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Black day for jobs; Your Say.

CLLR Ken Walker (Ex-Middlesbrough Council Leader Tells Of His Regrets, News, 06.04.09) has a recollection of events of 1998 and the sacking of over 100 loyal Middlesbrough Council workers that I do not recognise.

I was in the council chamber that fateful day when the regional officer of the T& GWU pleaded with councillors not to rush into mass sackings but work with the union to work through the alleged economic difficulties that the council then faced.

Many of us argued, in the face of venomous hostility, that we leave no stone unturned in managing out these economic problems.

We warned Cllr Walker and supporters of his view that the proposed sackings were illegal and would cost the council a great deal more money in terms of damages and costs than was to be saved by redundancies and that we should not, in any event, be treating the workforce in such a cruel and prejudicial way.

Our pleas fell on deaf ears and Cllr Walker won the vote and people lost their jobs.

As the employment tribunal recorded, the decision was indeed illegal. The ultimate cost to the council tax payer ran into millions.

Cllr Walker's assertion that he was still right to issue those redundancy notices speaks volumes about his record and his judgment.

ANDY McDONALD, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough ( councillor for Westbourne ward, 1995- 1999) * * * * * * WHEN I joined Cleveland Police Authority in 2002, Cllr Walker had previously led the authority into Operation Lancet - which cost some pounds 7m, demoralised and divided Cleveland Police and achieved next to nothing.

Crime was rising, policing council tax bills more so, and Cleveland was second worst performing in the country. We also had a pounds 7.5m black hole in our authority finances..

Since then, with personnel changes and a new spirit of purposefulness and constructive partnership with our Chief Constable and his team, the pounds 7.5m black hole has been turned into surplus, crime is continuing to fall, and public satisfaction has risen to highest rated force in the country. All are determined this momentum must continue.

Cllr Walker opposes police authorities made up of reps from local councils, magistrates and independent community members. He wants directly-elected representatives which have been rubbished by the Police Federation, by Chief Constables, by MPs and by the Local Government Association.

BARRY COPPINGER, Middlesbrough Council representative, Cleveland Police Authority
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2009
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