- Manchester's one-man opposition, Cllr. John Leech, continued to push for answers, despite being publicly reprimanded twice.
- Yesterday was Manchester's second council meeting since the 2016 local elections, where an opposition was elected for the first time in two years.
- Leech refused to back down as the Labour council faced its second round of questioning.
Manchester Council fell victim to yet another round of intense questioning from the city's sole opposition yesterday.
For the past two years Manchester Town Hall has been a sea of red but the local elections in May 2016 finally saw an opposition elected, in the form of Withington's former MP, John Leech.
The experienced campaigner has long been a thorn in Labour's side, snatching the Withington Parliamentary seat in 2005 against all odds, and holding for 10 years against party giant Lucy Powell. In 2015, Labour finally had their way, regaining the seat and claiming 'Manchester was whole again'.
But not for long. The now Liberal Democrat councillor stormed to victory with 53% of the vote earlier this year, breaking Labour's admittedly unhealthy 100% grip. Newly elected Cllr. John Leech stands as the sole opposition on the benches otherwise made up of 95 Labour members.
Cracks began to show in the city's first council meeting held in May, when Cllr. Leech was publicly scolded by the leader of the council, who tried to suppress the opposition's questioning, describing him as "scurrilous".
Richard Leese, the Labour council leader, snapped: "There is a right to ask a question. Then there is a right to ask a supplementary question, not what appears to be half a dozen supplementary questions."
The Didsbury West councillor, John Leech, said: "I'm not going to be put off by playground intimidation. I'm here to do a job, question the council and represent the residents of south Manchester, and that's exactly what I'm going to do whether it upsets Labour or not.
"To have a council with only one opposition member and then publicly tell them off for asking too many questions seems a little unfair to me."
In the scrutiny meeting held earlier this month, Cllr. Leech was once again told off for enquiring too much about the recent reduction in bin sizes for Manchester residents - something he continued to press Cllr. Nigel Murphy on in the council meeting yesterday.
In response to Leech's questioning, Cllr. Murphy sniped: "I'd forgotten what it's like to have opposition. Good to see you're back on form, Councillor Leech."
Leech also questioned the council on children's services, school places in south Manchester and disabled grants for foster carers.
This is just the second council meeting in Manchester with any form of opposition for two years.
FULL QUESTIONS TO COUNCIL:
[CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]
1. To the leader of the Council
Will the leader of the Council commit Manchester City Council to support the Royal British Legion's "Count Them In Campaign", to have questions on the armed forces community included in the next census?
2. To the Executive Member for Children's Services:
What discussions has she and Council officers had with CHS Learning Trust regarding plans for an 8 form entry free school in the central/south Manchester area, and when did those discussions take place?
3. To ask the Deputy Leader responsible for Housing:
How many disabled facilities grants have been awarded by Manchester Equipment and Adaptations Partnership for homes of disabled foster carers in each of the last 5 years?
4. To the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure:
What assessment he has made of the impact of the new computer system on the borrowing of music scores from the Henry Watson Music Library?
5. To the Executive Member for the Environment:
What representions she has had regarding the possible ban on the use of glyphosate for controlling weeds in Manchester?
6. To the Executive Member for Finance:
What assessment he has made of the potential savings in waste disposal costs in 2016/17 following the urgent decision on acquisition of wheelie bins on 24th May?
- John Leech was elected in the 2016 Manchester local elections with 53% of the vote and a majority of 702, overturning an 810 Labour majority.
- John Leech was elected to represent Didsbury West ward.
- John Leech was the MP for Manchester Withington from 2005 – 2015.