Thursday, 20 September 2012

Leigh West Leigh Focus

I have just received my latest copy of Leigh West Leigh Focus from the Leigh Lib Dem Councillors which always provides an amusing read - although not deliberately on their part! Firstly we have Cllr Crystall continuing to scaremonger on the Leigh Community Centre site and urging "...everyone who cares about saving [the Centre and Leigh Police Station] to go along and tell the consultants what they think". I wonder if this will include Cllr Crystall suggesting that the Police Station should be demolished and Cllr Wexham suggesting the Community Centre should go, being the opinions they have previously expressed but to a more selective audience. The reality is that there are no plans for anything as yet (Leigh Town Council have been given a 5 year lease on the Centre!) but instead a full, proper and adult consultation exercise which will extend over some years is being undertaken and would be more constructive if the Lib Dems encouraged all residents to engage with an open mind and in the absence of scaremongering. We then have Councillor Godwin expressing his concerns about aircraft noise and encouraging everybody to complain. I agree that the complaint process is there to be used but I am not sure that Cllr Godwin will be making too many complaints as it must be difficult to hear the planes from his home in Thorpe Bay. Finally we have the heading "Southend Tories' Latest Idea - Make the Poorest Pay!". This refers to the disgraceful decision on the part of the Government to pass the administration of council tax benefits to local authorities but then not also give sufficient funding to fully pay for the benefits. No mention is made that this policy is being implemented by a government of which their party is a full partner and which presumably they continue to support. They suggest the shortfall can be met by "cutting out more waste and inefficiencies", raising council tax for everybody by 2.5% or only paying the council tax benefits received from the government to claimants rather than asking everybody to pick up the bill. We are told that the Tories will be making the decision - well no they won't. This is a decision which will be taken when setting next years budget and in case Leigh Lib Dems had not noticed the Conservatives are in a minority and can be outvoted by the opposition on any issue. I wait with interest the proposals made by the Lib Dems to deal with this. Perhaps they will identify the "waste and inefficiencies" even though they have failed to do so over the last 5 years that I have dealt with the budget setting. If they want to hike the council tax this will presumably be on top of the increase which will be required anyway - so perhaps a 5% rise - unless they are going to find even more economies. I will be keeping my copy of Focus and look forward to reminding them of their comments when we hear their proposals. What a shame they can think of nothing positive to say about the town or their ward - but don't worry at least you have your party conference to look forward to - the rest of us are!

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