Feedback from Millom neighbourhood forum

Attended the Millom forum this evening

The major item was a question and answer session with the leader of Copeland Council and several of the council's senior officers.

Issues raised included

1) Choosing to change

2) The poor Audit report on the council's housing department - what progress has been made? (It was accepted that this service had had serious problems - an improvement plan is in process)

3) What has been the delay on quality beaches?
(Answer - capacity problems in the council department concerned. A vacancy in that team has now been filled, it is hoped to put at least two beaches forward in November.)

There will be fireworks if it is only two: all four of the areas which did have quality flag status want it back

4) What is the status of the Gateway Project?
(Answer, on hold, but it could be re-started if Millom residents wish. We were told that the disagreements about parking had persuaded the authorities that the scheme did not have enough public support to progress. However, comments from the floor this evening suggest that residents thought that there could be, or already has been depending on who you listened to, an acceptable compromise on this and everyone seemed to think the scheme is still wanted.)


Jane said…
Cllr. Elaine Woodburn was still in a state of denial about the severity of Copeland’s problems, at this evening’s (21st Sept) Neighbourhood Forum held in Millom. I did not challenged her on the subject as Forums are for community spirited groups and individuals to raise issues pertaining to community needs. The purpose of Forum should not be distracted by political fracas within Copeland. However the following comment is relevant.

The severe lambasting the ruling Labour Group has received in the press is well deserved. In attempting to delude the public that nothing is wrong, it can only be concluded that the Labour Group has reached the stage where they have started to believe their own propaganda. A dangerous state of affairs, which Cllr. Dixon unfortunately was unable to avert through direct and critically honest Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

There is still an insistence that the Inspectors have been called to help the Council climb the learning curve to better service management. A number of damning reports and a ship on the rocks of a failing Council prompted the call for an Inspection. Yet this was dismissed as a storm in a teacup, kicked up by the press. It is time to call a spade a spade. The bad reports from independent commissions did not emanate from the press. The media observed the disastrous fallout from the reaction to ‘Choosing to Change’.

Frankly this is insulting. I was present at that abysmal showing at Full Council. Where the use of the whip, on the Chair of the scrutiny committee for demanding that the Council faces the public with the truth, can only be described as an abuse of power. The way the ruling group dealt with ‘Choosing to Change’ has made matters worse. It is a disgrace that agreed overview and scrutiny documents can be altered before being presented to Full Council in order to remove embarrassing paragraphs and tone down the severity of the findings in the ‘Places Survey’. These documents are sacrosanct. It makes a mockery of democratic processes.

The people of Copeland deserve better than to be treated as idiots. Greater respect is required for the bi-partisan due process of scrutiny. This is only achievable if all elected members face up to the brutal truth together. Perhaps Copeland’s Labour Group is in need of a therapist to assist them in confronting their state of denial. Only with true transparency will the peoples’ faith in local government be restored.
Anonymous said…
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Chris Whiteside said…
Jane, thanks for your view of the meeting which as usual was very perceptive.

I have removed a comment which appeared to be simply an advert for another website with no specific relevance to West Cumbria

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