The Bickerstaffe Record

Being Labour, Cotterill on the Council

Good news as only usual level of disrespect accorded

10.27.09 | Comment?

When you’re a Labour councillor sitting in a Council chamber with lots of Conservatives around, including a Conservative Mayor overseeing proceedings, it’s important to thank heaven for small mercies.

So it’s good to be able to report that the current Mayor was only as disrespectful as his predecessors at the Council meeting last week.  The fact that things have not got worse is surely to be welcomed.

On this occasion the disrespect came when I started out on presenting the Labour motion calling on the Conservative administration to account for its manifold incompetencies, stupdities its apparent inability to prioritise the lives of West Lancashire’s residents over its own vanity (see full text of the motion and our accompanying press release below).

I was about half a minute into my allotted three minutes and started to set out what else migt have been in the list of tory incompetencies (see press release), using the rhetorical device ‘This is what we didn’t put in the motion…..’.   

(This is mich the same device as the Mayor uses  whenever he says ‘I know I shouldn’t b e political, but….).

I was abruptly stopped by the Mayor and told that he’d rather I didn’t say what I had to say.  Interesting interpretation of democracy, and respect for the voice of the (leader of the) opposition, I must say.

After the usual chunterings from the Tories in which they avoided the real issues about why they don’t provide servcies that are provided all around (free swimming, concessionary travel) despite having millions in the bank, it came for me to sum up.

Or so I thought.  Such was the desperation on the part of he Mayor to finish the meeting that he had to be reminded that I actually had the right to sum up before the vote was taken.  He assented to do so, juts about, but making it clear that I should be snappy about it.

still, that was an improvement on two years ago, when his predecessor did actually take the vote before I got to sum up, and the Chief Executive had to apologise to me and ask that I be allowed to sum up AFTER the vote, only for me to find the vote would not be retaken in the light of my brilliant oratory.

Oh, and it probably wasn’t quite as rampantly disrespectful and rude as this episode with his immediate precedessor.

So, yes, things haven’t got worse.

Here’s the full motion and our press release:



Local Labour Councillors have attacked the Tory council for failing to listen to local residents and their priorities.  At this week’s council meeting (Wednesday 21st October) the Labour group has tabled a motion stating how the council would prefer to spend council taxpayers’ money on a new town hall than on local people’s priorities.


 Labour Leader, Cllr Paul Cotterill said:


“For the past 12 months the Tory administration has complained about tight budgets and the need for cuts, but they can find £600,000 to demolish four homes to make way for a new multi-million pound town hall, just yards from the existing site.  Whenever local residents or the Labour Group request funding for free swimming, free rail travel for pensioners or even keeping council staff, there is no money.


“We also are demanding the Tories be honest and upfront with local residents.  They plead poverty but keep £23m of council taxpayers’ money sitting in the bank.  It is outrageous how the Conservative Council keeps cutting services, refusing to invest to improve the facilities and communities yet hold back millions.


“The Tories leaflets are titled In Touch. On this performance it is clear they are Out of Touch with the priorities of local residents.”


 “This, then, is a motion calling the Conservative administration to account.  The Conservatives have apparently forgotten their main purpose, which is to serve the people of West Lancashire.  While they spend money on their prestige projects, and squirrel the rest away in their reserves, they are quite simply neglecting their proper duties.  Our motion sets out the principal areas of neglect, though there are many more. 


 “We might quite equally have called the administration to account on:

 ·         why the promised Open Space Strategy is nine months late, delaying the  much-needed delivery of extra playing field space;

 ·         why the community transport plans for Skelmersdale are now months late in being brought to cabinet, having just been set back yet again for another two months, with promised funding from the County Council is now going to waste;

 ·        why the Health Service Consultation committee has been disbanded just when there major concerns to be addressed about the transfer of in-patient psychiatry services;

·         why the council failed to carry through enforcement notices on the illegal encampment at White Moss;

 ·      why there are shopping trolleys in the River Tawd despite the council’s glossy promotional activities saying how well they are doing on this;

 ·         why the council simply neglected to make provision of a train station in Skelmersdale;

 ·         why the council chose to turn down external funding, gained by Labour councillors, to get local people involved in how it sets its budgets;

 ·         why the council continues to waste money on the PR work for its contractor Serco, despite handing over to Serco more than  £1million per year to run its business affairs.

 Note to editor: The following motion will be put to council by the Labour group on Wednesday 21 October:

  ‘That this Council reviews its decision to progress the plans for a new town hall on the Kirkby-Atkinson site and reviews its priorities to better reflect the needs and priorities of West Lancashire residents, having already failed to do so by wasting £600,000 of council taxpayers’ money on demolishing four homes, refusing to fund the option of free rail travel for pensioners and disabled people; refusing to support free swimming for under-17s; and retaining £23 million of council taxpayers money in reserves while shortsightedly reducing 57 posts including those in sports development and the benefits fraud section.’

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