The Lancashire villages of Hesketh Bank, Becconsall & Tarleton

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LETTERS: LOCAL POLITICS




A Library is for life, not just for shutting down.

The Council's plan to shut 40 libraries, therefore reducing the numbers from 74 to 34 in Lancashire is surely a massive step too far in retrenchment.

Libraries such as ours in Tarleton is not just a building for the lending of books, it plays a vital part in the community. Tarleton Library offers many other facets other than books: Computer Classes, Craft and Chat, Stay and Play for the pre-schools, a Family History Group, a Creative Writers Group, Read and Chat, the Library Book Club and a Children's Library Club are all available to everyone. The library is situated centrally in the village and has ample parking facilities. The staff know their readers by name, and you only have to walk in the place to feel how warm and welcoming it is. In this day and age is is lovely to come into a building and know that you are treated as an individual and you only have to ask if you want a book ordered or need advice. Libraries are vital for the literacy of the country and books should not be allowed to be sidelined in the face of computerisation, tablets and kindles. There is enough room for all, but to let libraries be phased out will be denying our children access to the catholic selection of books and facilities which are provided. If so many libraries are shut down, the cultural loss will be immense.

The villages of Tarleton and its neighbour, Hesketh Bank, are on the periphery of West Lancashire and are geographically isolated from the hub of the county. It is imperative that villages such as these do not lose their identity and have their facilities slashed so that anything needed will mean long drives to amenities which are only centrally available. The porch area of our library is full of posters advertising events in Tarleton and its environs. This is so needed now when isolation is such a problem in rural areas.

There are various areas in the locality which are having new housing developments, so therefore there will be a burgeoning population who will want to have the use of a library close by. The nearest library to Tarleton is Longton – which itself could be the victim of the axe. Libraries are one of the backbones of our country. They are testaments to our literacy and the longevity of the traditions in which our country is steeped. To erode this stability is myopic to say the least. The bigger picture of the vital part libraries play in our lives should be considered and they should not be sacrificed on the altar of expediency. In this case, the pen should be mightier than the sword.

Helen Sephton 14th February 2016


Anonymous candidate

Seeing the story in The Observer that UKIP is in chaos over policies reminded me that my postal ballot form has a name on it from UKIP. On checking, I see that the candidate is from outside our area. I suppose I should be glad that no-one who lives here is daft enough to stand for this (dis)organisation. The two other names are well known locally and have track records in local politics – we know their personalities and their policies. UKIP have failed to send me an electoral statement. Their candidate is merely listed on their website without any information on his background and experience. Nor does their website have any policies for Lancashire or any other county area. So voting for him would be like sending a blank cheque to someone who had cold called you. In the absence of a Green candidate – who could have done well here because of the fracking controversy – we are back to the two parties who have run the county (and the country) over the last few years.

Vote carefully.
Ian Wells, 28th April 2013


Misuse of Council Tax

Dear Editor,

Can this be the same Mr. Rydings that used to espouse the dubious lofty virtues of the Tory Party locally, with promises of 'lower Council Tax' if only everyone would vote Conservative at Parish, Borough and County levels? What happened?

We now have a Tory run Parish Council, a Tory run Borough Council (for now) and a rabid Tory run County Council (also for now)

Where are his excuses now then? Like all Tories locally his promises were long on glossy leaflets and short on delivery.

Regards,
Cllr.J.E.Hodson. 24th September 2012


Misuse of Council Tax

Dear Editor,

I moved from Tarleton 6 month's ago and during that time a 20mph speed limit has been implemented on a number of the roads in the area.

I regularly visit the village yet when I drive at 20mph other drivers try to "encourage" me to speed up. I stood outside the Co-op on Church Road and observed that vehicles were traveling at speeds in excess of 20mph unless there was a vehicle parked on the road that slowed them down. The signage is paltry yet I understand no publicity has been given out to residents to advise them except the original consultation documentation.

This reduction in speed limits is now being rolled out across the whole of Lancashire and Merseyside.

In a time of swinging cuts being made to Council budgets this appears to be a waste of money because a law that cannot be enforced is pointless. I don't wonder that the number of people voting has fallen to an all time low when they see such misuse of Council Tax.

Regards,
Dave Rydings, 10th September 2012


Westminster Constituency Boundaries - the nonsense continues

So the nonsense that lumps four villages in West Lancashire in with South Ribble for Westminster elections continues. I had hoped that this stupidity - inflicted on us at a previous boundary change - would be reversed this time and we would go back to being linked with Ormskirk as seems more natural. (But not with Southport as floated the other day - that would be even less aligned with local authority boundaries.)

I have already made my feelings known to the commission, but am not holding my breath. They were strait-jacketed by the politicians in the current government. Their objectives were restricted to aiming for similar sized constituencies regardless of local authority or other natural boundaries.

The imposed review conditions were narrowly about Westminster seats, at odds with rhetoric about 'localism' elswhere within the coalition. No thought was given to understanding how MPs should be local to something like a single community, not smeared out over more than one with all the conflicts of interests that presents.

We need fewer unnatural constituencies like this one, not more.

Ian Wells. 13th Spetember 2011


Boundary Review Faux Pas

Dear Editor,

Readers will derive some amusement from Cllr. Andrew Cheetham's (inadvertant?) snub of South Ribble Tory MP Lorraine Fullbrook in his haste to welcome the possibility of being redefined within the West Lancs Parliamentary constituency. [See News 9th June 2011] His apparent eagerness to be represented at West Lancs is demonstrated by his feelings of being 'unloved' by the present incumbent. A Freudian slip for sure, but difficult to argue with. Perhaps he also misses the excellent representation by David Borrow whom served the Northern Parishes so well during his 13 year term?!!

Regards,

Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 10th June 2011


Election Results

Dear Sir,

So now we have the election results for Tarleton Parish Council - or should I say Tarleton Conservative Parish Council. The voting was very decisive and the only conclusion anyone can reach is - that's what was wanted by the majority of the 40+% who voted.

I have re-read the leaflets and the only definitive message put out by those who have been elected was - We are Conservatives - vote for us.

The only message put out by the others was - We don't like the Local Conservatives - vote for us.

We still don't know about any ideas the elected members have for the village. We'll just have to wait and see - but I won't hold my breath!

Yours faithfully,
W Pactor 10th May 2011


Local Politics

Dear Editor,

In response to W. Pactor, may I offer the following thoughts; Some of the people who are standing as non party political (i.e. NOT Conservative) are politically active in other spheres, some as members of the Labour Party some as members of the Conservative Party and some who are not politically active at all.

This does not mean that they bring their personal politics into Parish Council matters. When someone stands as a member of a party and declares as such on their ballot papers, is a clear statement of intent i.e. they WILL be operating in a partisan way for their party.

Elected members standing as such also by definition are susceptible to their Party 'Whip' which means that if they do not toe the party line on any given issue, they are liable to Party discipline. This is what has a distorting effect on Parish Council business as decisions are taken outside of the Council meetings, in private, along Party Political lines.

As for what we would do if elected, I will simply point to our track record which includes the following as a statement of intent as to what we are capable of:

  1. The very first Village Plan in Lancashire ( which is still acknowledged as the best)
  2. £500,000 Lottery/Parish Council funded upgrade of Pavillion & Sports facilities at Carr Lane.
  3. Parish Council partnership with Tarleton High School to provide £1.1m Indoor Sports Hall.
  4. Millennium Carnival Procession in 2000
  5. Golden Jubilee Carnival Procession in 2002
  6. Parish Council led the campaign to retain the Swimming Pool at Tarleton High School and secured access for public use.

I could go on but I think that you should have a good idea by now!

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 5th May 2011


LOCAL ELECTIONS

Dear Sir,

I've now read all the leaflets that the two sides have put out asking for our vote tomorrow and feel totally disillusioned by the contents therein. I can see the point of saying there should be no Party Politics in Parish Council elections then when I read the leaflets the only conclusion I can reach is that Party Politics figures very strongly in all of them.

What exactly are any of them offering? I've yet to discover any definitive plans from either lot. The leaflets are just being critical of each other.

Shame on all .of you - it's no wonder people don't vote?

Yours faithfully,
W. Pactor, 4th May 2011


LOCAL ELECTIONS

Dear Sir,

I am rather surprised to see that despite nearly 1,500 visits to the election page on this website that only two of the contestants (and they must be related) seem fit to tell us something about their ideas and aspirations for the village if we vote for them. I can only conclude that the others have nothing to say. If that is the case why should I consider voting for them?

