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Tax Con Backfires

Tax Con BackfiresThis article describes both the history of, and the shocking latest moves in, the scandalous Equitable Tax Con that the Commissar has implemented on a trusting and unsuspecting electorate in Fylde using a device known as 'Special Expenses' that everyone saw for the first time last year on their Council Tax bills.

The con was to make us believe we were having to pay extra for parks and open spaces maintenance - as was happening in some of the rural parishes.

But now its all going horribly wrong for him.

Last year, he conned Parish Councils into charging an extra £300,000 over their electorate when he persuaded most of them to adopt his 'Equitable Taxation' model.

When they did that, the Parishes made their own charge for the work, but instead of cutting his costs by the £300,000 worth of work he had transferred to the parishes, the Commissar increased his spending on other things by £300,000 and charged folk in Lytham, St Annes and Kirkham an extra £60-odd a year in 'Special Expenses' to try and con people into believing they should pay separately for parks and leisure just like folk in the parishes were doing.

With great gusto and enthusiasm, he also set about trying to persuade Kirkham and St Annes Town Councils to take on these services themselves so he could con them into charging more too.

Kirkham said it was interested in the idea (we think they're foolish to go there, but that's another story).

St Annes has been very quiet about it, but we know it's going on behind the scenes.

So a lot of work has already been done to prepare for what we have consistently said will be a disaster for local taxpayers.

But now, the Commissar is saying he can't transfer any work to Kirkham because if he does, he will have to charge EVERY Fylde taxpayer another 9.26%. (We're going to explain why a bit later)

There's a report to the Cabinet meeting on 20th January that deals with the Kirkham request. It offers two options and two main recommendations.

OPTIONS

  • 1:  Transferring the work to Kirkham at this time
  • 2:   Deferring the transfer until at least 2012

 RECOMMENDATIONS

  • 1: Officers do an even more detailed analysis of costs to retain what the report laughingly calls "a parks and leisure strategic development function" within the Council.
  • 2: That officers look in detail at a business case and business plan for FBC Solutions Ltd

The latter is subject to being given enough cash for officers to acquire "specialist expertise" to assist them in this process. This sounds like another shedload of cash for unnecessary consultants to us.

You can pretty much see that the plan is to slow everything to a crawl for a couple of years. The phrasing of the recommendations pays lip service to effecting the transfer to Kirkham but the meat of the report says otherwise.

This situation is potentially heaping disaster on top of disaster.

What recommendation 2 really means is that they plan to use the shell trading company they created a year or two back to set up a quasi-commercial trading operation for gardening, grounds maintenance, and leisure services in competition with garden contractors, landscapers and so on.

We heralded this story in the Waste Management Item in 'Snippets - February 2009', and in 'Two's Company'

Guess who the Directors of FBC Solutions are?  

There are two Council Officers and Dim Tim.

Yes, that's right, he's the one that was in charge when Streetscene reported a loss of £700,000 and causes the closure of the Swimming pool. The one that also saw a 'golden goodbye' paid to Streetscene's supremo to ease him out but keep him sweet and quiet after he had been accused of improper conduct on insufficient evidence. The one who said of this affair "It was unfortunate it happened, I regret it...... that it happened..... but I don't think anybody acted in a way, deliberately, to act wrongly in what happened, and at the end of the day nobody died"

That's also the same chap that managed to close his  family business - Ashton's Nursery Gardens on Mythop Road.

You'd have thought the StreetScene debacle would have been enough of a lesson.

As it has shown time after time, this administration is wholly incompetent when it comes to budgeting and money management. But now they're ready to run headlong into yet another financial fiasco using our cash to compete with local businesses.

And in our view, much of the prevaricating in the report is to try and wheedle out of the undertaking they gave to Kirkham (and probably St Annes) Town Councils to transfer the parks and open spaces to their control.

We hear that Queen Elizabeth Oades is most unhappy about the way Kirkham Town Council has been treated in this matter, and about the time they have wasted if it all comes to nothing.

St Annes is heading along the same road - but it's trailing in Kirkham's wake.

If both Kirkham and St Annes don't wake up and smell the coffee soon, we could all be taken for a ride - to the tune of another £60-odd on every band D tax bill in a few years time.

We begin this sorry tale of how and why we're all going to be paying more, with a review of how we got to this point.

