The Bickerstaffe Record

Being Labour, Bickerstaffe Thoughts, Cotterill on the Council

More than one way to skin a Tory

04.05.11 | Comment?

The local press asked me for a statement on why I’m standing down as a councillor.  Surprised they’re that interested really, but here it is. 

Statement on standing down

My original intention had been to seek nomination to stand for a seat for Labour in Ormskirk, in view the family’s intended move, but I decided against standing again a number of months ago, and did not seek selection. My colleagues have been aware for a number of months that I wouldn’t be standing again.

I’ve been honoured to serve Bickerstaffe Ward as councillor for my term of office, and feel that a great deal has been achieved in that time. New speed limits are in force or pending all over the ward, thanks to some great local campaigns, some bus services have improved, a community nursery and family centre is up and running, and in general we’ve done a lot of what was important to people around planning, the rural environment and the general cohesion of the area, in addition to all the sometimes lengthy and complex casework undertaken for individuals and families.

More widely, I’m especially proud of the way Labour has kept rail infrastructure improvements on the agenda for West Lancashire, sometimes against the odds. The fact that new stationa in Skelmersdale and on the edge of Simonswood are now firmly part of the Network Rail and Merseytravel planning is great news for West Lancashire, and it’s great to see the continuing efforts to keep the Burscough curves on the agenda.

In the end, I am ‘backroom boy’, more comfortable with the detail of policy and finance and local organisation than as a public face, and I am better placed to serve my community from behind the scenes, unconstrained by the necessary conventions of public office. I’m also likely to be traveling a good deal more for work and might not in future be able to commit to quite such regular meetings and commitments in West Lancashire.

I will be remaining an active member of the Labour party and wider labour movement, focusing on matters beyond the current remit of elected local government. In particular I’ll be getting involved in the constructive defence of the principles of the NHS now under assault from the Tory-led government, as well as other initiatives around Trades Councils. I’m also keen to contribute to the legal challenge now being prepared to the Tory County Council’s assault on vulnerable and disabled people in their recent budget announcements.

I’m sure I’ll also find myself offering policy advice to the Labour group as it moves forward, though of course it will be entirely up to the group whether they take it on board.

I’ve just taken up a secondary school governorship, and that – combined with my ongoing directorship of Bickerstaffe Children’s Services and other voluntary activities – should keep me off the streets (though, conversely, I have expressed interest in taking part in the wonderful new street pastor scheme).

It would be entirely in appropriate for me to speculate on who might take over as leader of the Labour group. Whoever does take over will have my full support as s/he takes up the reins, should any such support be needed. I hope I leave behind a group with a clear sense of direction on how best Labour can serve the people of West Lancashire at local government level.

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