So, as you might expect, better to ask the relatively new Chief Operating Officer, for her guidance as to the circumstances that may arise when West Lancashire Borough Council requires the advice of counsel on matters pertaining to council services as they affect council tax payers.

“In the recent very menial case of the Ashurst Ward elected member who by her ongoing, six months, absences from council meetings, albeit still receiving allowances, was within hours of being dismissed from elected office, WLBC decided it needed the advice of counsel rather than a decision of the WLBC lawyers/legal officers. The cost to taxpayers, £800, was for “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” [Backdated, of course].

“By comparison, in Burscough, homes and streets are often flooded by surface water and raw sewage, yet campaigners against this are driven to despair by the opposition of WLBC and LCC and the failure of United Utilities to provide what should be standard health and safety conditions, enjoyed in most of the borough.

“Also by comparison, Serco Leisure Operating Limited trousers annual contracted payments to provide leisure services which in some instances fall short of acceptable standards, witness cockroaches in swimming baths.

“And at the Beacon Park Golf Course the appalling “development” by landfill to create some illusionary improvements that have destroyed much of the course and facilities has led to the unaccountable creation of royalties, the unaccountability of value added tax on the imported landfill services, and the involvement of companies, partners of Serco Leisure Operating Limited, with records of huge VAT avoidance. How does the WLBC Constitution allow for these condoned contracts/relationships with convicted companies?

“As for the creation by council of Tawd Valley Developments Limited, property developers, there has been much public concern that no elected members serve as company officers, and council tax is possibly at risk without public accountability.

“Noting the ease and speed with which WLBC obtained the advice of counsel for the menial Ashurst elected member case, probably now filed under “public stitch up”, might I, as a council tax payer, be allowed the same facility of a counsel for an inquiry into the upcoming finalisation of the WLBC leisure contract extension, including Beacon Park Golf Course, with Serco; ditto for the hard working members of the Burscough Flooding Group who simply want modern standards of drainage and sewage, and ditto for an examination of the circumstances surrounding what were “secret” committee considerations and decisions of the creation of Tawd Valley Developments Limited without elected member participation?

“All of the above under Freedom of Information Act 2000 if that is what it takes. In the belief that taxpayers are entitled to equality with elected members and officers I would formally ask that WLBC is able to provide counsel with the experience to match the seriousness of the issues raised here”.

The Splendour Of Martin Mere, Burscough

From the Daily Mail and Dr Michael Ebdy, an amazing story of West Lancashire nature.

“The reed warbler has a number of attributes, including agility and a distinctive singing voice. Intelligence clearly isn’t on the list. Indeed, this one proved spectacularly birdbrained when she returned with a tasty morsel in her beak. Confronted, not by little warblers but a very large cuckoo chick, she didn’t bat an eyelid and dropped food into its gaping beak, believing it was one of her own offspring.

“The images were taken by Dr Michael Ebdy at Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Burscough, Lancashire, who explained the warbler’s action. ‘The instinct to feed is provoked by the red mouth of the chick and is so strong that it overrides the obvious fact that this is not a warbler chick!’ he said.

“The bizarre scene is the result of the cuckoo’s sneaky habit of laying eggs in the nests of other species and leaving the unwitting birds to raise their chicks which then head to Africa in August.

“Dr Ebdy, a GP who recently came out of retirement to help fight coronavirus, said ‘The cuckoo’s behaviour is called brood parasitism and is remarkable in several ways. Firstly, the cuckoos lay different coloured eggs to mimic those of the various birds acting as hosts. Secondly the parent’s instinct to feed is provoked by the red mouth of the chick, and is so strong that it overrides the obvious fact that this is not a warbler chick! Lastly, the parent cuckoos fly back to Africa in July. The chicks do so in August, never having met their parents, yet somehow they know where to go. Amazing”.

The No News WLBC

It seems that news of the voluntary redundancy of the previous WLBC Director of Development and Regeneration, John Harrison, has still not reached a “Principal Planning Officer”. It happened in the seismic and dynamic “July 2019” major restructuring process “which will take more than a year to implement”.

Well here we are, June 2020, and apparently John Harrison is still signing off planning matters. Did he really leave? We should be told! Perhaps there is a cardboard cut-out on his old seat?

The alternative is that WLBC has no funds to replace the Planning Department top and tail letter notepaper, But emails can be changed! Wakey wakey!

No Covid-19 Deaths In Lancashire/West Lancashire

No new Covid-19 deaths were recorded at hospital trusts operating in Lancashire in today’s daily NHS England figures.

It is the third time this week that no further deaths were reported at Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust, and the fourth time this month.

Although any day when no announcement is made is good news, it should be noted that there is regularly a delay in reporting deaths and that weekend numbers are typically delayed further.

Boris As Fat, Or Fit, As A Butcher’s Dog?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that he will be “doubling down” on his pledge to “level up” the distribution of wealth across the country, promising to spend tens of billions of pounds on building hospitals, schools, housing developments, broadband and road and rail infrastructure.

Declaring himself “as fit as a butcher’s dog”, the PM also called for restraint as lockdown eases and the hospitality industry starts to reopen its doors, warning that large groups were potentially risking strict localised lockdowns.

Fit to drop, by the looks of him?

Huytons Of Town Green Closes Down After 70 Years Today

“Well today is the last time we will be closing our doors Mr and Mrs Huyton are finally retiring.

“We would like to thank the customers past and present for what has been a wonderful 70 years trading it’s been a blast and without you all it wouldn’t of been the same.

“Finally to our wonderful staff past and present who have been part of the Huyton family, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

“Wish everyone the best for the future and keep safe and well, John , Helen, Jane, Danny, Alex, Sean Mia and David Huyton. THANK YOU.

It’s rumoured the shop premises have been sold for housing development.

Looks Like The Pagoda Will Go.

The oversight committee voted 6-5 in favour of its removal.

All six Labour councillors (none representing Ormskirk) voted in favour. Labour cabinet are expected to rubber stamp this.
OWL Cllr Owens (Derby Ward) said “I voted against the removal of the pagoda. There are arguments both ways, but our argument is that given the public outcry about the decision to remove the pagoda in isolation and not as part of a comprehensive improvement scheme,

“it was right to halt and carry out another consultation that engaged local residents. The council consultation last summer clearly failed to get a representative view. It received only 28 responses, yet over a thousand expressed an opinion in a poll just two weeks ago with over 90% opposed to the removal of the pagoda at this time. Labour chose to ignore those views last night.”