Leader in vow to clear his name

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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