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THURSDAY, 7th APRIL, 2011.
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Independents lose chairman over expenses
So what are ‘bear’ necessities?
One of the founding members of Congleton First independent party has left after an apparent U-turn on claiming expenses.
Graham Goodwin, along with Bill Keeling, was one of the people who got the party started on the back of protests over the parking charges introduced by Cheshire East.
But with less than a month until polling day in the council elections — Congleton First has four candidates — Mr Goodwin quit the party after it changed its policy over expenses claims, another central plank of the group’s olicies.
In a letter to the “Chronicle” this week Mr
Goodwin said: “I believed (when the party was launched) that there was a wide public perception that many politicians were only in it for the money. I stated in my initial letter that the only way to convince the electorate that this was not so was for the group to confirm that any elected councillor would only take a proportion of the allowances available to them.
“This is clearly stated in (my) letter and, when the website for Congleton First first went live in October of last year this same commitment was included on the site.
“I have been an active member of Congleton First since i ts formation but the differences have escalated to a point where I was informed that my membership had been terminated because some of the group felt that my views
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on where the group was going did not coincide with theirs.”
He added: “I find this somewhat strange since my views were, are, and will always be the support of the people of Congleton.
“It was inevitable that there would be a split when I found that the commitment for any elected Congleton First councillor to take only a proportion of the allowances had been removed from the website.”
Mr Goodwin said: “Apart from my personal commitment to this principal, there could be a number of potential voters who were attracted to the group because of this undertaking, who should now be aware that it has been removed from the About Us section of the website.”
• —Turn to back page.
Bear Mania festival bears were filmed for BBC North West Tonight outside Congleton Town Hall on Friday. Journalist and presenter Mark Edwardson, who lives in Congleton, filmed the five foot models all brilliantly decorated by local artists. The bear celebration will last for 18 weeks from May. The show aired on Sunday evening. (“Chronicle” photo. 1420h/11).
Ex-jewellery firm staff get redundancy cash, but their fight goes on
Former workers a Congleton-based jewellery firm that went bust in February have finally received their redundancy, but fight on for their 30-day notice pay.
HPJ Retailing owned high street chains HPJ the Jewellers and Jewel Nation and employed 53 people in Congleton.
Many of the workers have found it hard to retrain or find work.
Mr Crane said: “One or two of us have got jobs but the rest of us are looking. It’s a difficult time to be job hunting. We didn’t want to be here, we’ve been forced into this position and I don’t think people at the job centre really appreciate that. There’s no such thing as a job for life these days.”
Without warning 22 workers at the Booths Hall headquarters on Chelford Road lost their jobs when the holding company went into administration. Barry Crane from West Heath, who would have worked for the firm for a decade in February, said: “The day they told us I knew it was coming but I’d not expected it to be so immediate. I thought we’d work through it. We are still fighting for our 30-day notice pay that we didn’t get.”
The former employees were made redundant with immediate effect and are taking their fight for compulsory 30-day notice pay to a tribunal that will be held in Birmingham when a date is set.
He added: “Most of us have finally had our money that we were owed, but it came from the government, not the company.”
Administrators revealed that HPJ Retailing owed more than £2m when the firm were taken over by restructuring firm Gordon Brothers.
KPMG, the administration company brought in to review the firm for resale, said in a report that it anticipated there would not be enough money to be distributed to unsecured creditors.
They include organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs who are owed around £300,000 and rank after ex-employees in terms of distributing remaining funds.
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