My latest Rossendale Free Press column

The weather has taken a turn for the worse recently and, as usual, Rossendale has had our fair share of snow and ice. As always we’ve had a lot of queries and concern raised about the state of the roads and pavements and gritting in general.

To be clear, Lancashire County Council is the responsible authority for gritting. They do daily updates on their website about their winter response. I do know the gritters were out but I also understand people can get really frustrated if they feel not enough is being done to keep the borough moving. Of course, we will always raise issues with the county council if people feel that gritting is inadequate in the area. I know there were a few accidents and a few near misses so we will certainly be talking to county about their response to see if anything more can be done in future. For now though, I urge people to be careful out there and especially keep an eye out on vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are keeping safe and well when a cold snap hits.

Speaking of the county council, you’ll be aware that they are considering further reductions to balance their budget. The county’s finances are in dire straits because of the funding cuts from government and the ever increasing demand on social services. I know they have to make tough decisions to balance the budget but I am deeply concerned about some of the latest proposals especially the cuts to health and wellbeing services.
Cuts to prevention services will lead to greater demand on the system in future and are short-sighted. Our job as a council is to keep on raising these issues about their proposals and highlighting how they affect our borough.

Finally, the government over Christmas announced that councils could bid into a fund that will support and fund local areas’ plans to make their town centres fit for the future. It’s really tough for the high street at the moment. But as we can see from what is happening in Rawtenstall, with a bit of imagination, vision and partnership working, town centres can buck that national trend. What we need is more funding so we are always interested in money we can bid for. Detailed criteria has yet to be released although we do know that really only one town centre can be put forward for consideration. Once we get the criteria, we will be making a decision on which of our centres has the most chance of being successful. The competition will be fierce but I believe we will be able to make a strong case for whichever place we put forward.

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