LEADER MUST STAND ASIDE
ON Wednesday I attended the full council meeting of Rossendale Borough Council.
It began in the usual way with public question time and members questions, during which many of the councillors up for re-election stood up and made a token contribution, asking the leader to write to this person or that person.
All I can say from that is she will be signing a lot of letters over the next week, but taking very little action!
Then we got to the agenda, which was quite laughable. Two items only, neither of much consequence, and it really does call in to question the viability of the council should this be the state of things to come.
Finally. We arrived at the notices of motion. One had been proposed, by the leader of the Conservative group, calling for Leader of the council to step down and accept responsibility for her failures in regards to the Empty Homes Scandal, and the loss of £5 million of tax payers money, until a full investigation has been carried out and findings published.
It is unfortunate that only Councillors Anne Cheetham, Brian Essex, Granville Morris and Peter Steen understood and voted for the motion, which was presented in response to the real anger felt by so many residents in response to what has taken place.
Those against cited reasons such as a personal attack on the leader, or that this was a petty argument that kept getting repeated, or that rather than blaming councillors should work together to fix the problem, or that the blame lay elsewhere, with an officer who misled the council.
I’m afraid, though, that this misses the point. The Leader was negligent in her duty to protect tax payers and scrutinise council expenditure. No report can exonerate her of such responsibility, and it is unbelievable that she refuses to accept responsibility for the failure to make the homes affected habitable, the inability to engage properly with the residents affected or the continually rising costs, now expected to top the £5million mark with no end in site.
The Scribbler has written in recent weeks about the need to put party politics to one side, and for councillors of all colours to work together in the interests of Rossendale. I couldn’t agree more. However, until the current leader of the Labour group takes responsibility for her actions and stands aside, I don’t see how this can happen.
It would be irresponsible and reckless. That is the decision that is harming the residents of Rossendale. Only she can resolve it. Will she make the right call for the future of our Valley? David Foxcroft Conservative councillor for Mid-Rossendale County Lancashire County Council