The Bickerstaffe Record
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Winter 07 Bickerstaffe Record

Success in South Lathom

01.26.07 | Comment?

(This is an article printed in the Winter ’07 Bickerstaffe Record. Your comments are welcome).

SUCCESS AT LAST

It’s been a long tome coming, but we’re confident it has been worth the wait.

In December 2006 notification was received from Whitehall that South Lathom’s application for Parish Council status had been accepted. The area WILL have the Parish Council that 66% of adult residents of the area petitioned for.

The petition was organised some three and a half years ago, and it is frankly a scandal that it has taken so long for Parish Council status to be sanctioned by civil servants, despite the best efforts of then MP Colin Pickthall, and of his successor Rosie Cooper.

While much of the delay has been because of Whitehall inertia, mention must be made of the ‘amendment’ to the proposals put forward by a Conservative Councillor in Derby Ward – for reasons best known to himself – that the area should EXCLUDE a few houses in ‘his patch’, even though they had ALL signed the petition in favour of being part of South Lathom Parish.

It is ardently hoped that the remaining ‘paperwork’ can be sorted out so that first elections can be held on local government election day, Thursday 03 May.

WHY THIS IS GOOD NEWS

The creation of a Parish Council is, in our view, very good news for the people of South Lathom, the majority of whom are also in Bickerstaffe electoral ward. South Lathom Residents’ Association (SLRA), which took up the campaign for the establishment of the Parish Council, has shown itself to be a very capable organisation in representing the views and interests of local people, and they deserve both thanks and congratulations for their hard work. it is certainly to be hoped that a number of the SLRA team now stand for election as Parish Councillors. As such their right to make representations about local issues, including planning, will become statutory.

Parish Councils are also gaining new powers. Once Parish Councils have ‘Quality Parish’ status, they already have additional new powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 and the Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Act 2006. The new Local Government White Paper, which will go pass through parliament this year, also recommends delivery of some Council services by Parish Councils, where this provides a better deal for local people.

THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL COUNCILLOR

Paul Cotterill (Labour’s prospective candidate for Bickerstaffe Ward in the May election) was instrumental in the initial application for Parish Council status, organising and chairing the first public meeting at Skelmersdale Cricket Club in Spring 2003. The South Lathom Residents’ Association, effectively the precursor organisation to theParish Council, has always been very clear about its apolitical status, and the Labour party has always been respectful of that.

Paul believes that the more local the level of service and representation, the better. If elected, his job will be to support all the Parish Councils in the area, using the powers that being a councillor brings. For a fuller exposition of these principles and to contribute to the debate, see the discussion forum www.bickerstaffecord.org.uk (as well as the article on page 2).

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