The beginning is right back in our second ever counterbalance article in March 2004 (Differential Rating / Special Expenses). This matter was one of the reasons that counterbalance came into existence, and as an introduction, we explained how councils are funded.

Then in August 2005 in Shifting Expenses, we explained that John Coombes was trying to bring these charges in, so he could take significantly more money in tax from us.

On 23 October 2005, in Equitable Scandal? we looked at the matter in some detail and concluded "Of course, the real scandal in this matter is the waste of staff time keeping duplicate accounts for a year, to provide "evidence". The time wasted in officer and Councillor meetings and discussions when more valuable matters could have been dealt with, and the cost of external consultants to advise on how to prepare and present the information to con us."

A month later, in November 2005 the Council held a Special Meeting  at which the (then) Executive Officer admitted that the plan was really about getting around the Government's capping limit

"The agenda *is* avoidance of capping" he said.

So all this effort was just to find a way to get around the 5% cap the Government had imposed on increases in Council Tax so they could charge us more

At that same meeting in November, Queen Elizabeth Oades of Kirkham proposed that "We should spend no more money on looking at the question of 'equitable taxation' and we should abolish it."

Sense at last!

We ended that article with.... "When the vote was taken, all but one of the Conservatives either voted for or abstained, and a similar proportion of the non-conservatives, voted against. The result was a tied vote to be broken by the deputy Mayor's casting vote which he cast in support of Mrs. Oades' proposition.

Equitable taxation is now dead.........

Unless, of course, you know different........."


And it did die - at least for a year or so - until October 2006 when we learned the Commissar had been secretly pressing on behind the scenes with plans to introduce the scheme. 

The big advantage for him was that if he could con the parishes to take the work off his hands, and he didn't reduce the amount he was spending accordingly, he could get another £300,000 or so a year to spend and still stay within the Government's capping limit (because parish council expenditure isn't part of Fylde's spending, and it isn't capped by Government - whilst Fylde's spending is).

We thought he would eventually see sense and drop it - partly because of the increase in taxation it would bring, and partly for other reasons.

In this, we were wrong.

Less than six months later, in February 2007, a new report heralded the introduction of Special Expenses.  We still thought the idea might die, but we said you could never be sure with the Commissar.

And at the January 2008 Cabinet Meeting, another plan was announced to move the management of open spaces in Kirkham onto Kirkham Town Council, in a bid to reduce FBC's spending and increase Kirkham's precept charge (just as he had done with the other Parishes).

Kirkham wasn't against the idea in principle, but before making progress they wanted all the land putting into good condition, and they wanted the freehold of the open spaces to be transferred to them.

The Chief Executive said he didn't think arrangements with Kirkham could be concluded before the coming year's budget but they would look at it during the year with Kirkham.

So it was, that in March 2008, the inevitable happened.

Bullied and cajoled in equal measure, the parish councils in rural Fylde gave in, and the majority accepted the idea of raising the money for the maintenance of parks and open spaces, sport and recreation, and Christmas lights from their own taxpayers, and Fylde BC abdicated its responsibility to govern the Borough to ensure proper shares of the burden were shouldered by all.

Special Expenses became a reality, and we provided full details of how it would work.

Outside Lytham, St Annes, and Kirkham, FBC stopped having responsibility for those services. From then on, they were done by parish councils, at an additional overall cost of more than £300,000 for Fylde taxpayers.

(For those who are technically minded, the cost was actually even worse, because Fylde's income comes 52% from Government Grants or Business Rates, and only 48% from Council Tax. So when Fylde spends £1, only 48p of it comes from us in Council Tax. Parish and Town Councils, on the other hand, are not eligible for such grants or Business Rate income, so when they spend £1 it costs us £1 in Council Tax. Therefore if Fylde had carried on doing it, the cost in real terms from the Council Tax would have been nearer to £148,000, not £300,000).

But the parishes did take it on, and those folk living in Lytham, St Annes, and Kirkham were obliged to shoulder the residual cost of the services provided by Fylde Council, (because Fylde didn't cut any staff or reduce any budget for the services it had handed over to parishes - or if they did, they increased spending on something else to the same value).

So the current (and in our view potentially unlawful) regime of Special Expenses was introduced.

The Council decided to treat Lytham St Annes as a single entity (even though St Annes is a separate civil parish with its own Town Council) and charged residents an extra £63.88 as a "Special Expense."

In Kirkham residents were charged £66.57

These are not 'special' expenses in the sense of being special as a one off, they will apply each year from now on, and will no doubt increase as time goes on and costs go up.

