Tory campaigns branded a ‘dishonest con’
Labour slam Tory ‘dishonest con’ over cost of new HQ and changes to planning amid Jackson claim that the cost for new HQ could rocket to £100m
Tory claims over the cost of a proposal for a new council HQ sited in Ashington have been branded ‘false and a deliberate con’ by Northumberland Labour group and leader Grant Davey after it emerged that the Tory claim that the HQ would cost over £40m when the council’s own budget due for discussion and adoption on Wed (25 Feb 2015) allocated less than half that figure (£19.5m). The £19.5m cost also included a proposed move from County Hall and ancillary costs. A recent leaflet circulated by Tory MP for Hexham Guy Opperman contained a further allegation that the cost could rise to £100m attributed to Tory group leader Peter Jackson.
Now Labour have pointed to the failure of Northumberland Tories to submit an alternative budget as evidence that Tories are ‘playing politics with the council budget’ by failing to put forward plans to stop issues they are opposed to.
Labour also point to the recent press releases put out on behalf of Ms Trevelyan claiming Labour were proposing to scrap consultation on new planning applications which was branded as ‘untrue’ by the Lead Director of the council.
The Tories have refused to submit an alternative budget for the meeting on Wed leading to claims that they’re more interested in ‘putting politics before people’ and Labour are calling for them to withdraw and apologise for misleading residents over a series of campaigns. Labour are also highlighting the recent independent peer review carried out by the Local Government Association and led by Tory leader Councillor Jane Scott of Wiltshire County Council which highlighted a corrosive effect of on the council’s reputation.
Grant Davey, Leader of the council and the Labour group said
“The Conservative campaigns are intent on damaging reputations of the council. It’s as simple as that but it’s a damning indictment on increasingly desperate attempts by the Cons to deliberately mislead residents on a range of issues like the cost of the new HQ and proposed changes to planning. I’m calling for them to apologise, set the record straight and tell the truth about the council. The approach they’re taking is cynical and calculated to mislead for narrow party political gain. They’re against everything and can’t even be bothered to put an alternative budget up for consideration on Wednesday. It seems that they’re intent on putting the CON into Conservative”.
Extracts from Peer Review Document
· “Put bluntly, there are some undesirable member behaviours which are detrimental to the council operating effectively, having a negative effect on its external reputation and internal functioning”
· “Increasing tensions and increased media opportunities are to a degree somewhat inevitable as politicians become focused on the 2015 general election, but councillors need to remember that they are the external face of Northumberland County Council and campaigns in the media can be detrimental to everyone and the council’s reputation”.
· “There are also some concerns about how members interact with officers and with each other”.
· “Political negativity from some elected members is not providing a sufficiently grown up atmosphere conducive to trust and neither is it in the best interests of local residents. Some members openly declare that they have no interest in ‘the council’ although they are members of the council”.
· “However the behaviours of some members need to improve, and a disproportionate amount of time seems to be spent in attacking the council, resulting in officers then having to deal with the fall-out, rather than developing or influencing policies for the greater good”.