Wednesday was the full Council's meeting plus also the budget meeting, combined. In recent years the Council held two separate meetings in March this year they didn't. They put them together. In the Council budget part the Council could have taken the option of taking a freeze for Council Tax from the Government and to do this all they had to do was to find £1.5 million savings. The Council refused this and instead raised the Council Tax, next Financial Year, by 2.5%. This will come in April 2013. Previously Cllr Debbie Fairhurst had proposed to save £1.2 million but the Labour Leader said that the Council needed to save pounds not pennies. So if the kind of things that she proposed, which were getting rid of Borough Life, Getting rid of free food and drinks for Cllrs and bring the WLCT back in house, are pennies why could the Labour leader not save pennies? To me he just wants to raise tax and say it is the Government's fault. These kinds of political games that he plays are disastrous for residents of Wigan, which pay this tax.
He then said that the mess that we are in is not down to the Last Labour Government but the bankers. This is crazy as it was the Governments fault. The investment bankers and their financial instruments that helped create this mess where all agreed by Gordon Brown, who was the Chancellor and Prime Minister. Yet he did nothing but Labour now berates the Investment Bankers that they once got friendly with.
I also put a motion forward at the meeting too. This was about Universal Credits. The Council are carrying out a pilot scheme. This means that these cuts will come into force 6 months earlier than everywhere else in the Country. The strange thing that I can't understand is that Labour had spent over an hour calling the Government and these cuts, including the Universal credit, but here they are bringing in this cut 6 months early. If that is not crazy I don't know what is. I asked for a name vote and Labour Councillors all voted to bring these cuts in 6 months early.
On Thursday afternoon I attended the Core Strategy meeting with the Government planning inspector at Leigh Sports Village. During the meeting developers, a few residents and Cllrs, including myself, had a discussion on the issue. The main item was obviously traffic concerns. It was ridiculous to here that one developer suggested to improvement the traffic in Standish at the Traffic Light they could knock buildings down. I got the comment in, “I thought we built communities - not rip the heart out of them!" The simple truth is that the traffic lights section cannot be improved due to the constraints of available space there.
The developers tried to come up with some other suggestions like people can use their bikes more and to get a bus to Gathurst Train Station. This showed to me the desperation that some of these developers will go to just for their profits.
One thing that I was proud off was when a member of the public that listened to the debate said after that Standish had done everything to stop these pieces of land being developed on. I think that is a fair assessment, from the initial meetings to demonstrations at the Council's Consultation to all the thousands of letters of objections that were sent in.
On the developers residents in the vicinity of Old Pepper Lane and the Golf Course might have received letters saying a planning application has been submitted for building on the areas of land, respectively. You can send objections letters into the Council, should you so wish, but the Council will not be determining whether to grant or refuse these planning applications until the Planning Inspector has reported back on the Core Strategy. We will be monitoring the situation.