Rochdale leader's cash 'threat' to non-Labour wards earns reprimand

Allen Brett Image copyright Rochdale Council
Image caption Allen Brett said he now wants to put this behind him and "get on with the job"

A council leader who was recorded saying he may withhold road funds in areas that did not vote Labour has been reprimanded by a standards board.

Rochdale chief Allen Brett admitted bringing the authority into disrepute but said the secretly recorded remarks were "banter".

An independent investigation found no evidence he had attempted, or planned, to manipulate highways funding.

A panel found he had breached the council's code of conduct.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reports councillor Peter Malcolm, who chaired the standards meeting, said the sub-committee found Mr Brett's "conduct fell below that of a member in his position".

In the two-minute recording made at a Labour group meeting discussing a £12m budget for roads and pavements, Mr Brett said if the party was "not successful" in certain wards he might "not spend any money" there.

Councillors, prospective candidates and party members were at the meeting earlier this year.

The Labour councillor for Milkstone and Deeplish said in a statement after the hearing: "I have said many times that my comments were not meant to be taken seriously and this process has finally concluded there was no way I could have influenced where our record road investment should be allocated.

"I now want to put this behind me and get on with the job of transforming our borough, which we are very much doing.

"I also want to look at ways of increasing our road repair programme even further because I know it's something many of our residents want us to do."

Image copyright Rochdale Council
Image caption Mr Brett said the remarks were "banter"

As a result of the hearing a recommendation has been made that all councillors undertake further training on the code of conduct.

Mr Brett was appointed leader in December following the resignation of Richard Farnell.

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