LCC To Take Enforcement Action Against Cuadrilla

Councillors in Lancashire have turned down the latest of multiple applications from Cuadrilla for more time to restore a shale gas site near the Ribble Estuary. The county council’s development control committee voted instead this morning for enforcement action against the company for not returning the Becconsall site to farmland by the agreed time [pic from Frack Off].

The deadline for restoring the site, which is in the Green Belt and next to an internationally-important wildfowl reserve, had previously been reset by the council four times. Councillors said the decision, which went against the advice of planning officers, was to prevent further harm to agriculture and anxiety to local people. Members of a local campaign group applauded when the vote was taken.

Theresa May on fracking at PMQs “I think shale gas does have the potential to power economic growth in this country. I think it will support thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industries and in other sectors and it will provide a new domestic energy source and we have more than 50 years of drilling experience in the UK and one of the best records in the world for economic development while protecting our environment.

“The shale wealth fund is going to provide up to one million pounds of additional resources to local communities. Local councils are going to be able to retain 100% of the business rates they collect from shale gas developments. We will be bringing further proposals in relation to this during this parliament because this is an important source of new energy and I think it is right that we ensure that we use this and take the benefits of it for our economy, for jobs and for people’s futures”.

A week earlier Dennis Skinner MP asked for seismic surveys in his constituency to stop as there was intermittent discoloured mains water being produced. This was denied by INEOS.

In a letter to the government   [click to read]   nine environmental organisations have told the government they have “growing concerns” about the fracking process. The groups, including Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for National Parks, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and WWF, wrote to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, saying fracking threatened UK commitments to tackle climate change. Mr Clark is expected to give the final go-ahead imminently for fracking at Third Energy’s well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

How Small Sam “Blasted” The Mayor

The “Double Tory Revolt” report a few days ago by Roger Blaxall of QLocal was reminiscent of the apparent bravery of Sam “Pick up thi Musket” Small of the First Foot Guards at Waterloo?

Mayor Neil Furey was “blasted by local councillor Sam Currrie” after a motion was put forward by the Labour group to accept a new Vice Chairman for a committee post previously held by Cllr Pryce-Roberts. Tory Cllr Currie Able Seaman RN Rtd questioned the decision and asked if it had anything to do with her poor attendance at meetings or her career as a senior lecturer at Southampton University.

Not just any plain dry as dust lecturing but Senior Lecturer in the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering. And, she worked as a lawyer and before that in a number of operational and managerial roles for A.P. Moller/Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd. Not to mention her extensive experience of lecturing and running programmes at Liverpool John Moores University and lecturing in Greece and Iran. Teaches BScHons Maritime Business, BScHons Maritime Law and Business, MSc International Maritime Law and Business, MSc International Shipping and Logistics, just to name part of her expertise. Published author of ’15 Years of Shipping Accidents”.

Bearing in mind the WLBC Code of Conduct training programme a few weeks earlier at enormous expense paid to Geldards Law Firm  that Sam may have attended but was probably the recipient of their 170 or so pages of advice on how to behave, especially “you must treat others with respect”  click to read, did Sam have a rush of blood to his head?

Mayor Furey stated this was a personal attack on Cllr Pryce-Roberts and made a thinly veiled threat of legal action against Cllr Currie. Sam, having none of this is quoted “Frankly, if the mayor of West Lancashire doesn’t allow members to question the legitimacy of someone being on the council yet working some 250 miles away then I would question what his role is. His position is supposed to be apolitical but he seems adamant on going along with Labour “cover ups”. [No Tory cover-up has ever been committed in WLBC!]

“The good people of Skelmersdale South have a right to know who their elected member is [they’ve known since 2010] and as I stated on Wednesday before I was ordered to keep quiet, Cllr Pryce-Roberts should declare how much time she actually spends in West Lancashire. As for Cllr Furey’s “get my solicitor involved” comment I say “bring it on”. If speaking out against undemocratic members gets me into a spot of bother then so be it. My only concern is for the people of West Lancashire. Not for the feelings of the mayor or indeed any other elected Labour member”.

Read that again “My only concern is for the people of West Lancashire”…so much concern he walked out on the people of Aughton & Downholland he allegedly represents at Full Council. So let’s see if in the fullness of time someone has the balls to take legal advice on what if any spot of bother Sam is in.

Promises Promises?

