Blackpool’s town hall chief has been given a new national role – but the move has sparked calls for him to resign from his job as council leader.
Coun Simon Blackburn has been appointed as chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) Stronger Communities Board which oversees policy in relation to tackling issues such as crime and anti–social behaviour, policing, licensing, and emergency planning.
Blackpool’s deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell has also been given a new LGA role after being promoted to full membership of the LGA Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board.
But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said the councillors should be focusing more on solving Blackpool’s problems.
He said: “Coun Blackburn already has an important job and that’s running this town and he gets well paid for that.
“Blackpool needs a full-time leader and I think the honourable thing to do would be that both Coun Blackburn and Coun Campbell should stand down with immediate effect.”
However Coun Blackburn said the council’s leadership team had been set up to ensure the smooth running of the town.
He said: “Having been aware of the possibility I would be asked to take up a more senior role at the LGA this year, I have of course designed an executive system – including the appointment of a cabinet secretary and two cabinet assistants – that provides ample senior political leadership capacity, in any given set of circumstances.
“Coun Williams may think it wise for the council leader to spend all day in Blackpool Council’s office, but I wholeheartedly disagree with him, and am very proud of the high-profile national roles occupied by a number of Labour members, which enable this council, and this town, to punch well above its weight, across Lancashire, the region, and the local government sector, not to mention Westminster and Whitehall.”
He added: “The LGA Executive is a significant body when it comes to opinion forming and setting the strategic direction of the LGA and the sector and it will be a privilege to work alongside senior local government leaders from across England and Wales and to ensure towns like Blackpool, and counties like Lancashire, have their voices heard in the corridors of power.
“I have already been invited to my first meeting with the Security Minister at the Home Office, to discuss Local Government’s role going forward.
“Gillian has already made a substantial contribution to the Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board as a substitute, and I know she will be able to use her housing expertise to great effect in this new role.”