I've had two leaflets though my door from the Conservatives that frankly, appear to be written by someone whose command of the English language is sadly lacking. The contents of these documents do not inspire me one iota. For instance, in the leaflet requesting I vote for them to become Parish Councillors they state they are going to replace the fence between the rugby and the cricket fields. That fence has been in a poor state of repair for many years so why haven't they done something about it during their last four years in office?

I am also intrigued as to how they intend to fight the cuts in Policing - the Parish Council have no control over that at all. Are they going to earmark some of our money from the parish precept to pay for it? The leaflet from the prospective Conservative Borough Councillor is supporting West Lancashire's call to the Chief Constable to give more powers for Police Community Support Officers (PCSO). The Police receive a considerable amount of our money from the Council Tax to operate effectively and I support the Chief Constable in holding back giving more power to these PCSO's. They are not "proper" Police Officers.

Finally, both leaflets say that they will "listen to residents". Does that mean they haven't done so in the past?.

Sorry, neither of the Conservatives leaflets inspire me. The fact that they do not seen fit to put anything on this website leaves me with a feeling that they don't really care.

Have they used the Conservatives name just because they think you'll vote for them because they are Conservatives? Isn't that taking us for granted?

Yours faithfully,

W. Pactor, 26th April 2011


Parish Council Elections

Dear Editor & Readers,

in response to W.Pactors obsrevation with regard to Party Politics [See 'Recycling' 5th April 2011] I am more than happy to state my own and the other candidates position and to explain how the system works; firstly, I am proudly a member of the Labour Party which is clearly indicated on my register of interests (a statutory requirement).

I do not stand for the Parish Council as a Labour party member because Parish Councils are historically NOT Party Political.

To put this in context, there are some 215 Parish & Town Councils in the County of Lancashire of which 187 of them are members of The Lancashire Association of Local Councils (LALC) As a process of being in membership of LALC, a member Council is automatically a member of the wider National Association of Local Councils (NALC) which has some 10,000 member Councils throughout the Country. Each County elects one representative to be a member on the National Council which in this case is myself, representing Lancashire. This is a non Political post. The vast majority of these 10,000 Parish & Town Councils ARE NON PARTY POLITICAL!

I strongly believe that this should remain the case as since the inception of Parish Councils in 1894 this has been the tradition and working practise. So therefore the candidates who are not declared to be 'Conservative Party' are not automatically members of the Labour Party they just simply do not stand as Political appointees.

The question W. Pactor and Richard Hodson should be asking is - Why are the Local Tories wanting to change the political independence of the Parish Council? - something that flys in the face of tradition? What benefit to the wider community is party politics at the Parish level? The trouble is, as in the words of William Wilberforce " Political Party begats Political Party" as I have found to be the case over the years!

So for a Community based Parish Council do not vote Conservative!

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 6th April 2011


PARISH COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES

Sir,

I wonder if anyone can shed some light on why both Tarleton Parish Council and Hesketh Bank Parish Council have stopped updating their websites. The last meeting minutes showing at Tarleton are from January and the last minutes Hesketh Bank has posted are from December 2010.

Is it a coincidence that both have stopped sharing their minutes or is it something to do with forthcoming elections?

S. Ackers. 5th April 2011


LEP Hypocracy

Dear Sir,
in response to MP Lorraine Fullbrook's posting [NEWS 26/11/2010] I would like to draw readers attention to the following posting I made in early November on Paul Cotterill's blog page headed: Tory incompetence may cost West Lancs millions

"The Tories at West Lancs have fallen into the trap that many District and Borough’s have done which unfortunately means that the people they purport to represent are deprived of resources which are readily available. Why do they repeatedly do this? perhaps it is because a) they think only in District centric terms, missing out on the ‘big picture’ thinking only of ‘their patch’ b)they fail on an intelectual level to grasp such concepts as LSP’s LAA’s and now LEP’s, being over reliant on Officers while lacking political momentum to implement the actions needed to make it happen. c) The County Council has completed the dysfunctional circle by not developing a County wide partnership or series of partnerships: so, instead of millions of pounds investment and thus hundreds if not thousands of jobs, we have documents gathering dust on shelves at County and District offices while Central Government weilds unprecedented cuts in the public sector, claiming that the private sector will by some miracle spring forward to take up the slack despite being hobbled by the inaction of the Tory County and Borough Councils in Lancashire. This failure impacts on so many levels but in particular the business and voluntary sectors in West Lancs are being badly let down by this lack of political leadership. Some one should resign over this."

I would like through these pages, Mrs. Fullbrook to explain to her constituents, why with a Tory MP, a Tory County Council, a Tory Borough Council and even locally a Tory Parish Council they couldn't between them get together a bid for a LEP ( introduced by Tory led coalition!) which is supposed to replace the hastily scrapped RDA's?

This smacks of rank hypocracy and would be funny if it did not mean our business, voluntary and Public sector will now in all likelyhood miss the boat in terms of regional funding.

For Mrs. Fullbrook to start bleating at this (too late) stage, with what appears to be a 'damage limitation' exercise is just not good enough. We are represented by second raters from top to bottom. Shame on the lot of them.

Regards,
John Hodson 26th November 2010


Criminal Damage

I genuinely sympathise with the situation Mrs Fullbrook finds herself in with regards to the damage caused to her car [see NEWS 16th April 2010]. We too regularly suffer this sort of trouble in Hesketh Bank but there seem to be a couple of notable differences in how it is handled:

If it happens in Hesketh Bank it is called unsocial behaviour rather than criminal damage.

We struggle to get a log number from the Police let alone anyone to investigate these sort of incidents - if we are lucky a patrol car may perhaps drive past an hour or so after the trouble has moved on elsewhere.

Year on year we have been asked to pay more for less - the population of the villages has trebled whilst the police presence has been cut by two thirds.

If the rumours are to be believed, even when our bobby is on duty the bulk of his time is spent covering for staff shortages in Burscough or Ormskirk.

Rural crime is a real issue and it is being swept under the carpet by our local councillors. Whether she wins or loses, perhaps the incident Mrs Fullbrook has suffered will focus her attention on helping to make the service we receive more commensurate with what we pay.

J Ball, 21st April 2010


Bus Services

Sir,
Here we have the nub of the problem, is Hesketh Bank expected to sacrifice a service for the greater good of people outside of the village? This argument about low numbers of usage demonstrates the folly of the de-regulation which, as predicted, led to a diminuation of service in rural areas because "they couldn't pay thier way" What about the principle of encouragement? we need to promote people to greater use of public transport if we are to decrease the dependency on cars.

Any decrease in services to rural areas only contributes to the gentrification of our villages with the less fortunate forced to pay more for transport which is less direct. The Ormskirk connection is important in terms of rail link to Liverpool and also a direct link to Ormskirk Hospital.

Lucy Hodson. 12th April 2010


Bus Service Changes - 202

In regard to the issue of the withrawal of service 202 and replacement with service 2A between Preston and Ormskirk, I feel that the wider benefits and ramifications of this change need to be represented more fairly.

The introduction of service 2A will provide a huge benefit to thousands of existing and prospective bus passengers between Ormskirk and Preston and further afield, restoring a link and quality of service that was always traditionally provided and well used. The number of passengers using the 202 on the Hesketh Bank - Tarleton section was miniscule; in single digits, and indeed the link to Ormskirk was only ever first provided two years ago or less. Furthermore, Hesketh Bank had traditionally only ever had an hourly service to both Southport and Preston - increasing to half hourly in approximately 2005 with the advent of the 100 service to Preston and even more recently in respect of half hourly extensions to Southport. The level of service post 12th April 2010 will still represent a large increase over the level of service that Hesketh Bank traditionall had prior to approx. 2005 and passengers should consider the benefits of the current offerings before complaining. Hesekth Bank will still have two buses every hour to Preston and this is probably more than is comercially reasonable in terms of bums on seats.

Passengers (and politicians) need to remember that for Hesketh Bank to have three or four buses every hour, other areas with sizeable populations (such as Burscough) will receive a far inferor level of service as has been in the case in recent years. Before the one or two passengers that did use service 202 from Hesketh Bank jump to criticise the decision and make a mountain out a molehill, perhaps they should be a little less selfish and appreciate that these changes will benefit many more passengers in the villages of Rufford and Burscough who will now once again be able to make through journeys to Preston and Longton.

The decision was the right one, and I - for one - applaud it.

Luke Gottard. 11th April 2010


2010 ELECTION

In addition to being able to participate in the discussions on the letters pages, ALL candidates in both the General Election for the MP for South Ribble and the West Lancashire Borough Council wards of Hesketh-with-Becconsall and Tarleton are offered the facility of their own page on this website linked from the 2010 Election page which went live today.

