All Change (BM)?
We know lots of our readers look forward to the contributions from our 'Blue Mole' who seems able to provide the inside track
of proceedings at some of the Conservative Group meetings that they'd rather we didn't know about.
On our own, we pick up bits of gossip from the periphery of course, and generally, our recent gleanings corroborate most of what our Blue Mole has most recently told us. Furthermore, BM has a good track record. To date, everything they have told us in
the past has turned out to be pretty accurate.
But for obvious reasons, we're not able to corroborate all BM's details, and so, with that 'health warning' we bring you the latest offering of Blue Mole's inside story.....
We reported Peter Wood's standing down from the Council in 'Jumping Ship', and we hinted there might be others.
Then, as an aside, in 'Shale Gas Update' we said we'd heard about two and possibly a third Conservative who might not be here in 12 months time.
We also reported shenanigans around the County Council seat for Fylde South and whether Cllr Fabian Craig-Wilson might be de-selected in favour of Princess Karen who, we had heard, had been toying with the idea of standing against Cllr David Eaves for
the Leadership of the Conservative Group if that didn't happen.
Cllr Eaves wasn't challenged, so we half-expected Cllr Craig-Wilson might be de-selected in favour of Princess Karen.
Our Blue Mole has confirmed all this and more.
BM thinks there is a fair possibility that the council could "change hands" later this year if the by-elections that will arise don't return Conservative councillors.
That would bring a sea-change in local civic life.
The last Fylde Borough election result (in May 2011) gave the Conservatives a majority of just one at 26:25, but Cllr Trevor Fiddler and Cllr Tommy Threlfall - having stood in the election as Independents - 'crossed the floor' and became Conservatives
within a day or so of the results. They shifted the majority numbers to 28:23 (you subtract from one side and add it to the other).
We're ignoring the 'rights and wrongs' of this behaviour at present. It doesn't matter to the numbers. It created a de-facto shift in the majority. Added to that is the fact that one other independent councillor seems almost always to vote with the
Conservatives. So in reality, the practical voting is closer to 29:22 which ensures the fulfilment of whatever the Conservatives have decided behind closed doors at their Group meetings.
But if four seats changed hands in by-elections, we could see a loss of power by the Conservatives, with a ratio of 25:26 in favour of a coalition of 'others' (if such an unlikely thing were to come about).
In fact, the potential for loss of majority is more likely than that, because, if the 'Vicars of Bray' follow the logic they used to change from being 'independent' to being Conservatives (i.e. they can achieve more for their electorate by being
inside the tent of power than outside it) then we could reasonably expect them to shift out again as soon as it looked as though the Conservatives might lose control.
In theory, they could actually precipitate the change after a couple of by-election losses, - but we can't see that happening.
But ignoring what they might or might not do for the moment, how can we say change might happen just from the by-elections?
Well, Peter Wood is gone. That's one. Mole says those at the highest levels in the Conservative Group are glad to see the back of him, and now have Cllr Tim Armit in their sights as the next target because he is seen as a loose cannon who can't be
We were surprised at both of those comments.
Mole also says that Cllr Nigel Goodrich is likely to go in October. It seems his wife had been appointed to a new job that will make it difficult for him to stay in this area. That's two.
We know of another that we're not able to detail at this stage, and if our information is right, that's three.
Our Mole also tells us that Cllr Tim Armit has demanded a seat in Cabinet or he will cross the floor. The phrase 'Turbulent Priest' springs to mind. (So he makes a possible four),
Finally Mole says that Cllr Fabian Craig Wilson is awaiting the outcome of her Conservative selection to a County seat before making any decisions about her future (That's a possible five).
We're also told Princess Karen is demanding selection to the St Annes South County Council seat, (that's the seat currently held by Cllr Fabian Craig-Wilson), after losing the St Annes North patch (St Leonard's, Kilnhouse and Ashton) so heavily
to Cllr Howard Henshaw (1,502 to 2,049) in the May 2009 County Council election.
(Cllr Fabian Craig Wilson won the St Annes South seat with 1,618 votes against Cllr Karen Henshaw - wife of Howard Henshaw - who polled 1,353 votes).
So Mole thinks that Princess Karen Buckley sees the St Annes South seat (rightly in our view, especially as 539 went to UKIP last time) as a much more winnable seat for her.
But another perspective is that the voters of St Annes South ward want integrity, not just self-centred ambition - at least that's Blue Mole's view.
Mole also tells us that the Conservative AGM was something of a melee. David Eaves was apparently bullied into submission on the issue of a change of Governance for Fylde, and it seems clear to Mole that the Conservative Group is being run by Princess
Karen, Dim Tim and Albert Pounder, with David Eaves as the 'front man'.
It also seems that it was Cllr Sue Fazackerley, Dim Tim, Albert Pounder and Princess Karen who pushed for no change to the present Cabinet system, despite strong arguments advanced by Cllrs Redcliffe, Aitken, Goodrich, and David Eaves himself.
So those councillors with much to lose from a change in Governance ruled the day - to the point where they are putting the whip on the Governance matter for a vote at Council. (We're told to expect an outbreak of illness amongst Conservatives on the
day of the vote).
And that's concludes the news from our subterranean scavenger for the moment.
We're not overly worried about this latest decision not to change the Governance system from the awful Cabinet System back to the much better Council and Committee system. Quite frankly its about what we expected from this administration. An
administration that doesn't believe in the sort of democracy that we and most people understand and expect.
We're not worried, because their decision is not sustainable in the longer term. Change will come, it's just a matter of when.
Without the restoration of a system that gives every elected councillor the absolute right to speak - and more importantly vote - on every decision made in the Council's name, democracy at Fylde will not have been restored.
But there's more than one way to skin a cat, and we expect to bring readers more information on this topic in the not too distant future.
We also expect to see an all-out effort from the Conservatives in the Heyhouses by-election (culminating in a vote on 5th July) - or Princess Karen can expect her political ambitions to be dented.
Blue Mole thinks that if they just put up another 'paper candidate' as they did in some seats in the last election we can expect the merry-go-round to continue.
We're inclined to agree.
Dated: 24 May 2012