Labour man resigns over £50,000 catering loan

Coun. Howard Baker

Coun. Howard Baker

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A leading Labour councillor has resigned from the group over plans to loan Burnley Leisure Trust further funds.

In a speech at last week’s Full Council meeting, Coun. Baker said he did not believe providing the Trust with £50,000 to install new catering equipment at the Mechanics was in the best interest of the taxpayer.

I do not believe that the council’s purchase of the equipment and its free loan to a commercial company is in the best interests of the majority of people in Burnley

Coun. Howard Baker

This proposal comes just months after the Trust was forced to borrow £218,000 from the council to cover a fall in income arising from the opening of three low-cost gyms.

Coun. Baker (67) said bailing the Trust out should not be the council’s responsibility. “The Trust has entered into a business relationship with a local catering company. The equipment will be provided at no cost to the company.

“I do not believe that the council’s purchase of the equipment and its free loan to a commercial company is in the best interests of the majority of people in Burnley.”

Coun. Baker was elected in 2006 and will continue to represent Trinity Ward as an independent. He will remain a member of the Labour Party, a party he joined in 1966.

Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend said: “I am delighted our partner, Burnley Leisure, has exciting plans for the Mechanics. For too long this fantastic council facility has been under-utilised and we want to work with our partner to make it a real asset for the town centre economy.

“In this financial year the council has either found the money or secured external grants to invest almost £1.7m in facilities operated by Burnley Leisure. Most of this investment focusses on bringing new leisure opportunities to our residents, such as the Prairie Sports Village development which will open later this month.

“Coun. Baker didn’t share the view of the other members of the Executive that we should assist Burnley Leisure to deliver its exciting plans for the Mechanics with a repayable loan, and decided to resign. I respect him for that and thank him for his contribution and hard work during his three-and-a-half years on the executive.”

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