December 12 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 27, 2013
A row has erupted over a letter sent to households in Belton and Burgh Castle applauding Conservative group advances in the battle to save free school transport.
The letter from Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has prompted an angry response from “outraged” UKIP councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate Matthew Smith, who highlights his party’s leading role in the campaign and is demanding an apology.
The row centres on comments in the letter made by Mr Lewis blaming UKIP for the cuts in the first place, referring to the “..outrageous decision of the UKIP-backed Labour dominated council cabinet to cancel the free provision to Ormiston Venture Academy.”
Mr Lewis said he was “bemused” anyone should take issue with the legitimate correspondence between an MP and their constituents, especially on such an important issue.
He added that the Labour-led county council was only able to go ahead with the “ruinous policy” because UKIP had united behind them to put them in power following the May elections.
“The letter was quite correct in describing the Labour dominated council cabinet as ‘UKIP backed’,” explained Mr Lewis.
“UKIP county councillors voted in favour of the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition that currently controls Norfolk County Council, the same coalition that brought forward these measures.
Mr Smith has branded the letter “misleading” and called on Mr Lewis to issue an apology.
Mr Smith said he had proposed the motion at County Hall last week, amended by the Tories, calling on the powerful cabinet to look again at the issue, adding: “Brandon cannot take the credit for it. We are happy to work with anyone when the cause is right. We have worked with the Conservatives on this and now they have tried to take the credit and blame us for the problem in the first place.”
Mr Lewis, meanwhile, stressed Labour was only able to make decisions that were “bad for the community” because of UKIP. The Tory group, he said, had successfully wiped the proposal off the agenda last year when in power and was continuing to work hard to achieve the same again.
“At no point in the letter have I taken credit for the work of county councillors who voted for the motion to reverse the policy,”