Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 12, 2018

Down At 52 Derby Street WLBC Discriminates Against The Public

In West Lancashire Towers , and all over the country, council treasury wallahs are apparently facing financial Armageddon on our behalf. It appears that the days of inflation busting council tax increases are back. Increases painful to those who can least afford them, state pensioners come to mind, will be placed ahead of sniffing out wasteful spending. But if you scratch below the surface at West Lancashire Towers it seems no heed has been given to a reduction of councillor numbers or the generosity of staff benefits, one of which uses a discriminatory statement by actually comparing one staff leisure benefit with what the public pays!

Mention of staff benefits made public might cause apoplexy in the local council unions. The alternative, lost jobs, might be more painful. But not just yet, as today there are four quite well paid vacancies at West Lancashire Towers including a Senior Legal Executive, a Construction Design and Management Officer, a Fleet Services Manager, and an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer. Salary range for the four vacancies is £23,398 up to £37,306, plus the usual bag of goodies, including all Council employees receiving free car parking.

And we must mention the Costco Wholesale membership of the warehouse club, providing members with quality goods and services at lower prices. “As an employee of West Lancashire Borough Council, you will qualify for individual membership (annual membership fee of £33.50 inclusive of VAT), which includes a complimentary card for your spouse or domestic partner. It doesn’t end there as “Shopping with CSSC through the My Savings+ discount scheme and CSSC’s online shop with access to hundreds of local and national offers, family days out, dining, and gym membership – the discounts are endless”. “Free entry to English Heritage sites included in the programme for yourself, one other adult and accompanying children (max 6) with your CSSC card”, but £70 a year for Mr and Mrs Joint Senior (Pensioner)!

Here’s another special in the goody bag “As an employee of West Lancashire Borough Council, you will be able to join Edge Hill Sport at the corporate rate of membership which provides a discounted rate compared to members of the public”. Yes, WLBC discriminates by comparing a staff deal to what we must pay, which is an annual range of £250 standard off-peak to £445 premier !

Recently West Lancashire Borough Council management governance was shown to have failed as it paid its employees £382,548 in council mileage allowances. It was reimbursing its employees from council tax at a rate of 65p per mile, as opposed to the HMRC approved rate of 45p. WLBC stated “Different mileage rates were paid for different types of car user and car engine sizes. Rates started at 36.9p with 65p being the highest rate paid. These amounts were based on rates set by the National Joint Council for local government services, which a lot of Councils would have used. Since April 2017, the Council has paid HMRC rates of 45p per mile for all business mileage. This change in terms and conditions was agreed with unions”.

Earlier this month, Northamptonshire went effectively bankrupt, becoming the first local authority in two decades to issue a section 114 notice. This signalled that its finances were so precarious it would be unlikely to balance the books this year and was at risk of being unable to set a legal budget for 2018-19. It won’t be the last and others will declare “This Council has made or is about to make a decision which involves or would involve the authority incurring expenditure which is unlawful”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 12, 2018

Not Another Attack On Angry Old Men-What About The Angry Old Women?

I might be an angry old man. After all, I keep on reading how, according to ONS figures, the UK had an £82 billion trade deficit with the EU in 2016, and similar EVERY year, I might add. And why should we subsidize Germany, France, and others with such generous trade deals? But what about our angry old women? Some of whom are among the lowest paid pensioners in the entire EU membership and who is paying for it?.

So after Brussels Broadcasting Corporation employee Paxman comes Nick “thick as a brick” Clegg, who has conceded defeat in his fight to keep Britain in the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union and admitted that ‘soft Brexit’ is dead. But only after the former deputy prime minister attacked Brexiteers as “very rich, very angry old men” before comparing them to Bolsheviks who had no mandate for hard Brexit.

Clegg, a former MEP and committed Europhile, said “It was always a nonsense in my view, but there was a feeling that maybe Theresa May would pluck up courage that she’s never displayed hitherto”. Clegg depends on the EU rule that, having worked for the EU, his pensions from it depend on his loyalty and unquestioned devotion to it. Far more than our UK basic state pension of £122 a week!

After his journalism career Clegg moved to Brussels where he worked for five years for the European Commission. He had a job acting as a trade negotiator with China and Russia as a senior member of Leon Brittan’s office, then Vice President of the EC. He became an MEP, and, I kid you not, he co-founded the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform, which led calls for reforms to expenses, transparency and accountability in the European Parliament, about which you might conclude he failed miserably.

