Horwich & Blackrod First Independents

aka "HBFI"

HORWICH & BLACKROD FIRST INDEPENDENTS claims itself as a community group that has evolved into a new Independent Party whose 'sole purpose' is to represent the views of Horwich and Blackrod. "HBFI" aims to do this with a 'resounding mandate from voters', taking 13 of the 14 seats on Horwich Town Council, five seats on Blackrod Council and winning all six Horwich & Blackrod wards on Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council.

Unlike the main political parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat etc) Horwich & Blackrod First Independents has no policies or a party whip (and is proud to be non-partisan in working for the betterment of the community).

A local Labour Councillor might be expected to be influenced by the politics of the national Labour Party and a Conservative by those of the Conservative Party. Generally speaking at least. Local issues differ from national issues but there is at least some consistency between the two. That is why local Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem Councillors tend to get tarred with the same brush as their respective parliamentary representatives.

A Conservative Councillor, Stanley Dawson, was Mayor of Horwich way back in 1980-81. He was also, incidentally, News Editor of the Bolton Evening News in 1946-66. Stanley died in 1993 where he lived in Bridge Street, Horwich. I didn't know him personally but I spoke to him a few times and remember him as serving his local community regardless of politics. I also remembering him losing his seat as a local Councillor and thinking how unfortunate it was that national political issues had swept him away. I think he died not long after.

The business model of Horwich & Blackrod First ensures it can't happen to them. On the contrary, this works in their favour because the more fed up voters are with the national parties the more likely they are to vote for 'clean sheet' candidates with no record of failing to do anything. And they have the word "First" in their name like a miniscule version of Trump's America First. Obviously it works or they wouldn't have such a 'resounding mandate from voters'. You don't care much about politics so you go in the voting booth prepared to be swayed. Everybody likes to be first so you put a cross on the paper next to where it says "First" and you have just helped elect a political party with no policies.

It seems fair to expect a Horwich (or Blackrod) Town Councillor to promote Horwich (or Blackrod) to the exclusion of everywhere else. Bolton Borough Councillors however represent the whole Council. The whole Council controls most of the money and its Committees make decisions in the interests of the whole Borough of Bolton of which Horwich or Blackrod are only a part.

Or should, because it isn't quite how it works in practice. If a Councillor is in a marginal seat she/he can perhaps expect a bit of extra support from her/his local political party Councillors from across the whole Borough if they happen to be in secure seats. That might benefit Horwich or Blackrod if they happen to have main party Councillors in marginal seats. This is politics after all.

The idea of "first" independent local Councillors being able to benefit their local area more than a Councillor in one of the Borough-wide political parties seems more like "come last". If you were a main party Councillor on a Council Committee, why would you vote money to help an independent Councillor get re-elected?

Horwich & Blackrod First Independents was apparently formed in 2018 from two local community groups (Horwich First & Blackrod First) together with local residents and 'independent Town Councillors'. The party received official status from the Electoral Commission in 2019. Perhaps its new Councillors don't have much of a track record in local politics. If they did they might show a bit more respect to longstanding Councillors from other parties than to slag them off on Facebook. Serving the local community deserves some respect even if you don't agree with the politics. I guess this sort of thing is inevitable from a party with no policies of its own.

Today is 8th April 2024. All this will in due course be overtaken by events.

I don't think Horwich gains much by having its own Town Council. Perhaps it makes people feel better if Horwich (and Blackrod) has it's own little Council making lots of noise (as HBFI does on Facebook). It would seem much more productive and better for Horwich if its Bolton Councillors for Horwich North (2 Councillors) and Horwich South & Blackrod (3 Councillors) – all from HBFI – concentrated their efforts on representing Horwich on Bolton Council where the power and money tends to be instead of making a nuisance of themselves pretending Horwich Town Council does loads of important stuff by itself when it doesn't.

As an example, Bolton Council's Planning Officers don't take the slightest notice of what Horwich Town Council's 'Planning Committee' thinks about planning applications in Horwich. That's because they don't have to.

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Page last modified: 19 April, 2024
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