Thursday, 26 March 2009

Call for Independent Inquiry into Council's Icelandic Banks Calamity

Around 127 Councils put money into Icelandic Banks. Only 7 in the country, including Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council have been described as negligent for putting money in just before they collapsed ignoring warnings.

Ian Swales Liberal Democrats Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar said:

"It's unbelievable that our Council put more money into Icelandic Banks even after they were specifically warned. How can they be trusted to look after our money?"

Leader of the Lib Dem Group on Redcar and Cleveland Council said:

"The Council's actions were clearly negligent. They claim that an internal inquiry absolved them of blame. What Inquiry? It is all spin and bluster. The Council failed to act on advice given and this will eventually have a big impact on the Council Tax and on the services we provide. We insist that there must now be an independent inquiry into this calamity."

Friday, 6 March 2009


Four candidates have been nominated for the Dormanstown By-Election on 2nd April they are:

Marion Fairley - Labour
Brian Hughes-Mundy - Conservative
Ken Lucas - Liberal Democrat
Lynne Payne - BNP

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Lib Dems slam Redcar and Cleveland Council's loss of two stars

"How can Redcar and Cleveland Council be an 'improving Council' when it has gone from four to two stars?" asks Liberal Democrat Councillor Glyn Nightingale, former Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources.

"The Liberal Democrat-led Coalition in 2007 achieved a Four-Star Excellent rating from Government inspectors. Now the Labour Rulling Group has relegated the Council down to Two Stars. It's only adequate - that's one step away from inadequate.

"What a difference 22 months of Labour rule makes. Labour is quite good at talking, but fails to do what needs doing. People want a cleaner, tidier borough where they are safe from crime and anti-social behaviour. Like all previous Labour administrations it's is now presiding over local job losses and a situation where families are cutting back on spending.

"Labour's use of resources is in a mess. It has produced the riskiest possible budget where it relies on luck to save £2.2m on staff vacancies, puts more money into its "back office" bureaucracy and takes £8 million out of front line services. Just one example illustrates this - Labour is taking £1m away from urgently-needed school building repairs in Nunthorpe and Guisborough.

"Labour is cutting back on "clean and green" improvements, closing care houses for the elderly and putting off employing more wardens."

Lib Dem Group Leader Councillor Chris Abbott said: "How can they trust a ruling group that goes back on its promises and can't even get the basic needs of people right?"

Monday, 2 March 2009

Council Tax rise is excessive say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrats on Redcar & Cleveland Council today opposed the Labour Council’s plans to increase Council Tax by more than inflation.

The Council today voted to raise Council Tax by 3.75%, taking Band A bills above £1000 a year for the first time ever.

Local Liberal Democrats voted against the rise, calling it “excessive” during a recession.

Councillor Chris Abbott, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at the Council, commented:

"When people are losing jobs, struggling to make ends meet and the country is in the deepest recession for 60 years, a Council Tax rise above inflation is insulting and will do nothing to help struggling households. Money in people’s pockets is the best way out of a recession.

“It is also unnecessary. Gordon Brown’s Government should be making sure no council is forced to put up Council Tax this year by giving councils enough money to provide the services people need.”

Councillor Glyn Nightingale, Lib Dem Finance Spokesperson, added:

“The budget is highly risky and speculative. To make savings Labour are relying on staff vacancies not being filled, but how can they be certain that the vacancies will arise? Can they be sure that services will not be affected? It’s a dodgy budget.”

Even Labour’s Cabinet Member in charge of finance admitted the budget was “a big ask”. The Lib Dems think it’s too big an ask. At some stage during the next twelve months Labour will be forced into a re-think. Then local people will be called upon to pay the bill for Labour’s risk taking.

Lib Dems force climb down on Labour Leaders pay hike

Within minutes of the press statement published below and sent to the local media on Tuesday 24th February the Labour Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council let it be known that he would not accept a hike in his pay that would almost double his Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA).

All well and good you might say, so he should. But what was it all about?

In opposition the same Labour Leader spent four years telling anyone who would listen to him that Councillors allowances were too high and he often used words like obscene to illustrate it. He never missed an opportunity to bring the subject up. The Labour Manifesto for the elections promised to freeze Councillors basic allowance and reduce SRA. Last year they froze Councillors allowances but did not reduce SRA.

This year they have increased all allowances by 2.45% and still tried to claim it was in line with their manifesto promises. They decided not to increase the Labour Leaders pay to the level recommended by the Independent Renumeration Panel (IRP) and in a petty tit for tat move they deleted the SRA for the secondary opposition group leader (the Tory leader). But why did they ask for the increase in the Labour Leader's pay in the first place and then turn it down the moment there was a whiff of opposition. Clearly it was a publicity stunt to make the Labour Leader look good.

They are now claiming that they did not ask for this proposed increase but the IRP's report to the Council says differently:

Elected members, Partners and Officers were invited to the 'drop-in' session which resulted in 'face to face' meetings with the Leader of the Council, Chair of standards Committee, Chair of Main Overview and Scrutiny Committee' Leader of the Conservative
Group, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Communities Manager. Some the attendees at the 'drop in' had dual roles...

...The view of the interviewees was that the current assessment of SRA for the Leader should be higher as it was seen as a full time position. Similarly they also felt the current assessment for the Deputy leader should be higher. Some respondents also thought that the current assessment for cabinet Members should be higher. The positions of Leader, Deputy Leader and Members of the Cabinet were considered to be full-time and parity with other Local Authorities in the Tees valley should be considered.

Report of the Independent Renumeration Panel of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. Review of Members Allowances and recommendations. January 2009.