Thursday, 9 January 2014

Kyle Rushton McGregor resigns from FTC

Kyle Rushton McGregor has resigned from Frodsham Town Council.

Kyle has written to all of us on the Town Council telling us of his resignation. I carry Kyle's comments in full in this blog entry as well as my personal reply to him.




Dear Kyle

I am sorry to see you go.

Given you've made much mention of CWaC and Borough Councillors etc in your resignation email I'm sure you will appreciate why I need to point out where I disagree with what you've said.

From my personal point of view the only thing that matters to me is improving the life of the Frodsham community and the town as a whole.  Frodsham comes first.
Ever since I was first elected in 2007 my driving force has been to make FTC more relevant and to give it a far greater say in local affairs.  For me this is a philosophical thing - power should be devolved to the lowest level - people and communities should have as much say in the things that matter to them as is possible.  So where decisions that CWaC could take can be delegated to FTC or involve FTC then that should happen.  This means that I readily share decisions that Lynn or I could take as CWaC Cllrs to FTC and/or the wider community.  This is why, for example, when the member's grants budgets first came into being I lead the charge at CWaC to delegate some of the funding choices to the community at large rather than me keeping the decisions to me.  This is also my philosophy behind things such as the Over 70s vouchers, the community gritting scheme and the acquisition of defibrilators (we are about to get our 9th by the way.)   

You talk of cuts - yes public sector austerity is out there.  However during the time of the 'cuts' Frodsham has seen more resources brought to the town than ever before - and all this done whist the council tax has fallen in real terms.  We've got a new medical centre, a new larger, better equipped, open longer library, we are getting the swing bridge restored - and done in a way that inconveniences as few people as possible.  And, of course we all remember the extensive road resurfacing we have had in Frodsham.   There is no direct correlation between money spent and the quality of services.  You can do things better, and in fact much better for less.  However Lynn and I have brought more resources to Frodsham than it has ever seen before, built greater community resilience,  and this done during a time of public sector austerity.

We've also greatly increased the resources of FTC without hitting local pockets.  Just look at our last budget and remember what the position was in 2011 and compare it to now.

In 2011 FTC's Council Tax was £30.22 for a Band D Property.  The Town Council raised £114,704 in its precept.  The council tax we are about to set looks like it will be around £38.47 per Band D Property.  Don't forget this £8.25 difference is very close to the reduction in council tax that every resident in Frodsham has had courtesy of CWaC.  In other words the council tax payer in Frodsham hasn't seen any real increase with this switch in resources - and the effect of inflation means that the council tax has fallen by around 10% in real terms.  

So this year FTC is set to get a greater share of the locally raised council tax and will raise over £140,000.  Then in addition we have the £38,554 of New Homes Bonus passported by CWaC directly to FTC, and a further £12,275 in CTR Scheme Grant which takes FTC's available funds to spend this year to close to £200,000.  This didn't have to happen.  CWaC is a rare council in passing on these funds to the parishes for them to spend.  That is close to £200,000 worth of local decision making for FTC and the local community - almost double the position from 2011.  This means that FTC can have a greater say and influence on what goes on in Frodsham than it has ever had before.  This means power and influence being exercised by more people, not fewer.  And, don't forget the average council tax for a parish council in England is £55 per Band D property.  FTC's council tax last year was the lowest council tax of any parished town in CWaC, and was around 8% lower than Helsby's.  Every Frodsham household with an over 70's resident has seen a fall in their council tax, and a couple both over 70, effectively pays less council tax to FTC than they paid in 2011 ever before we think of inflation.  FTC has also seen the share of its administration costs fall markedly as a percentage of what it can spend.  

This means we do have, for the first time, the ability to consider doing more, without hurting people's pockets.  We can think about greater influence over the marshes, a greater role with Castle Park, putting in improved road crossing facilities to suit us - not whether they fulfill CWaC criteria.  We've already shown we can do things such as the wholesale replacement of the Christmas lights.  Then there is Frodsham Foundation.  FTC's wise decision to invest £20,000 so far has been to gain influence over a revenue of c£53,000 in partnership with CWaC and others.  This has meant influence in community events and activities, boosting local enterprise - and even the advertisement of more local jobs than Job Centre Plus.   FTC is having a role in things that it has never done before.  And even when we've done these things we still have resources to do other things too - such as improving play areas, acquiring additional land for Hob Hey Wood etc - again without hurting the local council tax payer.

We can do more than 'just hanging baskets.'  Inevitably going into new areas brings challenges and opportunities - not everyone is comfortable with this enhanced role - and I, like you I suspect, wish it were otherwise.

Whether someone is in opposition is, in my view, a state of their mind not anyone else's.  What I see is that you were supported by everyone in being Chairman of P&P, the second most powerful position on FTC, not something that would have happened if others saw you as 'the opposition.'  I stated very openly last year that I would support you and indeed would propose you to be Mayor of Frodsham from May this year.

I am sorry that you have resigned.  I wish you and your family the very best for the future.

regards
Andrew



Dear all,

As some of you may already know, I resigned from the council this afternoon. This was not a decision I took lightly and indeed I have been thinking about this for over half a year. Although the amateurish manner with which we conducted ourselves on mondays budget meeting certainly didn't halt my thinking.

The reasons behind this decision are many, unfortunately, and some I feel are the exact reasons why this council will meander around in the mire for some time.

This council contains too many councillors with hidden agendas, who detract from our sole purpose of improving Frodsham and aiding those who live within our boundaries. We have borough councillors who wear different hats at council meetings with different aims and objectives. Quite frankly , their pursuit of the localism agenda is for the sole purpose of furthering cwac ideology rather than improving Frodsham.

It was made very clear to me, either in blogs, in person, or in emails that I was not welcome, merely viewed as the opposition. The irony of this is that the past two years or so, my chairmanship of p&p has been mopping up the mess created by my so called opposition. In these moments, I could have made political gains, but consciously decided against it.

The town council has no vision, is weak in its decision making and contains councillors who turn up now and again, spout rhetorical verbage and then disappear.

We adopt policies and approaches with little scrutiny and then scratch our heads when we have repercussions. Our shoot first, ask questions later approach to policy has ensured we spend more than we need to, we disengage people and we waste precious staff time in repairing these mistakes. Part of me wonders if certain policies are brought up in the last minute to prevent scrutiny and the realisation that we are being dealt a bad deal because of our borough councillors inability or unwillingness to push back against cuts and ideology.

I can't say I have enjoyed my time as a councillor, that would be a lie, but I have learnt some vital lessons that I hope to utilise as I strive to serve the people in other ways.

Many thanks,

Kyle



Note - Incidentally I don't recognise Kyle's comments to blogs as being a reference to this blog as in the many blog posts I have made since 2007 I have rarely, if at all, mentioned him.