Tameside’s Conservatives have slammed the increasing number of Labour Party ‘couples’ in seats of power within the borough.
Before last night’s count got underway, there were five Labour Party couples, but three more have now joined them.
Leader of the Opposition, Cllr John Bell, said he found the familial situation ‘quite phenomenal’, and revealed he wants to cut the number of councillors from three to two per ward to save £360,000.
When asked why there were so many, he said: “Becoming a councillor in Tameside is well paid. Remuneration is high here, the highest outside of Wigan and the city centre. The lowest is Trafford, which is Conservative-run.”
In Tameside, there are four married couples, two partners, and two councillors married to MPs.
Speaking about the possibility of having even more Labour couples on the council before a vote had even been counted, a Conservative spokesman said: “If certain Labour candidates win, they will then have three extra married couples. In all, that’s eight couples receiving public money and they are on the gravy train. We have to reduce the number of these councillors thus saving the public purse.”
Much to Conservative chagrin, candidates Teresa Smith won Audenshaw, Jan Jackson won Stalybridge North, and Denise Ward won Denton North East.
Labour and Council leader Kieran Quinn has been married to the Executive Member Susan Quinn for eighteen years. Other husbands and wives include Droylesden West’s councillors Barry Holland and Ann Holland, Dukinfield’s councillors Jacqueline Lane and Dawson Lane, and Denton West’s councillor Mike Smith is married to Audenshaw hopeful Teresa Smith.
St Peters’ councillor David McNally is partnered with Denton North East’s new councillor Denise Ward, and Hyde Godley’s councillor Jim Fitzpatrick’s partner is Jan Jackson.
Jan Jackson’s triumph has now made a family of three councillors, as Jim Fitzpatrick’s brother Philip is in Hyde Newton.
Cllr John Bell believes that the popularity of councillor jobs is related to the lack of employment opportunities in Tameside. Experian ranks Tameside 55 out of 326 local authorities for the biggest risk of poverty.