Well the first chance to test the effectiveness of this new accountability came with the snow. The response of the Council was unacceptably poor. The public were up in arms. Birkdale resident Kenny Dalglish vented his spleen in statements to the local press. The Chief Executive apologised. Officers appeared in public to get 'feed back' from local residents. But what of the politician responsible; John Fairclough (Bootle, old Labour, tribal). He was invited to answer local people concerns at the Southport Area Committee and the Crosby Area Committee.He directed those who wanted to know if he would attend to his comments in the Crosby Herald which was headlined:
Absent grit boss John Fairclough yet to attend public meeting on snow chaos
and which began:
The Labour Councillor is paid £18,000 a year on top of the basic £9,000 to act as the political boss for Technical Services.
He said: “This week’s Technical Services Department meeting was cancelled because the cabinet meeting was cancelled for the following day.
“There is another Technical Services Department meeting planned for later this month. “This arrangement was made in November before the snow had fallen.”
Cllr Fairclough said he would not attend Area Committees until a full report into Sefton’s response to the snow had been completed.
I blogged last week about the problems of accountability in an all party administration. Fairclough went on:
He added: “This is the first time the snowfall and ice clearing issue has been politicised, but not just making it political from other parties, but making it personal.
Now where have I heard that line of defence before?
But most bizarre of all was the response of the Tory Leader Mrs Parry. Now you would have thought she would have been the champion of her government's policy of local unaccountability, but no. Instead she said:
' the attendance at Area Committees of Chief Executive Margaret Carney, and top Council officers Jerry McConkey and Peter Moore was sufficient.'
There was a time when Tories would have been embarrassed to send in the paid help to take responsibility on their behalf.
I must check to see if there have been any further resignations from the local Conservative group this evening.