In a letter to the Champion “RW details supplied” questions the result of the EU Referendum “as it is based on dubious facts”, one being that “of those eligible to vote only 37% voted leave (yes, only 37%) and are changing the course of this nation”. Read the letter here  [click to read]

You will find no mention in the letter of the word “democracy” about this narrow but clear constitutional decision. Nor is there mention of the role of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), and the duty on the Electoral Commission to guarantee the referendum legality, which it did.

As for the “only 37%” to leave, general elections have produced governments with 36.9% in May 2015, 36.1% in 2010, 35.2% in 2005, 40.7% in 2001, 43.2% in 1997, and 41.9% in 1992. In post war Britain no government was elected with 50%, the highest being 49.7% in 1955. All those governments changed the course of this nation. Where was the right to take back something that turned out not to be what was promised in any of those elections? Who believes anything politicians tell us other than with a pinch of salt? But for the record “Leave” gained no advantage in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

RW wants us to take heed of the consequences of the referendum for young people. Why, aren’t there any consequences for we oldies ? That wasn’t a consideration when we joined the “Common Market” and we weren’t asked “Do you really want to participate in a common state?” as in a “Remain” vote meaning that Britain is all squared away and ready to continue the march toward political union? Not for me thanks. I was 11 years old when we already knew in 1950 what the future held “Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation ..” The Schuman Declaration May 1950.

It got worse “By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe.” — Europe Declaration made on 18 April 1951, at the signing of the Treaty of Paris establishing the ECSC.

“This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.” European Political Union without end, Amen.

And this “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe.” — Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Chancellor in International Currency Review Vol 23 No 4 1996

“Of course the European Commission will one day become a government, the EU council a second chamber and the European Parliament will have more powers.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing MEPs November 2012. Do I really want Frau Merkel leading the UK by the nose?

The ultimate lie “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.” Prime Minister Edward Heath, television broadcast on Britain’s entry into the Common Market, January 1973.

Not dubious lies, blatant lies, like those concerning the four applicant countries, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway, who would have to hand over to the Community their fishing waters, the richest in the world June 30 1970. So determined was Heath not to offend his prospective new partners that he decided not to challenge them. Britain would simply accept the illegal new fisheries policy, even though this would mean handing over one of her greatest renewable natural assets and would spell disaster for a large part of her fishing fleet. And it did.

Remember June 1975? The month when inflation hit 27 percent, its highest level in history and the referendum? Surrounded by all the evidence of a major economic crisis, the British people voted by 2 to 1 to remain in a “Common Market” which the vast majority believed was intended to be no more than a free-trading arrangement. The supporters of the ‘Yes’ campaign, including the leaderships of all three political parties, did little to disillusion them. The message was that a ‘yes’ vote was all about protecting ‘jobs and prosperity’, offering the lifeline Britain’s ailing economy required. As for any fears that there might be moves towards “an Economic and Monetary Union” and “fixed exchange rates for the pound”, the Wilson Government’s own leaflet to every household promised categorically “this threat has been removed”.

So what saved us all from complete integration? It was a matter of the £, that nobody can take us into the single currency without the consent of the British people. After over many years of sneaky surrender of our democracy, by staying out of the euro we have retained the future of our country in our own hands. And if you don’t think that matters, ask the Greeks and all the countries of the EU that don’t have vast manufacturing industries to rely on, just the lowest status inflicted on them by unelected EU officials. Not for me thanks! In simple terms, I look at a trade deficit of £71billion with the EU in 2016, and an annual gross membership contribution of £13billion to the EU budget. Not for me thanks, that’s a bad deal!

This country, my country, is in big debt trouble. How much good has it done us to be in the EU? Our national debt is the total amount of money the British government owes to the private sector and other purchasers of UK gilts. In August 2017, UK public sector net debt was £1,773.3 billion equivalent to 88% of GDP [Source:1 ONS public sector finances- HF6X]. The interest payments on UK debt are anticipated to be £48.6 bn (3% of GDP). All of the above makes me a committed and democratic leaver.

New Chief Executive and Director of Resources for LCC

The county council’s employment committee has agreed to recommend the appointment of Angie Ridgwell as interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources of Lancashire County Council , subject to the recommendation being accepted by Full Council later on today (26 October). In her most recent role, Angie Ridgwell has been Director General, Corporate Services at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, since October 2016.