Editor, 7th April 2010


BUS SERVICE CUTS

Sir,
Young and naive I may be but if we are to have effective representation now and in the future, then surely cynicism is not going to produce the goods!

People can have a positive result, even if the silence is deafening from our 'elected representatives'! No doubt we can expect leaflets from them promising how they will "work hard for local people" even if they spend most of their time elswhere.

Meanwhile, click here to read what Paul Cotterill in Bickerstaffe has achieved when the 319 bus service was threatened! For too long people have let things go without a fight, so Mr. Hodson thank you for your input, why not lend your energy to lobby for the retention of this service of to the village?

L. Hodson. 7th April 2010


BUS SERVICE CUTS

Having lived all my life, 69 years, in Hesketh Bank, I have noticed that the regular decrease in public services seems to be in direct contrast to the increase in residents.

First the railway went, then the police station and village policeman, then the library, now the buses. Each political party always blaming the others. Highway and footpath maintenance is virtually unheard of, the drains at The Brow, Guide Road have been blocked for ages, I know they have been reported several times. Sewage spills regularly into Shore Road, near the school.

L.Hodson expects, rather naively, that elected representatives of any calibre should work for the electorate, when we all know they are working for their own interests, as we all witnessed in the recent pay and expenses fiasco, when members of all parties were found to be fiddling the public purse. No regrets, no shame, no punishment for any of them.

Amazingly, L.Hodson, uses the summary "It is young people, older people, agricultural workers, and anyone who does not own a car which are to be worst hit by this cut in service". Exactly the words we used when David Borrow voted to close our local Post Office.

Richard Hodson, Marsh Road (Native) 6th April 2010


CRUEL DECISION

Sir,
I agree with S.Ackers on this subject [see below]. After learning that Hesketh Bank is to lose the 202 service which I personally use, I was disappointed not to have heard any representations from any of our elected members.

Hesketh Bank is now to be poorly served by bus as well as poorly served by elected members. The only elected person who has taken the trouble to intervene is the MP David Borrow. What I want to know is why the silence? They all stood on the basis of ‘representing the views of local people. Also Conservative candidate for the General Election, Lorraine Fullbrook said on this website in 2005: "Labour is failing local people, more today than even just six months ago. I see it as my job to speak up for each and every local person who it is being let down."

One of those pleased with Lorraine's re-adoption is County Councillor Malcolm Barron who represents Hesketh Bank, Banks and Tarleton. He commented, "Lorraine was a fantastic champion for local people in the eighteen months running up to polling day in May. Her support for campaigns such as the "Green Lane Link" and "Out of Lancs, No Thanks" was fantastic, and having worked closely with her, I am convinced that that she has everything it takes to become our MP at the next election. She will do brilliantly for local people and for the country."

Well, where is she? I would dearly like to ‘tell Lorraine ’ but she appears to be back in Herts where her home is. I feel so let down by all the empty promises of these people. Why are they not representing us?

Through this website I issue the following challenge to Mrs. Fullbrook, County Cllr. Malcolm Barron, Borough Council Members for Hesketh Bank, Iain Ashcroft & Martin Forshaw : SPEAK UP NOW for the people of Hesketh Bank. You have no excuses now that your party controls both the Borough and County Councils involved. It is young people, older people, agricultural workers and anyone who does not own a car which are to be worst hit by this cut in service.

L. Hodson. 3rd April 2010


Bus Service Cuts

Sir,

[See NEWS 3rd April 2010]

As our local Councillors know all to welll, the youth and eldery of our village are very much dependant on the bus service for access to Southport.

It is a sad reflection of the calibre of our Councillors that they could not find the backbone to announce the cuts to the service themselves and have left it to a local resident to highlight the changes.

Shame on them all.

S. Ackers. 3rd April 2010


Weasels In A Corner

Dear Editor,
Just what is it we are not supposed to understand here? When money is taken from one budget heading (Green Lane Link) and placed towards another non-budget item (basket liners to brighten up the village just before elections) that means money is being diverted.

It is the principle of the thing, the point is that it is easy to promise one thing and do another as the actions of Cllr. Barron have clearly shown. The shennanigins of the current administration of Tarleton Parish Council have to be seen to be believed. It has now reached the point where if you are not in the same political party as Cllr. Barron then there is little point in being on the Council. As such I am considering my position on the Council and as the public have a right to know just what is being done with their money I feel that perhaps I would be better placed to expose what is going on if I were no longer a member.

Fortunatley I have received a large amount of information from the previous Clerk before he was finished by Cllr. Barron & his crew after serving six years for the Council. Cllr. Barron may not wish any more 'unpleasantness' but I'm afraid that it is a bit too late due to the grossly unpleasant actions of his Tory administration. I intend to share this information with the public and he can look forward to reading about it on these very pages.

Regards,
J.E.Hodson. 11th June 2009


Weasel words indeed

Dear Sir,
In response to Cllr Hodsons letter I would like to point out the following.

If Cllr Hodson had attended the Parish Council meeting of April 20th he would have known that the money was to be taken from the Budget allocation of interest for the year 2009/10 exactly as I stated.

If he had attended the Parish Council Meeting of May 18th he could have queried the matter then.

If he had attended the Parish Council meeting of June 8th he would have heard that the whole of the Parish Council agree with my version of events when I brought up the matter of the leaflet that he had promoted.

I would suggest that Cllr Hodson attend more Parish Council meetings rather than trawl through the minutes looking for items that he can make political capital out of.

I feel that I have fully explained this matter and I refuse to be involved with any more unpleasant correspondence with Cllr Hodson.

Yours Sincerely,
Malcolm Barron. 10th June 2009


County Election Weasel Words

Dear Editor,
In response to Cllr. Barron's weasel words may I respectfully draw the electors attention to the following minute which he himself agreed as a true record!

2008/224 The Cloisters/Church Road
It was agreed to accept a quotation from Sooty's Plants, arranged by Cllr.Mrs.Evans, to supply 50 Ratan Basket Refills for Church Road and Mere Brow at a cost of £630 plus VAT. The Pavilion Manager had agreed to carry out the maintenance. The clerk pointed out that there was no budget provision for this and it was therefore agreed that the funding be vired from the Green Lane Link budget.

I'll let you make up your own mind.

I wonder if we shall see the 'Green Lane Link' appear now there is a change of political administration at the County Council? 

Regards,
J.E.Hodson, 10th June 2009


ELECTION

Dear Sir,
May I use this Website to thank all those who voted for me at the Lancashire County Council Election, also to the volunteers who delivered my leaflets.

I would also point out an inaccuracy in the leaflet put out by my Labour opponent. Mr Bullen stated that the Tory Candidate voted to divert £630 +vat from the Green Lane Link Budget towards flower Displays in Tarleton Village. This is untrue as his agent Parish Councillor J Hodson who promoted his leaflet knows only too well. No money has been diverted from the Green Lane Link Budget. Because the amount allowed for interest will not be used this year it was decided to use some of the money set aside for the interest to pay for the Hanging Baskets, this will not affect the Budget for the Link.

Yours Sincerely,
Malcolm Barron. 9th June 2009


Sir Robert Atkins

Dear Editor,
I have just opened a "Vote For Change" election communication from the Conservatives to find that Sir Robert Atkins is listed as the 'number 1' Conservative candidate to represent us at the European Parliament.

Is this the same Robert Atkins in the news (Times) over the controversy he caused by using his parliamentary expense to fly to his sons wedding?

Whilst you have to admire the brass neck of the man to even stand, is it not political suicide for the North West Conservatives? As he is the first in the queue to get a Conservative MEP seat, do they not realise they are forcing the hand of even the most ardent conservative voter. Across the whole political spectrum, everyone has now had enough of this sort of morally bankrupt behavior.

The mind boggles - did they think we would forget?

No doubt Mr Cameron will be the first to pick over the wreckage after the elections - pity he didn't get to grips with whatever process put Sir Robert as the Number 1 Candidate before the elections.

"Vote For Change"? More like "Vote For More Of The Same"!

S. Ackers. 21st May 2009


EQUITIBLE LIFE VICTIMS

Dear Editor,
As the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Ribble, I have recently been lobbied by a number of local residents who are victims of the collapse of Equitable Life. As this scandal concerns so many local people, I would like to make my position clear through your letters page.

My position is very straightforward. I strongly believe that the Government should be looking at ways in which to encourage people to save more for their retirement. The continuing misery for Equitable Life pensioners does nothing at all to encourage this.

Recently, the Parliamentary Ombudsman issued a damning indictment of the Government’s handling of the Equitable Life scandal. Her report concludes that there was a series of regulatory failures that led to many policyholders suffering losses and that the Government should make payments to them because of this.

