LEADER MUST STAND ASIDE

Rossendale Free Press - - Your Views -

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

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