EU-employees are exempted from national income tax according to an agreement, the so-called Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, annexed to the treaties establishing the Union. It’s also well known that EU staff in Brussels and Luxembourg receive a wide range of allowances. A special “Community income tax” is paid by EU staff, admittedly generally lower than national rates of income tax for civil servants.

According to the Open Europe think-tank, which campaigns for EU reform, the Kinnocks earned nearly £8 million in salary and allowances from their EU roles and left with a combined pension – like all EU officials it is index-linked – of £164,693. Mandelson, who totted up more than £1million in salary and allowances as EU Trade Commissioner, qualified for a handout of £311,000 when he stepped down and received an annual pension of £35,543. UK snouts in EU troughs!

‘EU civil servants are immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity, including their words spoken or written. They shall continue to enjoy this immunity after they have ceased to hold office’ (reference: Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities of 8 April 1965).

What does that mean? It means that even after they retire, they cannot be confronted by justice for anything they did while in office. Even politicians do not enjoy such an immunity. Our presidents, our ministers, our MPs, our EuroMPs, the European Commissioners, all are only protected by legal immunity for the duration of their mandate. But EU civil servants in Brussels or Luxembourg for instance are protected for life!

Fraud and corruption are rife in the EU. Only yesterday, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for migration, faced allegations he took bribes to help secure a lucrative contract for pharmaceutical company Novartis whilst a Greek minister. The allegations, announced earlier this week by Greek prosecutors, stem from his time as minister of health in Athens between 2006 and 2009.

Last year Vince “the dunce” Cable lashed out at hardline Brexit “martyrs” who view economic pain as a price worth paying to break away from Brussels. The Liberal Democrat leader accused them of “masochism” and claimed older Brexit voters with views “coloured by nostalgia from an imperial past” had imposed their will on a younger generation more comfortable with the European Union. Older Brexit voters ‘coloured by nostalgia from an imperial past’.

Lib Dem leader Cable’s strongly worded attack on Brexit “martyrs” came after a YouGov poll suggested 61% of Leave voters would consider significant damage to the British economy to be a price worth paying for leaving the EU. Well, ask a stupid question…you know the answer! “To describe such masochism as ‘martyrdom’ is dangerous. We haven’t yet heard about ‘Brexit jihadis’ but there is an undercurrent of violence in the language which is troubling.” Cable, 74, added that the “self-declared martyrs” appeared to be “predominantly elderly.

“The martyrdom of the old comes cheap, since few have jobs to lose” he said. The housing market, pensions and government policies – including some while he was in the Cabinet – had contributed to a “growing rift” between the generations. “The old have comprehensively shafted the young. And the old have had the last word about Brexit, imposing a world view coloured by nostalgia for an imperial past on a younger generation much more comfortable with modern Europe,” he said. He does hysteria rather well, as do most hysterical old farts!

The wretched BBC has admitted taking more than £2 million in European Union funding over the past three years, in a move that critics said called into doubt the corporation’s impartiality over the European referendum. The BBC took the cash under the European Union framework programme, to fund its research and development arm, which is working on projects such as 3D broadcasting, and ultra-high definition filming. But why would the BBC, with vast riches, £3.7 billion from the licence fee, create the impression that it is being paid to do the EU’s bidding? Because it was, and is!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 11, 2018

Scuffy, Unkempt, Neglected, Is Your Area Like This?

Over a week ago Aughton was continuing its attempt to be the scruffiest and most neglected parish in West Lancashire. Nothing has changed, as shown. 

The pothole is deeper, the grids are blocked.

More rubbish everywhere  and in Granville Park itself the normally pristine grass verges are destroyed  by developers’ wagons churning them into mud  not so glorious mud! The price of development is the destruction of this conservation area but who will bear the cost of its restitution?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 9, 2018

The Moss Alliance Meeting Tomorrow

 Remember the Public meeting tomorrow, hosted by The Moss Alliance about plans by Aurora Energy Resources for exploratory drilling and hydraulic fracturing at Altcar Moss near Halsall. 10.30am, Haskayne Village Hall, 109 School Lane, Haskayne, Nr. Ormskirk, L39 7JE. Remember what the Government draft report stated “Shale  gas may transform a previously pristine and quiet natural region, bringing increased industrialisation. As a result, rural economy businesses that rely on clean air, land, water, may suffer losses from this change. They include agriculture, tourism, organic farming, fishing and outdoor recreations. Do YOU want this for Altcar Moss?   

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 9, 2018

When Jeremy Paxman Came For Me

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then Jeremy Paxman came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.

It’s reported that former BBC employee Jeremy Paxman has decided to accuse people of his age, pensioners, of betraying young people and holding politicians to ransom and called for a ban on votes for the over-65s. He said “‘I think that my generation have behaved like spoilt children. And, like spoilt children, our response is “it’s not my fault, never our bloody fault”. 

