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Leyland and Farington decoupled in South Ribble Borough Council change

Posted on - 13th August, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Leyland, Lostock Hall, Preston News, South Ribble News
Signs entering Farington Pic: Google

A controversial decision to bind together Farington and Leyland has been reversed more than four years after it was taken.

The two areas were linked up when the former was moved into the same “community hub” as the latter after Labour took control of South Ribble Borough Council following the May 2019 local elections.

The shake-up also saw Lostock Hall – Farington’s previous partner patch – shifted into a new structure with Bamber Bridge and Walton-le-Dale.

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The hubs – then known as community forums – are arenas for dealing with local issues and they also have access to a collective £25,000 annual cash pot to fund projects for the areas they cover.

The boundary changes four years ago sparked criticism from the Conservative opposition and now the authority – still Labour-controlled after this year’s elections – has voted to reinstate the previous arrangements, which will see the return of a “central” area hub..

Cabinet member for communities, leisure and wellbeing, Clare Hunter, told a meeting of the full council that the rethink would “strengthen communications with members of the local community and…increase their involvement in council decisions about services which affect them”.

Farington East representative Paul Wharton-Hardman – who, as a Tory member back in 2019, described marrying his area with Leyland as akin to saying that Penwortham was part of Preston – welcomed the reversal.

He said that he had witnessed “the connection” felt between Lostock Hall and Farington while out campaigning and claimed that the unpicking of the 2019 borders signified the council being “inclusive [and] adaptable”.

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Meanwhile, Cllr Colin Sharples – the Labour member for Earnshaw Bridge – said that the Leyland hub of which his ward was a part had, in its 2019 guise, been “large and difficult to administer”, having incorporated nine wards in total.

Tory opposition group leader Karen Walton – who represents Farington West and had been a staunch opponent of the changes introduced four years ago – told the meeting that she had predicted that “the communit[ies] of Farington, Lostock Hall and Tardy Gate would be split and feel abandoned” and that her fears had “absolutely come true”.

Moss Side ward member Michael Green added that boundaries drawn up four years ago had harmed “community engagement”.

“[Farington and Lostock Hall] were split for the wrong reasons and, unfortunately, it’s taken the administration four years to accept that they got it wrong – but, nevertheless, we welcome that change of heart,” Cllr Green said.

Councillors also voted in chairs and vice-chairs for each of the hubs.

Read more: New Lostock Hall family centre and playground revamp due

Which hub is where?

South Ribble’s new community hub structure is as follows:

Leyland (chair: Cllr Colin Sharples) Incorporating Broadfield, Buckshaw and Worden, Earnshaw Bridge, Leyland Central, Moss Side, Seven Stars and St Ambrose.

Central Villages (chair: Cllr Paul Wharton-Hardman)Incorporating Farington East, Farington West and Lostock Hall

Penwortham* (chair: Cllr Will Adams) Incorporating Broad Oak, Charnock, Howick and Priory, and Middleforth

Western Parishes* (chair: Cllr Margaret Smith) Incorporating Hoole, Longton and Hutton West, and New Longton and Hutton East

Bamber Bridge, Walton-Le-Dale and Eastern (chair: Cllr James Gleeson) Incorporating Bamber Bridge East, Bamber Bridge West, Coupe Green and Gregson Lane, Samlesbury and Walton, Walton-le-Dale East and Walton-le-Dale West

*denotes borders unchanged from 2019

Read more: See the latest South Ribble news and headlines

Cost neutral plan

There will be no financial impact from the latest switch, because the total number of community hubs will remain unchanged and their combined budget will not alter either. However, allocations to individual hubs may be adjusted as a result of the boundary changes.

For one year only in 2022/23, the hub budget ballooned to £250,000 because of an unexpected business rates windfall for the council.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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