‘We’re not selling off the town hall’

Coun Peter Callow
Coun Peter Callow
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“I WOULDN’T put it past you to sell the town hall.”

That was the damning accusation from the former leader of Blackpool Council to the present

incumbent after he reported the council was trying to recover its deficits.

Conservative Coun Peter Callow said council leader Simon Blackburn was “not interested in the heritage of the town” during a debate about finances at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

However, Coun Blackburn hit back saying Coun Callow needed to “get real”.

The row broke out at a full meeting of the council after Coun Blackburn announced the authority’s forecast balance for the end of 2013 was £4.1m, compared to the surplus of £6.3m the present Labour administration

inherited after Coun Callow left office.

Coun Callow said: “It seems more than likely you’ll sell off council services to try and make up for the shortfall.

“You could be making the case that our beautiful town hall is surplus to requirements. You’re not interested in the heritage of the town.

“Are you thinking of doing this because I wouldn’t put it past you to sell this town hall?”

Coun Callow added: “The forecast was just £4.1m at year’s end compared to the healthy balance of £6.3m we left you in. We’ve preserved some of the finest heritage of this town.

“I would remind you it was you who set the current budget and you who should be blamed for the current financial difficulties you find yourself in.

“If you set the budget you set the budget the best you can for the financial situation of that year and what’s going to happen throughout the year.

“You should’ve cut your cloth accordingly.”

Leader of the opposition, Tony Williams, added: “You (Labour) haven’t reached your target this year and you won’t reach it next year

because you can’t control your own budget.”

However, Coun Blackburn countered by suggesting Coun Callow was attempting to

cover for errors made while he was in office.

He said: “If you ever read the autobiography of a deposed Prime Minister you find it reads like a list of why they were right and everybody else was wrong.

“I believe I was criticised when leader of the opposition when the council was suggesting we should dip into our reserves. Come on, get real. I certainly have no plans to sell the town hall.”

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