Councillors owe duty of care to residents

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Burnley’s Council’s Executive voted to close a community centre in Burnley Wood despite receiving 534 objections to the proposal.

The land has been serving the community for over 100 years, but in a corporatist move which is being reflected in councils across the country, the business interests of a company called Keepmoat won out, and the council unanimously agreed to demolish the community centre.

Keepmoat will be able to deliver a development programme to build more houses in an area that already has too many houses and not enough community resources.

Councillors are currently obsessed with contracting out services, excited by the idea of businesses doing all the work for them. Money seems to be the only thing that matters, and it’s absolutely lost on these councillors what the value of community is.

No, you can’t “count” social activity, you can’t buy fancy cars or bigger houses with it - but it has a huge effect on people’s lives when you take it away.

It’s a councillor’s job to improve the wellbeing of the community. That’s not just something I’m asserting here – as Amanada Barrett pointed out last week, it’s actually in their job description.

Councillors have forgotten that, if they’re being entrusted with powers that affect the lives of vulnerable people, they have a duty of care.

It’s part of being a public servant. It’s part of being elected – you’re elected on trust, on the hope you’ll play your part and do your job.

It doesn’t matter how paternalistic councillors feel, how much they think they know better – 534 objections is more than enough to show this decision is not in the community’s interest.

I hope readers will join me in condemning the decision of the Executive.

I hope members of the council recognise that they, personally, are responsible for the real loss experienced by workers, parents and especially children, at the soon-to-be-demolished community centre.

As for me, I wouldn’t like to look back on my life’s achievements and recall I did something like that. It’s not just that you were morally irresponsible – you also did a very poor job at being a councillor.

Nicholas Howley

(aged 20)