Debates are taking place across the political parties about the future of local government, but is essential we keep the Ribble Valley Borough Council together to provide one voice and direct the interests of the small towns of Clitheroe and Longridge and 32 rural villages that make up the area. Any threat to our integrity and independence must be opposed.
We have been invited by Jack Straw MP to discuss the creation of an East Lancashire single tier authority which would mean tearing up the Lancashire County Council and forming a new authority which would be dominated by Blackburn and Burnley.
On our behalf, Coun. Hirst attended the meeting and said “Thanks but no thanks”.
It would have resulted in a local authority in which we would become a small irrelevant minority, constantly outvoted in which the interests of the towns of Blackburn, Burnley and Accrington would dominate. Our council tax would rise considerably.
A band D house in Ribble Valley will pay to RVBC £140 in 2015-16; the same house in Labour-controlled Preston City will pay £279, almost twice as much. RVBC has the lowest council tax in Lancashire.
For Longridge and surrounding villages there would be no community of interest with East Lancs industrial towns and residents would look to Preston as the obvious place with a community of interest but there would be a heavy price to pay.
Rural issues are very important and a council which campaigns for them is what is required. These include; spread of high speed broadband to farms and villages, improvement of mobile signals, rural transport, roads, housing in villages and small towns, protection of the rural environment, restraint on excessive housing development and preservation of the Trough of Bowland.
RVBC must be in a position stand up for the locality. As a council, RVBC is a member of SPARSE, a group of like-minded rural local authorities who campaign together on rural issues, providing a collective voice to the Westminster and European Parliaments as well as to government.
Co-operation with other local authorities over economic and major infrastructure projects as part of English devolution is one thing but RVBC must retain its independence to speak for the Ribble Valley.
Coun. Ken Hind
Longridge Councillor and an area Conservative co-ordinator.