Tantrums, taunts and tears at tempestuous West Craven meeting

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Shouts of “shame” and taunts across the table were repeatedly heard during an explosive debate on council spending between West Craven councillors.

Liberal Democrats described Conservative actions as “an absolute disgrace” at Pendle Council’s December meeting of the West Craven Committee at Salterforth Village Hall.

Liberal Democrats wanted to spend money on replacement dog bins, improving a flagged area of Long Ing Lane and Clayton Street ahead of 2015’s Britain in Bloom bid and on a premises improvement grant for Chaudhry’s, all in Barnoldswick, after Pendle Council’s Executive corrected a council error which led to an over-commitment of £8,000.

At its latest meeting, the Executive agreed to loan the West Craven Committee £8,000 as an advancement of next year’s budget to allow business as usual for the remainder of the financial year.

But when Liberal Coun. David Whipp moved to pass funding, the Conservatives with a controlling majority on the West Craven Committee blocked it, with the view that the up front money for 2015/16 should not be accepted meaning the work would therefore be not be viable until the next financial year.

An incandescent Coun. Whipp accused the Conservatives of the financial blunder in the first place and Earby Conservatives from stopping much-need work taking place in Barnoldswick with “no reason not to do it”.

Coun. Ken Hartley said he was “gobsmacked” and contrasted it to the £100,000 Tour of Britain stage funding which was found “at the drop of a hat”.

However, Committee Chairman Coun. Rosemary Carroll and Coun. Mike Goulthorp held firm and when it went to the vote, and were joined by fellow Earby representative Coun. Morris Horsfield and Barnoldswick’s Coun. Jennifer Purcell and Coun. Lyle Davy.

Coun. Whipp, insisting the funding was there whether the Conservatives accepted it or not, then attempted to vote through funds for dog bins for a second time and road safety signage for Victory park access off Greenberfield Lane.

But these were also voted down by the Conservatives when cries of “shame” were directed at them by Liberals while Coun. Davy was accused of having “no honour whatsoever”.

After the vote, Coun. Purcell immediately got up and stormed out of the meeting visibly upset. Barnoldswick Town council co-optee Coun. Lindsay Gaskell followed her out of the hall, reappearing a short time later telling councillors she had apologised to Coun. Purcell for a comment.

• Subsequent to the meeting, Coun. Paul White, who was sitting in the public gallery, has been the subject of a formal complaint by Coun. Whipp after calling Coun. Gaskell “bloody nasty” at the height of the row.

Coun. White now has five days to submit his response to Pendle Council’s Deputy Chief Executive Philip Mousdale who will make a decision on whether the comment warrants a full investigation.