To the Lindum Hotel last Sunday, where counterbalance had been invited to join the Fylde Ratepayers Association for their Christmas Lunch. We quite enjoy being
invited to social functions like these; we can cement old friendships and make new ones. We also catch up on the latest gossip.
But arriving at the 'Ratepayers Do' is always a bit fraught.
In the pre-foyer area there is a coat stand and squeezed into the remaining space are usually the organisers - Ron and Hilda Wilson (It's worth noting here that in their time as Councillors, Ron and Hilda represented the very best sort of
Councillors you could hope to find), and, usually, there are also some ladies who smile sweetly at you as they take money from you for raffle tickets.
This Sunday was no exception.
Whilst disrobing our outer layers, we noticed a strange (in the sense of unexpected) face in the bar area - former Councillor Ray Norsworthy from Lytham, and we thought that was a bit odd. Was he deserting the Conservatives ship and joining the
Ratepayers Group we wondered?
Then we saw Cllr Ben Aitken next to him and realised what was going on.
It turns out the Lindum had accepted bookings for both the Ratepayer and the Conservative Christmas Lunches on the same day, at the same time, in adjoining rooms.
There was a certain 'frisson' in the atmosphere.
counterbalance went to the bar in the dining room to avoid prospect the awkward moments between opposing groups, and began the festivities. The meal opened with a delightful cheese and salmon pate followed by a traditional turkey dinner
with a bottle of something rich and Australian to wash it down. All was going well, but we kept having our meal interrupted by people who know us coming up and saying "Did you hear what happened upstairs?"
According to our informants, it seems that en route to the Conservative lunch, Alan Ashton of Lytham - known to counterbalance as a really nice man, even if he is the father of Cllr Tim Ashton - had bought some raffle tickets from the
Ratepayers raffle table.
Knowing him as we do we have no doubt when he discovered his mistake he would have given one of those old-fashioned Lytham smiles, and put it down to experience.
But what seems to have happened next, is that Cllr Tim Ashton appeared at the raffle table with the 'offending' tickets, and asked for his father's money back from the raffle funds.
Now we know things are tight at FBC, and it's good to see the need for prudence, even parsimony, appearing in those responsible for our money, but we couldn't help wondering about the principle involved, and whether it might be extended....
Given that the same Cllr Tim Ashton was in charge of the department that reported a loss of £609,000 just 12 months ago, we wondered if we might make an approach to him - and ask him for OUR money back.
Dated: 5 December 2008