These are not easy times for the Labour old guard on Rochdale Council, associated as they are with disgraced former MP Simon Danczuk and his predilection for a variety of dirty tricks: former leader Richard Farnell was merely suspended from the party after he had been judged to have lied to the Statutory Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse, and now his successor Allen Brett is under pressure to follow him out the door.
Allen Brett with an old friend
Brett, who was Danczuk’s election agent while Spanker Si remained an official Labour MP, has already been the target of a no confidence motion from Heywood and Middleton CLP. He has been adjudged to have brought the Council into disrepute. Now, as the good people at Rochdale Online have told, he is to appear before the Council’s standards committee. And that isn’t the half of his problems.
While Brett has told “that the council’s monitoring officer was responsible for calling meetings of the standards sub-committee and he had no influence on the timing of it, but declined to comment on the matter any further” and RO has added “Rochdale Council says it has followed its processes which accounts for the six month interval between the matter coming to light and the hearing being called … It also confirmed that Councillor Brett has no say on who sits on the standards committee”, some are still unhappy.
Andy Kelly, who leads the Lib Dem contingent on Rochdale Council, is one of those. He’s concluded “My own view is that nothing will happen, there’s just this sort of ingrained structure whereby, even if he is found guilty, the standards committee can’t do anything anyway … It’s up to each party to take responsibility for each councillor’s conduct, and you have to ask what are Labour doing?” It was, after all, Labour who finished off Danczuk.
That takes us back once more to Labour’s North West regional operation, which has shown itself to be less than willing to deal with the local old guard in the recent past. Well, perhaps they might sit up and take notice when presented with the transcript of a short recording of another Allen Brett foot-in-mouth episode which has found its way to Zelo Street. Whatever the subject, it ends up with him talking about where to score drugs.
I kid you not. Here’s what he said. “On a serious note, the problem with Pioneer Street is one, it’s too near the houses, so the residents complain about people kicking balls into the gardens, but at the moment, if you want some drugs, I’ll send you round there”. For those unfamiliar with the area, it’s just behind Rochdale station and a short walk from buses on Oldham Road. And now with residents less than enamoured of their Council leader.
Perhaps Allen Brett thought this was another of those bits of banter. It isn’t. Whatever one’s thoughts on the “War on Drugs”, these are currently illegal substances and no-one in a position of power and responsibility should be encouraging their consumption. Labour’s North West organisation now needs to bite the Brett bullet once and for all.
The time of the Labour old guard in Rochdale was for a time, but not for all time.
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