The theory underpinning them is that those people living within the defined area pay for the services within the defined area.

So Lytham St Annes bears the cost of parks, recreation and Christmas lights in Lytham St Annes.

Some will probably say 'fine' to this idea.

But consider the impact on a facility (such as the swimming pool or, say, Fairhaven Lake) which is *located* there, but is intended to serve a much wider area.

The same thing applied in Elswick, (a village that the Sports Council chose to be a recreational hub for surrounding villages when it funded an all-weather games area) the Games Area that was built is not intended just for the residents of Elswick. It is intended to serve a much wider population.

But now only those in Elswick are paying for it's upkeep, and their council tax went up by almost 9% because the facility is located there. Such is the Commissar's logic.

We were curious about how all these costs had been worked out, but the Council's budget isn't broken down in enough detail to show it, and requests for a more detailed analysis have been met with a stonewall "These costs are not available" comment.

That's not surprising. It is better not to let too many people know about the details of the con that is being played out on us.

Until last year, the Council had a resolution in place that declared places like the Promenade Gardens, Lowther Gardens, Fairhaven Lake and so on, as being provided for a wider than local population, and the whole of Fylde contributed to their upkeep, just as the whole of Fylde contributed to the upkeep of parks in Freckleton or Elswick or wherever.

If a parish wanted a *better* level of service, they could pay for extra work from a local precept, but for the main facilities, the total cost was apportioned over all taxpayers.

Until the Commissar got his sticky mitts on it, that is.

Without a word of explanation why, (and using the sort of logic that says the residents of South Kensington should have to bear the full cost of running the Natural History Museum because that's where it happens to be) he instituted the change to 'Special Expenses'

We suspect some aspects of his plan are unlawful. He certainly knows they are not right. We've been told he has admitted so in private, but he was in one of his financial black holes at the time, and needed the extra tax he could take from us using this con trick.

Service Cost analysisYou can see evidence that these sites are not really regarded as 'Special Expenses' sites in the report to Cabinet on Wednesday 20th Jan.

It has a graphic (click to enlarge) showing the proportion of cost for several aspects.

It says the Promenade Gardens, Ashton Gardens, St Anne’s Square, Blackpool Rd, Fairhaven Lake, Lowther Gardens, Lytham Green, and Park View are "Sites of Borough Wide Significance".

They appear on the graphic in yellow and are shown as not to scale. It's just as well they're not to scale, because in fact they would occupy almost the whole of the expenditure in Lytham and St Annes. The rest (except the swimming pool which has not been taken account of in any of these descriptions) is chicken feed by comparison.

The report to Cabinet also says "When considering the transfer of assets, Members will need to take a view as to whether the sites of borough wide significance such as Promenade Gardens, Ashton Gardens, St Annes Square, Blackpool Road Playing Fields, Fairhaven Lake, Lowther Gardens, Lytham Green, Park View Playing Fields and the entire coastal strip should continue to be managed, developed and maintained by Fylde Borough Council."

counterbalance has consistently argued such sites are properly a 'General Expense' chargeable over everyone in Fylde - just as former Councils have declared them to be.  But the Commissar wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants us to regard them as "borough wide" facilities, but he thinks they must be funded only by the people living in the parish in which they are located.

So how should Special Expenses work properly then?

If they are a power that is available to Councils, what are they supposed to be used for?

Well, before anything can be charged as a Special Expense in one area, the service already has to be performed by a Parish Council in another part of the Borough.

The theory of this is quite sound. If Freckleton people choose to look after all their own parks and gardens, it is right and proper that people in other areas shouldn't have to pay for the service in Freckleton as well.

But the Commissar has used a corrupted logic of what should apply.

For example, there's no other parish in Fylde that runs a boating lake. So we would argue that the costs of Fairhaven Marine Lake can't be a Special Expense - yet by calling the boating operation at Fairhaven Lake part of a "recreational service" he has - up to now at least - been able to argue that it is.

We also had another strange situation arise out of the Special Expenses decision last year when a sum of money was 'vired' - that means it was used for something other than that for which it was taken in tax.

The Cabinet of 15 January 2009 vired £2,000+ from Parks Operational Budget to support some overspending in Kirkham.

This move used the 'Special Expenses' parks budget money that had been raised specifically from Lytham and St Annes residents, and spent it to benefit residents in Kirkham who had not been charged for it.

