A POLITICAL row has broken out on the borough council – over a market stall.
The Tories are threatening to take their complaint about a table manned by Labour councillors in Ellesmere Port Market Hall to the Standards Committee.
And if they aren’t happy with the adjudication, Tories say they will then consider referring the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.
However, borough council and Labour group leader Justin Madders says their claim makes “little sense”.
He denied any charges of unfairness, saying although having the stall – so councillors could meet the public – was a Labour idea, he has always said it should be made available to all political parties.
The row started when Tory deputy leader Gareth Anderson read an article in the Pioneer about the “Meet Your Councillor” stall.
He said: “This came as a complete surprise to every Conservative member of the borough council.
“Immediately, colleagues and I made enquiries as to where this had come from, which committee had made the decision to do it and how it was being paid for?
“As a result of this blatant unfairness, I have written to the independent chairman of our standards committee asking he look at this issue as a matter of urgency because my colleagues and I believe the resources of this council have been unfairly used to the advantage of one political party.
“We may in the end refer this matter to the Ombudsman.”
In rebuttal, Cllr Madders, who represents the Ledsham ward as does Cllr Anderson, said: “Not for the first time his comments make little sense.
“Cllr Anderson claims the first he knew about the stall was when it appeared in the paper on March 12, but then admits e-mailing the council’s chief executive about it over a month earlier.
“I have been clear from the outset that the stall should be available for use by all political parties represented on the council.
“So if Cllr Anderson is suggesting his group have been refused the use of the stall, then I would appreciate details of it so I can investigate.
“I rather suspect, however, that his anger on this subject is because his party’s own inactivity has been exposed rather than because of any political unfairness, as he is very careful not to say his party has actually been refused the facility.
“If he’d actually bothered to come down on a Saturday morning he would know the stall does not carry any party political literature on it.”