I am proud of the fact that the Conservative Party forced the Government to extend the Ombudsman’s remit to enable her to undertake this investigation and the outcome of her investigation fully justifies that stance.

The report identifies serial regulatory failures including between 1998 and 2001, when Gordon Brown and the Treasury had responsibility for the regulation of Equitable Life. The report makes it clear that prompt action could have been taken then which would have avoided the hardship that so many people have subsequently suffered.

The Ombudsman makes two recommendations. The first is that the Government makes a public apology for maladministration. The second is that because policyholders suffered losses due to the maladministration, they should receive payment from the Government. She makes it clear that the next stage is to assess the basis on which payments to policyholders should be calculated and to whom these should be made. I believe that the Government should accept these recommendations. If I was the MP for South Ribble, I would not rest until this wrong has been put right.

The Ombudsman makes two important points in respect of the losses, which I agree with. Firstly, policyholders should not expect to receive payment for the full loss they suffered – and from the many letters and emails I have received from constituents, they concur with this view. Secondly, she accepts that her recommendation could have a significant impact on public finances.

Any payments made should, therefore, be consistent with maintaining sound public finances. I believe that the Government should accept the Ombudsman’s findings and act promptly. Gordon Brown and the Treasury have, however, sought to block and then delay this report. My Conservative colleagues and I will be putting sustained pressure on the Government to move quickly on this. If the Government fails to act, then the Conservative Party will.

Yours, Lorraine Fullbrook,
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Ribble, 19th August 2008


Who wants my vote?

The latest Election Leaflet to come through my door is all about Conservatives but has no mention of the Candidate in this Parish.

Why not? My earlier posting of 16th April remains unanswered.

Surely if someone is keen to be re-elected it would be an ideal time to report achievements in the last 4 years ?

J Johnston, 29th April 2008


Election Leaflet

Dear Sir,
It was good to see the letter from Parish Councillor Goodyear detailing the achievements of Hesketh Bank Parish Council. [See Letters - HwB PC]

I also welcome the comments from Trevor Roberts who is hoping to become a Parish Councillor in Hesketh Bank.

There are no elections for Parish Councillors in Tarleton but there is one for a representative on the District Council for Tarleton. I have today received an election leaflet from Conservative Councillor John Mee who hopes to get re-elected in Tarleton. [See 2008 Local Elections]

My request to Councillor Mee is this:-

Please detail some of the achievements you have personally achieved during your last 4 years in office?

Why should I vote for you?

What are your aspirations for Tarleton?

During your 8 years as a District Councillor what input have you made toward getting the Green Lane Link built?

I now see other groups including David Borrow MP. County Councillor Malcolm Barron and even the Prospective Conservative Candidate for this area claiming credit for the success in the Green Lane Link. Where do you fit in to all this? Have we been given a starting date for the project?

J Johnston, 16th April 2008


Labour's Tax Rise on Local Residents

Dear Sir,
On 6 April, the income tax rise for the lowest paid in local villages such as Rufford, Tarleton, Banks and Hesketh Bank which Gordon Brown announced in his 2007 Budget came into force.

Many hard-working local people - like cleaners, waiters, shop assistants and nursery nurses - will have seen their tax rate double overnight, on top of an already rising cost of living.

The Treasury has confirmed that a total of 5.3 million families will lose out - even when the changes to tax credits are taken into account.

One in every five local families will be worse off - by anything up to £464.

Sadly like many of his Labour colleagues, my opponent the current Labour MP for South Ribble, David Borrow, voted to penalise the very people who can least afford such a tax rise. Unfortunately for local people earning less than £18,000, Mr Borrow, who thought it a "waste of his time" to vote to save our local Post Offices, found the time to vote to penalise many of those who have always thought that Labour was “on their side”.

Here in Lancashire, hard-working people like sales assistants will have to pay an extra £226 in tax on average - and Receptionists an extra £173.

Labour have over-spent and over-borrowed, and as a result the public finances are in a mess. That is why Gordon Brown is putting up taxes, and kicking people when they are down.

The Conservatives have specific proposals to help hard-working families.

We will oppose Labour's plans to double the 10p tax rate; give people power through local referenda to stop large council tax rises; raise the threshold for inheritance tax, taking 98 per cent of family homes out of it altogether and help for 9 out of 10 first-time buyers by abolishing stamp duty up to £250,000.

That's the sort of help local hard-working families deserve.

Yours faithfully,
Lorraine Fullbrook Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Ribble. 14th April 2008


Post Office Closures

Dear Editor,
I do wish that people would read letters, and check facts, before jumping in with answers. It would ensure that titles used are correct. I am not a Mr; I am a Dr, a qualification as well as a title which I worked very hard to achieve and am justly proud of. I am also a councillor at both parish and district council level, but as I am expressing my own private opinions I am not using those titles. I am aware that Mr Hodson is a councillor, but I am assuming that he is not writing on this forum as a councillor so he should not use the title councillor as this implies that he is speaking on behalf of the parish council to which he belongs. I, therefore, refer to him as Mr as he is speaking as a private individual.

I did not say that Mr Hodson was not allowed an opinion; just that he had not stated his position on Post Office closures. He still has not done so and I, for one, would like to hear his opinion on the closures.

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that many of the functions that were supplied by the Post Office have now been farmed out to other organisations and, if there is a suitable place in the community to take the place of the Post Office, and the level of community service can be maintained by these places, then I do not see any problem with closing the Post Offices, but as long as a Post Office is the focal point of a community it should be kept open as a public service.

Mr Hodson is obviously in ignorance of the difference between Post Office Counters Ltd, which runs the Post Offices and Royal Mail which runs the mail service. They are two completely separate commercial enterprises, and have been for some considerable time, so there is nothing remotely hypocritical in using a private courier service. It does not affect the Post Office at all. I think the ‘D'oh!’ is returned with interest there.

However, Mr Hodson you still have not answered my question so I will ask it again.

Do you believe that the actions of Tessa Jowell, David Borrow and all the other Labour MP’s who voted for the closure of Post Offices in Parliament and then campaigned against the closures in their constituencies were being hypocritical?

Regards,
Dr David Vickers, 30th March 2008


Post Office Closures

Hello,
Rather than trying to persuade the present Government to retain Post Offices which currently run at a loss, would it not be an idea to try to have these offices relocated in other local outlets similar to the one in Spar in Tarleton?

Joyce Rydings, 30th March 2008


Dear Editor,
Yes hypocracy. I do have a right to an opinion despite Mr. Vickers obviously believing that we should all vote and think the way he does. The Post Office issue has arisen because people in general have chosen alternative ways of accessing services which were formerly used through the Post Office network. Market forces I think they are refferred to. My point was that it is the easiest thing in the world to point fingers without offerring any realistic alternative.

With regard to hypocracy, I have heard that when recently circulating one of her leaflets on the Post Office subject, Mrs Fulbrooke used a private courier to deliver them rather than the Post Office - D'oh!

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 30th March 2008


Post Office Closures

Dear Sir,
I think that Mr JE Hodson’s attack and accusation of hypocrisy against South Ribble Conservative PPC Mrs Lorraine Fulbrooke would have been better aimed at those Labour MP’s who voted in the Commons FOR the closure of the post offices and then went out to their constituencies and campaigned AGAINST the closures. Tessa Jowell being one of those MP’s and I believe Mr Hodson’s puppet-master David Borrow is another. Or do Mr Hodson and Mr Borrow agree with the closures?

Who are the hypocrites Mr Hodson?

The fact that your letter does not indicate where you stand on the post office closures shows that you recognise that you cannot defend the undefendable yet you feel that you have to pontificate on the subject and, as you cannot be seen to be agreeing with your political opponents, you must attack those opponents rather than what they are trying to do.

Regards,
Dr David Vickers, 30th March 2008


Local Politics

Dear Editor,
Who's conning who? Lorraine Fulbrooke demonstrates yet again her rank hypocrisy and political opportunism in her latest ditty.

What realistic alternative is she or her political party putting forward, the same party that closed all the coalmines and decimated our manufacturing industry because they could't 'pay their way'.

Come off it Mrs. Fullbrooke, either put up (with some hard number crunching) or shut up.

Yours Sincerely, Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 23rd March 2008


POST OFFICE CLOSURE VOTE

Dear Editor,
This week the local press printed my letter calling on South Ribble ’s current Labour MP David Borrow, to "do the right thing" and vote to stop the Post Office closures that are doing so much damage to our local communities.

Sadly, last night (Wednesday 19th) both David Borrow and his colleague Mark Hendrick the MP for Preston decided to ignore this call. Both have decided to put blind loyalty to Gordon Brown above loyalty to their constituents.

