decision to borrow millions to fund the next phase of the Spinning Point regeneration was taken with more than one-third of the council missing from the council chamber, it’s been revealed.
Council minutes confirm just two Rawtenstall councillors – Patrick Marriott and Steve Hughes – attended the debate, with five of the town’s Labour councillors sending apologies ahead of the meeting, which also discussed issues including the Local Plan and Rossendale Rail Link and lasted one hour and 45 minutes.
The town’s eighth seat is currently vacant until next May – after Conservative Janet Graham stood down last month due to ill health.
Four Conservative councillors also missed the meeting, while, according to the minutes, a further three Couns Jimmy and Janet Eaton and David Stansfield left the chamber before a decision was taken, leaving fewer than half of their contingent in the chamber.
It meant that of 36 councillors elected to the chamber, just 23 were present when the decision was taken.
Council leader Alyson Barnes said she was satisfied that those who sent in apologies had genuine reasons for absence.
She also confirmed that one of the meeting’s absentees regeneration consultant Andy MacNae, a prominent advocate of the Spinning Point development, stood down from the cabinet’s regeneration brief last month due to outside commitments.
Coun Sean Serridge has replaced him on the front bench, with a reshuffle seeing Coun Alyson Barnes taking on the regeneration portfolio.
Coun Barnes admitted: “(Andy) has had a lot of work in October and November and he knew that he was struggling.
“It is a problem to be honest.
“Some of our best members are up to their back teeth with work.
“I’ve been picking up quite a bit of that work. We work quite closely.”