You couldn't make it up!
The John Coombes Banana Republic of Fylde now rivals some of the worst tin-pot dictatorships of the third world countries.
Fylde is already (officially) the worst performing Council in Lancashire. It is now set to become the laughing stock of all three hundred odd councils in the country
Readers will remember in our recent article 'Company Formation', we outlined the report to Wyre's full council meeting that set out the terms under which Wyre might join what will become the Fylde Coast
Economic Development Company Limited, (though first it will change its name from 'ReBlackpool' to 'Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company Limited')
We were very critical of the idea of jumping into bed with Blackpool. The idea is bad on many levels. We believe it represents a naked party political objective, but we suspected the Commissar's heart was set on it, and that a report to Fylde would
follow soon. Now it has.
In the penultimate paragraph of our previous article, we said "So now we wait with baited breath to see when the Commissar and his hand-picked team will 'debate' the matter, before deciding that the party political advantages of turning the whole
of the fylde plain blue are a no-brainer in comparison with dumping a City of the Fylde on its unsuspecting residents."
We were pretty sure he wouldn't let Fylde's full Council debate the matter as Wyre had done.
Not the Commissar.
He wouldn't want any nasty other views spoiling his reputation for delivering 'results' (whether they're good or bad doesn't seem to matter, as long as they are results).
So we thought he would take it to a Cabinet meeting where he and his Cabinet could withstand the onslaught by limiting other Councillors to asking questions. (Cabinet provides for no expression of opposition views, no challenge by non-Cabinet
councillors and, often, no proper answers to the questions that *are* asked).
But he's not even doing that!
He's not taking it as an item to Cabinet.
He's taking the decision as an 'Individual Member Decision' - all on his lonesome!
And just when you think his chicanery and twisting couldn't get any worse, it does.
He is due to take the decision on 14th April, and has published an intention to approve the idea.
There was a report on the Express front page last week about delaying a special Cabinet meeting from 14th April to 28th April to consider the Swimming Pool tenders. So you might think that - if there was going to have been a Special Cabinet on 14th -
it might have been the date pencilled in for Cabinet to consider the 'Economic Development Company' item.
But by delaying that special Cabinet meeting (supposedly because the Swimming Pool item STILL isn't ready to report), he will now 'have to' take the 'Economic Development Company' decision on his own.
It looks as though he can't even trust his Cabinet to support him now!
It also looks as though he's having to manipulate the dates of Committees so he can take this decision in isolation.
And make no mistake, that's where he's headed - isolation.
And there's more.
Usually, decisions made by individual Portfolio Holders and Cabinet are open to Scrutiny for six working days.
That means if ten councillors sign a motion to say they are not happy with what has been decided, they can effect a 'recovery' (suspension) of that decision and require it to be brought to a Scrutiny Committee for debate and discussion before making
their own recommendation.
But there is an exception clause in Fylde's Constitution that allows 'urgent' items to be excluded from the process to call-in the decision that has been made.
Guess who's using that process to stymie any possibility of a call in?
So he's removing every possible opportunity for opposition to closer ties with Blackpool to be expressed, so as not to put his precious decision at risk.
This is his 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' moment.
He's fiddled the dates, excluded dissent from his own ranks, hidden from the opposition, twisted the rules of engagement, and will make the decision on his own because he can't command the respect and support of other councillors.
Time was, when more honourable men were in charge, that a decision as important as entering into a binding forward contract with Blackpool and other councils would have required the unanimous vote of a united Council to demonstrate commitment.
Fylde's commitment to this proposal stops at a single, isolated person.
Like Margaret Thatcher with her Poll Tax, and Tony Blair and his dodgy dossier, he will live to regret this decision.
He's also not doing a lot of good for the image of the party he professes to support now the election run-up has started.
The justification for it being 'Urgent' is set out in the Chief Executive's own 'Dodgy Dossier' (where he hasn't even bothered to provide the legal explanation of the company details that LCC provided to Wyre). The CE's report to the Commissar
1. That the Council joins Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Wyre Borough Council as a member of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company. (It is proposed that the decision should be implemented immediately for the
purposes of Standing Order 8, Part D, Appendix 5 as any delay could prejudice the execution of the Council's interests in ensuring that the commencement date of the company can be secured, if not before 1st April, as close as practicable to 1st April
2010 to ensure continuity of investment planning frameworks of the Company and its external funders
That's a load of whitewash.
In effect he's saying that if Fylde don't do it immediately, the formation of the company will be delayed, and they might miss a week or two's spending if they don't start on April 1st.
The cunning reference to 'Standing Order 8, Part D, Appendix 5' (which we believe has been re-arranged from the more usual form of 'Appendix 5, Part D, Clause 8' that would make it possible to find it in Fylde's 170 page 'Constitution') is the
key to preventing it being called-in.
The relevant section says...
8. CALL-IN AND URGENCY
The call-in procedure set out above shall not apply where the decision being taken is urgent. A decision will be urgent if any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the council's or the public interest. The record
of the decision, and notice by which it is made public shall state whether in the opinion of the chief executive or his nominee, the decision is an urgent one, and therefore not subject to call-in. Decisions taken as a matter of urgency must be
reported to the next available meeting of the council, together with the reasons for urgency.
So by fallaciously describing it as "urgent" a Call-in to Scrutiny can be avoided.
What we see here is the Chief Executive's arm up his back and the Commissar going to force the decision through.
What he doesn't realise, is that, like the Iraq War, if he hasn't got the support of the people of Fylde, it will always be an open sore on his report-card, and no-one will believe they have agreed to it.
"Not in my name" will become the
In this - probably one of the most crucial decisions Fylde 'Council' will take - he hasn't been able to convince the opposition councillors, he can't demonstrate the support of his own party members, and he doesn't even appear to be able to trust the
seven people he hand picked for his cabinet.
He's heading for oblivion.
8 April 2010