Indeed, given that parks and gardens expenditure in Kirkham is now treated as a *separate* Special Expense, it is arguable that the overspend on the work in Kirkham should have been a supplementary estimate charged only over Kirkham taxpayers.

It's not that we're attacking Kirkhamites here; its the principle of the matter. The Commissar - and those doing his bidding - have cocked up the system and made it a real mess. It's so bad, we're now we're being charged when our money is spent elsewhere.

And whilst we're on that topic, we're pretty much sure that although the charge made on the Council Tax Bills for Special Expenses in Lytham and in St Annes is identical, (£63.88 last year), the cost of the work in St Annes and the cost of the work in Lytham is *not* identical.

We suspect residents in Lytham are subsidising St Annes, and the Special Expenses for Lytham residents should be lower.

You can confirm this if you look at the larger version of the graphic. It shows that St Annes grounds maintenance costs are 45.12% whilst Lytham, Lowther and Ansdell combined are only 25.01%.

We need to say this is not an exact sum, because St Annes has 10,500 taxpaying households and Lytham has 7,500, and we'd need the cash figures to do a proper analysis, but you can see quite clearly that Lythamites are currently subsidising the parks and Gardens in St Annes.

There's another problem too.

Under the old system, if there was an underspend at the end of the year (and there often is because jobs you think will get completed take longer than you expected and the shutters come down on spending on 31 March each year), the underspent money could just go back into General Rate Fund account for future spending somewhere in Fylde, or to offset overspends elsewhere in the accounts.

But under the Special Expenses system, if there is an underspend at the year end, to do it properly you would have to estimate how much of it was taken from Lytham people, how much from St Annes, and how much from Kirkham, and re-credit each account separately.

We gather this isn't being done, and it's likely that any money left at the end of the year will go into the General Fund.

This is yet another example of doing it wrong. It means some of the taxes raised from one lot of people are being spent to benefit those who didn't pay towards them.

Yet another problem arises when one of the Parish Councils that 'opted out' of Fylde wants some technical advice - say on sport and recreation, (or open spaces or Christmas lights).

Historically when they asked for it they got it.

We understand this advice and technical support is still happening, but the parish councils are no longer paying anything toward that cost in Council Tax. 

Again the graphic shows the problem. The Commissar either forgot, or decided not to bother charging the overheads (what the graphic describes as 'Support Services' and 'Management and Strategic Development') onto the parishes last year.

They are not contributing anything to these overhead costs from taxation, so they should really be employing Fylde's officers on a consultancy or rechargeable basis now, because the officer costs are now only charged to Lytham St Anne's, and Kirkham taxpayers, not over the other parishes.

We warned the Commissar about meddling with these Special Expenses.

They are a minefield of uncharted alleyways. But he was desperate to get more out of us in tax in any way he could, and he wouldn't listen.

There are other little land-mines buried throughout the Cabinet report too. They're just waiting to trap the unwary.

For example, if you look carefully, you can see a well buried proposal (which is not a formal recommendation, but will no doubt be used as such)  that delegates the power to make the decision whether to agree to the transfer to Kirkham or not to a single Cabinet member. We regard this as wholly inappropriate. A policy decision like this should be a matter for the full Council to determine.

You can also see a desire to keep control of the assets and budgets in Kirkham and Lytham and St Annes in order that the Commissar has something to cut at to make the budget savings he's going to have heaped upon him by Government. This can be seen in the section of the report that reads "It is now highly likely that, from 2011/12, the Council will be faced with further financial pressures due to public service spending cuts. By deferring the asset transfer to KTC the Council will have greater flexibility to address the future of the remaining non-parished areas in a coordinated and planned way."

With behaviour like the above, you really wouldn't think this was a Conservative administration trying to preserve our services would you?

Now, having cocked the job up, and wasted a shedload of money, he's starting to follow a pattern that will be familiar to our readers.

Like Oliver Hardy, he's at last realising that this is another nice mess he's gotten himself into, and he's backtracking on his cherished Special Expenses idea - at least for the moment.

In a hollow echo of the gross waste we have already seen in his planning of what was supposed to be his glorious Ivory Tower Accommodation Project (on which we reckon he has wasted around £800,000 so far, which makes it an even greater fiasco that the Streetscene one), he has spent hours and hours of staff and consultancy time, and had report after report prepared on this idea of setting up his awful Special Expenses scheme.

