Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The Sloan Ranger and the Fib Dem
I don't like to intrude on personal grief, but as resignation statements go it's up there with Geoffrey Howe's cricket bat sabotage of Thatcher.
Former Lib Dem Cabinet member Andy Sloan has chosen to defect to the Tories in Hull's Guildhall.
He said: "I had once believed that the Liberal Democrat Party possessed a set of values and beliefs that were an alternative to the socialist Labour Party." POW!
"I see now that this view was misplaced and that the Liberal Democrats exist for a singular purpose - namely, to maintain bits of orange on a political map, no matter what the consequence." SPLAT!
"The Liberal Democrat party stands for nothing except to further its own electoral existence." BLAMMO!
This brutal but justified attack has been on the cards for quite a few weeks. Before voting against the Lib Dems proposed revenue budget for the coming year, Sloan said that council leader Carl Minns had deliberately used last summer's floods to "make political sunshine," describing his criticism of the Government at the time of the floods as "tantamount to criminal."
I've been saying this for some time but unfortunately the Lib Dems don't seem to be listening - they're still trying to kick the Government when they're trying to help.
Today Minns claimed the city has been excluded from a round of Government cash handouts because our roads suffered the "wrong type of damage" in the summer floods.
He told the press: "It appears that Hull's roads suffered the wrong kind of flood damage.
"After working with the Government-appointed advisers WS Atkins to assess the damage to the city's infrastructure, a claim for £1.3m was submitted to cover road surface damage caused by the flooding.
"The response was that the money was only available for structural not surface damage. This being the case, Hull was excluded from applying for the additional funding."
Unfortunately, that's not true at all. The Hull Daily Mail hasn't quoted the Department for Transport's response but if you click here you'll see the story from both sides.
The Department for Transport spokesman says: "It is wrong to say Hull City Council has had a claim rejected and has been excluded from applying for additional funding.
"The department has been quite clear that all reasonable claims for funding for flood road repair money will be considered and we would welcome further discussions with the council.
"The council did submit an initial estimate of damage in September after being asked to do so by DfT. Subsequently, Hull decided not to submit a formal claim. The Government's appointed technical advisers stand ready to offer further help to Hull should they wish to work up a claim.
"In total, Hull City Council has so far received £7.7m in Government funding to help communities get back on their feet following the floods."
So they only submitted a rough estimate because they were asked to by the Department for Transport, they didn't submit a formal claim and they haven't been excluded - in fact the DfT says it's still willing to help them claim money!
But Lib Dem party political hackery has spurned a Government's offer of help and graciously countered with a kick in the teeth designed to cover up their own incompetence.
These two stories just go to show what Hull sorely lacks is strong leadership and firm direction in the Guildhall.
A party that's prepared to work with all sides to get things down for the good of this city. A party that's prepared to really address the needs of local people.
The challenge for Labour is to prove to Hull people that we are that change.