Prior to this she was Director General for Finance and Corporate Services at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Before joining central government, Ms Ridgwell  was Strategic Director for Corporate Services and Strategic Director of Organisational Design for Bristol City Council and Chief Executive of Thurrock Council. She has had a career working with a range of local authorities, government agencies and the private sector.

Leader of the council, County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, said “We had an excellent field of candidates and it is testament to Angie’s considerable range of knowledge and experience that the committee felt able to appoint her. This is a crucial time for the county council, as we face an unprecedented financial challenge. Our restructure of senior management recognises that challenge and required us to find an exceptional candidate, someone who not only has highly developed skills as a visionary leader, but also has the necessary professional finance qualifications and experience of managing the finances of a major organisation. Angie fulfils both of those criteria and I’m confident that she can lead us through the implementation of the restructure, and more importantly, play a key role as we plan a positive course through the challenges we face to enable the county council to continue providing key services to the people of Lancashire.”

Ms Ridgwell said of her appointment “I’m extremely proud to be joining Lancashire County Council, one of the largest local authorities in the country, in this exciting new role of interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources. I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge ahead and I am sure that the county council’s members and employees have the passion, commitment and expertise to rise to that challenge and continue to provide the services that the people of Lancashire value so much.”

Popish Disregard For The Views Of Residents?

In a letter to The Champion, Burscough resident Gavin Rattray reminds us of the 96.3% support for the parish poll rejection of the Yew Tree Farm housing development, and the 4,000 signatories to the Parliamentary petition against it. Yet a political claim has recently been made that Burscough residents’ want the development to go ahead. Read the letter here  [click to enlarge]

Newburgh Cllr Pope lives in Lathom, an area not known for raw sewage rising up from inadequate drains. Borough Cllr since 2006, now a recently elected County Cllr for Burscough, (which IS known for raw sewage rising up from inadequate drains) and Rufford.

In the memorable WLBC Full Council meeting on 16 October 2013 Cllr Pope is recorded as having voted FOR the Local Plan including Yew Tree Farm. And it is his remark at a planning meeting that draws the ire of Gavin Rattray.

Perhaps SOME Burscough residents DO want the development? Perhaps they are the 3.7% who didn’t support the parish poll? But five years on and no end in sight to regular raw sewage events will not endear Pope to those who suffer from them.

Why The Secrecy? Frightened We Might Have Clapped Our Hands?

Following our “More Secrecy At Council” article about the Senior Management Structure being held in secret, the story is out. Quite why the saving of over £100,000 a year on a Director level overpaid jobsworth post should have been a secret beggars belief. Perhaps the sounds of us clapping our hands at the loss of another huge salary might have been unbearable? West Lancashire Borough Council has agreed changes to its senior management team, which will save more than £100,000 a year, whilst continuing to deliver on its ambitions for the Borough.

At its meeting on 18 October 2017, the Council agreed the voluntary redundancy of the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing, in a move which means that together with previously agreed measures, the Council will make a total of £267,000 in efficiency savings next year from restructuring. Who knows, the leisure business of WLBC might have been different if the vast income from the council owned Beacon Park Golf Course landfill  had come to the council rather than to private developers!

Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of the Council has said “The Council is under financial pressure, with the need to make an estimated £2.7m of savings over the next three years, and we are keeping our operating arrangements under regular review. The changes will enable the Council to make a significant saving, whilst continuing to deliver the Council’s priorities.”

From 1 February 2018, the Council’s management team will comprise:
Kim Webber – Chief Executive
Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey – Director of Housing and Inclusion
Heidi McDougall – Director of Leisure and Environment
John Harrison – Director of Development and Regeneration
Terry Broderick – Borough Solicitor
Marc Taylor – Borough Treasurer

In terms of transparency the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing post carries a remuneration of £78,515 per annum. A redundancy payment of £84,323 will be made to the Director of Leisure and Wellbeing. Council policy is that when making posts redundant there should be a payback period of less than three years. The changes agreed by Council provide a payback period within 2.87 years.

Redundancy costs have been calculated in accordance with the Council’s Redundancy Policy, which complies with the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006. Pension strain cost will be paid to the Pension Fund of £175,998. The pension strain cost has been calculated in accordance with the Local Government Superannuation Scheme Regulations.

Efficiency savings of £267,000 will be made by the Council from restructuring in 2018/19, £174,000 of which will be made by the General Revenue Fund, and £93,000 by the Housing Revenue Account.