In fact, he changed his mind on Special Expenses so many times, he needed a report telling him what all the previous reports had said on the matter!

Not only is Fylde officer's time involved here, but now Kirkham Town Council (and probably St Annes Town Council) has been involved in discussions to take over control of 'their' parks and open spaces, and they have committed hours of time (and probably quite some cost) to it as well.

Now we see (Cabinet Agenda for Wednesday 20 Jan) the Commissar is walking away from the idea of letting Kirkham take on its open spaces.

He can't say that outright of course, because he promised Kirkham could take their open spaces over, and he has been pushing St Annes like mad to do exactly the same, (and they look as if they're going to be fool enough to do it).

So the report points very clearly in the direction of delaying a decision,  using the argument that they need even more time to work out the figures and the financial impact.

When he has already spent so much time and money (going right back to March 2004 as we showed in the introduction) why on earth would he want to back-pedal?

The answer (as always with the Commissar) is that he had got his sums wrong.

Again.

He worked out the approximate cost of the work in Kirkham (including the overheads that he didn't charge the other parishes) as being £154,209 and he says that if Kirkham takes over the parks and gardens it will result in a 9.26% increase for EVERY Fylde Council Tax payer.

The logic of this is tricky to follow, but bear with us.

Fundamentally, it's because when Kirkham starts to charge for the work themselves, he has no intention at all of reducing his own costs by the £154,209.

The root cause, is that from that date of a transfer to Kirkham, he would have to stop calling them Special Expenses in his own accounts and the spending would then be classified as normal Council Tax, so the overall increase would be 9.26%.

The actual wording that sets all this in place was snuck out the day after the County Elections last year, and everyone was so preoccupied with the elections that no-one noticed it (not even us!). But the official wording from the report of 6 May 2009 (which is reproduced in the report for Cabinet on 20th Jan 2010), is worth a read. It says....

"a) The Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) assumes an overall 4.99% increase in Council Tax for each of the next 3 years. This assumption is based upon the logic that the overall net impact of all savings and increases in the revenue budget across FBC will in total equate to a 4.99% increase in the net amount to be recovered via Council Tax by FBC.

b) Following that logic, it is assumed that the saving made by transferring the assets to KTC and being relieved of the responsibility for their maintenance and upkeep will be offset by corresponding changes elsewhere in the Council’s revenue budget such that the net overall position is a 4.99% increase in the net amount to be recovered via Council Tax by FBC.

c) By transferring the assets and being relieved of the responsibility for their maintenance and upkeep, FBC will no longer need to charge a Special Expense in the Kirkham area. As explained above, this saving will in all likelihood be offset by net increases elsewhere.

d) Members should be aware of how these changes will impact upon Council Tax Bills delivered to residents. Whilst the overall increase at 4.99% would be within the Government’s 5% cap, the proportion of Total Council Tax recovered by Special Expenses charges would fall, and the proportion of Total Council Tax recovered by Standard Council Tax charges (the element referred to on Council Tax bills as “Fylde Borough Council”) would increase. The result would be that whilst Council Tax bills in the Kirkham area would see the Special Expenses charge disappear, EVERY bill in the Borough would see the “Fylde Borough Council” element increase by greater than 4.99%

e) For illustrative purposes, if the assets had transferred to KTC on 1st April 2009 and FBC had offset the £154,209 reduction in Special Expenses charges with corresponding net increases elsewhere in the Revenue Budget, then the “FyldeBorough Council” element of bills for 2009/10 would have shown a 9.26% increase. This, despite the fact that the overall increase at 4.99% would have been within the Government’s 5% cap. The table at Appendix 4 illustrates the effect of this for2009/10 as if the transfer had occurred on 1st April 2009."


So what his latest con trick is really saying is that... because we have already decided to increase our spending year on year by 4.99% (the maximum allowed before the Government imposes a cap), if we reduce our budget in one area, we're going to increase it in another area - so we will still need an increase of 4.99% in Council Tax from all Fylde taxpayers each year.

And because we won't be able to charge any 'Special Expenses' in Kirkham if they take the work over, we will have to re-distribute the 'excess' £154k (that we won't reduce our spending by) over everyone in Fylde.

That £154k of course, means it adds another 4.23% or so to everyone's tax and takes the total tax increase to 9.26% (And that tax will apply even in the parishes that opted out last year)!

