Ding-dong over a real clock-up

Coun Don Hodgkinson
Coun Don Hodgkinson

AN angry Wigan politician is demanding an apology from town hall chiefs after a Brighter Borough spending boob.

Bryn ward Independent Coun Don Hodgkinson was already angry because of a clerical mistake in an official council spending spread sheet which was sent out to all 75 councillors.

But he was left frustrated and furious when political rivals then used the duff information in a local government elections leaflet sent to hundreds of residents as a way of attacking him.

The confusion has arisen because Independent Ashton ward colleague Coun Paul Tushingham successfully applied to spend £4,000 of his annual ward grant to support a scheme by residents-group The Friends of Ashton to install a new public clock in the centre of town to help celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

In his application, he insisted that he was being “supported” by Coun Hodgkinson.

But when the council published the official documentation this had wrongly been annotated as a joint 50/50 application of £2,000 from each councillor.

This was then erroneously reported by Labour rivals in their Bryn Ward Labour Rose leaflet.

Coun Hodgkinson claims that he has now been libelled and is threatening to sue.

He said: “I have contacted the Chief Executive Donna Hall to ask for an apology because her staff have caused this misinformation in the first place. I shall then be reporting the matter to police and if they do not take action, I shall then take out private legal action against the publisher of this misinformation for not ascertaining whether it was correct in the first place.

“I want a full apology in the papers. I have already printed 6,000 election leaflets and it will be costly and time consuming to refute this lie. This leaflet states that as a Bryn councillor I have recently given £2,000 of public money to the Friends of Ashton to fund a clock in Ashton town centre. This is wrong and I have not given one penny towards this clock,

“I have all the records of my Brighter Borough Funds and the council officials who distribute the money will verify this.”

The council today declined to give a formal statement about why Coun Hodgkinson was detailed as having spent the cash on the clock project in the Brighter Borough report.

However, they did give the Evening Post a briefing in which they stated that a £4,000 Brighter Borough funding application for the clock was submitted by Coun Tushingham naming Coun Hodgkinson as “supporting” the scheme.

Although Coun Tushingham himself pointed out the error on the council spreadsheet “within an hour” of distribution, it was already too late to stop it going to every councillor.

The council point out that it isn’t unusual for councillors from different parties or different wards to co-operate on project funding through Brighter Borough, particularly schemes of wider civic appeal such as monuments or festivals.

So what appeared on the proposal form was “not considered exceptional.”

l BRYN ward election candidates : Trevor Allen (Labour); Don Hodgkinson (Independent); Stuart Peet (Conservative)