Labour club gets council cash for repairs

A Wigan Labour club has been repaired with Wigan taxpayers' cash.

Grants of more than 850 have been given to Standish Labour Club in Smalley Street over the past 12 months to replace a damaged section of the roof guttering, windows smashed by vandals and to fill in a sunken area of the car park.

The cash came in the form of two approvals from then Standish ward Labour councillor George Davies's annual Brighter Borough allowance.

Wigan Council, which approved the spending, says it was given the go-ahead because of the wider community uses the club enjoys.

It has been claimed that a Conservative club in another part of the borough has also been given a Brighter Borough grant for repairs.

But an outraged opposition councillor is now demanding the Labour-ruled council launch a town hall inquiry into the way such payments are authorised.

He is also calling for the qualification rules for successful bids for grants to be more clearly defined.

Currently each councillor is given 5,630 to spend on their local environment and community.

Independent Conservatives leader Coun Gareth Fairhurst – who lives in Standish but represents Wigan Central ward – wants Metro chief executive Joyce Redfearn to look into the grants.

Coun Fairhurst said: "The council are saying that the club was used by the wider community.

"But when I said that I wanted to know what things it did in the way of community, the council simply does not know. It appears that they simply took the word of the club. If this is the case, the club should provide evidence what events and how many there are to justify the taxpayers' money."

Labour group chairman Coun John Hilton said that Coun Fairhurst's father, also a Standish councillor, had been "a part and parcel" of the discussions which saw former Coun Davies give the grants to the Labour club.

He said: "This wasn't political at all. The club, which plays a great role in the community, had been the victim of anti-social behaviour.

"In Atherton, Labour councillors have agreed to fund the repainting of the Conservative club under Brighter Borough, again because of the role it plays in the community, so it is even-handed.

Former councillor Mr Davies said: "The club came to me as their ward councillor after the place was attacked by yobs and I helped them, as I try to do whenever I am approached.

"Considering the use the club gets from all sections of the community I consider this money well spent."

A spokesman for Wigan Council said: "Two Brighter Borough grants have

been given to this club, both in the last 12 months.

"The grants were approved on the basis that the building formed a community facility within Standish and that the activities supported were social rather than political.

"The form submitted by the club gives its activities as musical entertainment, bingo and sports room facilities."