Below is a video of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, talking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
40 seconds into the video Pickles makes the false claim that Labour voted for library closures in Doncaster. Here’s a fact check, Eric: the Cabinet meeting that decided on library closures took place on 4th February 2011. Here are the minutes. Here is a list of people present at the meeting (Cabinet members for 2010/11), and their political affiliations:
- Councillor Andrea Milner: Independent
- Councillor Cynthia Ransome: Conservative
- Councillor Mark Thompson: Independent
- Councillor Patrick Wilson: Liberal Democrat (has since left party)
- Councillor Jonathan Wood: Conservative Party
Not one of the Cabinet members is a member of the Labour Group. The head of the council is the Mayor, who is a member of the English Democrat party. His Cabinet is made up of Independent, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members because there are no other English Democrat councillors in the borough. The Cabinet voted for the Mayor’s recommendations, as outlined in the documentation here. It has already been reported that these councillors were instructed by their party whips to vote down the proposals. But they went ahead anyway. The elected mayoral system means that the final say lies with the Mayor, regardless of the amount of opposition from councillors and thousands of members of the public. It also seems to mean that Cabinet members are too fond of their positions to vote in line with what their party wants them to.
SDL aren’t a party political group. We do, however, notice who’s saying what about libraries and keep track of the way councillors vote. The Conservative Party ought to do the same, and shouldn’t be telling lies on a national stage.