It will happen like this because the £154k FBC won't reduce their spending by will change from being Special Expenses, and become classified as 'Council Tax.' It will show up on tax demands as "Fylde Borough Council - Increase 9.26%" (i.e. the 4.99% plus the £154,209 they won't cut if / when Kirkhamites make their own charge of £154k or whatever).

And it's almost certain that Fylde will be capped at 4.99%, so they will *have* to give up the money the Commissar has desperately been trying to prize out of our pockets as extra tax for his incompetent administration to waste.

So he can't afford to let Kirkham take over the open spaces, because overall he will lose both control of the assets and the money he wanted to claim in extra tax when Fylde is capped.

The situation in Kirkham is bad enough, but wait and see what happens if St Annes gets in on the act (and maybe Lytham as well).

We know that there are secret talks with Fylde BC and the Clerk (and possibly with Town Councillors) of St Annes Town Council going on in the background at this very moment.

Together, the Special Expenses in Lytham, St Annes and Kirkham areas amount to a spending level of at least £1.3 million. 

The Commissar is licking his lips at the idea of getting that as extra spending cash from us.

If the Commissar could get all three places to go in one fell swoop, he thinks he could get *them* to raise the money from us as an extra charge. He also thinks it wouldn't look as though Fylde was making the charge, and he could say (quite truthfully) 'we haven't increased anything except by 4.99%. All we've done  'maintain' our usual level of spending.

In effect this would have increased his own spending using Special Expenses by anything up to £1.6 million.

He daren't say this of course, but you can see it between the lines of the Cabinet report which says  "...if the transfer of assets to town / parish councils goes ahead on a piecemeal basis over a number of years, this will mean that fluctuations in council tax increases will occur over a prolonged period."

Too right they will.

Kirkham (as shown on the graphic) is 9.18% of the grounds maintenance cost, and we know from the report that this will put up Fylde's council tax by 9.26%.

If St Annes were to go the year after, they are 45.12% of the grounds maintenance cost, so on a straight pro-rata basis (which it may not be, but for illustrative purposes will get us somewhere near) that would be a tax increase by Fylde of 45%,

And Lytham is 25.01% of the total, so pro rata that would be another 25% increase in Fylde's Council tax.

And who would pay this extra cost?

Everyone in Fylde.

Including those in the rural parishes who think they have seen an end to charges for grounds maintenance from Fylde BC and are already precepting their electorate for it themselves.

This would mean an unsatisfactory, slow-burning annual prompt that would remind everyone how awful the Commissar's administration is.

But he thinks if he can do it all in one 'big bang' change he can get away with it.

This is partly why he is having something called a 'Community Governance Review' at the moment.

As well as giving St Annes Town Council the extra Councillors it needs to function properly, (Town and Parish councils are usually volunteers who do the work. They don't usually get paid allowances like Borough Councillors do, and the more sensible ones only have a part time clerk to run their admin, and they don't pay an empire of officers, so you need quite a few voluntary councillors), the Commissar wants to use the Review to justify setting up a Town / Parish Council in Lytham so he can go for broke and farm out all the work in one go to St Annes, Kirkham, and (what will be) Lytham Town Councils, and increase the tax take from Fylde by anything up to £1.3 or £1.6 million.

It would be bare-faced, daylight robbery.

So, what you see in the Cabinet report is an officer class trying to hold onto the control of what they call the 'strategic development  parks service' (even when Fylde has farmed out all the actual work to Parish Councils), and possibly to retain management and control of all the parks and gardens in Lytham St Annes in order to justify their having the strategic service anyway.

They also want an assured period as the contractor to Kirkham for at least three years (and we see talk of six years) which is probably an abuse of a monopoly position.

And you see a political class whose financial incompetence is entering the realms of legend; who are desperate to get as much tax as they can out of us to hide their incompetence, and who are preparing to set up commercial trading operations left right and centre that we confidently predict will end in the same sort of financial disaster for Fylde residents as  the Streetscene debacle and the Wyre Waste Contract.

Quite how any of the present Conservative administration can support such a move is difficult enough to understand, but how they can expect anyone to vote for them ever again when they allow this sort of logic to prevail is a complete mystery to us,

Furthermore, if they choose to keep in place a financial incompetent - such as we have now - to lead their lemming-like leap into electoral obscurity, they probably deserve what they have coming to them.

It is a source of complete amazement to us.

Councillors in other political parties must be rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of the election in 2011.

Dated:   12 January  2010


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