He goes on “Actually it is, because we have failed to recognise the consequences of our behaviour”. He said he did not take his state pension and he lamented the money given to the elderly, including the winter fuel allowance. “I don’t take the fuel allowance and I was offended to be offered it frankly while I appreciate that some people do need it” he said.

“And I don’t take the pension. They’ve still got to be paid for by other people”. He admitted he was ‘very fortunate’ and was able to keep working. “I’d like to carry on annoying people for a bit longer” he said.

“We enjoyed free university education and a booming jobs market, and none of my friends had found it difficult to get work. I blame my generation for the housing crisis, for enjoying cheap property, while the young have struggled to get on the housing ladder. In that period between getting a job and demanding our pensions, we have sat on our arses and watched our houses appreciate in value to the point where property prices bear no relation to people’s earnings”.

He accused pensioners of ‘exploiting’ their vote by forcing politicians to focus on their own problems. He was speaking at an event run by debating organisation Intelligence Squared. “Betrayal is a harsh word, and refusing to recognise the consequences of your own actions is in itself an act of betrayal” he said. Those consequences according to Paxman, are a highly competitive job market, limited prospects and sky-high property prices. He said older people had too much power over political debate. He said ‘I’m in favour of limiting the franchise by stopping people voting at 65. The problem is that we demand things of politicians and they give it to us because they know we’ll go out and vote. They keep making them [pensioners] promises and in particular, they promised that they will improve their pensions.’ Since stepping down from Newsnight, it is not clear how much Paxman now earns.

But in 2006, it was revealed his annual salary was £240,000 for University Challenge and £800,000 for Newsnight. Paxman is indulging himself in arseholery. Rich arseholery too! Because in October 2016 he told the Cheltenham Literature Festival “I did vote Remain and I very nearly didn’t. Because there is a huge democratic deficit in the European Union and people really don’t like being told what to do by others they cannot get rid of. That’s a key thing in democracy”.

He could have fooled me! Poor muddled old bugger!  I wonder why I and my generation paid all that National Insurance and Income Tax only for this clown to tell us we are guilty of betrayal ?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 8, 2018

Independent LCC Councillor Provides Meeting Report

Within a short order of time the Independent LCC Councillor for West Lancashire East Paul Greenall has published on twitter an account  of his contribution to the LCC meeting today. This service is unique, so far as I can recall. Here in Aughton the old Tory LCC brigade, O’Toole and Wally Westley, produced annual reports on their tenure, history not worth reading. Cllr Greenall can be commended on his service to his electorate. 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 8, 2018

LCC 5.99% Council Tax Budget Approved, Senior Council Staff Rises Deferred

Lancashire County Council  has approved its budget for 2018/19. As part of the budget, Full Council agreed that Council Tax should be increased by 2.99% plus a 3% increase specifically for adult social care. The budget has been designed to protect front-line services, especially for vulnerable members of society.

This will be done by future-proofing improvements to critical services for the most in need in our communities. A number of savings were identified as part of the process and consultations will now take place where service users could be affected.

The Leader of Lancashire County Council said “The council is committed to providing the best services it can to the people of Lancashire, particular to the most vulnerable in our communities. However the council’s financial position remains extremely challenging, with a forecasted funding gap of £144.084 in 2021/22.

“This has meant that tough decisions have had to be made to balance the books. This is not unique to Lancashire and many other local authorities are also having to make hard choices. I am pleased though that we have been able to make many improvements over the past year, including reopening libraries and supporting bus services in the county.

“The council also plans to spend a further £5m next year on road repairs, something which we know is important to the county’s residents and businesses. We are working very hard with our staff to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services for people, and we have put in an extra £25m for vulnerable adults and children to ensure the safeguarding of those members of society”. 

Meanwhile, a decision on a 2% pay claim made by the union representing council chief executives has been deferred. The National Employers negotiating body yesterday considered the claim made by the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers (Alace). Alace previously cited increasing pressure on chief executives caused by austerity and Brexit as reasons why the most senior officers were due a pay rise. 

In addition to this the employers considered a claim for a pay increase for officers, represented by the GMB and Unison unions, which would be in line with other local government employees. The same claim by craft workers, which carry out housing and buildings maintenance, represented by GMB and Unite was also considered. The decision was taken to defer a decision on all of the above pending the result of unions’ consultations with members on a proposed 2% pay offer for most council employees in December. Both Unison and Unite have recommended that their members reject that offer. A final decision is expected in early April.

