OPINION: DURING these unprecedented times it is disappointing that two of the town’s “political heavyweights” have still not met for talks more than one year on from the General Election.
Despite the ongoing pandemic and the recent flooding, Warrington South’s Tory MP Andy Carter and Warrington Borough Council‘s Labour Leader Cllr Russ Bowden, have still not engaged with each other, with both men blaming each other.
I’m not here to point the finger of blame and indeed both men have provided me with “evidence” suggesting attempts have been made to correspond. But the facts are, at time of press, they have still not had any official dialogue to discuss the many issues facing our town.
This kind of situation is what turns people off politics and certainly doesn’t do our town any favours, when Mr Carter is a direct route to Government and possible funding, while Cllr Bowden is in charge at the borough council, which needs as much funding support as possible – especially in light of the much talked about £1.6b of borrowing.
While Mr Carter is urging for better communications to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis, Labour Leader Cllr Bowden says Mr Carter has not responded to his written requests to meet, accusing the Tory MP of “politicising Covid and attacking those at the frontline dealing with it.”
Mr Carter says Warrington Council’s effective ‘one-party state’ is bad for local democracy and will hamper the town’s ability to recover from coronavirus.
More than a year after winning Warrington South’s Westminster seat back from Labour, Mr Carter says despite asking, he’s yet to have a one to one meeting with the Leader of the Council, who he says instead prefers to write letters criticising central Government but won’t sit down and discuss the many pressing issues affecting “our town”.
Mr Carter says that to support people during this challenging time, the Conservative government has provided grant support for businesses through Local Authorities to protect people’s jobs and incomes, as well as delivering financial assistance to the council to protect key services provided for young people and the elderly.
Despite a ‘farcical’ lack of dialogue between his office and elected Labour politicians, Mr Carter says he’s built good relationships with ‘very professional’ Senior Council Officers, in a bid to help move some of the most pressing issues in the Borough forward and has even received messages of support from some Labour Councillors who don’t agree with the way decisions are being taken and feel isolated from the ruling Town Hall leadership.
Meanwhile, Cllr Bowden, who forwarded me two letters which he says have been sent to Mr Carter but received no response, saying the MP for Warrington South has never asked him for a meeting and not given him the courtesy of a reply.
He went on to say he didn’t engage in “tittle-tattle and gossip” and was getting on with the very serious job of leading this Council during the Covid-19 crisis, ensuring that vital services can be delivered, supporting local businesses and protecting jobs.
We’ve already had a situation in this town where a Labour leader and a Labour MP never met for talks and it simply isn’t good enough, especially during such unprecedented times, that people elected to serve the people, don’t work together for the good of our town.
It is now more important than ever that all political differences are put to one side and everybody works together for the good of Warrington.
We all have different opinions and political beliefs within our own circles of family and friends – but it doesn’t stop us working together or helping each other in times of need.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I can report on a positive outcome from Mr Carter and Cllr Bowden working together for the good of our town.