Friday, February 22, 2008

MP accused of hypocrisy on council cash vote

LABOUR MP for Tyne Bridge, David Clelland, has been accused of hypocrisy after he attacked the low increase in the level of government grant paid to Gateshead Council to support service.

Mr Clelland attacked the low grant increase in the House of Commons on Monday 4th February. But only two hours after making the attack, he voted for the cash plans.

In the Commons, Mr Clelland asked Local Government Minister John Healey why Gateshead is “constantly given such a poor settlement? What is wrong with the forumla, and when will the Minister put it right?”

Mr Healey dismissed Mr Clelland’s questions, claiming, “There is nothing wrong with the formula, which is the best and fairest way that we have established for distributing the money available [to local councils].”

Gateshead Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace said, “Mr Clelland rightly raised concerns about why his own government has given Gateshead such a poor cash settlement compared to other councils.

“This is a below inflation rise and it will leave Gateshead cash-strapped for years to come.

“But I found it staggering that Mr Clelland was then happy to be herded through the goverment lobby to vote for the cash settlement he had only just attacked. This was a case of all talk and no action from this Labour MP.

“It strikes me as hypocritical to speak out against something and then immediately afterwards vote for it. Residents of Gateshead are owed an explanation from Mr Clelland.”

Metropolitan Councils have been given an average increase of 4.1% in their cash grant for the coming year but Gateshead’s increase is only 2%.

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