Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Give Up Your Gong If You Disapprove!

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Give Up Your Gong If You Disapprove!

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel Northumberland reporter

A NORTHUMBERLAND councillor awarded the MBE is facing calls to return the honour after branding Royal Garden Parties an irrelevant waste of money.

Bernard Pidcock, a Labour county councillor, attended Buckingham Palace 10 years ago to pick up his gong in recognition of his seven years as manager of a Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB.) Yet now the councillor - a former Catholic priest - has criticised the holding of Royal Garden Parties, saying it is not appropriate to spend money on such an event at a time when many ordinary members of the public fear for their jobs.

Coun Pidcock, whose comments were made in an email in which he included the letters MBE after his name, has now come under fire from rival Conservative councillors, who have branded them "Grinch-like" and suggested he consider returning his gong.

The councillor has defended his stance, branding the parties "poxy," and hit back at the Tories. He said he will not be returning the MBE - although he said he could understand why opponents were calling on him to do so.

Coun Pidcock, who represents the Holywell ward on Northumberland County Council, was honoured in 2005 for his role at the CAB in Blyth.

But now, the councillor, who lives at Seaton Delaval, was a priest for 15 years and whose daughter Laura is a fellow Labour county councillor, has spoken against the garden parties.

In the email sent to all county councillors, in reply to an invite for them to attend such an event, and signed 'Coun Bernard Pidcock MBE', he wrote: "I do not think it is appropriate to spend money on an irrelevant event which further boosts the establishment while our workers are fearful of redundancy, facing a winter holiday with despair, while their fundamental rights at work being eroded.

"I say 'no' to royal garden parties. …

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