Thursday, October 21, 2010

From the letters pages of today's Whitehaven News

SIR

– At the recent meeting of the full Copeland Borough Council, amid the political point scoring (from the Labour benches in particular), the leader, Coun Elaine Woodburn, referred to one of my members as an “alleged member of the public.” I wonder if the leader would like to clarify Copeland Borough Council’s definition of ‘member of the public’ and enlighten us as to when it was altered to exclude members of the Conservative Party?

Stephen HARALDSEN

Deputy Chairman, Copeland Conservative Association
Hillcrest, Whitehaven

1 comment:

Jane said...

I was disappointed, though not surprised that Stephen Haraldsen’s question to Full Council on 12th October was not answered. (Two deemed impermissible and one subject to a written response with the hope that it would be forgotten.) I did not get my written response with regard to the allocation of Council spending either.

I am pleased that the issue of the WRLC is finally being investigated. Copeland Council's involvement with the WRLC has worried me some time. The first concern was the use of Council Tax payers’ money to underwrite the club. Was it £125,000? I remember a motion going before Full Council in 2008 (before the credit crunch) The Opposition Group, challenged it, because banks thought it was too risky a venture. This fell on deaf ears. To my mind it was irresponsible of the ruling Executive to promote this motion. I am aware that Mr Raz has since made a private purchase, but I am still concerned about Copeland’s debt liability. (Not certain purchase includes the debt – in need of enlightenment here). Even if there has been a subsequent bail out it does not justify the risk taken.

My personal opinion is that when money is short essential services should be given priority and money kept aside for assisting the vulnerable.

As some councillors are also fans and supporters I have been of the opinion that it is impossible for an objective distance to be maintained. Why for example is WRLC more deserving of receiving public funds than Millom RL club? Millom RL fans (and Union fans for that matter) are paying Council Tax! Are the councillor directors capable of producing a business case or do the emotions of being a fan create a rose-tinted spectacles approach? I will reserve judgement until I have read the report and hopefully attend the public meeting.

Fundamentally, I maintain the opinion that this is not an appropriate means of spending public money. It appears to be another example of the state funding lifestyles! I have no objection to RLCs applying for grants of public money (set aside for community projects by the appropriate bodies) providing that the decision is objective and the club can produce a business case that shows that the project is economically sustainable. Normally this would involve the club showing that it can raise funding for themselves to match. I know of several clubs that have been in financial crisis that look to their fans to contribute money by setting up charities and fund raising events. Yorkshire club Hunslett Hawks raised money from devoted fans and with good management turned the club around. They were champions in their league table at the end of this season. If they can do it why cannot Whitehaven RLC?

I would also like to know as a supposed member of the public what the Copeland Constitution says about known Conservative activists (who also happen to be local tax payers) addressing the Council. Is there a hidden clause that says they are not entitled to an answer?