In a vote called by the Conservatives, 20 Labour MPs defied their Party, and if just another 11 had done the same, the closures would have been halted. Mr Borrow and Mr Hendrick had the chance to save the Post Offices that are earmarked for closure in, Mere Brow, Leyland , Hutton, Much Hoole, Eccleston and Preston. They decided not to do so!

Having spent the last six weeks telling local people that he wanted to save the Post Offices, David Borrow proved again last night why it is time for a change!

As both Mr Borrow’s Conservative opponent at the next General Election, and one of his constituents, I am sad that he has effectively conned his constituents. He pretended to support our local Post offices, but when put on the spot by last nights vote in Parliament, he totally failed to put his constituent’s interests first.

I have no doubt that when the Prime Minister finally summons up the courage to call a General Election, the residents of Mere Brow, Leyland, Hutton, Much Hoole, and Eccleston will remember just who it was that betrayed their trust last night!

Lorraine Fullbrook, 20th March 2008
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for South Ribble – and Tarleton resident


Councillors Surgeries

I read with interest in the local newspaper that Councillors in both Skelmersdale and Rainford hold regular surgeries where local people can come and share their concerns in the hope of getting action.

Are there any plans for those elected to Hesketh Bank and Tarleton Council to follow suite or are they afraid of a long queue and too many complaints about lack of action on various matters including the new system for waste disposal?

J. Johnston, 7th June 2007


Dear Sir,

I wish to reply to the letter from the West Lancashire Green Party.

Their statements are bold, over simplified and sweeping about the state of the Labour and Conservative political parties.

They even fail to give the Lib-Dems even a mention. The Conservative party has gained more members since David Cameron became leader and whilst they may have lost a few along the way due possibly to his reforms, they have not lost as many as Labour. Membership of the Conservative party conveys upon that individual the right to vote for their prospective Parliamentary candidate and the Party's leader. In other words it is democratic. If as the Green's state, David Cameron is put down by the Old Dinosaurs in the party how is it that major reforms are currently taking place to bring the party into the 21st Century?

The Green's approach, based on their letter, appears to say that they are all allowed free thinking. Does that mean they have no single approach to issues involving this country? That leads to confusion and anarchy and I fail to see what choosing two people to act as spokespersons has to do with democracy.

If you wish to see pictures of local and elected, Conservative councillors look on www.northernparishesconservatives.co.uk where you will also see what Conservatives believe in.

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 31st December 2006


Dear Sir,
Political parties always seem to have problems with their leaders. The Labour government's problems with Mr Blair are all too obvious : a disgraced leader clinging to power for a few more months is a painful sight. Internationally he has done enormous harm and he has undermined our democracy and the rule of law. But the Conservatives have serious problems too.

David Cameron is a new broom and he is trying to sweep clean. But every time he comes up with a moderate idea, the Old Tory dinosaurs come out of the shadows to put him down. Mr Cameron says he wants a fairer tax system; the O.T.s demand lower taxes, especially for the wealthy. The Conservative leader says that he will target poverty but the O.T.s demand the abolition of the Minimum Wage. Cameron says he would bring in green taxes but the backlash from the Conservative power-base in industry and finance has already started. It's hard to imagine that he can succeed where so many previous Conservative leaders have failed.

Both the Labour and the Conservative parties are losing large numbers of members. Mr Cameron's party is still controlled by members who are no longer in the prime of youth. And Mr Blair's party is controlled by the millionaires who pay the bills. Soon we will hear that only the super-rich will be allowed to join the Labour Party - but concessions will be available for non-millionaires.

Sian BerryDerek WallIn the Green Party we have a different approach. We don't want a party boss telling us what to think. We don't want bitter struggles among jealous politicians trying to destroy one leader and plot the coronation of the next. Instead we have two principal speakers - one woman, Sian Berry, and one man, Derek Wall. You can't get much more democratic than that. We enclose their photos - this may be the first and last chance for your readers to see them!

Yours faithfully,
Maurice George, David Sheekey, John Watt, West Lancashire Green Party,
17th December 2006


Dear Sir,
The record as far as election material content clearly does not stand. In Mr. Rydings world of 'give a dog a bad name' it is obviously good enough to make a slur without being able to substantiate facts. He won't directly answer the questions because he can't without causing political embarrassment to his masters. It is perhaps true as he says, that the Political Officer is not a Political Officer at all. Any reasonable person will see that he and his colleagues are not mature enough to admit they got it wrong.

However I am quite content for the record to stand on the principle that false statements were made, challenged and left unproven in the eyes of the electorate. If you can't put up - you should shut up, it's as simple as that.

Your Sincerely, Cllr. J.E.Hodson. 17th October 2006


Dear Sir,
I would consider that for JH to boast that he has an answer at last is a bit of a cheek. It took him over 12 months to answer my question.

I decided to include the two sets of Standards Boards reports as they were not available on their own website and the contents show clearly that both sets of compaints were not upheld. Previous correspondence hadn't shown that and I'm grareful to the Editor for publishing them in full. I was being totally honest in my reporting of my findings into JH's allegations about old election material and far from accepting his assumption that he was vindicated my research showed to me that his voting record leaned further left than right - that is his choice but I fail to understand why he has to deny it.

I am content to let the record stand and I see no need on my part to offer JH an apology.

Yours faithfully, Dave Rydings, 17th October 2006


Dear Sir,
So at last we have an answer! I'm not sure what point he's trying to make by replicating the contents of the Standards Board findings, anyone could access these at the time. Mr. Rydings has gone a long way round confirming exactly what I said, namely, 1. He and his fellow conservatives cannot substantiate their claim on my voting record. 2. The statement about my voting against the West Lancs Play group was a lie. At the time I wrote to each of the Tory Councillors who had put their name to the leaflet asking them to retract, when they refused to do so I published the following leaflet:

"TRUTH OR FICTION? You decide.
Everyone suspects that many election leaflets and political party manifesto's contain elements of fiction, but last years efforts surpassed many previous publications - remember this one? "The Independent (myself) voted in April 2002 against funding of West Lancs Play Association when no alternative village play scheme has been offered for our young children this summer? (Conservative election material 2002)"

This was a very strange statement to make considering that at the following meeting of the Council the very people who made this claim, agreed unanimously that I did NOT vote on this item as the recorded vote shows. When I pointed out this error and asked the authors to retract (which would be the honorable thing to do) they refused! This leads me to believe that if someone publishes something, which is untrue and then refuses to correct it when they know it to be untrue, then it must be intentional.

The dictionary definition of a lie is: "A false statement intended to deceive or to give a false impression" And these people claim to be honourable? If what I say is false no doubt they can sue me! Until then be very skeptical about statements coming from that source.

So Mr, Rydings do I get an apology and retraction? or are you content to let these untruths stay on record?

Your Sincerely, Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 16th October 2006


Dear Sir,
In response to the letter from John Hodson of the 6th October 2006 I have researched the following:- Standards Board reports have been given in full.

Case no. SBE2750.03
Outcome:
See below.

This summary outlines the conclusions reached in Case SBE2750.03. This case concerned allegations against Mr Malcolm Barron, a former member of Tarleton Parish Council. The allegations relate to Paragraphs 2(b), 4, 7, 8, 9(1) and 10 of the Code of Conduct. Paragraph 2(b) states that a member must "treat others with respect". Paragraph 4 states that "a member must not in his official capacity, or any other circumstance, conduct himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute". Paragraph 7 states that "a member must regard himself as having a personal interest in any matter if the matter relates to an interest in respect of which notification must be given under paragraphs 12 and 13 below, or if a decision upon it might be regarded as affecting to a greater extent than other council taxpayers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the authority's area, the well-being or financial position of himself, a relative or friend". Paragraph 8 states that "a member with a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered must disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest at the commencement of that consideration, or when the interest becomes apparent". Paragraph 9(1) states that "a member with a personal interest in a matter also has a prejudicial interest in that matter if the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the member's judgement of the public interest". Paragraph 10 states that a member with a prejudicial interest in any matter must "(a) withdraw from the room or chamber where a meeting is being held whenever it becomes apparent that the matter is being considered at that meeting" and that he must "(b) not seek improperly to influence a decision about that matter".

Date received: 24 February 2003
Date passed to ESO: 27 March 2003
Date completed: 19 August 2003

Outcome:
In relation to the allegation that the member failed to disclose a personal interest and failed to withdraw from a meeting in which a matter in which he had a prejudicial interest and in relation to one of the allegations that he failed to treat others with respect and one of the allegations that he brought his office or authority into disrepute, under Section 59(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken.

