Conservative Opposition Group Leader Paul Leadbetter reports

We are now into the second week of the new year, where Christmas and New Year are but distant memories and people are settling back into their daily routines. There is, of course, one exception, many people still have reminders of the weather over the holiday period, in flood damaged property and standing water in many fields and roads.

I know many councillors were in their communities helping where they could, further help is being provided to those affected by central government, administered through Chorley Council, in the form of Council Tax and Business Rates relief; one off payments to households that have been flooded; grants to protect homes against future flooding; business support in the form of grants administered by Boost Business Lancashire and a fund to support people with specific needs administered by the Community Foundation for Lancashire. If you have been affected or need any help then contact Chorley Council on 01257 515151 or online

At full council on 19 January a petition submitted by the campaign group “Frack Free Chorley and South Ribble” is on the agenda. Fracking is one topic that generates much opinion and as one resident said to me “I feel short on facts and high on emotion over this subject at the moment”. There is no doubt that, whatever the outcome of the debate (which I will write about following the Council Meeting), all councillors of all political persuasions need to work together to ensure we can engage with the decision makers, have a say in any applications and influence the outcome.

At the council meeting in November we presented our alternative Corporate Strategy, which set our group’s direction for the next three years. The strategy will be supported by the budget which we are in the process of developing for presentation at the council meeting on 1 March. Our principles around this are to reduce debt and increase reserves, in order to protect front line services, this is especially important given the financial challenge Lancashire County Council have found themselves under and it might fall upon district councils to take on some of the important, but non-statutory, services currently provided by County. In addition, to ensuring that our Council Tax is used wisely, we will continue to protect Green Belt and ensure that Chorley People have a say in what happens to Chorley in the future.

I will provide regular updates, if there is anything you want including or questions you want to ask, then please feel free to contact me.