An ‘historic alliance’ announced in Cabinet has raised eyebrows from other groups purportedly involved.
Questions have been raised over Cllr Tony Hooke’s comments to the Cabinet of Hampshire County Council regarding an ‘alliance’ between the trade unions Unison, Unite, UKIP and the Labour Party to fight proposed cuts to HCC staffing. Cllr Hooke said in a meeting of the Cabinet on 28th October “We’ve now formed probably an historical alliance with our colleagues in Unite and Unison and Labour.” Hampshire County Council is planning to cut 1000 jobs by 2015 as part of cost cutting measures introduced due to Government funding cuts.
A webcast of the meeting can be seen here. However it appears Cllr Hooke may not have consulted the other groups allegedly involved prior to his announcement as both Labour and Unison deny any ‘alliance’ has been formed.
Cllr Hooke said of his comments to Cabinet “It is crucial that we scrutinise the proposed cuts as to press on with them as they are will damage the community for years to come. We cannot afford to cut any more from our frontline services.The purpose of the cross party talks is to propose alternative strategies to make the savings. Criss Connor had committed to come to our meeting and I think it is publicity which has made him change his mind. I’m deeply uncomfortable that Labour are turning their backs on the workers and leaving us to fight for jobs without their support.”
Criss Connor, Labour Group Leader said “Like any political party we are prepared to talk to any other political party if it for the benefit of the public and particularly the employees of the County, on that score with regard to Deeside [care home] I was prepared to talk to UKIP with Unison regarding keeping the building open, retaining jobs for staff and keeping residents in their home.”
He continued “At no time was there any suggestion of any formal alliance between the two parties, it was very much a discussion on the basis of there being a possible benefit to the County. We have never received an invite to a cross party meeting with them.”
A spokesman for Unison told Andover Town that it was “against the rules of the union to hold any formal links with any political party other than Labour.”
The support of workers rights by UKIP in Hampshire comes as a surprise to many after their policy, posted on the UKIP website earlier in the year, was noted for stating “UKIP would put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays … overtime, redundancy or sick pay etc.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Hooke has angered some local residents by suggesting, on a social media website, that he fight Test Valley councillors in exchange for donations to a local community project. After a number of posts questioning his comments both his profile and the Facebook group have been removed. Cllr Hooke said “The boxing comments were made very much tongue in cheek and I am surprised that some local residents took them so seriously.”
Hampshire County Council said “The County Council does not comment on matters relating to Members’ conduct issues.“