Vatican visit for climate change criticised

Tony Lloyd
Tony Lloyd
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A LOCAL Tory politician has criticised a visit by Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner and interim mayor, to the Vatican.

Former Wigan mayor, Michael Winstanley, who lives in Ashton, blasted Mr Lloyd as he joined leaders in Rome as part of a campaign to combat modern slavery and climate change. The gathering was prompted by recent comments by Pope Francis about the global challenges faced by countries.

Mayors from around the world, including Mr Lloyd, were invited to the Vatican to discuss the issues and to make a declaration to work to combat these.

However, Mr Winstanley, the Chairman of the Wigan Conservatives Federation, which covers Wigan, Makerfield and Leigh, believes the Commissioner should be concentrating on serious issues more close to home.

The pair have previously come up against each other when they stood against each other in Police and Crime Commissioner elections with Lloyd for Labour and Mr Winstanley for Conservative.

Mr Winstanley said: “There are far more pressing issues here in Greater Manchester which I believe the Commissioner should be dealing with first.

“As he visits the Vatican at the tax payers expense, I would like to know what benefits local people are getting from this. In his new role, Mr Lloyd should begin with starting to help the people in his own area.”

Mr Lloyd is away in Singapore and did not respond specifically to Mr Winstanley’s critcism. But ahead of the visit he said: “This conference echoed the voice of millions of people around the world that climate change threatens to undermine our ways of life in ways we cannot predict.

“The impacts of rising food prices, rising sea levels, dangerous weather change and refugees on a huge scale and more will hit people hard right across the globe. Here in Greater Manchester we can’t stand idly by and wait for this to happen – we must take action.

“When religious leaders join climate change scientists to raise their concern, both morality and common sense demand determined action. I was really pleased that so many leaders from across the world joined me in signing the declaration here in Rome to work for a safer, cleaner world and work to end the scourge of modern slavery.”

Mr Winstanley has contested the last four General Elections. 1997 Makerfield, 2001 Bolton North East, 2005 Blackpool South and 2010 Wigan.

Mr Lloyd stood against Lord Smith in the recent interim mayoral election and got the nod after a closely fought vote.