May I invite Nelson residents to take a look at what their town council does?
We are a very small body having a budget each year of a little less than £100,000.
Some of what we do, such as the events we organise and fund, strike me as good value for tax-payers – please do support these as they are generally enjoyed by all who attend. Similarly, the hanging baskets we provide brighten up the town centre.
Some of our other spending strikes me as wrong and gives public money to those who don’t need or don’t deserve it.
Let me give you some instances.
Since before I was elected a town councillor we have been giving “pavement crossing grants”.
These are for anyone in Nelson who can find a way of parking his car in his garden and off the highway. If you can manage that we will pay half, up to £500, of the cost of lowering the kerb so your vehicle can cross it. How this benefits other Nelson residents escapes me – it seems to confer a purely private benefit on those who can get the grant and an abuse by councillors of their right to spend public money.
Ever since I was elected I have been trying to get rid of the grant.
In the worst such case we part-funded such a crossing for an applicant who had built an extension over his former parking space and wanted a new crossing so he could park one of his cars in a different position!
As a result of changes imposed by the present Government and Conservative-led Pendle Council, even the poorest among us (apart from poor pensioners) has to pay at least a fifth of the wretched council tax.
I accuse the Labour-controlled town council of the hypocrisy of happily paying for home improvements for the rich at the expense of the genuinely poor.
The town council also allocates several thousand pounds a year in grants to community organisations.
Some of these payments are fair enough but others are pretty dubious.
In a recent example, a moribund martial arts club with a handful of members secured £1,000 to host a public meeting with food provided (by you, Nelson council tax-payers) to see if it could gain enough support to relaunch itself.
As a matter of general principle, ought not any sports club fund its own activities, as does Nelson Football Club which deserves the support of all those local people interested in the game?
Yet, another example of a public body throwing away taxpayers’ money – although this time it is the borough council. Some years ago Nelson town centre was pedestrianised; long afterwards it was opened up again to traffic with much fanfare.
Whatever you think of that, is it really worth £80,000 to allow cars to return to the one remaining pedestrianised area, a short length of Scotland Road?
The borough council intends to grub this up to create 10 parking spaces in the vain hope of boosting trade.
It isn’t as though there was any shortage of parking - Nelson is fortunate in having plenty of free parking.
The town council voted to support this hare-brained scheme although fortunately not to contribute to it.
When elections come round in May I suggest voters take a close look at how their councillors and candidates propose to raise and spend money without slavishly voting for one party or another.
Nelson town councillor, BNP, Marsden Ward