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Save St Anne's - Results Published

Save St Annes - results publishedIn our earlier article 'Save St Annes', we reported our view of the Public Meeting held at St Anne's YMCA on 16 April 2008. Readers will recall the meeting was hosted by the St Anne's on the Sea Town Council, and organised on their behalf by the Fylde Civic Awareness Group.

counterbalance was at the meeting, and we're sure the Commissar wasn't.

We did see one of his party faithful come in, but not the man himself. So it was a bit of a surprise to see a personal report of the meeting on his blog website.

It shows just how clever he is. Because even though he didn't attend on 16th, and the report of the meeting has only just been published today (see below), his report of it came out weeks ago, on 24th April.

As one of our readers said - there's nothing like getting your retaliation in first, is there!!

We don't actually recognise the meeting as he describes it on his blog, and if you were there, we think you will come to the same view. He appears to see it as a political meeting where 'opposition' councillors set out to con the public.

In fact it was the view of 200 residents - mostly from St Anne's and Lytham.

You can get a copy of the official report of the meeting by following this link to the Fylde Civic Awareness Group Website and downloading a copy for yourself.

The results are in two parts. The first section shows how strongly the 200 or so people at the meeting agreed or disagreed with 20 'issue statements' that had been provided by groups ranging from the Chamber of Trade to Defend the Dunes. So here you can see public responses to a standard set of issues.

The second part reproduces the individual comments made by those attending he meeting - both orally in the form of notes taken at the meeting, but chiefly from comments written in the freeform comments box on the questionnaire.

There is bad news in both for the Commissar.

In the first section the top concern was that Fylde Borough Council should take more notice of its electorate.

Here 99% agreed or agreed strongly.

In the second section the greatest number of concerns was about the way Fylde Borough Council operates. In particular, public concern centred on the universally unpopular Cabinet system of governance, a perceived lack of transparency and democracy, financial mismanagement, and criticism of 'group decisions' made in private.e.

Now you could (and the Commissar probably will) complain that in the first section, pre-printed issues statements - however they are phrased - can have a tendency to lead the reader in a particular way. Even so, 99% is a pretty high result to argue against.

But in the second section, the comments were entirely the respondent's. They were not influenced by anything except the mind of the person making the comment. They chose the topic they wanted to comment on, and what they wanted to say.

Given the upset about the swimming pools, you might have expected that would be the key issue in the freeform comments - but it wasn't.

Beating it two to one was the way Fylde Council operates.

We have now reached the point where the Council itself, and the Cabinet in particular, is seen as the problem by local residents.

We think this is happening because growing numbers of individuals and local groups have run up against the intransigence of an administration that is focusing on what Government tells it to do, and not on what its electorate want.

When normally complacent taxpayers take the trouble to inquire and understand what the Council is doing, they are appalled. They see a Council that used to be a frugal and cost effective operation - not unlike a large Parish Council - that has become a profligate, wasteful, bloated monster that thinks it can punch above its weight, and although it may be listening to its electorate, it ignores what it hears.

The Council recognises this itself. Its own listening day report noted declining satisfaction across many areas of Council services, and concluded that "Overall satisfaction with Fylde as a place to live remained high at 87%. This disparity could indicate that people like Fylde as a residential area but the public sector was generally out of favour"

In its own survey, more than half the people in Fylde went on to say they were dissatisfied with their ability to influence local decisions.

The Civic Awareness Group Survey Report shows that it's not just the inability to influence local decisions that is causing dissatisfaction, it is a more fundamental and deep rooted concern about the way the Council arrives at its priorities and its decisions, and we think it's all likely to end in tears for the Commissar.

Dated:  16 May 2008


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