Manchester Council caught up in multi-million-pound financial coverup

Manchester's Labour Executive is at the centre of yet another storm today after the Liberal Democrats uncovered an incredible multi-million-pound coverup.

Last month, the Liberal Democrats revealed that top-level incompetence in the town hall resulted in £17.6m being wiped from this year's £60.5m Highways Budget.

However, in recent reports given to councillors, that figure had changed to just £2.6m

But in an explosive meeting today Manchester Lib Dem leader, John Leech, uncovered that the council had adjusted figures on official documents in an attempt to cover up the real amount lost.

After sifting through dodgy documents and reconfirming figures, the Liberal Democrats can reveal that real amount being wiped from this year's Highways Budget is actually a whopping £19.1m.

This means that a third of the whole budget has been lost.

The real figures, deliberately amended and then approved by Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance, are even higher than the £17.6m uncovered last month by the Liberal Democrats.

Of the original £60.5m Highways budget, £27.6m was set aside for road resurfacing, with an expected spend of £14.5m, meaning £13.5m will go unspent - nearly half of the entire resurfacing budget.

But Labour councillors tried to sweep this under the carpet by "reprofiling" the resurfacing budget, adjusting it from £27.6m to £14.5m - the original amount they had expected to spend - with a plan to spend £14.1m, claiming an underspend of just £400,000.

Had the entire original budget been spent, nearly twice as many roads could have been resurfaced than is now being planned.

Manchester Lib Dem leader John Leech said:

"Local people will suffer as our roads don't get the investment they need because of a completely incompetent executive that can't even spend the money they've already got.

"Countless people at our local advice sessions tell me that their car or bike has been seriously damaged by the dreadful state of our roads and cyclists in particular struggle to make it down roads without having to dangerously swerve deep potholes or flooding gutters.

"Instead of fixing the roads, they are wasting time trying to cover up the complete mess they have made of the roads budget. Did they really think we wouldn't notice millions of pounds just vanishing? 

"This whole saga shows just how much Labour takes local people for granted and is another example of why a larger Liberal Democrat opposition on this council is absolutely vital."

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