LGC research last month found most councils have not factored a proposed 2% pay increase for the majority of staff into their budgets for next year, with many reporting the implementation of a new wage structure will place significant pressure on their finances.

How odd to read that “Brexit” is to blame for pressure on the council chief executives. I blame the Treaty of Paris (1951)…the Treaty of Rome (1957)…the Merger Treaty (1965)…the Single European Act (1986)…the Maastricht Treaty (1992)…the Amsterdam Treaty (1997)…and the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Not forgetting the amending budgetary treaties of the European Communities in the 1970s amending the Treaty of Rome in respects to powers over the Community budget, all of which combined to create the chaotic EU as it is today.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 8, 2018

Was Ormskirk Cheaply Cobbled?

Probably, according to news from OWL Ormskirk’s pedestrianised areas are ‘an obstacle course in places’ due to the backlog of repairs required to cobble sets and paving slabs in the main shopping streets say Our West Lancashire.

Jane Thompson, the Group’s Scott Ward Spokesperson said they had received many comments from local people about the poor state of paving in the town centre and reports of people stumbling and falling. Ms Thompson said “A fall for a frail, elderly person can be life-threatening. It is simply not good enough that paving repairs are taking so long for the County council to deal with. We even raised the matter with the Borough Council Chief Executive in a meeting in September, for her to raise with senior managers at the County Council, yet the situation has worsened further since then.” NB The CE didn’t tell us that in her “West Lancs Now”, which has become “West Lancs Never”.

Ms Thompson highlighted the loose cobbles outside Poundstretcher on Church Street as one example where she is pictured  here. She said “The cobbles are so loose they can be lifted out by hand. There are deep gaps between them and some of them are protruding. Poundstretcher’s manager raised it with one of my colleagues only this week, but there are also other areas of badly damaged paving in Aughton Street and Burscough Street”.

The Ormskirk activist concluded by saying that she had written to the County Council about the problem requesting action. Perhaps LCC might learn from this guide to ?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 7, 2018

Halsall Parish Council

A meeting of Halsall Parish Council  will take place on Wednesday 14th February 2018 at 7-00 p.m. at St Aidans Hall, Renacres Lane, Shirdley Hill, Halsall.

The meeting will include the Parish Clerk’s Report; Reports from Representatives; Planning Applications: To receive updates from Working Groups and discuss and decide what action to take; To discuss and decide who will represent Halsall PC on the Moss Alliance; Finance: Borough Councillor’s report; Open forum for matters raised by members of the public; Information sharing exchange between West Lancashire Borough Council and Halsall Parish Council on the flooding situation along New Cut Lane and to determine how to take it forward.

Invitations to attend include the WLBC Planning Portfolio holder and the WLBC Principal Engineer.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 7, 2018

Doors Closed At Virgin NHS Walk-In Centre

Rosie Cooper MP  “I am shocked that my local hospital, Southport and Ormskirk, has unused bed and theatre capacity despite the huge winter crisis and the pressures on the NHS locally. In that same trust last night, the Virgin-run walk-in centre had a computer glitch and told people, “Either go to A&E or come back tomorrow.” Has the Department made any assessment of the number of beds and theatre hours that could have been sourced to relieve winter pressures and save lives?”

Stephen Barclay Health Minister of State “The hon. Lady highlights an important point about the variance in performance between trusts and how we look at some of the lessons from, for example, Lord Carter’s work on efficiency, rotas and how to maximise the value of funding. I am happy to consider her specific point, but she is right that how we manage the patient pathway, in particular the 43% of hospital beds occupied by 5% of patients, is a key challenge”.

Virgin claims “West Lancashire Urgent Care Centre at Ormskirk Hospital is open every day of the year including public holidays, for people needing urgent help with minor illnesses or injuries. No appointment necessary” unless you want private care instead ?

The Lord Carter review mentioned found unwarranted variation in running costs, sickness absence, infection rates and prices paid for supplies and services. If addressed, NHS could save £5bn. Recent news reported that the owner of the high street chemist Boots charged the NHS as much as £1,500 for single pots of moisturiser that others have sold for less than £2.

Boots sent a £1,579 bill to the health service for one 500ml tub of a specially made cream for patients with skin problems in 2016, according to payment records seen by The Times. It had bought the medicine from BCM Specials — a supplier that was owned at the time by Boots’s parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance. The same quantity of the same mixture of creams is prescribed regularly around the country for as little as £1.73. The case is among thousands where the NHS appears to have been overcharged for drugs called specials.

That’s not special, that’s ripoff!

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