A well-known community figure who helped to form Fleetwood Town Council has made an impassioned plea to keep the authority independent.
Speaking at the council’s monthly meeting, Tom Norton MBE, chairman of the Fleetwood Development Partnership, urged the council to make sure it doesn’t become politicised, asked for better communication and to use council cash for the benefit of the town.
After the meeting, Mr Norton said: “We didn’t form the town council for it to be political. It was set up on the understanding councillors would be independent. There are already councillors in place with political standing and I believe the main parties want to put forward candidates for next year’s elections.
“I also pointed out that the council precept money should be used purely for the development and improvement of Fleetwood.
“I gave four examples of how the precept could be used – for the crest on the Mount, for improvements to the paddling pool, creating a skatepark and to improve the seafront nine-hole golf course.
“Those are the kind of projects the council was set up to support.
“Seventy thousand pounds should not have been used to buy the Council’s Poulton Road office premises, and I was against giving £100,000 to the sea wall project. No other council has had to do that, except Fleetwood.
“There should have been a public meeting about whether or not that money should have been given to the project. They should have regular surgeries where people can go and speak to their councillors. I don’t even know who my councillors are.”
Mr Norton set up the council, following a referendum in June 2009, with the election of 13 councillors.
But town council leader Alan Marsh remained firm that the council will remain independent. He said: “The council was formed on the understanding it would remain non-political and we will keep it that way. If a political group took control we would become a mouthpiece and the council precept could be in jeopardy.
“The community was asked to help fund the sea wall scheme and I believe that if we hadn’t put forward the £100,000 we would still be waiting for it. Between 12,000 households in Fleetwood, it is not a lot of money. The sea wall needed to be done and that’s what we were elected to do.
“We have surgeries every month in Larkholme, the town council office is there, bought to prevent having to pay rent forever, and the best place for people to come and see their councillors is at our monthly meeting.”