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Lichfield councillor attacks Labour’s “back of a fag packet” £1million Burntwood funding plan

A Lichfield Conservative councillor has launched a scathing attack on Labour’s call for a £1million funding boost for Burntwood.

The opposition group at Lichfield District Council said the “modest” amendment to the budget approved by the Tory-controlled local authority would pale into comparison alongside the £12.5million-plus already spent on the failed Friarsgate scheme and subsequent Birmingham Road Site.

Cllr Sue Woodward argued that the money would also represent a fairer deal for other areas of the district.

But Conservative Cllr Jon O’Hagan accused Cllr Woodward of producing “back of a fag packet” financial plans.

Cllr Jon O'Hagan
Cllr Jon O’Hagan

“You produced a piece of paper with a few numbers, but without headings, explanations, or a rationale,” he said.

“You proposed it to the council with no notice and expect everyone to accept your back of a fag packet-style demands for £1.5million, without any type of scrutiny, or audit.

“This was clearly a pre-election ploy to grab headlines and then complain that no one takes you seriously.

“This was a transparent publicity stunt, that only your husband [former councillor Steve Norman], and other acolytes take seriously.”

His comments come after his district council Conservative colleague and leader of Burntwood Town Council, Cllr Doug Pullen, had accused Labour of failing to provide a fully-costed budget proposal.

Cllr Sue Woodward
Cllr Sue Woodward

But Cllr Woodward denied that the proposals had been plucked out of thin air.

She said: “The proposals I put forward were checked and agreed to be sound both by the senior finance officer and legal officer at Lichfield District Council, as I said at the meeting.

“I won’t embarrass Cllr Pullen by pointing out that he hadn’t realised that the budget proposed by the Tories included an additional £696,000 for short-term improvements to the old Friarsgate site, on top of the £2,299,000 already committed.

“If he hadn’t realised – and he’s one of the sharper ones in the controlling Tory group – I’m not confident that many of his colleagues had.

“He argued that funds already committed and agreed shouldn’t be removed – and I would agree – but all of the funds that I proposed should go to Burntwood and elsewhere in the district were available for this purpose.

“Besides, if he was so concerned about my proposals, why did he abstain along with four other Tories and one who supported the amendment, rather than vote against? Trying to have his cake and eat it?”

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  1. Steve Norman

    21st February, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    Cllr O’Hagan is a Stowe Ward councillor in Lichfield
    City and clearly only wants millions spent in Lichfield City.

    His ward colleague, Cllr Greatorex, even wants more money spent on the Lichfield Garrick!

    Austerity should not be allowed to affect the City it seems – but everywhere else can be ignored.
    However I call on Burntwood”s Conservative district councillors to show their support for his fully costed fiasco – called (changing the name doesn’t fool us) Friarsgate.

  2. Neil Hickman

    21st February, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Yeah this is rich coming from someone involved in the Friarsgate clusterf*ck. You idiots wasted £7m and counting over 10 years and are still full of yourselves. You should be on your knees begging forgiveness from council tax payers you self serving load of barstewards.

  3. Di Evans

    22nd February, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I find the comments from Councillor O’Hagan towards Sue Woodward really offensive and totally unnecessary, but is what we have come to expect from him. Sue spent a long time ensuring her amendment was permissible and had checked with Council Officers beforehand. The Labour Group have long argued for a more equitable distribution of monies, not only in Burntwood, but across the District for projects that would make a difference to communities. She had carefully worked out how to achieve it, so that Lichfield City was not the sole beneficiary of available money, so it is a shame that the Conservative Group were not prepared to support the amendment which was tabled at Council on Tuesday, although some did abstain and one voted with us.
    It is sad that Councillor O’Hagen hides behind the written word, rather than speaking up at Council. I wonder why that is?

  4. Dave King

    22nd February, 2019 at 10:05 am

    You would get a lot more done if you all worked together!

  5. Rob

    22nd February, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    The “kinder, gentler politics” that we were promised a few years back seem to be working out so well at both local and national level.

  6. Cllr Sue Woodward

    22nd February, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Exactly, Dave King. That was what I’d been hoping – for the benefit of Burntwood and the district’s villages – but the controlling group are unwilling or unable to see anything beyond what their leadership says. Some, if not most, hadn’t even realised that an extra £700k was being put into the old Friarsgate site, just for short-term improvements and on top of the £2.4m already committed. There’s a blind and obtuse “loyalty” which fails to acknowledge or understand the role of an Opposition or see beyond their own obsessions. (The same has happened in Labour-controlled councils too: I’m not making a political point.) It shows a failure to understand how democracy works and to address the wider concerns of residents, especially those who voted differently or didn’t vote at all. They, too, pay their council taxes.

  7. Steve Norman

    22nd February, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Perhaps the commentators should share with us their views on where the money should be spent. When you are an elected representative you do have to make such decisions.

    A great deal of “working together” does and always will happen – and when different political representatives work together it ain’t news. Even in Parliament this happens, though not as much and mostly in the Select Committees, – it is not all PMQs.

    Cllr O’Hagan picked this argument and it is up to him to justify his voting decisions. It is also up to those members elected to represent – yes “represent” – Burntwood or Hammerwich or Armitage for example.

  8. AgitatorofPeople

    23rd February, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    I think Neil Hickman eloquently captures the publics perception here!

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