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countering the spin and providing the balance


Mayday May Day Mayday

mayday May Day madayIn more than one sense the term 'mayday' aptly fits the first of May in Fylde this year. It is 'May Day' in England's historic calendar, but it's also a cry of mayday! for St Anne's Pool. It's the date of the Parish Poll in the civil Parish of St Anne's (roughly between the middle of Squires Gate Lane and St Paul's Avenue/Smithy Lane).

On 1st May, between 4pm and 9pm counterbalance hopes all its readers in St Anne's will go to their usual polling station and cast a vote on the future of the St Anne's Pool. Full details of the poll are in this link to Fylde Council's website  (or at least, they are at the moment). There is also a link here to the robbydoo campaign website with posters and more details etc

But more than that, we hope you will remind your friends in St Anne's to go out and vote as well.

Regular readers will know we aired some views against the idea of a parish poll on the swimming pool - because the underlying issue (ie FBC's current decision making process) was argued as being more important to challenge. We support that view, but given that the Poll has been called, St Anne's residents should take the opportunity to vote.

The question on the ballot paper is not very taxing (and certainly not as taxing as our Commissar would like our Council Taxes to be). It asks 'Do You Demand Fylde Borough Council Keep The St. Anne's Swimming Pool Open and Operational'

There will be a choice of 'Yes' or 'No', and we think people should vote 'Yes'

We think that for a number of reasons.

True, it isn't binding on FBC, and it's probable that Gordon Brown has other things vying for his attention at the moment, and his Ministers aren't likely to be looking for things to do either, so we don't think an odd swimming pool closing will pass muster there when there are matters said to be crucial to our national security that demand attention.

So if the Poll won't make any difference, why are we supporting it?

Well there are a few reasons. We believe democracy should be the will of the people, and this is a chance to exercise that will.

We believe in the freedom of choice that was won for us by those who fought - and those who died - so we could use that freedom. So we think that not voting - when the opportunity exists - is a betrayal of their sacrifice.

We also believe the pool could be kept open quite easily by the Commissar if he exercised different spending priorities.

Significantly, we believe this is an early opportunity to let him know he no longer has any mandate to govern the people whose wishes he so disrespects with his blinkered party political arrogance.

And, of course, you should vote because our young people (who need to learn how not to drown in a seaside resort); our visitors; and all of us who live here and pay the taxes the Commissar so blatantly mis-spends, have a right to the public services that successive generations of proper councillors have used to provide *and run* facilities like swimming pools, Whether they were the old Lytham Baths, Kirkham Baths or the newer St Anne's Pool.

If he can't run them as well as the Councillors that went before him did, the Commissar should do the honourable thing and step aside.

So for those (and more) reasons we think you should vote 'YES' to saving the pools.

We suspect there are a few others that will vote 'Yes' as well. The TUC Blackpool and Fylde branch is urging all its members to vote 'Yes' to save the pool (and as it happens, to support a vote of 'No Confidence' in the Cabinet of Fylde Borough Council).

But most especially, in a quite brilliant move, notices have been sent home with St Anne's schoolchildren saying the local schools are having a "school children's parish poll" on the 30th April - the day before the 'proper' poll, and the question on the schoolchildren's paper will be "Do you want the swimming pool to stay open."

counterbalance understands this action has been co-ordinated through headmasters, who will also verify the results of the poll in each school. We also understand that some will vote class by class, others are appointing their own returning officer and poll clerks and so on, in a move that will introduce children to the workings of the democratic process, and significantly add to the pressure on John Coombes to change his mind and keep the existing St Anne's Pool open.

Having it the day before the adult Parish Poll is also quite a clever move, because households with children will be reminded to go out and vote by the very children who have voted to save their pool the day before.

The voters of tomorrow are about to speak.

If he continues with his plan to close the pool after all this - then our Commissar must have met his Nemesis.

Just on the future of the pool for a moment, we heard that the high level talks with the 'group of businessmen' are not making much progress at present - probably because they seem too tightly tied-in to the Kensington scheme at Queensway - and that's a minefield (well, not really; it's actually half decent agricultural land that floods from time to time) but politically speaking its a labyrinthine minefield that has the potential to develop as another 'Poulson' situation.

For younger readers who may not remember....... T. Dan Smith (Leader of Newcastle upon Tyne City Council in the early 60's, and also very active in regional politics) embarked on major redevelopments in his Council area. He forged close links with an architect called John Poulson and, in 1974, Leeds Crown Court was told that Poulson had given away more than 500,000 in suits, holidays and flowers to win building contracts. Poulson was imprisoned for corruption in a case that rocked the foundations of Local Government after he was found guilty of bribing public figures to win contracts.

We looked up the Wikipedia entry for T Dan Smith and were struck by some co-incidences. See if they chime with you.

"When the Labour Party won the 1958 local elections and took control of Newcastle, Smith was appointed Chairman of the Housing Committee. His success in launching new housing schemes led to his promotion to be the Leader of the Council in 1960. As Leader he instituted a personality-based leadership, creating an 'inner Cabinet' of his own supporters and excluding all other parties, as well as those Labour members who disagreed with him, from any share of power. Smith had an intimidating physical presence and loud voice which helped him get his way"

It's no wonder the Commissar wants to keep away from Kensington's offer, even if the sweetener is a swimming pool this time.

So if you want to help to change the Commissar's mind, and keep St Anne's Pool where it is, put a note in your diary now, and go to your usual polling station in St Anne's on 1st May between 4pm and 9pm.

There won't be any polling cards, and there are no postal votes, so you won't get a reminder (though quite a few civic minded folk have volunteered to leaflet various parts of town). All you need to do is turn up at your usual polling station and tell the poll clerk your name and address. They will give you a voting slip.

Then you have to make the right decision.

Typically, Parish Polls produce a turnout of 7% to 8%

It would be nice to multiply that by 10.

We hope our readers will help it to happen.

Dated:  26 April 2008


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