Thursday, 17 March 2011

Labour war graves gaffe

Labour Councillors at Redcar & Cleveland were today left red-faced after their attacks on Government plans for war graves proved unfounded. They were then forced into an embarrassing climbdown.

Labour Councillor Wendy Wall put forward a motion condemning the Government after an article in a national paper said that there were plans to cut the budget for war graves maintenance by £16.5 million.

The motion was seconded by the Labour Leader of the Council. 

But Lib Dem Leader Chris Abbott produced not just one but two letters from Government Ministers confirming that the claims in the paper were untrue. 

A letter from the Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey says that:

“The Ministry of Defence will continue to meet its obligations to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and will be providing them with over £42 million this year to continue the excellent work they do.”

A further letter from Andrew Robathan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare & Veterans says:

“I can confirm that the story on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission published in the Sunday Mirror on 20 February is completely untrue.”

Cllr Mrs Wall then withdrew her motion, saying "I never got the right facts."

Lib Dem Cllr Eric Howden, who does a great deal of work for the British Legion, said:

It is disgraceful that Labour once again tries to make headlines for itself with false information. To attack the Government based on nothing more than unsubstantiated information mentioned in a national newspaper is downright cold-hearted. To put the relatives of those who paid the ultimate price for their country in the fear that their graves, some in lands too far away to visit, that they would be left neglected, is about a low as one could go just to try and gain a few political points.

Lib Dem Group Leader Chris Abbott added:

“I am particularly staggered that the Leader of the Council should be so unprofessional as to put his name to a motion like this without checking his facts. This incompetent scaremongering shows that Labour are not fit to run the council.”

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lib Dems will ditch Labour's "Vertical Pier"

Posted by Chris:

If Liberal Democrats win control of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council at the elections in May they will abandon the Labour Council’s controversial plans to erect an 80’ "Vertical Pier" On Redcar seafront.

Labour have simply not convinced people that building an 80’ tower on the seafront and renting the space to a cafe and craft industries is sustainable. The attraction of climbing up it to see the view is pretty limited and the huge cost of paying back the debt and maintaining the facility does not justify going ahead with something no-one seems to want.

A Focus survey carried out by the Lib Dems in Redcar  this autumn asked residents: "Should the Council build the proposed 80’ "vertical pier" on Redcar sea front? Hundreds responded with more than 97% answering NO.

It is hard to find anyone who thinks the "vertical pier" plan is a good idea and we need to listen. Giving it planning permission is one thing, there were no legal grounds to turn it down but going ahead in the face of such solid opposition is just plain ridiculous.

Local Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a proper pier at Redcar and this should be the Council’s aim

The Council have recently put the "vertical pier" out to tender but the contract for the work is not due to be signed until after the Council elections. If the Liberal Democrats win we shall abandon it.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Councillors should not set their own pay – Lib Dems

Redcar & Cleveland’s Liberal Democrat Group today abstained on the issue of councillors’ allowances.
The Independent Remuneration Panel which looks into councillors pay recommended no change this year.
Lib Dem Leader Councillor Chris Abbott, who represents Newcomen ward, said:
“We welcome the freeze in councillors’ allowances. To increase the amounts would have been quite wrong in the current economic climate.”
But there is a more fundamental issue here. Councillors should not be setting their own pay, and we have asked the Government to consider taking the decision away from councillors altogether.”

Labour’s cop-out budget

Redcar & Cleveland’s Liberal Democrat Group today voted against Labour’s budget, calling it a “cop-out” which delays big decisions until after the May elections.
Liberal Democrats have welcomed the Council’s decision to set a 0% Council Tax rise. This has been made possible by a generous £1.4 million grant from central Government.
But other aspects of Labour’s budget are very concerning to Liberal Democrats. A major one is the lack of detail in the budget proposals.
Lib Dem Leader Councillor Chris Abbott, who represents Newcomen ward, said:
“We welcome the 0% Council Tax increase. In these tough economic times this will be a real help to low and middle income households. I am pleased that the Government has made this possible with its grant. I am also pleased that Labour has listened to advice from Liberal Democrats. We have been proposing a 0% increase since December.”
However, Labour’s budget does not say specifically where the cuts will be made. It is a cop-out budget, with Labour hoping to delay big decisions about spending until after the local elections in May. Councillors cannot be expected to vote for a budget without knowing the detail. For example, we do not know what charges are going to be increased.”
“Tackling Labour’s disastrous financial mess was always going to be hard. Because local government spends 25% of all public money, councils were always going to have to play a big part in fixing the black hole in the country’s finances.”
“If Labour claim they can avoid making cuts to frontline services then there must have been a great deal of waste before. Much of what they are doing now could have been done over the two years they took to reorganise the Council. If they didn’t foresee this they need their heads examining.”