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Walking on Water ?

Walking on Water?Well, there we are. It's all out in the open now. Courtesy of Kensington, the deceit and deception of John Coombes' plan to close St Anne's Pool is exposed for the sham it was.

It was never about cost.

Money was just a convenient peg on which to hang the reason for its closure.

As we said in 'Pools and Planning' we always thought the real pressure to close St Anne's Swimming Pool came from the Commissar's plan to asset strip the site (and maybe parts of the boating pool as well) - probably to raise money to match or partnership fund the 'promenade regeneration' scheme that can only land him deeper in the mire with local folk.

Kensington has offered £2.5 million to refurbish the existing pool, or to build a new one on the same site, or elsewhere, and £100,000 a year for 15 years to support the running costs, and John Coombes tells Gazette saying the St Anne's Pool will not be saved. He is quoted as saying "On July 31, Fylde Council will be walking away. If the pool stays open it will be a private operator doing it."

He's getting the bug for closing things. He wants to close the St Anne's Town Council down for daring to defy his plan to sidestep the government's capping limit so we pay even more in tax, and now he's going to close the Pool in July.

We think it will be a close call whether it's the pool or him that is gone by the end of July.

Whether Kensington's offer is right or wrong, good or bad - and we do have serious doubts about the plan on which this offer depends - their making of the offer has done several things.

First, it has exposed the Commissar's sham, and his shameful treatment of those he has the honour to represent.

It has also shown how far out of touch his views and his plans are with residents in this area. People here are not fools. There is a high preponderance of retired professionals who know perfectly well that spending within a limited budget is simply a matter of priority. Choosing to spend in one area means you don't spend in another.

Under his leadership, the Cabinet is directing spending in to its preferred areas. This means there is not enough left to fund the pool. The Cabinet simply don't accord it a sufficiently high priority, so it appears unaffordable. It would be affordable, and indeed is, if he changed the priority of his spending.

But as we have seen, this really isn't about the management cost; it's about re-developing the promenade. If he makes as good a job of re-developing that as he did the Square (and is currently planning to do in Garden Street and the Pier approach) he might want to get a new tin hat.

Kensington's offer has also exposed the Commissar's interference in matters that are not his province.

In this instance, their offer is not a matter for the Leader of the Council.

If it comes, Kensington's offer is to be part of a planning application they intend to submit (although they have not yet done so). Consideration of that application is not anything to do with the Leader. It is a matter for the Development Control Committee alone. He is not a member of that Committee, and has no locus to interfere in its decisions.

Indeed, his comments in advance of consideration of the application (assuming one is submitted) could be taken to threaten or prejudice the Committee's deliberation and decision on the matter, and if Kensington were to appeal against an eventual refusal, they might well claim the DC Committee were unduly influenced by the Council Leader's advance comments.

What we see demonstrated here is an arrogant disregard of the electorate, and an equal disregard of propriety.

The only consolation that local people can take from this state of affairs is that he is now become a 'dead man walking'

His days as Leader are numbered. He has become a liability, both to his colleagues, and to his party, and he will have to go. We predicted this way back in 'The Dust Settles' just after the last election, when we said:

"This brings us to conclusion two, which is that with his slightly increased majority, the Commissar is probably gearing up to do all the unpleasant things early in the life of the new Council, (In the hope we will forget them before the next election) This is a common ploy, and you can expect the "shock horror" decisions to come quite quickly.

Our third conclusion is a prediction.

Even as he hovers around the zenith of his power at Fylde, we think we have seen the seeds of the Commissar's demise if he stays here.

Getting rid of independent thinkers and surrounding yourself with people who tell you what they think you want to hear, inevitably detaches and insulates you from reality, leading to self delusion, and a belief that you can walk on water.

This is the same direction of travel as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Remember Kinnock's quote about her thinking she was a Sovereign) and, as far-fetched as it might seem at this time, we think the Commissar will go the same way if he remains at Fylde, that is, by assassination from within. It may take a while, but we now think this is the most likely result."

Maybe it's all starting to pall for him anyway. We understand the 'high level' meeting that took place last Friday had to manage without the Commissar - which goes some way to explaining why it was mostly spin that came out of it. There's no show without Punch.

As each week and month goes by, more and more of the sensible Councillors in the Commissar's group must be asking themselves what they are doing, why they can't open their email boxes without a tirade of complaints, and why they can't even go shopping without being harangued.

We would wager there are very few who can put their hands on their hearts and say they are doing what they feel they should be doing.

In the words of the song "Somethin's gotta give."

Dated:  11 April 2008


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