Lancaster City Council: “we don’t neglect the rural voice”

Proposed development land in Halton
Proposed development land in Halton

Lancaster city councillors have hit back over accusations of ‘neglecting the rural voice’.

Parish councils and residents in Halton and the Kellets say the city council needs to take more notice of them to safeguard the identity of village communities.

Ordinarily I would say hogwash to this but because we can’t mention pigs while we are in the company of conservatives

Councillor Darren Clifford

A petition to set up a working group between representatives of rural parishes and council officers was turned down by city councillors at a full council meeting.

Some rural residents say they are “banging their heads against a brick wall” to try and gain a response from the city council.

Nick Ward, chairman of Over Kellet Parish Council, said the debate was a “complete charade” and is worried what will happen next.

Mr Ward said: “We could have got hundreds more signatures but we thought it was enough to get serious thought from the council.

“Clearly our views are overruled, they just don’t want to listen to the rural voice.

“I just feel the whole meeting didn’t achieve anything.”

The two Lune Valley parishes gathered 360 signatures to put before the full council, a figure they believed was enough to provoke notice.

The motion put forward by Kellet Ward’s Coun Roger Mace and Carnforth’s Coun Mel Guilding met with a lot of opposition.

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Coun Eileen Blamire, Leader of Lancaster City Council, hit back over the claims and questioned Coun Mace’s work.

Coun Blamire said: “I always felt the council took a great deal of care when it comes to rural areas.

“Members of the public can attend parish meetings, council meetings, go out with our planning developers.

“As people representing their rural wards surely it is up to you to keep your residents informed?”

Labour Coun Abbott Bryning said: “What troubles me is where does urban and rural begin?

“Carnforth has become much more urbanised, some of our villages with a bit of respect to them, have become no more than dormitories.”

Labour Coun Darren Clifford didn’t accept the “ridiculous” motion.

He said: “Maybe residents should be looking at voices who are speaking for their rural areas.

“Ordinarily I would say hogwash to this but because we can’t mention pigs while we are in the company of conservatives...

“This council or any other council has not actively ignored rural issues, we do listen, we are here to listen.”

Conservative Coun Mace explained the motion was of a non-political agenda and expected a “sober” and “reasonable” response.

Mr Ward said the debate was far from “sober” and “reasonable” and felt the core issues to help rural villages was overlooked.

He said: “Nobody was going to be disadvantaged by this motion but it turned into a political issue, which it wasn’t.

“I fear for the future direction of our district if Labour councillors feel it is more important to play political games than pay attention to the concerns of their electorate.”