In relation to three of the allegations that the member brought his office or authority into disrepute and one allegation that he failed to treat others with respect, under Section 59(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct.

Allegation:

A member failed to treat others with respect, brought his office or authority into disrepute, failed to disclose a personal interest and failed to withdraw from a meeting in which a matter in which he had a prejudicial interest was discussed.

The complainant, who is a councillor, made a series of allegations against Mr Malcolm Barron, a former member of Tarleton Parish Council.

Allegation 1
The complainant alleged that Mr Barron failed to treat the Parish Clerk with respect by calling him late at night or early in the morning to question the Council’s actions.

However, neither of the clerks who worked for the Council during the period in question recalled receiving any telephone calls from Mr Barron late at night or early in the morning.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with Paragraph 2(b) of the Code of Conduct with regard to this allegation.

Allegation 2
The complainant also alleged that Mr Barron brought his office or authority into disrepute at a Council meeting on 26 March 2002 by seeking to influence and alter the minutes of a meeting that he did not attend.

As this meeting took place before Tarleton Parish Council adopted the Code of Conduct, it fell outside the jurisdiction of The Standards Board for England.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken with respect to this matter.

Allegation 3
The complainant further alleged that Mr Barron failed to disclose a personal and prejudicial interest in a planning application considered at Council meetings on 27 June 2002, 15 July 2002 and 29 July 2002, and failed to withdraw from the meeting during the consideration of the matter.

The Ethical Standards Officer had already considered this allegation in separate investigations for cases SBE861.02 and SBE1007.02.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken in respect of this allegation.

Allegation 4
According to the complainant, Mr Barron brought his authority into disrepute by making comments in newspapers on a contentious planning application. Mr Barron was quoted in a local newspaper published on 24 July 2002 as saying that a conservation group’s claims about the application in a leaflet were “patently untrue”.

The complainant also alleged that Mr Barron undermined the position of the Chairman of the Council in a letter to the editor of another local newspaper on 1 August 2002, by calling into question the Chairman’s reasons for calling an extraordinary Council meeting on 15 July 2002 to discuss the application. Mr Barron’s letter stated that the meeting had been called at the instigation of the conservation group or in response to its “inflammatory” leaflet. The letter further stated that the meeting was unnecessary, as the matter had already been exhaustively discussed at a previous meeting. The complainant also claimed that the letter created the impression that the Council had made a decision in relation to the application.

Mr Barron denied that his comments undermined the position of the Chairman or brought his authority into disrepute, and claimed that he was merely expressing his own views on the planning application. Mr Barron also denied that his letter created the impression that the Council had determined the application.

The Ethical Standards Officer considered that Mr Barron’s comments only expressed his own views on the planning application, the conservation group and the procedure adopted by the Council in this instance. The Ethical Standards Officer also considered that there was nothing in the letter that suggested that the Council had made a decision on the application. The Ethical Standards Officer therefore concluded that Mr Barron did not bring his office or authority into disrepute by making comments to the newspapers.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct in relation to this allegation.

Allegation 5
The complainant alleged that Mr Barron failed to treat members of the public with respect at Council meetings on 27 June 2002, 15 July 2002 and 29 July 2002. However, as the Ethical Standards Officer had already considered this allegation in the investigations for cases SBE861.02 and SBE1007.02.

Accordingly, under Section 59(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken with regard to this allegation.

Allegation 6
The complainant alleged that Mr Barron brought his authority into disrepute at a Council meeting on 9 September 2002. The complainant claimed that Mr Barron undermined the position of the Chairman by discussing his refusal to include an agenda item in the public meeting, instead of discussing it in private.

Mr Barron denied undermining the Chairman, and stated that he thought that the meeting was the appropriate place to discuss the matter. Mr Barron said that the Chairman at no time attempted to discuss this with him in private.

The Ethical Standards Officer noted that there was no evidence that Mr Barron was disrespectful or offensive when he discussed this issue at the meeting. The Ethical Standards Officer also noted that Mr Barron did not attempt to discuss the substantive issue which he wanted included on the agenda, but only tried to clarify why it was not being discussed. The Ethical Standards Officer therefore concluded that Mr Barron did not bring his authority into disrepute by raising this issue at the meeting.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct in relation to this allegation.

Allegation 7
Finally, the complainant alleged that Mr Barron brought his authority into disrepute by challenging the accuracy of minutes at Council meetings on 27 June 2002, 15 July 2002, 29 July 2002 and 9 September 2002. The complainant claimed that Mr Barron did not follow the Council’s Standing Orders by raising issues previously debated by the Council rather than simply challenging and approving the minutes. According to the complainant, Mr Barron also often suggested that the Parish Clerk and the Chairman had colluded to doctor the minutes for the meetings. The complainant stated that Mr Barron is generally disruptive at meetings, interrupts and speaks over other councillors and ignores the Chairman’s rulings on procedures.

Mr Barron denied that he failed to follow Standing Orders when discussing the accuracy of minutes for previous meetings. Mr Barron also denied making allegations against the Parish Clerk and the Chairman. Mr Barron further denied that he was disruptive at meetings. Mr Barron stated that he occasionally comments on the Chairman’s rulings on procedures, but only if he feels that they are incorrect.

The Ethical Standards Officer investigated these allegations, and reached the view that while Mr Barron may have engaged in robust debate when discussing the minutes of previous meetings, he did not disregard the Standing Orders or raise issues for substantive debate at an inappropriate time. The Ethical Standards Officer also considered that Mr Barron did not suggest that the Parish Clerk and the Chairman had colluded to doctor minutes. Finally, The Ethical Standards Officer considered that Mr Barron did not behave in generally disruptive manner, interrupt or speak over other councillors or ignore the Chairman’s rulings on procedures. The Ethical Standards Officer concluded that Mr Barron did not bring his office or authority into disrepute by his conduct at these meetings.

In these circumstances, under Section 59(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 2000, the Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure to comply with the Code of Conduct in respect of this allegation.

In relation to allegations No 3 and 5 on SBE2750.03 Mr Barron had been totally cleared at a previous investigation.

Case no. SBE3208.03
Member: Councillor John Hodson
Authority: Tarleton Parish Council
Date received: 4 September 2003
Date completed: 12 May 2004

Allegation:
A member failed to disclose a personal interest, took part in a meeting in which he had a prejudicial interest, improperly secured an advantage and brought his office or authority into disrepute.

Outcome:
The Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken.

The complainant alleged that Councillor John Hodson took part in a parish council meeting on 29 July 2002 where he had a prejudicial interest. It was alleged that Councillor Hodson was a friend of a candidate being considered for an internal appointment and that he also used his position improperly to secure this person a job with the council.

The Ethical Standards Officer considered that the candidate was an acquaintance of Councillor Hodson, not a friend. Therefore, the Ethical Standards Officer found that Councillor Hodson did not have a personal or prejudicial interest to declare. In relation to the allegation that Councillor Hodson used his position improperly to secure this person a job, the Ethical Standards Officer noted that Councillor Hodson had offered the position without consulting the council because of an imminent accounting deadline. The Ethical Standards Officer concluded that Councillor Hodson did not improperly secure an advantage for this person.

The Ethical Standards Officer also considered various allegations that Councillor Hodson had brought his office or authority into disrepute. In relation to the allegation that he had conducted the appointment of a council employee improperly, the Ethical Standards officer noted that there had been concerns that only one applicant was interviewed, but concluded that Councillor Hodson did not act improperly.

In relation to the allegation that Councillor Hodson had changed the date of a council meeting without consent, the Ethical Standards Officer concluded that the decision was not negligent or reckless, but had been done in good faith to avoid clashing with another event.

Finally, in relation to the allegation that Councillor Hodson had failed to include an item on a meeting agenda, the Ethical Standards Officer considered that Councillor Hodson had acted in good faith to avoid discussing an inappropriate subject in public.

The Ethical Standards Officer found that none of the above could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute.

In relation to all the allegations, the Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken.

Relevant Paragraphs of the Code of Conduct
The allegation in this case relates to Paragraphs 4, 5(a), 8 and 10 of the Code of Conduct. Paragraph 4 states that “a member must not in his official capacity, or any other circumstance, conduct himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute”. Paragraph 5(a) states that a member "must not in his official capacity, or any other circumstance, use his position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for himself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage". Paragraph 8 states that "a member with a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered must disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest at the commencement of that consideration, or when the interest becomes apparent". Paragraph 10 states that a member with a prejudicial interest in any matter must "(a) withdraw from the room or chamber where a meeting is being held whenever it becomes apparent that the matter is being considered at that meeting" and that he must "(b) not seek improperly to influence a decision about that matter".

