Thursday, June 12, 2008

Expenses & Excuses

Sefton Council on Merseyside has always been the sort of hybrid entity which defies the usual psephological analysis. Bootle, in the the south of the borough, has been solidly Labour, give or take the odd sectarian candidate, for the last century. Crosby, just a mile or so down the road (& tough birthplace for Cherie Blair, so we're told in her book), was a safe Tory area until the early 80s, since when it has flirted with the old SDP & now is happy to have a New Labour MP. Southport, a resort whose air of genteel decline is one of its attractions for many, has been mainly Tory, but now has a Lib Dem MP.
During the 80s Sefton's Tories ruled the council. From what I recall of their leaders, they were happy to ape every Thatcherite measure from Whitehall. They also delighted in rubbing it in: cutting services & amenities in Bootle while spending increasing sums of money on fairy lights along Lord Street was almost an annual event.
Now comes news that one of the most senior Tories in Southport, Cllr Les Byrom, has defected to Labour ( ).
Iain Dale's Diary ( ) has a local Tory source to spill the beans. As Dale relates:
"Cllr Byrom has had a nice little earner as Tory chairman of the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority (£7,596). Sadly (for him) his term comes to an end next week, and the Tory leader on Sefton Borough Council has decided not to renominate him. He has moved heaven and earth to try to get her to reverse the decision, but she has stuck to her guns."
Dale adds that as a result of this move Byrom has to step down from his position as chairman of the Local Government Association Fire Committee, which has an annual expense tab of £17,592. Byrom claims the reason for his defection is the official Tory stance on the 42 day detention law. However, Byrom's pique at his fall from local Tory grace (& favour) is openly admitted by a quote in the Southport Visiter report:
"As the Visiter went to press, Cllr Byrom said: 'No doubt people will say I have let them down, but I have been let down by people who should know better.'"
In other words, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. He may as well add menacingly, "I know where the bodies are buried."

No comments: