Conservative Group Meeting
Not since moves to close the Swimming Pools have we seen such frenetic activity at Fylde as there has been this week (and it's only Tuesday)
First, Monday morning brought news that the Mayor had called an informal meeting of councillors for Wednesday evening to discuss Melton Grove.
We heard he called this informal meeting because the formal Council meeting he arranged for Monday 18th was going to be too late to debate the sale of Melton Grove.
We're not great fans of 'informal meetings' as our readers will know.
But we understand the aim of this informal meeting was to take the temperature of the a cross section of elected members with regard to the Melton Grove disposal in the hope that officers who were planning to effect the transfer on Thursday would see how much
concern there was, and despite their having arranged the disposal *before* the Extra-ordinary Council meeting called to discuss it, they might be prevailed upon to stay their hand until the Full Council had debated it.
Then, yesterday (Monday) evening, the Conservative Group had a private meeting about Melton Grove. We had emails and phone calls about this from four sources, so we're pretty clear about what happened.
One report to us said
"There was blood on the Town Hall floor and a lot of hot air as the Conservative Group debated the sale of Melton Grove and the Mayor's decision to call and extra ordinary meeting.
The debate started with conspiracy theories of a spy in the camp, with David Eaves telling the group that Howard Henshaw had confirmed he had a senior member spy in the Conservatives camp. This was reinforced by Sue Fazackerley who told them that
her good friend Liz Oades had confirmed this but would not give a name, preferring to say, ‘she was passed information’, concluding that the issue was not ‘another IT department issue’.
The end result was a vote to agree there was no spy although Sue Fazackerley advised that she would not speak freely in the meetings going forward.
Ironically no one spotted the open window next to her and the open door.
New councillor Peter Wood gave a valiant effort of trying to convince the group that transparency was the way forward, even with the support of Councillor Tim Armit, as the Robin to Wood’s Batman, the argument fell on deaf ears.
The meeting continued with personal rants and ramblings before the conservatives were directed to boycott the Mayors request for a meeting on Wednesday by leader David Eaves.
Armit and Wood did get a concession from the group to prepare a bullet point list of questions and answers distributed to the papers in order to address all of the awkward question and allay fears of a conspiracy."
Then we heard that Chief Executive Philip Woodward and Solicitor Ian Curtis had decided to insult the Mayor by not attending his meeting on Wednesday.
We heard from another source that their aim is now to remove Cllr Louis Rigby the Magnificent as a Director and aim for completion of the sale on Friday.
And there is a Conservative whip on for Monday 18th to defeat the motion.
But in all probability, it will be sold before the Council can debate the matter on Monday anyway.
We also heard the Conservative whip is ready to defeat the plan to take the matter to scrutiny, but at present that is unconfirmed.
And to cap it all, we had an unconfirmed report from another source privy to the Conservative Group meeting on Monday that there was a demand from Planning Portfolio Holder Cllr Trevor Fiddler, supported by Planning Chairman Ben Aitkin, that the Whip be
applied to all planning committee decisions.
Instead of dismissing this out of hand, we're told Leader David Eaves said it could be reviewed if members continued to go "off message".
We wonder which part of someone's planning application can be party political? The idea is both preposterous and disgraceful, and not worthy of an able councillor like Cllr Fiddler.
What it does show however is that the Iron Fist of the former Commissar remains very much in evidence, even if it is clothed in David Eaves' velvet glove, and the new Conservative councillors had better get used to being voting-fodder in the head-down-hand-up position as
party politics compromises their principles and beliefs.
They must wonder what they have come into.
This decision to sell Melton Grove will rank alongside the Pool Closures, the Streetscene Debacle, the Heeley Road Hostel fiasco, and the White Elephant Town Hall scheme as another defining moment on Fylde's path to oblivion.
It will become a running sore that will drain strength from any achievements that might follow.
Cllr Eaves is about to cross the Rubicon as far as we are concerned.
We had hoped for better.
Dated: 12 July 2011