Thursday, November 19, 2020

Cumbria County Council - November meeting

Cumbria County Council met today online. This meeting was postponed from two weeks ago when there were IT problems.


Highlights of the meeting:

1) Fire tender Saved. In response to a question from me, it was confirmed that the Frizington Full Size fire tender is safe for now. Three smaller "Rapid response Vehicles" (RRVs ) have been deployed successfully in areas where they had local support. But in Copeland where local Firefighters, parish councils and the Copeland Local committee wanted to retain the full size fire tender at Frizington, it has been confirmed that we will keep that tender at least for the next few years.

2) Councillors accepted a recommendation from the Independent panel that there should be no change in councillors' allowances. It is not yet clear what effect the pandemic is having on the time required of councillors - my impression is that instead of spending a lot of time in and travelling to physical meetings we are now spending as much if not more time in virtual ones online - but this would be entirely the wrong time to pay ourselves any pay rise when so many of the people we represent have not only not had a pa rise but have lost their jobs, are on furlough, or are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

3) Following the excellent news that the A595 at Grizebeck is to be upgraded, I made a speech suggesting that to move forward the needs of the community on that road we hold a session to consider how the road from Carlisle to Barrow works as a whole system.

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Lowlights

4) The County Council has withdrawn from Britain's Energy Coast (BEC.) Whatever we may so about what this company has and has not achieved, we need more co-operation between the participants in this organisation - which up to now were the County Council, Allerdale and Copeland Borough Councils, and Sellafield - and not less.

5) The leader of the council refused to give a direct answer to the Chair of Copeland Local Committee of the County Council who asked if the local committee could take up an invitation to the County Council to discuss Managing Radioactive Waste.

Whatever you think of the nuclear industry, the fact is that it exists and has existed, as a result of that we have hundreds of tons of radioactive waste in this country, most of it right here in Copeland at Sellafield or LLWR. All the anti-nuclear slogans in the world will not somehow magic that nuclear waste out of existence, it already exists and we ought to be reviewing the safest way to store it. Refusing to talk to other interested parties is the worst possible form of sticking your head, ostrich-like, in the sand.

6) The ugly issue of Anti-Semitism was again discussed.

Like every form of racism, Anti-Semitism has no place in Britain. No ifs, no buts.

Sadly no political party can afford to be complacent about Anti-Semitism, or prejudice against Muslims, or any other form of racism or bigotry. Most people in all the major parties are strongly opposed to racism. But there are a few who have been guilty of it - are more who failed to support again about it.

I will return to this difficult issue when I have composed a form of words which is clearly fair and balanced and will not appear to be using the important issue of fighting racism to score party-political points - but see today's "Quote of the Day."

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