Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Chief executive Ian Stratford has moved swiftly to quash rumours of tensions within the new Liberal Democrat regime at Newcastle City Council.

Labour councillors claim privately that some senior officers are upset at the behaviour of some Lib Dems.

The Lib Dems are working closely with officers as they map out their own policy agenda after winning control of the city council in June, ending 30 years of Labour rule.

Rumours of discontent began to emerge following a meeting of the Lib Dem executive when a couple of their councillors grilled one particular officer about proposed school closures. It was a throwback to the days when Labour rottweiler Kevan Jones, now MP for Durham North and then a city councillor, earned a reputation as the scourge of the Civic Centre.

The whispers have been seized on by Labour councillors eager to exploit any potential rift. However, the claims have been denied by Mr Stratford and the Lib Dems themselves. There was speculation that some officers were upset, but Mr Stratford says he has received no complaint.

He said: "Very good relationships are being established between the executive and corporate management team which will be the basis for driving the council's vision for the future" .

LABOUR is planning to play the football card after the Tories selected Newcastle-based Jeremy Middleton to fight the Hartlepool by-election. Labour is emphasising the home town credentials of its candidate, Iain Wright, 32, a local councillor who was born in Hartlepool and is a season ticket holder at Hartlepool United.

Meanwhile, Mr Middleton, 43, was pictured wearing a Newcastle United top during a recent charity fundraising walk to the North Pole.

One Labour insider said darkly: "People in Hartlepool are fiercely loyal to the town's football team and it could well be that the photograph will appear during the campaign". …

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