Leader in vow to clear his name
ROCHDALE council leader Councillor Allen Brett has vowed to clear his name after being recorded apparently threatening not to spend money in wards in which Labour weren’t ‘successful’ at the local elections.
And he has taken a swipe at the source of the leaked audio.
Coun Allen Brett will face a town hall standards committee disciplinary hearing next month after the clip, reportedly from a local party meeting, emerged in April.
In August, a draft report of an investigation into the politician’s conduct was also leaked.
The papers, seen by the Rochdale Observer, said Coun Brett’s comments could have had ‘a detrimental impact on the public’s perception’ of the council.
He was said to have ‘brought himself, his office and the council into disrepute’ in the draft report.
Coun Brett has always insisted his comments were no more than ‘banter’ and were not a serious threat to withhold funding from Tory or Liberal Democrat wards.
He has now come out fighting ahead of his appearance before the disciplinary panel. In a statement, Coun Brett said he ‘understands the disquiet caused’ by what he described as an ‘unguarded quip in what was meant to be a private meeting among political colleagues’.
“I am looking forward to finally being able to demonstrate that there was never any real intention behind my words and that I played absolutely no part in deciding where funding for road repairs should be spent,” he added.
The leader also had scathing words for whoever made the secret recording and leaked it to the press.
He added: “I am still hugely disappointed that someone chose to record me secretly and release it knowing full well that I was making a clumsy attempt at humour.
“I think in some ways that says more about them than it does about me.
“What is important to remember is that the unprecedented investment we have made in our highway network is making roads in every part of the borough better and safer.”
In the recording, made earlier this year and published on the community news website Rochdale Online, Coun Brett is reportedly heard saying £12m had been ‘put into roads and pavements’, cash which he said would be split between Rochdale’s four townships.
He is apparently heard saying he has been given an ‘indicative list’ then goes on to say, according to the audio clip: “But I am not releasing it [the money] because, I’ll deny I’ve said this and I’m very reluctant to say it even in this room.
“If we don’t do successful [sic] in one ward, I might not spend any money in that ward.
“You can work that out but I’ll deny I’ve said it. I will.
“Because I’m not having it… like I was canvassing yesterday to be told in Milnrow that…” The audio then cuts out. The draft report found there was no evidence Coun Brett ‘took any steps to influence the way in which highways maintenance funding was spent for political reasons’.
Mark Widdup, director of neighbourhoods at Rochdale council, told investigators it was ‘very clear’ Coun Brett couldn’t have manipulated funding ‘because the officers and systems wouldn’t have allowed him to do so’.
Coun Brett will appear before the standards subcommittee at Rochdale Town Hall at 11am on Monday, December 17.
●●Coun Allen Brett