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.”