John Hodson has brought into these postings on this website the name of a person who has not been involved in these discussions and indulged in personal attacks which are unfounded. Malcolm Barron has given me permission to publish the summary of the allegations. Please note that the name of the person who made the allegations does not appear because the name of the person making the allegations is confidential and it would also be illegal for me to publish it.

To answer the two allegations about incorrect election material:-

2002 election material – “JH voted with the Labour 95% of the time when he was a District Cllr”. Whilst I spent a considerable amount of time talking to various Councillors in trying to find the answer to this I was unable to obtain an accurate picture. It would cause a considerable amount of time and expenditure to ask the Council Officers to trawl through the records of recorded votes and I have no intention of requesting this. At the time of the election Councillors told me that this was a fact and no one can recall Cllr. Hodson ever voting with the Conservatives.

2003 election material – “Independent voted against funding of West Lancashire Play Association”. He requested evidence of the source of the material. I have checked the records on this and Cllr. Hodson together with the Labour group abstained on this motion and then voted against the next two motions alongside the Labour group.

As in previous correspondence JH has labelled me as a “Political Officer” and I would like to point out that any comments on this website are entirely my own.

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 15th October 2006


Dear Sir,
Now we really do have a loose cannon rolling round the deck! Mrs. Goodier does her usual - having a rant without actually making any point. Yes it was quite a long time ago when I signed the said nomination papers and I did vote against Cllr. Hodges nomination as Chairman as it came about by the defection of seven Labour Councillors who then formed a coalition with the Tories to gain control of the Council. This, I felt went against the democratic will of the electorate at that time. Anyway Mrs. Goodier, we shall see just who has selective recall now that you have joined the fray!

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 13th October 2006


Sir,
I am outraged reading John Hodson's comments (5th October) about signing Robert Hodge's nomination papers, it must have been a long time ago, well before he became buddies with David Borrow, perhaps he can enlighten us. When Parish Cllr Hodson was District Councillor he voted AGAINST Cllr Robert Hodge's nomination as Chairman, so why would he sign his nomination paper, Me thinks John Hodson has a selective memory.

Norma Goodier, 12th October 2006


Dear Sir,
I will be answering JH's allegations about lies in election material when I have checked them out. He has made some very serious allegations. I also need to get more details from the Standards Board regarding allegations made against others to ensure I obtain permission to make public anything that has 'confidential' attached to it. Do not though interpret that as being gagged by political masters. I don't have any. You can be rest assured JH that I will come back very soon to answer your questions.

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 6th October 2006


Dear Sir,

Mr. Rydings can assume all he wants, in my capacity as Cllr. or JP he would be suprised at how many various things I sign for people, I don't usually, as a rule, advertise the details.

With regards to who started the ball rolling with the Standards Board allegations it was, a certain Cllr. Malcolm Barron who reported a fellow member of Tarleton Parish Council soon after the Board was set up.

With regard to the various lies in election material, on looking back through it becomes obvious that considering the Conservatives constantly proclaimed that 'The Independent can have no influence', they mention me rather a lot, even to the extent of becoming obsessional. Anyway heres a couple we can work on;

1. In 2004 election material it is claimed that while I served a term on WLDC the 'INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR for the area supported Labour 95% of the time.' as Mr. Rydings also intimated recently on this website. Question: just what is the source of their information, please substantiate.

2. In 2002 election material (amongst many claims) under the banner heading "What the 'Independents' won't tell you!" it is claimed " The 'Independent' voted April 2002 against funding of West Lancs Play association when no alternative village play scheme has been offered for our young children this summer. Question: just what is the source of their information, please substantiate.

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 6th October 2006


Dear Sir,
I should just like to thank Mr Hodson for putting the record straight on the signing of nomination papers and as I suspected it hasn't bothered me in the least. I for one would probably sign the nomination papers of someone I knew well enough to trust they would do a decent job regardless of their political alignment (certain fringe parties excepted of course).

I also find it interesting that Mr Rydings comments imply that the charges against Mr Hodson where some sort of 'handbags at noon' reaction to allegations made by Mr Hodson. Surely the grown up reaction would have been to simply prove those wrong, rather than embark on a 'he started it first' quest, wasting the time of valuable resources. I know the standards board cleared the Cllr of wrong doing, but that's not my point is it.

Regards
P. Hipwell 6th October 2006


Dear Sir,
At last an answer!!

If JH signed Robert Hodge's nomination paper it was some time ago - he died in 2004. If he cannot see the point I was driving at then why has he taken so long to answer it? It's got nothing to do with politeness. I will assume he didn't wish to reveal the fact. To be asked to sign a nomination paper for a PPC usually means that you know the person well and support their application and Party.

I will answer JH's question about the alleged lies when he tells me which election he is referring to - I have all the election leaflets from 2002 and can obtain others if necessary.

I am not bound by 'Political Masters' as he puts it, I am able to speak for myself without deferring to anyone else.

With regard to P Hipwell's letter re the Standards Board - I have been delving into this further. I contacted the Standards Board by phone as the Case Summary is no longer available on line. For P Hipwell's information they are SBE861 and SBE1007. In summary it states " The Ethical Standards Officer found no evidence of any failure by Cllr. Barron to comply with the Code of Conduct on all counts. A full and detailed account can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by contacting them on www.standardsboard.co.uk and quoting the above Case Study numbers.

The 'trumped up' charges against JH, were in response to his 'trumped up' charges against Cllr. Barron. So who started the whole thing off then?

I hope I've answered all the questions - so what's left? Oh yes, tell us JH which alleged election 'lies' are you referring to?

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 5th October 2006


Dear Sir,
In reply to Mr. Hipwells request, I have no problem whatsoever in answering the question, seeing as he asks politely rather than demanding, yes I did sign Mr. Borrow's nomination paper quite happily after all the work and support he gave to the Tarleton High School Indoor Sports Hall and the Carr Lane Sports Pavillion projects. For the record I signed Cllr. Robert Hodges nomination paper also, so I don't quite understand the point that Mr. Rydings is driving at.

As for the question that I have posed for Mr. Rydings, he cannot answer as his political masters will not let him.

Yours sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 5th October 2006


Dear Sir,
Re: Mr Rydings note of 4th October
For those that can't be bothered trawling through the previously mentioned website I've taken a look and here's some very notable points.

"the Ethical Standards Officer found that Councillor Hodson did not have a personal or prejudicial interest to declare"

"The Ethical Standards Officer concluded that Councillor Hodson did not improperly secure an advantage for this person"

"concluded that Councillor Hodson did not act improperly"

And to sum it all up....

"SBE outcome: The Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken."

So it looks like you are in the clear JH and I would suggest that holding your breath for any kind of apology on the tape is likely to be detrimental to your health, so I'm glad to see you aren't doing so. Mr Ryding seems unable to actually acknowledge the fact that you were cleared of any wrong doings and cannot even take the time to paste in a link for the the specific web page detailing the event. For those that care it's here

However..... I cant see why Cllr Hodson can't come right out and say 'yes' or 'no' to what I see as a simple question! Either you did or didn't put your name to David Borrow's election papers. If you have a problem with either confirming that or the opposite then its a great shame. If you did, but don't feel like admitting it then you shouldn't have done so in the first place. If you didn't then just say so. Politics is about having conviction in what you say and do. I've always prided myself in telling the truth and lord knows that's got me into some situations but at least with me its what you see is what you get. I'm not even sure if there's anyone apart from Mr Rydings that actually cares about the answer so go on Cllr, lets put this one to bed and move on.

Regards,
P. Hipwell, 4th October 2004

p.s. I'm not holding my breath either, that this is going to go away with a simple answer.

p.p.s. just in case someone accuses me of being some kind of left wing, blue rosette wearing liberal, I'm not to sure where my political views lie. (Born a socialist, wannabe middle of the road but can see the point of protecting what you have conservatism)


Dear Sir,
You can tell there are elections next year. I suppose we've both started to put out our messages and that we are vying for votes.

What answers have I not given to what questions? If my memory serves me correctly I asked JH the question about him signing David Borrow's nomination paper over 12 months ago.

If he cares to be more specific regarding the lies he claims the Conservatives put out and at which election this took place I will look into it and get back via this website.

Apologies required re a tape recording? What a nerve JH has. The transcript of the complaint and its outcome are for all to see on the Standards Board website: - www.standardsboard.co.uk

You can breath out now JH

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 4th October 2006


Dear Sir,
We are there at last, Mr. Rydings likes demanding answers without giving any himself. I will answer his question when he answers mine. All I want is an admission that the Conservatives lied in their election material with regard to my voting record and an apology for the Tape recording.

