Tameside, Shameside spat: Council accused of lying over allowance cuts

Shameside, an online campaign group, are accusing Tameside Labour of lying about reductions in the cost of councillors’ allowances.

The group use social media to monitor the activities of Tameside Labour, who are the ruling party in Tameside Borough Council.

In a joint meeting of the Executive Cabinet and Overview Panel this week, the borough council published figures regarding the savings made in the cost of councillors’ allowances.

Shameside claimed that Executive Leader Councillor Kieran Quinn was responsible for a ‘stitch-up’, after he claimed the council had lowered the cost of member’s budgets by more than 10% during a keynote speech in 2014.

The campaigners accused Tameside Council of not keeping their promises and say their movement is unrelated to political allegiances.

A Shameside spokesman told MM: “We do not favour a political group. We are a group of individuals – some naturally to the left, some naturally to the right – but all are unified in their opposition to the current Tameside Labour Party.

“Whilst any cut is welcome, promises should not be made if they cannot be kept. Campaigning with ‘We’ve cut the cost of councillors by 10%’ isn’t as catchy as they think but it is somewhat appealing. Campaigning with ‘We’ve cut the cost of councillors by 5%’, is an insult to hardworking families.

“Tameside Labour ought to keep their promises – promises considered not only vital but hugely symbolic in these tough economic times.

“The council maintain they have made ‘savings’, by which they mean by not appointing Executive Members when they could have, and by not taking a 1% pay rise – again, further insults.

“Are Tamesiders meant to be truly thankful for them not taking a pay rise and making new positions?

“In reality, the basic allowance – the amount paid to every councillor – has not altered by a penny.

“We accept that democracy costs, but we do not accept patronising Tameside citizens by lying to them.

“Councillors are the elected representatives of individuals, many of whom are struggling under the cuts. If councillors cannot show empathy and support then they ought to consider their positions.”

Tameside Borough Council responded to the criticisms by saying that Shameside had not correctly interpreted Councillor Quinn’s comments, accusing them of trying to ‘pull the wool over people’s eyes’, and said that the council had actually made bigger savings than they predicted. 

They said they have saved on the cost of member’s allowances in a number of different ways, including ‘reducing the number of positions and reforming aspects of the councils work’.

Tameside Labour Councillor Andy Kinsey, said: “The original proposals were to reduce the cost of councillors by £113,000. The reality is we have saved that and more.

“Tameside Labour is being open and transparent over the savings. Unlike Shameside and others, we will not pull the wool over the eyes of residents; we do not mislead them by trying to spin figures.

“The figures in the budget report are clear – we’ve achieved a great saving from the cost of councillors which is money that doesn’t now need to be taken from key services like adult social care or libraries.

“I would urge everyone interested to read the document and see the savings for themselves.”

Shameside maintained that Tameside citizens had been lied to about the 10% reduction of councillor costs.

They are calling for the borough council to recoup excess funds from councillors and in its place make a community fund with the money whereby local charities and community groups can bid for funds.

You can read the full report by clicking here. Councillors’ allowances are addressed in Item 5.

Image courtesy of Dave Conner, with thanks.

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