Our Skem

Skelmersdale Independent Party Creating A

Skelmersdale Town Council

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Our Journey, Our Skem

Empowering and strengthening local democracy

A Skelmersdale Town Council will be the first tier of local Government.
At the very heart of the community, giving Skelmersdale residents a voice and helping people feel more involved in the decisions that affect them. 
 

The mechanism for creating a Skelmersdale Town Council is a journey that has a few hurdles to overcome and could take a number years.  We are well on our way with the first step, submitting a Petition with over 2030 signatures to trigger a "Community Governance Review" to create a single Skelmersdale Town Council representing the 7 Wards of Skelmersdale.  The review takes 12 months from the date the Petition is submitted.  If the review supports the creation of a Skelmersdale Town Council it would then be down to the 54 West Lancs Borough Councillors to decide by a vote in the Council Chamber.  There are 16 Borough Councillors that represent the 7 Wards of Skelmersdale and not a single one has come out in support for the creation of a Skelmersdale Town Council.  It is therefore our intention to stand in all 6 Wards in the May 2019 Borough Council Elections to contest their Seats.  Every seat won will be a vote for a Skelmersdale Town Council.

 

In Oct 2018 we contested the Tanhouse By-election to gain some experience for the May 2019 Elections, and Steve Houghton wrote;

 Our Skem

Yesterday a seed was sown
The gauntlet was thrown down
This is a chance to have a say
In the way we run our town

For too many years they've had it good
And left the place to rot
Yes that's right we call it Skem
The town they all forgot

So my friends the choice is yours
It's really us or them
If you vote for us in May
We'll get you back our Skem

Steve Houghton 2018

When we started our campaign in July we only placed Petition Sheets in retail establishments throughout Skelmersdale. The reason for this was to assess the support for a Town Council. We hoped if support was there the Petition numbers would grow organically and we set a target number of 25% of the required number before the end of October, this would then convince us that there was support and we should then put the extra work in, to submit the Petition before Christmas this year. 7 weeks earlier than expected, on September 13th our target of 508 was hit. We soon organised ourselves to do some door knocking and on Thursday October 11th we hit the 50% mark of 1015 and that number has already increased.

 

27 August 2018, Cllr Claire Cooper said (The Birch Green Borough Councillor, until May 2020)

"At the moment both Skelmersdale and Ormskirk are disadvantaged (Ormskirk not so much!!) because they have no elected body that speaks on behalf of their towns...."

A Skelmersdale Independent Borough Councillor would represent the best interests of their Ward, Skelmersdale and then the Borough in that order

 

This photo reminded me of Saturday (6th October) when we were out knocking on doors in Eavesdale inviting people to sign the Petition, I met one person who said he was against another tier of governance, which is fair enough and I didn't push any further conversation, however he went on to say he was voting Labour (Thursday 11th October) because they represent the working class. I want to make it clear to everyone, we are not against Labour but we are pro Skelmersdale. Please have a look at a working class subway, in the May Borough Elections please put aside partisan loyalties, they will not help Skelmersdale

 

16 October 2018, Cllr Ron Cooper said (The Tanhouse Borough Councillor, 5 days after being elected)

"I don't Know what I can do about the state of our Town.  I won't make false promises."
A Skelmersdale Independent Borough Councillor would be shouting loud enough to be heard, that's a promise we can make.
 

In 2011, Rosie Cooper said “I have always supported the idea and think it would be great to have a town council for Skelmersdale to look after the interests of the town’s residents, especially now that the town is on the verge of new developments with Skelmersdale Vision.  We know that other areas of West Lancashire benefit from having Parish Councils that work in the best interest of their own area.  So in principle why should our towns, like Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, not have the same benefits.” (www.rosiecooper.netIn July 2017, Rosie Cooper said in the Westminster hall, referring to Skelmersdale and the West Lancs Borough Council, controlled by her party

“It is a town failed by the council“. (Hansard)
 

Along with Ormskirk, Skelmersdale is unparished and is served by two tiers of government West Lancashire Borough Council and Lancashire County Council.  Both tiers of government suffer from political ping pong with overall control passing from one party to the other, or with no overall control and neither holding on to control long enough to put aside self preservation and make definitive and tangible improvements to Skelmersdale.

West Lancs formed 1973

Skelmersdale

Lancashire County Council

Party in control

Years

Party in control

Party in control

Years

No overall control

1973-1976

Labour

Conservative

1973-1981

Conservative

1976-1986

Labour

Labour

1981-1985

No overall control

1986-1987

Labour

No overall control

1985-1989

Conservative

1987-1991

Labour

Labour

1989-2009

No overall control

1991-1994

Labour

Conservative

2009-2013

Labour

1994-2002

Labour

No overall control

2013-2017

Conservative

2002-2014

Labour

Conservative

2017-

No overall control

2014-2015

Labour

 

 

Labour

2015-

Labour

 

 

Skelmersdale is approximately 4.3% of the total size of West Lancashire yet in 2018/2019 Skelmersdale residents will provide over 25% of the Council Tax funding.  £16,846,915.36 of £62 million. (FOI request)

The combined West Lancs Councillors, 54 in number, will receive over £340,000 in allowances and 5 of the 8 West Lancs Cabinet members either live in or represent Skelmersdale. (WLBC Website)  Amongst other things, Skelmersdale Independent Borough Councillors would campaign to reduce the number of Borough Councillors which are paid the highest allowances in the County.

Over the many years of political ping pong Skelmersdale is falling into disrepair and rotting, the Digmoor Sports Centre that closed in 2012 was just one of many examples of the lack of investment. The closure of Glenburn School was questionable, but preferring to demolish the buildings rather than allowing the site to be used for other interests, such as office space for fledgling businesses or local charities was ill judged. 

The creation of a town council in Skelmersdale would mean that elected non-party political and voluntary councillors could be representing Skelmersdale in their relationship with the upper tiers of borough and county governance, putting residents in control of their community and that a town council representing the direct needs of Skelmersdale residents – would be best placed to manage the towns fortunes and ambitions.  A Town Council would also have a voice amplified by over 37,000 Skelmersdale residents, lobbying for both civic and clinical improvements, for example the doctor patient ratio is amongst the worst in the country.  

Furthermore, the creation of a town council will put Skelmersdale back on the map through the creation of a statutory body; for Skelmersdale would be the best way of symbolically resurrecting the towns identity.

The town council will give local people a greater say in how public funds are invested in their town and since a town council in Skelmersdale would have the powers to address local issues such neighbourhood planning, youth clubs, cleaning up public spaces, as well as improving footpaths and green spaces – this governance model has the answer to many local issues. A town council will have the power to apply for grants and raise local funds to invest in initiatives that directly benefit the people it represents. The town council in Skelmersdale will also be able to raise its own precept (a form of council tax) to spend on the above mentioned services in ways and specific locations that residents tell it they want.