Brighter Borough row is eventually resolved

Coun Steve Jones
Coun Steve Jones

An opposition councillor will once again be able to allocate money to community groups after apologising for comments made online.

Coun Steve Jones, the independent representative for Bryn ward, is getting his Brighter Borough powers back from the council after they were suspended last November.

He had the ability to dish out funds taken away after making comments on social media about how the town hall gave money to a community organisation.

The local authority said that was a breach of protocol as concerns about potential financial irregularity should be firstly raised internally.
Coun Jones has apologised for not doing this and now the council has agreed he can have his Brighter Borough pot back.

However, the Wigan Post has also seen a letter of action sent to the town hall by a representative for Coun Jones threatening the matter would be taken to the High Court if it had not been resolved by 5pm yesterday.

Coun Jones hit out at how long the process of sorting out the row has taken but expressed his relief at finally being able once again to support grass-roots groups in his ward.

He said: “I’m happy now they have said that I am getting it back and it is in writing. The complaint has now been sorted.

“All I will say is that I’m sick of not being able to work things out. We shouldn’t be getting to the 11th hour and having threats of court sent before getting things resolved.

“It’s ridiculous that it has taken this long but I want to leave it at that. The important thing is I can now support my local community groups.

“I’ve had people asking me for help for different groups and not having the Brighter Borough made it look like I couldn’t help the community like other councillors could.

“I feel like I’ve been given an even playing field now.”

Emails seen by the Wigan Post indicate that Coun Jones was told at the beginning of this week by the local authority that his Brighter Borough will be reinstated as soon as possible and it is likely to happen this week.

A statement from the town hall was even more emphatic that the matter was resolved.

A Wigan Council spokesman said: “Coun Jones apologised following the comments he made.

“This apology has been accepted and his access to Brighter Borough funding has been reinstated.”

Throughout the process of handling the complaint community groups in Bryn have still been able to ask the town hall for Brighter Borough money but Coun Jones has not been able to use his position as an elected representative to support applications.

He has even turned to crowd-funding to help local causes, recently announcing a sleep-out in a high-profile location in Wigan town centre to help recently-established Ashton foodbank U Can Food Support.