Row over MP’s office discount

Andy Burnham MP
Andy Burnham MP
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CONSERVATIVES have called on Leigh MP Andy Burnham to help cash-strapped council taxpayers by waiving a discount on his constituency office.

Mr Burnham currently receives a rent reduction of £2,584 from Wigan Council on his Leigh town centre office under a long-standing arrangement.

But Wigan Conservative Federation chairman Richard Short has now called for this cost to be distributed across the country under the national parliamentary expenses system to ease the financial strain on the austerity-hit local authority and residents.

Mr Short said: “What irks me is this reduction comes from a pot which only tens of thousands of us contribute to, and being an MP Mr Burnham should not be using money raised by the council taxpayer.

“It should come from the much bigger pot of the UK tax payer as a whole through the national allowances for MPs. Rather than hard-pressed people in Leigh and the surrounding areas paying it there’s an opportunity for people in leafy, well-off boroughs to chip in as well through the parliamentary expenses.”

Mr Short is urging Mr Burnham to turn down any rent reduction on the Market Street office offered by the town hall for the financial year ending in 2015.

However, a spokesman for the MP strongly denied the arrangement meant residents in the borough suffered, saying the reduction was a reflection of the value of the services provided by the MP and his staff to the constituency’s residents.

He added: “If the office was not there, it would most likely be vacant like other shops in the town centre and deny much needed income to Wigan Council. We note with interest Mr Short’s suggestion that Mr Burnham should claim more expenses from the taxpayer, but we will keep this win-win approach which is good for taxpayers and the people of Leigh.”

Candidates for the Wigan Council election 2014, Leigh South ward: C. Rigby (Lab), R. Short (Cons).