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Feb 25 2013

Conservatives’ Rejoinder on Labour’s “Reflections on the West Harrow Victory”

cllr_barryFrom Cllr. Barry Macleod-Cullinane:

I’ve just read the Great Leader’s rather personal attack upon me on iHarrow. I stand attacked merely for doing my job as Deputy Leader of the Opposition: i.e., scrutinising the decisions made by the Council’s Labour administration and for holding the Great Leader and his comrades to account for how they spend public money.

According to the Great Leader:  “In the final days of the by-election Deputy Leader of the Opposition put out a misleading story that Labour was secretly planning to spend £65,000 extra paying allowances to selected Councillors. That the story was untrue did not stop the Opposition Leader who seems to belong the school of repeat a lie often enough, people will think it true. At Cabinet on 14th February, he had sought clarification on the Portfolio Holder Adviser position and was told that a Portfolio Holder would pay any Adviser from his or her allowance so it will not cost tax payers a penny more. Even though questions at Cabinet had been answered, the Tory propaganda machine was desperate to score cheap political points. Devoid of maturity, accuracy and restraint, it put out a completely inaccurate story.

The Great Leader does rather suggest I’ve been a bad boy; in fact, a very bad boy. Unfortunately for the Great Leader, sometimes even bad boys know what’s right; on this matter of allowances, the truth is not what the Great Leader claims.

The Minutes for the Cabinet meeting 14th February records (on page 12) the schedule of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs), reproduced below, that were passed in the Great Leader’s draft Budget. This SRA Schedule clearly shows the creation of the new “Portfolio Adviser” SRA at Band 4, and the distinct and unconnected SRAs for Portfolio Holder/Deputy Leader (at Band 6) and Leader (at Band 7). Nowhere in it is there a “Portfolio Holder with Portfolio Adviser” joint SRA arrangement.

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(This is the link to the Cabinet Minutes for the 14/02/13): http://www2.harrow.gov.uk/documents/s104539/Rec%20II%20to%20Council%20-%20Final%20Revenue%20Budget%20and%20MTFS%202013-14%202016-17.pdf)

Fast forward from the Cabinet meeting on the 14th February and the dreadful headlines about Labour blowing £65,000 of taxpayers’ money on “secret allowances” – followed by their adamant denials – vehemently repeated by the Great Leader in today’s iHarrow piece – and we find, surprisingly, that the SRA Schedule has been amended in the Budget going to Full Council on Thursday this week!

Thus, on pages 44-45, of their document “Final Revenue Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2013-14 to 2016-17 – Amended Appendices” we find the following amended SRA Schedule:

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(This is the relevant link for the Council Meeting (28/02/13) documents: http://www.harrow.gov.uk/www2/documents/s104537/Final%20Amendment%20Report.pdf)

You can see how they have plainly amended it to include separate SRAs, for when Portfolio Holders, the Deputy Leader and the Leader appoint Portfolio Advisers and their allowance is subsequently split.

So my question to Labour and the Great Leader is, if what I said was inaccurate, untrue, or even a lie – as you have described it – why did you change what you’re doing with SRAs before the Council meeting? I look forward to an answer to this simple question rather than more invective and the besmirching of my character from the Great Leader and the comrades. The Ronseal advert was about “doing what it says on the tin”. When it comes to spending public funds, we councillors have to “do what it says in the Constitution and the law”; we all have to follow the rules, no matter how inconvenient the Great Leader finds them… and that’s why his Budget has now been amended when it comes to paying allowances!

West Harrow By-Election result

On a separate note, I would like to congratulate newly-elected Cllr. Christine Robson on her victory in last week’s West Harrow by-election. Given Cllr. Robson’s regular comments about protecting police numbers, I look forward to her joining us in condemnation of this Labour administration’s cuts to the Council-funded police team.

[notice]This article is a response to the Reflections on the West Harrow Victory article, submitted by Harrow Labour Group.[/notice]

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