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We hear the removal of Cllr Louis Rigby's share  by his fellow directors was lodged at Companies house on Thursday. His vote as a Director has now been removed.

Saint Louis the Magnificent

Saint Louis the MagnificentEven Cllr Louis Rigby wouldn't describe himself as a man of letters. He's a man of few words.

He's from the University of Life, and before that, the School of Hard Knocks.

He likes a good pint and a game of cricket, and he has been a Fylde Councillor for as long as we can remember.

During that time we don't recall him being exceptionally outspoken on any matter, but when he does speak, he oozes common sense, and he enjoys a great trust given to him by his electorate.

He is just what a councillor should be. Down to earth, practical, sensible, reliable and trustworthy. Not for him the fancy language of policy. Not for him the doublespeak of the deceptive silver-tongued half-truthers. He says it like it is.

He is a magnificent Councillor. And he has been badly abused by other Councillors that are not fit to lick his boots.

He absolutely understands what it is to be a Councillor.

He knows what integrity is, and he is rock solid full of it.

He understands that when, as a Councillor, he is placed in a position of trust to protect the interests of the vulnerable, his duty is first and foremost to protect those interests.

Come hell or high water.

He knew that the purpose of the twenty bungalows at Melton Grove was to provide housing for the local worthy of meagre means. He knew it followed the promise entered into by the Council when it took ownership of the land "Not to use the said premises or any part thereof for any other purpose than that of private dwellings for the working classes and for aged persons of limited means"

And he knew his duty was to ensure that promise was not broken, it was carried on into the future, not only to benefit the tenants of today, but to benefit the far greater number of residents that are yet to fall into need in the future.

That's why, when the plot to sell Melton Grove was hatched, he refused to countenance it.

He knows there was no mandate to sell it, and certainly not to sell it to a developer.

Like a rock he stood there, strong and alone, not budging in the storms and tempest whipped up by his fellow directors (and Council officers) with less scruples as they tried to get him to give up his share so they could take the Developer's thirty pieces of sliver and abandon the promise to keep Melton Grove only for worthy local residents of meagre means.

He has steadfastly refused to give up his share, and has thus frustrated the sale, and protected the residents - whose trust he has not betrayed (and is probably congenitally incapable of betraying).

Meanwhile the other Directors, supported by an overly willing and overtly politicised officer class, removed themselves from the control of the Council  and have voted (in his absence) to remove Cllr Rigby from the Board of Directors of Melton Grove.

This is a scandal and a disgrace.

These people are cowards who are too afraid to take that decision in full council where it should have been addressed.

Cllr Rigby summed up his view in a paragraph

"What a lovely little setting. It was left in perpetuity for the good people of Lytham. Why is it being sold? I have kept asking that question at Board Meetings and can't get an answer. And if it is to be sold, why is it being sold to a developer and not to a social landlord?"

counterbalance salutes a solid, reliable trustworthy councillor of the old school.

From now on he will be known on these pages as "Saint Louis the Magnificent"

We also hear that the exchange of contracts was effected on Friday* (or was it? see end), the last working day before the Council Meeting called to debate the disposal. This is disgraceful behaviour by a public body.

Modern Day Judas

Modern Day JudasWhen Cllr David Eaves took office as Leader in May 2010 we were very encouraged.

He sounded like a breath of fresh air after the Commissar.

He sounded just about right. Looking for consensus, seeking to compromise, no great ambition to Westminster, no aspirational civic testosterone, he spoke honest-to-goodness common sense.

But as one of our readers is apt to remind us on a regular basis, we should judge people on what they do, not what they say.

And whilst he has made all the right noises, Cllr Eaves has not measured up in the doing stakes.

His first decisions were encouraging. re-open the pool, drop the white elephant Town Hall. Give Trevor Fiddler his head on the awful Growth Point Scheme and the dreadful multi-area agreement and so on, but then the problems started.

KPMG were called in about potential wrongdoing in the process to re-open the pool. Then we had the great Tax Con return - where huge amounts of extra tax would have been fiddled from us if the Town Councils hadn't woken up to the scam.

It's possible he was the prisoner of the hard liners in his own party in some of these matters of course - we alluded to this possibility in Enter the Puppet-Master?

But then came Melton Grove.

Whilst we can only offer circumstantial evidence, we're entirely convinced this was a pre-arranged setup to bring good news home just before the election. A million to spend as an election war chest and 300,000 siphoned off for Lytham Hall.

Even if it wasn't his idea, this one had his fingerprints all over it.

It was his Cabinet budget meeting where the income from the sale of Melton Grove was deliberately left out so it could not be assessed for priority with other schemes needing cash. It would appear as a 'Magic Bonus' after the budget was set.

And it was David Eaves as Leader who proposed the Cabinet resolution

"1. That, the Cabinet agrees, in principle, to a capital grant of 300,000 being made to the Heritage Trust for the North West for the Lytham Hall restoration appeal conditional upon the successful sale of Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association Ltd and the council receiving the capital receipt.

2. That the Council be recommended to agree an addition to the capital programme in accordance with recommendation 1, to be fully funded from the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association sale receipt."

It was he who has supported the Machiavellian machinations of the Chief Executive to treat the full Council and the Mayor with contempt and to exclude most Councillors from knowing, let alone debating, what was going on behind closed doors about Melton Grove.

And it is on his watch that the trust he should have held dear - "Not to use the said premises or any part thereof for any other purpose than that of private dwellings for the working classes and for aged persons of limited means" has been disgracefully betrayed for a developer's thirty pieces of silver.

As indeed, has the trust that many - including us - placed in him to be a breath of fresh air at the Council.

In our last article we said he was about to cross the Rubicon.

He has had ample opportunity to reverse this sale, but he has not done so.

He has betrayed the trust of us all and, for that reason, counterbalance will, in future refer to him as "Cllr David Judas Eaves"

Dated:  16 July 2011

For an alternative perspective, follow this link to top Blackpool blogger PhilTheOne's take on the shame of  Melton Grove

UPDATE: Later on 16 July 2011
We heard late today that there might have been a hitch in the exchange of contracts, and we're not sure if completion has occurred. We'll bring you more as we get it, and after Council on Monday.


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