Labour group marks its first year at helm

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Lancashire’s ruling Labour group has given itself a hearty pat on the back for its record over a year in power at County Hall.

Leader Jennifer Mein listed a catalogue of achievements as the council’s cabinet marked its first anniversary last week.

But one of them, scrapping the controversial One Connect Limited, drew a rebuke from Conservative boss Geoff Driver as the acrimonious row over the failed partnership with BT drags on. Coun Driver challenged claims that OCL had been guilty of a £10.4m “overspend” during the 12 months before Labour pulled the plug and set up a new company with the telecom giants.

“Overspend isn’t correct,” said Coun Driver. “The strategic partnership didn’t overspend, it was the council’s budget that overspent. It is important to recognise that the comparison is between your new deal and what immediately preceded it.

“The original deal with BT was better for the county council in financial terms than the deal we now have.”

Coun Mein said the overspend reflected “the actual situation” and went on to relate the successes of the administration since it took over from the Tories last summer.

On the list were things such as signing the City Deal, introducing the living wage, eradicating zero hours contracts, appointing a new chief executive, extending free bus travel to certain groups, refurbishing adult day centres, switching the authority to cheaper phone lines and signing up to the White Ribbon Charter.

Other achievements included securing £100m funding for flood defences, blocking pay-day lending companies on LCC computers, beginning work on the Heysham-M6 link, attracting millions of pounds for road repairs and renegotiating with BT to form BT Lancashire Services.

“I think that’s an excellent record and one we are really pleased with,” said Coun Mein.