Councillor’s Attitude to Rural Residents is Rubbish.
I found the Cllr Holliday’s defence of the decision to discontinue the collection of refuse from the front of the homes of rural residents on unadopted lanes, unbelievable. In the Full Council Meeting, held at Millom School, the Portfolio holder for Environment and Sustainability dismissed the protests of the residents of the lanes as a “Tory Ambush”. In so doing he forgets that it is a Council’s duty to provide a service to all residents. It is not obligatory to be a Labour supporter.
Seventy residents at Irton near Holmrook, within their rights, called a public meeting and invited their ward Councillor and other Councillors representing rural parishes, who could be affected by this decree. These residents were not consulted merely informed that bins had to be placed at the ends of lanes. The consequence being that an eighty-two year old pensioner had a mile to drag the bin to the end of the lane.
A Councillor’s duty is to his/her ward residents. Simultaneously that duty extends to seeing that the Council fulfils its duty to all the people under its governance i.e. you do not ask who they vote for, rather is this Council fulfilling its duty in providing services to all residents?
It appears Health and Safety regulations are being used as an excuse to cut costs. Cllr. Holliday was gambling on the presumption of continued support in traditional Labour strongholds, the urban densely populated areas, to avoid the Council’s duty to sparsely populated rural communities. Cllr. Holliday stated that because the majority (those in urban areas and not living on unadopted lanes to which the policy applied) had not complained, this was indicative of satisfaction with the service. A strange distorted logic!
The purpose of Health and Safety Law is not to eliminate risk completely. The only means of removing all risk is to do nothing at all. Health and Safety is about the mitigation of risk, using technological and human resources. The Health and Safety problem pertains to wagons reversing up, narrow unadopted lanes. Whilst the regulations state that if possible, reversing should be avoided, it is not forbidden. Risk is mitigated by installing in refuse wagons, CCTV, additional rear view mirrors, reversing alarms and employing a properly trained banksman to guide lorries out. In the narrow lanes smaller wagons can be deployed as happens in South Lakes. It follows that it is not reasonable to withdraw the front of house collection service.
In short Copeland Borough Council are yet again creating political division, by insisting it has no duty to a minority or rural residents and twisting Health and Safety Regulation to make easy cost cuts. There is a duty to serve all residents and Council Tax payers.
It comes as no surprise that Copeland’s rating is the 7th lowest in the national ‘Place Survey’ for satisfaction in delivery of specific services and for giving local people a chance to influence decisions rated at 323rd out of 352. It is also clear why rural areas are less satisfied than urban areas. Like their policies on refuse collection Copeland's ratings are rubbish.