Blackpool councillors at loggerheads over trees cash

Coun Colin Maycock (left) with Coun Don Clapham at the 2015 local elections
Coun Colin Maycock (left) with Coun Don Clapham at the 2015 local elections

A row has broken out between councillors over how grassroots funding is spent on their patch.

Independent councillor Colin Maycock and Conservative Don Clapham each claim their efforts to spend ward budget cash in Bispham is being hampered by the other representative.

Now they have clashed over where ward-funded Christmas trees should be placed during the festive season.

Coun Maycock wants to put a tree at the Promenade end of Red Bank Road, but Coun Clapham says it would be better to install smaller wall-mounted trees above businesses instead.

Initially both councillors stood as Tories but since last year Coun Maycock has represented Bispham as an independent councillor after quitting the Conservatives following his suspension from the Blackpool Conservative Group in July 2017.

Each ward is annually allocated £15,000 from Blackpool Council’s budget for the benefit of the local community.

Both councillors have to agree on how the money is spent.

Coun Maycock said: “Every year since I was elected I have had emails and phone calls asking if a Christmas tree could be put at the top of of Red Bank Road.

“Next May is local election time and we have to spend our ward budget or lose it, so it would be a fantastic time to reinstate the tree somewhere in Bispham. With this in mind I contacted Coun Clapham with my recommendation.

“However as I have found when I have contacted him with regards to other ward matters, I have received no response, so ward funding has ground to a stop.

“I have already announced I am not seeking re-election in May and I assume Coun Clapham will be standing, and it would be more in his interest than mine to sweeten up Bispham residents, as he will need their votes.”

Coun Clapham said he supported the ward having a Christmas tree but wanted to look at installing lots of smaller wall-mounted trees on business premises instead of having a single one.

He denied not responding to his fellow councillor and added some of his previous ward funding bids, including to pay for new tents for Bispham scouts, had been obstructed by Coun Maycock.

He said: “Ward funding is the people’s money and it should go to where you can make a difference.

“I’ve put things forward and Coun Maycock wouldn’t agree it. There is no politics in whatever we spend the money on and it doesn’t favour us as a councillor in terms of getting a vote.”