Harrogate Council leader under fire

NADV 1406037AM6 Richard Cooper. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1406037AM6)

NADV 1406037AM6 Richard Cooper. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1406037AM6)

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Harrogate Borough Council’s leader has come under fire from a political opponent over the creation of a new Cabinet role.

Coun Richard Cooper (Con, High Harrogate) appointed Coun Rebecca Burnett (Con, Rossett) to the role of Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport last month.

UKIP’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate David Simister criticised the appointment because Coun Burnett worked with Coun Cooper at MP Andrew Jones’s office.

Coun Burnett works as a senior caseworker and reports to Coun Cooper who is the office manager..

County Coun Simister (UKIP, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) said: “The unnecessary post comes with an excessive tax-payer funded £4,400 special allowance.

“It is cited that Coun Burnett is amply qualified to hold this new Cabinet post because she rides a bicycle?

“It neglects to mention another major qualification, that of working for Coun Cooper in the office of Conservative MP Andrew Jones. “

Coun Cooper, responding through a council statement said: “The appointment was made a month ago now and has been welcomed by the two main political groups on the council.

“Transport is important in the Harrogate district. It is important that local people have a voice on matters such as the roadworks around the new Tesco store, cycling infrastructure, improvements to our trains and congestion.

“We need to move forward recognising that our transport infrastructure is one of the biggest problems we have. I have taken action to ensure that we are best placed as a council to improve that situation by appointing a Cabinet Member to speak out for local people.

“That Cabinet Member has the ear of the County Council, the train operators, bus companies, cycling groups and other key stakeholders.”

Coun Burnett said she had made good progress in her short time in her role.

She said: “The County Council is speaking to the public about Tesco’s plans, I won’t take all the credit for that but it is something I pushed very hard for.

“I’m just keen to get my head down and concentrate on the work we need to do.”