The state of the roads in Fleetwood are appalling. I know it, and I know you know it too because it’s one of the most common reasons constituents get in touch with me. It’s not just in Fleetwood either, I could take you to potholes right across the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency and show you craters in our highways you could lose a small dog in.
My obsession with repeatedly reporting potholes to Lancashire County Council, following up replies and keeping you informed about the pothole on your street mean there was one headline that caught my eye on Sunday when browsing the Fleetwood Weekly News’s website, it read “State of road is shocking, says Fleetwood councillor”.
The first question that came to my mind was, I wonder which of the many potholed roads in Fleetwood have sparked the interest of this local Councillor. The answer of course was the junction of Rossall Lane and Broadway, which is fair enough. I agree, this is a terrible piece of road which hammers the suspension of any unfortunate vehicle which must pass over it.
I read further down the article and then I must admit I was surprised. You see, the Councillor upset at the lack of progress by Lancashire County Councillor was none other than the Conservative Councillor Stephen Clarke who acknowledging that the concerns were shared by Labour Councillors (which is true) says “It is not a party political issue, it is about getting the work that is needed done.”
Here I am going to part ways with Councillor Clarke, because it is absolutely a party-political issue. Let me explain why.
The Conservative Government has starved local councils of funding for ten years, a decade of cuts has led to the roads and the pavements in all of Lancashire deteriorating without repair. The Conservatives control Lancashire County Council too, so it is their decisions which determine which roads are repaired with their admittedly small pot of money.
So, while a Conservative Councillor says “it’s not party political” that looks suspiciously like an attempt to brush over some cold hard truths. Yes it costs money to maintain roads, but when the Lancashire County Council has faced ten years of cuts from a Conservative Government it will have consequences.
Since 2010, funding from central Government for Local Government (i.e. councils) has fallen by 43%. Earlier this month the Local Government Finance Survey, published by the LGiU and the Municipal Journal, painted a troubling picture of the financial struggle facing local authorities after years of public sector cuts and ongoing uncertainty about the future of the local government funding system, with 74% of councils saying they do not feel confident in the sustainability of local government finance.
So my point is this, if you are a Conservative Councillor serving on a Conservative-run Council which is not delivering for our community because of huge cuts made by a Conservative Government, perhaps the issue is you. Perhaps it’s time to admit that cuts are hurting Fleetwood, they are leaving our infrastructure in tatters and we’ve had enough.
I don’t doubt that on a personal level Councillor Clarke is a good person who is certainly raising the issues we all see in Fleetwood. But in order to fix these things, he needs to admit the fault of his own political party in this sorry mess.