Council Leader accuses Labour of hypocrisy

August 7, 2007 12:00 AM

The Leader of Rochdale Council, Councillor Alan Taylor has accused Labour Middleton Councillors of 'hypocrisy' in the light of the debate on Congestion Charging. Councillor Taylor was responding to criticism from Jim Dobbin MP and Middleton Labour Councillors, who argued that Middleton and Heywood did not have a say in Rochdale's vote to bid for money from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund.

Jim Dobbin MP said in his 'Letter from Parliament' on Rochdale Online earlier this week: "The extension of the Metrolink has had my support from the beginning. However I do not support the congestion charge that Rochdale Liberal Democrat Cabinet members voted for. The Heywood and Middleton councillors had no say in this decision as they were refused a vote. It is surprising therefore that despite 3 out of 4 townships opposing congestion charges, the Lib Dems through their Leader Alan Taylor ignored this, especially after he had made a public show of signing a petition on the front page of the Middleton Guardian before the local elections. After the local election he has changed his stance. It smacks of political opportunism of the crudest order. When asked in the council chamber whether Heywood and Middleton would benefit from Metrolink, he curtly answered, "No". There is little or no concern by the LibDem Council for other townships.

Councillor Taylor has responded by saying: "It's now time to set the record straight. I made a point of signing a petition against Congestion Charging as we had no details about where Labour's transport bosses planned to charge. I asked and asked again for the details. I cannot support anything I don't know anything about. That is ridiculous and not any way to run this Council.

"Sometimes in politics you have to take tough decisions and I think it's about time the people of Middleton knew the truth. The reason that this has hit the headlines is the Labour Government pushing for Congestion Charging. The Labour Party have lead on the Transport Innovation Fund. Labour Councillors like Richard Leese in Manchester and Roger Jones in Salford have been leading on this.

"For Middleton's Labour MP or Councillors to attack the Liberal Democrats on this issue is pure hypocrisy. Their left hand doesn't know what their right hand is doing. We have a clear choice on this issue: Do nothing and threaten the Greater Manchester economy or act together to get £3 Billion of public transport investment.

"Maybe Middleton's Labour Councillors should ask their own leader, Councillor Allen Brett, whether he supports their stance. They will find the answer is no - yet again Labour have been caught out saying one thing in one part of the Borough and another in Middleton.

"I will be working hard to make sure that Middleton and the rest of the Borough sees significant investment to the Public Transport system. At present, I have voted to put in a bid for £1.2 Billion - That is all. The people of this Borough will be fully consulted on any future plans."