Westhoughton town councillors ask for change to 'ridiculous' law that prevents them monitoring CCTV
WESTHOUGHTON Town Council will appeal to parliament to change the law so members are freed from “ridiculous bureaucracy”.
Members are to contact Bolton West MP Julie Hilling to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
They will urge her to challenge constraints on their duties caused by sections of the Local Government Act 1972.
Cllr Phil Ashcroft said the law was preventing members “doing the right thing for the people of Westhoughton”.
The move comes after Cllr Ashcroft slammed the decision to throw out his proposed emergency measures to report CCTV faults in Westhoughton because it was “illegal”.
A report from part-time town clerk Christine Morris said only she could sanction repairs, and leader Cllr David Chadwick could not as he could be susceptible to “bribery, corruption or malpractice”. Cllr Ashcroft said it was “ridiculous” and that the law meant Ms Morris is “more important” than the elected leader of the council.
Cllr Christopher Peacock, a borough councillor for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, tabled the motion to “escalate” the issue with the town’s MP, arguing the legislation has restricted the council’s options.
Cllr Ashcroft, who stressed his concerns did not reflect personally on the town clerk, said: “It is political correctness gone daft.”
Cllr Kevan Jones, for Westhoughton South, added: “I don’t see a problem with challenging the law where appropriate.”
The legislative restrictions on what work councillors can do applies to all local councils.
In tabling the motion, Cllr Peacock: “There is a fine line between good administration and over-bureaucracy.
“In this situation we could do with some ambiguity almost so we can find a solution to this problem that the legislation presents.” Westhoughton Town Council’s legal challenge follows a long-running debate into their processes for monitoring CCTV faults.
n The Bolton News revealed at the time of an armed robbery at the Co-op store in Market Street on January 6, that only four of the seven council-funded cameras were working. It emerged some of the faults dated back nearly a month and had not been addressed because of the festive season and “high winds”.
Ms Morris works only 18 hours a week — in her absence repairs cannot be sanctioned.
A debate on what emergency measures can be brought in to sanction CCTV repairs within the current legal framework will take place at the next council meeting on May 5 on the request of Cllr Ashcroft.
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