Jeff Gibson’s reply to my letter about Barrowford Parish Council buying Holmefield House was little more than the report issued by the council, even down to the spin about the majority of residents at the meeting being in favour of the purchase, but more about that later.
He claims that after several months of discussion by our councillors, they negotiated a good deal by getting a £250,000 building for only £50,000. It would have been a much better deal for Barrowford taxpayers if the councillors had insisted Pendle Council gave back to Barrowford, a building which cost them nothing when they took it several years ago.
I was also disappointed to see there was no mention in the letter as to why the meeting to finalise this “momentous” (the council’s word not mine) decision was held when most Barrowford residents were away on holiday. Matters of such magnitude should only be made after a referendum which contains all the facts on the issue is held.
Now to the spin. Jeff says 25 members of the public attended the meeting. I feel it was fewer than that but I will not argue the point. The point I will argue is that even in one’s wildest dreams, 25 people out of a possible 2,400 households cannot be considered a representative sample of the community, particularly as it was obvious every one of them were, for one reason or another, zealously in favour of going ahead with the project.
He also states the £50,000 will be repayable over several years. My understanding is payments to PBC will not start for two years, but the £5 increase in our precept will begin next year. Perhaps someone from BPC will tell us whether the additional precept will end when the building is fully paid for. I for one am not holding my breath.
As for the provision of office space in Holmefield House for the Community Police and Localities Officer, I have no objection, providing rent is paid to cover heating and lighting and they pay their own phone bills. To excuse giving away what would be an additional revenue, or burdening Barrowford taxpayers with yet more costs, by saying that “hopefully” their presence will make it easier for Barrowford residents to access the services, shows a total lack of fiscal responsibility on the council’s part. Again, I would ask, with the council offices already being in the building, as well as having so many councillors who can easily be contacted by letter, phone or email, why do we also need a Localities Officer to deal with Barrowford’s problems? There are some who are much more cynical than I who might think it is yet another way for our elected representatives to distance themselves from the public.
Finally, may I again remind members of Barrowford Parish Council, that Carr Hall residents also make a significant contribution to the council’s funds and yet the area sees little in return. All we seem to have had so far for our money are some Christmas lights; which incidentally almost missed being switched on last year! Perhaps we should declare independence, and look after ourselves. We could not do a worse job.