Thursday, 26 May 2011

A rather local matter. Democracy, accountability and working together.

The Hyndburn Labour Party has been disastisfied with the style of leadership and the acrimony that has been introduced for no productive reason. It is our wish to be transparent, open and honest.

County Councillors and the MP have been for too long disconnected from the 35 District Councillors yet there are a number of significant issues that a often neglected but affect all elected representatives. The Green Deal, HMR, Localism Bill, HMO's are all issues which have passed through Parliament and which directly affect Hyndburn Council and residents locally.

The County Council are resubmitting Pennine Reach, they a introducing the controversial 20mph zones, have cut bus services, have located hundreds of staff in the Globe and have introduced service cuts for the vulnerable such as Hargreaves House.

It is our view that over the course of the 7 Council meetings this financial year, that alternate slots should be made for County Councillors and the MP so wider Hyndburn issues can be discussed and that the public can ask questions in a 'Hyndburn debate'.

As MP I welcome this as I will be able to attend 2 or 3 meetings during recess or on an occasional Thursday following the end of essential parliamentary business.

Gordon Birtwistle MP (Burnley) is remaining a district Councillor despite being PPS to the Secretary of State Danny Alexander for the same reason whilst Mike Hancock MP is a portfolio holder on Portsmouth Council as well. Northern Irish MP's sit in Stormont.

This idea was rejected by the Conservatives with no real logical argument. The arguments put forward were all of a personal nature. Councillor Britcliffe's previous position had been to criticise Greg Pope MP for showing no interest in the Council and for not keeping Councillors informed and who was described as lazy, a waste of space, not interested in Hyndburn or Hyndburn Council.

The whole tone of last nights meeting was disrespectful and the leader of the opposition had to reprimanded by the Mayor. I appeal to all elected representatives to take a more responsible attitude. The Mayor should not have to come one step short of having the Leader of the Opposition thrown out for ignorance, disrespect and behaviour unbecoming an elected member. Like Parliament, I believe a formal apology is in order.

It started well but the tone became partisan as the Deputy Mayoralty was discussed with accusations of Labour breaching a Tory-Lab alternate years pact. In fact the Conservatives have chosen the Mayor for the last 3 years (Barton/Pritchard/Dad) as part of the payroll vote or for electioneering voting. During that time backbench Conservatives were 'whipped' into voting with the Leader. Normally business of the house such as the Mayoralty is quite rightly a free vote.

Back in 2003 Wyn Frankland was ushered in instead of a Labour nomination and there have been few years when the former Leader of the Council has not gerrymandered the position.

We reach a point where senior members - on the Labour side - are being excluded in favour of more recent members or those less deserving for political purposes an that is not right. Lesley Jackson was one such victim so it is only right and fair that Colette McCormack takes it this year and John Broadley next. After that non partisan procedures that provide a gatekeeping service need to be put in place so as to allow for a respectable Conservative, accepted by all, can fulfil the role under a Labour administration.