Manchester Labour versus democracy – “independent” panel admits talked to Lib Dem, but says has no minutes of meeting

In May, Manchester Labour has cut the money available to councillors in the opposition, making the necessary work of scrutiny that much harder. See Manchester Evening News story here)

Now, a Freedom of Information Act request has forced the Council to admit that the “independent” panel made up of three people, one of whom was busy Tweeting pro-Labour statements before the local elections DID in fact talk to John Leech, Liberal Democrat councillor.

But it took no minutes.

4. Did the Panellists speak to Councillor John Leech?

Response: Yes

5. What NOTES did they make of their conversation. (please provide)

Response: This information is not held by Manchester City Council.

6. If they did NOT take minutes, why not?

Response: This information is not held by Manchester City Council.

So, were they playing on their phones? Cyber-canvassing for Labour? Why are they so incompetent?

Can anyone appeal about Manchester Labour’s appalling behaviour and decision to cut funding to opposition parties?

No.

8. What appeals process exists for members – or members of the public who are wearily sickened but unsurprised by this latest grotesque sham – to use?

Response: The decision to accept the recommendations made by the IRP was taken by Full Council in its meeting held on 18 May 2022. There is no appeals process.

Read the rest of the Freedom of Information Act request below.

But first, this.

  1. For the sake of clarity – I am not now and have never been a member of the Liberal Democrats. Or the Greens. Or ANY political party. I used to be a fan of Labour, and I would vote for a left-wing Labour government in a heartbeat. But what we have in Manchester is – despite occasionally flowery-rhetoric and hand-wringing – a vicious cabal of greedy, stupid neoliberals.
  2. All those Labour councillors who tut-tut, and keep quiet about this, while “disagreeing”? You are EVERY bit as complicit in this as those Tory MPs who voted in favour of Boris Johnson in the Vote of No Confidence last week. This assault on demoracy is YOUR fault. You enable the goons at the top, through your silence.

1.  Who appointed the panel?  Named individual please.

Response: Fiona Ledden, City Solicitor, Manchester City Council

2. How did he (or rather “she”) choose?  What efforts did she make to ensure that the panellists were in fact, not, ooh, party political hacks who tweeted about Stockport Labour party. For example?  Was there a long-list that was drawn up? If so, by who?  How were people – perhaps too independently-minded – winnowed out?

Response: Fiona Ledden made the appointments to the Panel based upon the format used in previous IRP reviews. In the previous review Declan Hall, a former lecturer at the Institute of Local Government, the University of Birmingham, currently an independent consultant who specialises in Members Allowances and support was appointed as Chair. The other two members were the Chief Executive of GM Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Manager UNISON North West. Fiona Ledden made the same appointments of current incumbents to those named posts for this IRP review. No longlist was drawn up. The requirement for the IRP, and its membership, is that it be independent of the Council. There is no requirement for the members of the IRP to be apolitical or to have no political ties or views.

3. What were the terms of reference for the panel?  I am particularly interested in knowing if it was pointed out to them that Manchester is unusual among all local authorities in the UK as having – and having had had – a massive preponderance of one political party in charge.  Or if this lovely fact was ignored.

Response: I attach a copy of the Panel’s terms of reference. [see here]

and this one

7. Given the evidence that one of the panel members was tweeting support for Labour, will the City Solicitor be revisiting the panel’s findings? If not, why not?

Response: This information is not held by Manchester City Council.

(that is a”no”, but the City Solicitor is unwilling to simply come out and say so.)

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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1 Response to Manchester Labour versus democracy – “independent” panel admits talked to Lib Dem, but says has no minutes of meeting

  1. Dave Bishop says:

    ” … a vicious cabal of greedy, stupid neoliberals.” Just about sums it up! The new leader doesn’t seem to have made much difference – but, presumably, she’s just RL in female form(?)

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