Tax policy to stop blight
Could I respond to the email in your letters page from Denis Lee (Letters, December 4)?
Mr Lee complains that I have failed three times to respond to him in the pages of the Evening Post about Preston City Council’s council tax policy on empty properties.
I have not previously replied to Mr Lee through the pages of the newspaper because his is a personal matter first raised with me some time ago.
As I was his local councillor I went to see Mr Lee in his home and listened to the problem he had.
In view of Mr Lee’s specific personal circumstances, I discussed the issue with the officers running our scheme to see if we could help.
This they were able to do to some extent, although the charge could not be lifted. I have, I think, had three exchanges of letter with Mr Lee in relation to the matter.
Our council tax policy which is to levy a charge on empty properties after six months is one that has been implemented by many councils across the country with problems of empty houses and homelessness.
Preston currently has more than 700 empty properties and undoubtedly our policy has succeeded in bringing more of these on the market.
Unfortunately many still remain and are a blight in many of our neighbourhoods. We are developing a new strategy, linked to the City Deal, to tackle this serious problem and hope to announce it shortly.
As council leader I am implementing the policy as agreed by the council.
One of my cabinet colleagues, Martyn Rawlinson, who is the executive member for resources and responsible for the council tax policies, recently responded to Mr Lee.
Other colleagues did not as they realised that I, as Mr Lee’s councillor, and as council leader, had already responded on a number of occasions.
Although I encourage people to take up issues with their own ward councillors, I am happy to speak to anyone living in Preston who wants to see me about an issue.
I am always accessible. Like other councillors, I make home visits to people in my own ward of Tulketh and people come to see me at the Town Hall.
I am also accessible by email and phone.
However, I try not to deal with personal issues through the media.
Councillor Peter Rankin, leader Preston City Council and Tulketh ward councillor
Misery of days before station
I have no particular axe to grind on the bus station debate, but I wonder how many of the knock it down faction remember Preston town centre before it was there?
My”fond” memories are of cold wet nights trying to get room to huddle under the open sided stand, hoping the Lane Ends bus would hurry up and praying that I could then get on it !
Love it or hate it , it’s better than what we had then.
Allan Fazackerley, Penwortham
Time to change the road signs
The Evening Post reported the Highways Agency are to spend £2.1m on a project to give drivers on the M6 in Lancashire better information (LEP, November 24).
May I suggest the first thing to tell them is Camelot has closed down. Goodness knows how many tourists with a few hours to spare have seen the sign at the Leyland junction and made a snap decision to go.
I would have thought the organisation responsible would have covered the signs with a roll of sticky tape or more permanent cover up on the day after Camelot closed. That would have been the obvious thing to do but folk don’t do the obvious these days have you noticed?
Mr K Lazenby, via e-mail
Lights switch on was a treat
I took my three grandchildren to watch the Christmas lights switch on in Garstang. I would like to say what a warm, friendly event it was. The singers and musicians from the school, the carol singing, and the blessing of the crib were lovely and just what Garstang does so well. My grandchildren loved it and, looking around me at all the smiling faces I could see that everybody, young and old were too.
I asked one of the ‘elves’ there who organised the event and was told it was Damian Carr and a small band of volunteers who also organise the Victorian festival. I would like to say a big thank you Damian, and I am looking forward to taking my kids to the festival in December.
Gillian Proctor, Cabus
Privatisation by any other name
So, Jeremy Hunt has promised there won’t be any local hospital closures (LEP November 28). This is good news. However, Tory promises must be read in the light of other promises they’ve made. Before the last General Election Mr Cameron said “there will be no top down reorganisation of the NHS”.
Well, there has been, and it’s cost millions. So we need to take Tory promises with a pinch of salt. But that is not the only issue. For the record, the No Health Selloff campaign is not being run by the Labour Party, it’s mobilising people of all political persuasions who are concerned our NHS is been sold off, bit by bit, to the private sector. Mr Hunt has denied the proposal to see the outpatient dispensary at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary operated by another private or public organisation amounts to privatisation. Now, I didn’t have the benefit of a Charterhouse School education, as Mr Hunt did, but for a Skerton taught lad I think something currently being delivered in-house by the NHS to be delivered in future by the private sector is privatisation. I don’t see how it can be anything else.
People want the NHS to operate for the good of patients. The private sector has another priority – to make money. After all that’s why they are in business.
I want to be looked after by health care professionals whose only priority is getting me better; not by people who are looking to the profit motive and cut costs to make more money for their shareholders. The NHS is a much valued public service which must be delivered by the public sector.
Colin Hartley, Heysham