The Bickerstaffe Record
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Breaking News, Cotterill on the Council, Leisure and culture

Mmm….was Council decision to turn down free swimming unconstitutional?

10.21.08 | Comment?

Yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to be doing part 2 of the West Lancs ‘swimming betrayal’ story, but mid-drafting a thorny issue reared its ugly, thorny head – whether the Council actually acted beyond its constitution in reaching its decision last Wendesday.  So I stopped drafting and wrote this to the District Solicitor.

 Dear District Solicitor

 I refer to Article 13 (.03) of the constitution, which defines key decisions inter alia as: “decisions, which are not likely to involve significant expenditure or savings but which, nevertheless, are likely to be significant in terms of the effect on communities in one or more wards of the Council”.

 

A decision was taken by the Council, as expressed in its press release of 15/08/2008, to take up the over 60s aspect of the Free Swimming Programme. The matter was for noting only at the Full Council meeting on 15 October. The matter did not appear, to my knowledge, in any Key Decision Forward Plan, even though it is clearly a ‘key decision’ in the terms of the constitution as set out above.

 

I fully support the decision to enter the programme and take up the government grant of some £70,000 over two years, but the problem is that this decision is necessarily interrelated with the decision taken by Full Council NOT to to enter the under 16s Free Swimming programme, and the two areas of decision-making cannot reasonably be divorced from eath other. There is a very clear scenario, for example, that, had the full matter been set out in the KDFP, there would have potential to argue fully that the support of the Leisure Trust for the over 60s programme was not one of direct funding, and that therefore direct funding might be sought for the under 16 programme.

 

My contention therefore is that the decision taken, effectively in mid-August, was not constitutionally sound, and that this in turn impacts upon the legitimacy of the decision taken at Full Council last week. If this is as I contend, the matter takes on signficant urgency because the DCMS deadline for entry into the U16s programme is this Friday (24 October), although DCMS has told me that in very special circumstances it might be extended.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Paul Cotterill

Shadow Portfolio Holder, Community Services

Well, I didn’t put the hyperlinks in, obviously.  They are for you, dear reader. I await a reply with interest.

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