Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Covid letter ‘an absolute waste of Oldham Council Taxpayers’ money

by Garth Harkness on 2 April, 2021

The Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader on Oldham Council, Shaw Councillor Chris Gloster, is fuming at the cost of a letter sent to every household in the borough.

The controversial letter, jointly signed by the Labour Leader of Oldham Council, councillor Sean Fielding, and Oldham Council’s Chief Executive, Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE, relays what the council has been doing over the past twelve months during the Covid crisis, and concludes that by ‘working together and demonstrating that community spirit Oldham is famous for, we can get back to doing the things we love sooner’.

Councillor Gloster is also the shadow portfolio holder for finance and knows how precious every Council Tax penny is.  He railed against the waste of money sending out the letter represents: 

“To be blunt this is an absolute waste of council tax-payers’ money.  At this year’s March budget council meeting, I proposed cuts of £250,000 to the Council’s Communications budget because of clear examples of waste, and this is a prime example. This single communication to more than 90,000 homes in Oldham will have cost in excess of £70,000 in time, paper and postage to circulate.  I honestly despair at this financial waste that cannot be justified in my view.  What is even more galling is that the letter arrived at the same time that residents received their latest council tax bill increased yet again by this Labour Administration.” 

Councillor Gloster also believes that the letter represents Labour electioneering propaganda at the public’s expense:

“Sending out such a letter at this time is so wrong. The Labour council leader is personally up for election in May, and to circulate a letter at council tax-payers’ expense to every home in Oldham encouraging residents to work together with him just days before the election is formally called smacks of electioneering.

“A former Local Government Minister once talked about ‘Town Hall Pravda’, political material put out at public expense.  There is no doubt in my mind that this letter is electioneering in disguise and based on the numerous people who have commented on it to this effect, people across Oldham share the same view.”

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