Yours not holding my breath,
Cllr. J.E. Hodson, 4th October 2006


Dear Sir,
I apologise for the misspelling of our MP's surname - but JH still hasn't answered the question - did he put his name to David Borrow's election papers? The rest is going over old ground again and again and again. We are never going to agree.

Regards,
Dave Rydings, 4th October 2006


Dear Sir,
Mr. Rydings makes the claim that I 'always voted with Labour' I wonder what the source of his information is? Could it possibly be from his colleagues or from their highly dubious election material? If so he should rely on more ethically based sources as the author of the election leaflets said to me in person " we tried to dig up stuff about you but when we couldn't find anything we had to make it up" When I publically challenged them about the truth of their allegations they refused to withdraw and again, privately, the author told me that it was poitically too difficult for him to retract. For information, as a serving member on the District Council, most of the time you are following Officer recommendation with only a minority of decisions recorded by name so to state that anyone votes this way or that is highly misleading as it depends on who is the administration at the time.

Mr. Rydings misreads what I say about the blue rosette on a pig if he interprets it as a slur on conservative voters, I make the opposite point; that far from that being the case, it is healthy to have an effective alternative. If there was no Independents in Tarleton then the accusation would be more difficult to refute!

As for the clandestine tape recording of fellow councillors and Clerk ( as well as members of the public present) Mr. Rydings seeks to excuse the highly unethical behaviour by stating that it is not illegal to do so! How would he feel if the tables were turned and he found that someone was tape recording him without his knowledge or permission?

Our MP is a Mr David Borrow whom is now serving his third succesive term in office so Mr. Rydings should be able to get his name right by now.

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E. Hodson, 2nd October 2006


Dear Sir,
Independent - JH's claim on his position on the Parish Council. I think if you asked other Councillor's on the Parish Council they would claim the same attitude when it comes to local politics. The difference is that they are open about their overall political persuasion. They don't try to masquerade as something they're not.

JH claimed he was a so called Independent when he stood for the District Council. He was elected on that ticket yet his record over 4 years in office was always voting with Labour. Is that acting as an Independent? He may have gained 34% of all the votes but how come he was nor re-elected? I think people saw through him for what he was - a Labour politician masquerading as an Independent.

I would totally agree that a strong opposition is good in a democracy but I believe JH's position on this in local issues is not always what it seems.

If by his argument you stick a blue rosette on a pig people would vote for it is highly insulting to the residents of this village. What he is saying in effect is that we are stupid and cannot think for ourselves. I take exception to that and I'll bet many others do also.

On the subject of the Standards Board it was JH who started the ball rolling on this. Recording the proceeds of a public meeting is not and never has been illegal.

£35K spent on refurbishing the toilet block to bring it up to a safe and acceptable standards (as well as necessary under the law) is money well spent. It is well used and appreciated by residents as is the car park. I would though suggest that some parish council money is spent on making the entrance and exit clearer.

I will ask once again - Is the J Hodson the same person as the Vice Chair on Tarleton Parish Council who nominated David Burrow at last years General Election?

Yours sincerely,
Dave Rydings, 1st October 2006


Dear Sir,

I too am comfortable with my own personal political beliefs - I just don't think that Party Politics belong at the Parish Council level, that's why I am Independent. I didn't stand on a political ticket as the record will show. Some people say that if you were to stick a blue rosette on a pig it would get elected around here but I happen to think that it is a healthy thing for democracy if you have a good strong opposition, which was not the case for many years in Tarleton. I think that when I last stood at District level I gained something like 34% of all the Votes cast which, by anyones standards, is a significant number of electors who do not vote Tory.

Mr. Rydings omits to mention the fact that Mr. Barron reported myself to the Standards Board on no less than five trumped up charges which were all dismissed and I was subsequently exonerated. The main complaint that I made against Mr. Barron was the one where he and his colleagues were caught secretly tape recording the Parish Council meeting for reasons, presumably, of entrapment. That complaint did not stand as it fell on the technicality in that it took place prior to the introduction of the Code of Conduct. It certainly did not negate the fact that it was a highly unethical and devious thing to do. It is interesting to note that senior Executives of a major international IT equipment manufacturer have recently had to resign over doing the same thing.

On a previous subject namely the Police Resource Centre, what does anyone think about the District Council spending ?35K on the Toilet block - good value for money? I personally think that the money being allocated to the project prior to the Police decision was an attempt to block the project at all costs.

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 30th September 2006


Dear Sir,

Are we talking politics or are indulging in a slanging match of ideologies?

Never mind here we go.....

Reading impairment - it was stated so as to emphasise a point not to cast a slur on your reading ability.

Political officer - I have never ever made a secret of my Conservative beliefs, unlike JH who masquerades under the 'Independent' banner when as we all know he is a strong Labour supporter. In fact, I still await an answer from him if he was the J Hodson who signed David Borrow's nomination papers.

Heretical point of view - if I interpret that statement in its strict sense it means that JH's beliefs are the only ones that matter.

My mentor - County Councillor Barron was elected last year by a sizeable majority of the people in the Northern Parishes. I wonder why? I happen to share his beliefs. Is that a sin? You also lost a claim that you made against him to the Standards Board of England. Once again I wonder why?

Really, JH, you do clutch at straws.

Yours faithfully,
Dave Rydings, 29th September 2006


Dear Sir,
Mr. Hipwell was correct in his first asumption that my reffering to Mr. Rydings as a 'Political Officer' was to flag up the fact that Mr. Rydings holds an 'Office' within a 'Political' organisation, hence the title 'Political Officer' Mr. Rydings obviously was not comfortable in my doing so, but I simply wanted readers to be able to set his many 'observations' into context. He applied many twists and turns in his attempt to throw people off the scent by engaging in semantics but in doing so was exposed in the end.

I remember a similar episode conducted by Mr. Ryding's guide and mentor, Mr. Malcolm Barron, who used to write into the local press attacking my character without revealing that he was in fact a 'Political Officer' of the same Association (here we go again) until he was challenged. I do not have a reading impairment as Mr. Rydings states, in fact I do rather a large amount of reading of reports from many organisations on behalf of the Lancashire Association of Parish & Town Council's, whom I am sure would not elect someone on their behalf to do so, who had trouble assimilating information. I am quite used to such comments however, as it seems that this practise is often and well applied by him & his colleagues to anyone who is heretical enough not to share their particular viewpoint.

Yours Sincerely
Cllr. J.E.Hodson, 27th September 2006

PS I'd love to keep the thread going re: the sabotaged Police Resource Centre, I'm sure theres lots to come out yet! 


Dear Sir,
You are quite right P Hipwell, you didn't use the word Association, JH did. If I may direct you to www.northernparishesconservatives.co.uk you can see for yourself that all I was doing was putting the record straight. I'm sorry if that looses credibility with you but I considered it important.

Dave Rydings 26th September 2006


Dear Sir,
Having neglected to read the letters of late, I have have just read the now well off topic Road Safety thread and would now like to kickstart a new thread on local politics in general with this short note in reply to Mr Rydings and others.

As I stated I am a political novice and thats why I asked the question about the difference between "Political Officer" and a "Membership Secretary" because I can work out what a Membership Secretary probably does but not the former. My first assumption was that it actually just meant you held an office within a political organisation and as such a "Membership Secretary" would fall within that group. Since Mr Rydings clearly didnt want to be called a "Political Officer" it set me to wondering what it was that a "Political Officer" did. Since there is no such specific post as Political Officer within the organisation its clear we've all spent a lot of time talking about nothing at all once again .

In reply to Mr Rydings question regarding the goings on in Marks Square and why I thought he should comment on them, quite simple really. As someone within the area who often comments on many things that happen in or around the village I thought he might have something of value to say about why he thought this sort of thing was starting to happen and what we as a village should do about it. Probably something for discussion at P.A.C.T. meetings but as Im unable to attend these in general I was keen to gather what views I should come across.

Lastly Mr Rydings has implied that Cllr Hodson of having a reading impairment, in jest I am sure. However Mr Rydings has also qouted myself when he says 'P Hipwell used the word "Association" and I was ensuring I answered his query accurately'

Well, Mr Rydings I didn't use the word as you have stated (though as ever I stand to be corrected), so I suggest that before you start saying things about other peoples abilities to read and recall things, that you recheck the accuracy of the things you are saying yourself or more importantly those things you say others have said.

Yes I know, its not that important that I did or didnt use the word "Association" but as we all know, anyone starts to loose credibility when we get into a round of Pot and Kettle.

Best Regards
P.Hipwell, 26th September 2006

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