Letter from Parliament - Simon Danczuk MP

Date published: 18 March 2013

Commentators often talk about politics in terms of different positions on a left, right political spectrum. But given that much of politics has shifted towards the centre ground in recent years, the sense I get from talking to people is that they want a politics that’s prepared to challenge vested interests, confront fat cats and make sure there’s greater openness and transparency. In short, people want to see political courage, not political posturing.

Since I was elected nearly three years ago, I’ve tried to bring about a clean house in Rochdale and challenge the kind of poor leadership and dodgy dealings that have held our town back for too long.

We’ve seen some progress on a range of issues, notably the departure of our former chief executive Roger Ellis and the beginnings of a change of culture in social services. We’re also starting to see greater transparency around Link4Life, the arms length organisation that runs council services. I am very much of the view that the bosses of this outfit, Craig McAteer and Peter Kilkenny, have been taking the taxpayer for a ride, and I publicly challenged their huge, unjustifiable salaries over a year ago.

So the story that appeared on the front page of the Observer last week, detailing how they had been inappropriately using company credit cards to buy, among other things, a holiday, came as no surprise to me.

This company seems happy to spend taxpayers’ money, yet does not want its spending scrutinised and deliberately avoids transparency. At a time when public spending is being seriously reined in, this culture cannot continue. Quite simply, McAteer and Kilkenny are making a mockery of public services.

Another culture that needs changing is that around planning, and I was pleased to see the Government this week calling for councils to tighten their ethics codes to clamp down on skullduggery in the planning process. This comes in the wake of a Lib Dem councillor in Newcastle being exposed for saying he could “use a bit of cunning” to get planning applications through. Again, this sort of stuff has to stop.

My office remains extremely busy and our postbag and surgeries have been dominated heavily by people complaining about the Government’s bedroom tax of late. Across the country half a million households that are home to a disabled person will lose £700. This policy is not only unfair, it’s unworkable, and the Government must think again before they inflict more misery on the most vulnerable.


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