Tameside Council leader blasts ‘hostile’ challenge

EXCLUSIVE

THE LEADER of Tameside Council has hit out at a challenge by her ‘right hand,’ describing it as ‘hostile.’ 

As The Correspondent revealed, Cllr Ged Cooney wants to unseat colleague Brenda Warrington as head of the authority.

It is thought comments over Godley Green Garden Village were seen as the last straw by many and the numbers for a change are thought to stack up.

But Cllr Warrington has hit out at the challenge, the way it has been conducted and another member of her executive cabinet, Cllr Oliver Ryan, for publicly backing the challenger, with a claim he was told to by a local MP.

Council leader Brenda Warrington

She also claimed pressure is being put on her to step down without a fight and on other members to vote for a change.

In a lengthy statement, Cllr Warrington said: “I am at a loss to understand why Councillor Cooney did not, at any stage, privately communicate his ambition to take over responsibility as Leader of Tameside MBC.

“Since he has chosen to conduct his challenge very publicly through the media, I have no option but to do likewise, but I would have preferred to conduct the business of the Tameside Labour Party in a more private environment.

“Ged Cooney has been my right hand ever since he persuaded me to stand as Leader, four-and-a-half years ago following the sad death of Councillor Kieran Quinn, I had always thought we could trust each other.

Cllr Ged Cooney is set to challenge Cllr Brenda Warrington for leadership of Tameside Council | Correspondent image

His guidance was valuable to me, especially at first, and I recognised that he had served as an executive member in both Cllr Roy Oldham’s and Cllr Kieran Quinn’s cabinet spanning two decades and he was an integral part of the decision-making process throughout.

“In his press release, Cllr Cooney has referred to the need for change and I would agree with this.

“We are beginning a journey of recovery following over two years of suffering a worldwide pandemic, the lockdowns, restrictions, isolation, medical impact of the virus and sheer dominance of Covid-19 must make way for us to re-evaluate the way we live and work in order to create a new normal for the future.

“As we recover, we must accept that change is inevitable and to this end I have already begun to put in place a number of initiatives to address our various ambitions that involve and include a much wider group of people, inclusive of councillors, the voluntary sector, retailers and others who will engage with our growth vision and programme, particularly in our major town centres.

“Whilst I accept the right of any elected Labour councillor to mount a leadership challenge, I did not expect the degree of pressure exerted by several people, to try to force me to withdraw – it has been a very unpleasant experience.

“Having said that, I would have preferred the pressure to have been confined to me and I am sad to know that others have also been subjected to intense pressure to secure support for Cllr Cooney.

Cllr Brenda Warrington has been criticised for her comments regarding Godley Green

“A very public example of this, referred to by Cllr Cooney in his comments to the media, is Oliver Ryan, who, following a phone call from a senior prominent Labour Party MP in Tameside, was forced to switch support away from me for fear of his future political ambition being destroyed if he refused.

“This led to a letter from Oliver written to Cllr Cooney being widely circulated and publicised during the critical pre-election period. I won’t deny that this hurt and upset me and probably damaged the party too.

“As I have said previously, I have chosen to make no comment until after the conclusion of the local elections.

“I believe that is the right, proper and honourable thing to have done by anyone seeking to lead Tameside Labour.

Cllr Oliver Ryan

“Our party and the fortunes of our elected candidates must always come first, rather than personal ambition. I’m only sorry that Cllr Cooney failed so badly in this respect.

“Now that the local elections are concluded I feel able to make it very clear that I refuse to be bullied, harassed, or intimidated by anyone for any reason, despite the attempts made.

“Since I was elected as Leader, four-and-a-half years ago, I have successfully led Tameside through numerous major, unprecedented challenges starting almost immediately with the collapse of Carillion and consequent impact of financial and economic impacts, ongoing austerity, increased demand for adult and children’s services and much, much more, as well as initiating an ambitious growth agenda.

“Then, for the past two years we have had to deal with the many impacts of the pandemic which, for much of that time, totally absorbed our time and energy in order to support the people of Tameside whatever their age or circumstance.

“I regret that this hostile challenge to my leadership has created a huge division within the Tameside Labour Group and whatever the outcome it will be necessary for this to be resolved.

“Following the local elections last week, the Labour Party remains the largest political group in Tameside with 49 councillors, maintaining control of the council.

“The primary focus of the ruling political group is to lead the council and make decisions which support residents and the economy and are in the best interests of the Borough. Personal ambition should never detract from this principle.

“The challenges for Tameside in the future are considerable, what is important is stability so that confidence in the administration is maintained. That is my sole focus.

“The ultimate decision as to who will lead Tameside Labour and Tameside Council now rests with the 49 members of the Tameside Labour Group.”

It is thought the leadership decision will be made at the forthcoming Tameside Labour annual general meeting.

11 Replies to “Tameside Council leader blasts ‘hostile’ challenge”

  1. Ive always voted labour but couldn’t do it this time,this woman is awful,no consideration for local feelings. The state of ashton market is dismal,turning the surrounding buildings into flats. Cant believe the new job centre and library has already been shut to upgrade them. Only thing good this council do is waste money.

  2. Seems that what goes round comes round , alls fair in love and war , there is no loyalty in politics , everyone wants to climb the ladder with their own ambition first and foremost , as a woman I hope she stands up to him , as a constituant I want the best for our community , so may the best person win .

  3. So glad she feels upset and betrayed – try being a supporter of democracy , clean and Greenbelt and see the arrogance and betrayal of peoples wishes she displays.
    Maybe. She thinks she can bulldoze him out of the way. Personally I think he is just as much part of a shameful and untalented Council as she is – also supporting the creation of Godley Village despite overwhelming objections.

  4. Infamy, infamy they’ve all got it in for me. Clearly after her comments about being on the first bulldozer and ramming Godley green down peoples throat, the rest of shameside council have decided to cut their losses and try to put a friendlier face to their ridiculous plans.
    Sorry shameside it won’t work.

  5. After her insensitive bulldozer comments she has no place in local politics. Apart from this Tameside is not moving forward and Ashton in particular is a disgrace.

    1. Try living Oldham compared to some of our lot the Ashton Councillors look like University Challenge Contestants, but at least we’ve manged to dump 2 Labour council leaders, ( both Sean Feilding and now Anooj Shah,) in 2 years so not all bad.

  6. She was voted out of her seat because of her arrogance and refusal to listen to people. Why should we listen to her? She should resign immediately and possibly use this time as a period of self-reflection, just go.

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