And a second question to Labour Cabinet Member Trish Hardy

This second question, which I also asked at the Sefton Council meeting last night, is related to Labour’s appalling plan to stop paying a ‘refund’ grant to Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree Village Parish Councils that will mean Council Tax payers in these communities will be paying Sefton Council for a service that it does not provide in those communities and it will be spending the Council Tax money raised in those communities elsewhere in the Borough! This problem arises because in these Parishes parks, gardens and play areas are provided and funded by a Parish Council. However, Sefton Council still collects the same amount of Council Tax in those communities that it collects elsewhere in the Borough where it provides this service.

The sums of money involved are very significant as these two examples illustrate – In Maghull this compensating payment in 2013/14 is £131,000, in Lydiate £46,207. In 2014/15 both figures will be NIL as it will be in Aintree Village and Melling*.

Question – The Parish Charter, available on Sefton Council’s web site, clearly states that the Borough Council aims for ‘Fairness between council tax bills in parished and non-parished areas’

Can the Cabinet member confirm that this fairness principle is still a strong guiding principle for the Borough Council?

This was her response:-

“This Council is committed to treating all the people of Sefton fairly” followed by some party political point scoring.

To which I responded:-

“Will you confirm that removing Double Rating payments from Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Parish Councils means that this Borough will be taking money from the residents of these Parishes and then spending it elsewhere in Sefton thereby treating the Council Tax payers unfairly and with contempt?”

At this point she told me that I should be asking my question to a different Labour Cabinet Member despite the fact that I had been advised by Council Officers that questions about Parish Council matters were within her portfolio! If I suggest that not wishing to engage with the matter in hand was my thought I think you get my drift.

* Note: I should add that this issue also affects the Council Tax payers and their Parish Council in Melling to some extent, although it is slightly more complex in that Parish due to both the Parish Council and Borough Council providing outdoor recreational facilities.

Aintree Library – Putting the Labour Cabinet Member with responsibilities for Parish Councils in Sefton on the spot

Below is the question that I asked to Labour Cabinet member Trish Hardy at the meeting of Sefton Council meeting last night.

Clause 4 of Sefton’s Parish Charter states that ‘In their role as democratically accountable bodies, parish and town councils offer a means of reshaping the decisions that affect their communities. They offer a means of decentralising the provision of services and of revitalising local communities.’

Is the Cabinet Member satisfied that this clause of the Parish Charter has been complied with, having regard to the way the Borough Council has treated Aintree Village Parish Council in relation to the recent application to operate a community/volunteer run library service in Aintree?

Incredibly her answer was:-

“I am not aware that Aintree Parish Council have applied to operate a library Service”

To which I replied – “Is the Cabinet Member seriously saying that she was unaware that Aintree Village Parish Council was the major funding partner of the community bid to take over Aintree Library and that the bid had been rejected by the Cabinet because it saw Aintree Village Parish Council as being an unreliable source of funding for this bid to be approved?”

I have no idea what she was trying to say in response to my follow up question!