Agenda item

Leader's Question Time


The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Fletcher, stated that according to a recent report by the Resolution Foundation, Ribble Valley residents find themselves many thousands of pounds worse off than they might otherwise have been due to ‘almost completely unprecedented’ wage stagnation that highlights the failure of Tory economic policy over the past decade. He quoted Torsten Bell by stating ‘Nobody who’s alive and working in the British economy today has ever seen anything like this. This is not what normal looks like. This is what failure looks like.’  Councillor Fletcher added to this: austerity, Brexit, Partygate, cronyism, the Truss/Kamiquasi debacle and now further incidents of bullying from Ministers who behave as if the rules don’t apply to them. Councillor Fletcher asked whether the Conservative Members were embarrassed by the Conservatives’ record in office.


The Leader thanked Councillor Fletcher for his question as it gave him an opportunity to give the Council some factual information.  The Official Census and Labour Market Statistics provided by the Office for National Statistics reveal that:


·         In 2010 the median gross salary in Great Britain was £26,088, in the North West it was £24,492 and in the Ribble Valley it was £25,376


·         By 2022 these figures had risen and in Great Britain it was £33,384, in the North West it was £31,392 and in the Ribble Valley it was £37,606


·         In percentage terms, Great Britain saw an increase in gross salary of 28%, in the North West it was 28% and in the Ribble Valley it was a staggering 48%


The Leader stated that the Ribble Valley had nearly the same median wage as Germany.  This showed how the administration had made Ribble Valley a prosperous place to live and he was proud to lead such an effective Council.


In a supplementary question, Councillor Fletcher referenced that three former MP’s had neglected to use ‘Conservative’ on their Twitter profiles.  He asked if the Leader felt as though he was in the minority by being a Conservative.


The Leader stated that the questions should relate to the work of the Council, not the wider issue of the Conservative party.


Next Councillor Fletcher noted that there comes a point when there are more potholes than actual road.  He stated that when LCC conduct works, they are temporary, ill-conceived, ineffective and are done without consulting either Town or Borough Council.  For LCC to pretend that they will uphold their responsibilities and do something meaningful, Ribble Valley Council are forced to front up half of the money.  Councillor Fletcher asked what has the Tory County Council got against the Ribble Valley.


The Leader stated that Councillor Fletcher would appreciate that the purpose of Leader’s Question Time is for him to answer questions relating to the general work of the Council, not to comment on the work of other Councils.  However, he confirmed that LCC have a great many conflicting budgetary pressures and Ribble Valley Council are starting to see a much more collaborative approach when working with the County Council.


In a supplementary question, Councillor Fletcher asked when the Conservative party would take responsibility for their errors.  He returned to the issue of King Street, Clitheroe and asked if LCC didn’t know or if they didn’t tell Ribble Valley Council.

The Leader advised that the County Councillor for Clitheroe was in the gallery but she did not have rights of audience and he couldn’t answer for her.


Councillor Fletcher stated that as the Opposition, they noted with interest that only two out of ten Tory candidates in Clitheroe can apparently be bothered to stand for the Town Council.  The opposition wondered why local Conservatives are so disdainful towards Clitheroe, and so to help things along, he had structured his question as a multiple choice.  He asked if Conservatives are:


A)   Simply contemptuous of the democratic process?

B)   Unwilling to give their time for free?

C)   Have they given up on Clitheroe entirely?

D)   Do they live miles from the ward they purport to represent?

E)   All of the above?

The Leader noted that this was another question that didn’t relate to the general work of the Council.  He took this as a compliment to how this Conservatie Council has been run over the last four years.  However, he answered by posing a similar question to Councillor Fletcher that did relate to the Council.  He stated that the Conservatives have put up candidates in every ward, and every ward in Clitheroe.  He confirmed that they care about Clitheroe, having invested in 3G pitches at Edisford, provisionally allocating the largest share of the UK shared prosperity fund to Clitheroe and putting the effort in to secure the Greatest Days movie to promote Clitheroe.


The Leader stated that the Labour Party have significantly more candidates than the Liberal Democrats.  He asked why the Liberal Democrats only stood in 14 of the 40 Borough seats.  Was it because the Liberal Democrats:


A)   Know you cannot win in any of the villages, Longridge and Whalley

B)   Cannot get candidates to stand

C)   Are only interested in Clitheroe

D)   Think Conservative candidates will always do a better job representing the residents in most areas of the Ribble Valley

Councillor Fletcher responded by thanking the Leader for the constructive way he had previously approached Leader’s Question Time.  He thanked the Council’s Officers, in particular Marshal Scott, Jane Pearson and Mark Beveridge.  He thanked the rest of his party, his wife and recognised the Councillors who are stepping down and those who have passed away.