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Call for Help: Melton Grove

Call for Help: Melton GroveSomething like the final chapters in the sorry tale of Melton Grove are now approaching.

Our readers already know of the awful way the residents of this delightful housing haven have been treated by the Directors of the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association.

Excepting, that is, for Councillor Louis Rigby of Freckleton. He is the only Director who has acted with integrity. Exemplary integrity. He alone in that selfish, asset-stripping, money-grubbing, shameful little group deserves to be called a Trustee. He alone has kept faith with the trust that the people of Lytham and St Annes placed in those Directors. He alone has refused to sign over the share that he holds as a Director of the Company. And he alone, has held up the sale - so far.

At the last Council meeting, with their majority on this matter reduced to a single vote, the Conservatives of the last Council took a decision to sell the Company, for something like £1.5m, then decided in the next agenda item to use £300,000 of the income from the sale to make a grant to Lytham Hall.

A stitch-up if ever you saw one.

But at the last moment, embarrassed by the fuss that was rising in Lytham, they changed the description of the source of the grant they were giving, so the money would be paid to the Hall "subject to the receipt of an equivalent additional capital receipt being identified in the council's capital programme."

In other words by disposing of Melton Grove - but not making it so obvious where the money was coming from.

This was nothing more than a slimy, shame-faced, duplicitous and underhand way of trying to hide what they were doing.

The poor folk who live at Melton Grove - most of whom have now formed themselves into the Melton Grove Resident's Association - couldn't even turn to the Council's officers for help.

Council officers are supposed to be impartial, but it stretches credulity beyond breaking point to believe that to be so when they are also contracted to (or employed by) the 'Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association' as private advisors to the Directors, and it was they who actually proposed and managed the flawed disposal process in complete neglect of their duty as officers of the Council to implement the proper consultative arrangements to which the Melton Grove Residents were entitled.

They appear to have taken the view that they were different people when they were working for the Directors of the Housing Association (which itself is owned by the Council) than when they were working for 'the Council'. This attitude was also reflected in Cllr Albert Pounder's view - as expressed at the last Council meeting, where he said "as a Director of the Company my first duty is to the Company".

We go with Cllr Peter Hardy's view on this. In his reply to Cllr Pounder, he thundered "Rubbish. This Council was elected by the people of the Fylde to represent them and their interests, first and solely, not a company anyone is a Director of"

We agree. We also believe the Council's officers should not behave like Pontius Pilate - attempting wash their hands of their first and overriding responsibility to the local community to whom they are responsible, and by whom their salaries are paid.

But it seems the best those officers can do now is to say "sorry" for not doing their duty, and for allowing (or perhaps even encouraging) the Directors to conveniently disregard the requirements for proper consultation.

Well, we say that's not enough.

We also say there is still time to have a proper consultation and a vote of the tenants of Melton Grove, just as the tenants of Kilnhouse and Heyhouses and elsewhere were given, when proposals to sell to their homes to New Fylde Housing were mooted.

But it gets worse. We now we see those same officers seeking to manipulate events in order to bring about the disposal, almost by sleight of hand.

  • They failed to introduce an agenda item (Notice of Motion No 4) that was given proper notice for debate and duly proposed and seconded at the last Council meeting.
  • They are attempting to defy the will of Fylde's Mayor who, in recognising the error that has been made here, has said it would be debated at the next meeting.
  • They have refused to put the disposal process on hold whilst that debate takes place.
  • They have produced an agenda for the next meeting that fails to have an item for the minutes of the previous meeting to be approved, but those same minutes are appended to the agenda (This looks like a device for the Chief Executive to introduce the minutes as an 'afterthought' at the meeting and have them slid through with minimal debate when no one is looking).
  • And in the 'Appointments to outside bodies' item on the Agenda for the next meeting on 23rd May they have attempted a sleight of hand that, if allowed to slide through unchallenged, would fail to appoint or re-appoint Directors to the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association.  (We think this has been done so that later, the officers can say - we did not appoint any new Directors, nor did we re-appoint the existing ones as the Council was required to do if Directors were to be appointed, therefore the existing Directors, including Cllr Louis Rigby (who alone has been refusing to give up his share of the Company) are no longer Directors of the Association). And in this way they will circumvent his refusal to give up his share that is currently protecting the residents from having their homes sold over their heads.

This is yet further evidence of a duplicitous, sneaky, and underhanded way of going about things.
 

When they resort to such deception and stonewall filibustering - as we see here - and as we have seen on previous occasions - they bring the entire Local Government service into disrepute.

We say that these people are not fit to hold office. They disgrace the service they purport to deliver. They shame the good name of honest and open Local Government with their Machiavellian manipulations.

We also find it deeply ironic that both the Directors, and the controlling group on the Council - the very people in whose trust the arrangements for future tenancies of these properties for the worthy of Lytham St Annes were left - are the ones who are behaving like Judas and selling them out for the developer's thirty pieces of silver.

It is left to the present residents to fight to ensure the continuation of the service for future tenants:

  • faced with the unwillingness of the controlling group to properly consult and have a vote of tenants as to whether their homes should be sold to a developer;
  • faced with Directors who agreed changes to the tenancy criteria that then cleared the waiting list for Melton Grove - so it was easier to effect such a disposal; and
  • faced with officers that are ignoring their duty to the tenants, and demonstrating partiality to bring about this contentious disposal....

to where can the residents of Melton Grove turn to have their, (and their successor's) interests safeguarded?

There is only one place.

The law.

They must engage a barrister and take legal action to try to protect their own future there, and indeed to protect the future that could await any worthy resident of Lytham or St Annes who suddenly and unexpectedly finds themselves in difficult or reduced circumstances.

These few elderly residents of meagre means are having to stump up cash to pay for legal action and representation.

We say that's not fair.

So we're doing something we haven't done before.

We're making an appeal to our readers.

We're going to ask if you will join us and help the folk at Melton Grove.

We're going to send them something approaching a month's worth of Council Tax on counterbalance mansions.

That seems sort of appropriate to us, but we're sure their Residents Association would be grateful for whatever our readers felt able to help them with.

If you feel able to help, you can send something as follows....

CHEQUES
Please make cheques payable to Melton Grove Residents Association and sent them to
The Treasurer,
Melton Grove Residents Association,
13 Melton Grove,
Lytham
FY8 5PN

CASH (or cheques) can also be paid in at any bank if you also quote the Association's sort code and account details - which are:
Sort Code:   40-30-37
Account Number:   01420291
Account Name:   Melton Grove Residents Association

The account is actually at HSBC Bank, 6 Lytham Square, Lytham, and the HSBC staff there have the account details and we understand they will be happy to help anyone who wants to deposit monies who don't have the account number.

INTERNET BANKING
To make an online payment from an internet bank account just pay it to
Sort Code:   40-30-37
Account Number:   01420291
Account Name:   Melton Grove Residents Association

Donations can be acknowledged (if you provide your contact details to the Treasurer) or they can be anonymous.

You can also help by spreading the word to your friends who might want to help.

We believe our counterbalance readers have a strong social conscience and a clear sense of justice and fair play, and we trust to them to help those in need.

Dated:   15 May 2011


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