WELCOME to a bright new year, a county council election one, to delight everyone!
Labour candidates were quick to announce their nominations but far slower to tell us how and why they wish to run the council. Most of the pronouncements so far have been negative anti-Government statements. The Conservatives again announced early candidates but have been shy about what and how a new administration would operate.
UKIP is not telling us its plans but continues to spout a lot of irrelevant halftruths and the BNP is being, well, the BNP!
The Greens make a lot of noise but are hardly consistent or clear on any policy.
Then the Lib-Dems, of which I am a member, so far have been reticent in announcing candidates or any policy so I was forced to put myself forward as an independent candidate.
So let’s start the ball rolling with some areas I feel you would like to hear our prospective candidates’ views on:
1. Fracking the extraction of gas from under Lancashire rocks. It’s a valuable source of energy, good for the economy, local and national, has scientific approval and now governmental support for exploration. On balance, my attitude is to support the project but I would want firm governmental and industrial guarantees that in the event of any structural or environmental damage caused by fracking full compensation would be given;
2. Killing of animals in regard to Lancashire school meals. I am with the county and the RSPCA on this. Animals should be stunned before killing. My basis for this is personal: if I was to have my throat cut or was put to death in any way, I would want to be unconscious prior to the event, so why not all animals?
3. Schools policy. Schools and parents should have far more say in opting out of county control and not pressurised into early decisions or bullied by the education department in London. If localism is to be important the borough needs a stronger voice.
4. The county has far too many powers. We in Pendle should have many of them and to take over 70% of our rates is far too much.
5. There will be little extra money for the next two years. Councillor allowances need to be reduced by £1,000 per year and the money not saved for the council to waste, but invested in a fund to alieviate real hardship. A percentage of council salaries for the higher earners could also be contributed, plus a look at all remuneration advertised for new posts. Runaway salary deals with bonus and pension arrangements have been far too generous.
6. I want to reverse the county and borough reliance on private care homes. As local authorities, we need to set the standards especially in regard to fees.
That’s six points. Let’s hear the party responses, but please without any carping about past perceived mistakes.