Councils clash over cutbacks to services

Councillor Michael Vincent.
Councillor Michael Vincent.
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Wyre’s Conservative councillors have clashed angrily with Labour over the cutbacks at Lancashire County Council.

Labour-led County Hall and Wyre’s Labour councillors have accused the borough council’s Tory leadership of trying to deflect the blame for the cutbacks on the county council, instead of the Government’s austerity regime.

But Wyre Tories in turn have called on County Council to re-think its cutbacks, saying it is sitting on £280 million reserves which could be used to avoid the cutting of Fleetwood Museum, vital bus links, the Knott End ferry and the under-threat tram link into Fleetwood.

And the Tories claim some of Wyre’s Labour councillors are more loyal to the party and their colleges at County Hall than they are to their Fleetwood constituents.

The fall-out came after a formal Notice of Motion was submitted to Wyre’s latest full council meeting, which called on County to go back to the drawing board over the cuts.

The Notice of Motion, which was carried despite Labour opposition, was submitted by Councillors Michael Vincent, Paul Moon, Kerry Jones and John Hodgkinson and stated: “This council calls on Lancashire County Council to urgently rethink their proposed cuts as, if implemented in their current form, they would have a devastating effect on the citizens of Wyre.

“Lancashire County Council hold substantial reserves and we call upon them to make use of these funds rather than devastate this borough and the lives of many of its residents.”

After the meeting Coun Vincent said: “We say there needs to be a sensible look at the impact of the cuts on communities in Knott End and Fleetwood, but Labour’s councillors at the meeting refused point blank to consider this. There is a second round of consultations to come at County, the cuts should not be a done deal yet.

“The cutbacks to services will have a devastating impact, but some of these Labour councillors put their party before their Fleetwood constituents and simply back the County council.”

But Fleetwood councillor, Coun Lorraine Beavers, who opposed the Notice of Motion, said: “This is just a smokescreen designed to deflect the blame from the real cause of these cuts. The Government has left county councils all over the country in an impossible position, leaving the most vulnerable people at risk. The response at Wyre is unbelievable.”

Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Sadly we have come to expect these kind of utterly false party political statements at Wyre.

“It is the Conservative Government who are cutting the money which funds key services in the Wyre and Lancashire, with Lancashire County Council projected to have lost £685m pounds by 2020 since the Conservatives came to power.

“Our budget documents show clearly that we are using our reserves but we will still not have enough to cover 2017/2018.

“Instead of slagging us off he should go to the Conservative chancellor demanding a better deal for Wyre and Lancashire.”

Councillor Borrow added: “District council leaders and their officers have been invited into county hall to be briefed on our budget situation. The absence of Wyre has been very noticeable.”