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According to HELP all community spending is a waste

Letters in this weeks Comet and Advertiser remain critical of HELP's role not just in the recent tribunals but also in how they have run the council. Last week a HELP supporter wrote a letter claiming that the previous council had done nothing of benefit. This is the response to that.

I see from the letters from HELP last week that they are trying to move the discussion away from their shameful treatment of staff to a general one about the old council and have made up some fantasy figures about past council spending. HELP disagreed with every penny spent. Every penny spent on helping the Salvation army, helping fund the dial-a-ride service, funding a community police officer, running family fun days, operating trips for pensioners, providing support for allotment holders or funding for community groups in the Jackmans, the Grange and on the Westbury, to them this was a waste. They oppose our plans for spending in Wilbury.
   They disagreed with the idea of setting up community gardens in these areas or buying new play equipment or football posts, but we helped to do it anyway.
   We ran football tournaments and training for children and supported children’s rugby and the scouts or support for local schools. Each school got a grant to help promote citizenship and the Letchworth story. This to them was wrong.

   We believed in honouring our war dead and injured and were proud to support the British Legion on Remembrance Sunday and with donations they disagreed and didn’t turn up preferring no HELP for Heroes.
   We made Letchworth a fair trade town, they didn't care or believe in it.
   We provided both financial and administrative support to Homeless groups and help too for self-help groups with downs syndrome. We provided a place where self-help groups could meet for free in the town. They closed them down.
   We sought to build a more harmonious town including help for Afro-Caribbean groups and the Sri Lankan community, they shut them out.
   Church and other religious leaders attended our meetings and wrote letters in our support. They ignored them.
   Our accounts were signed and audited. We won the accolade of ‘Quality Town’ for Letchworth they lost it. The judge in the recent tribunal complemented the council on its professionalism as a ‘reasonable and sensible employer dealing with a difficult situation in a balanced way, mindful of both the interests of staff and the taxpayer’. He noted our agenda was in fully in keeping with that of a town or parish council. Our Garden City values are about people, theirs aren’t.
   Our precept never rose above the average for Hertfordshire. Out of that money we obtained offices, furniture and equipment, invested like any start up venture for the future and built up strong financial reserves. No councillor ever took any salaries. The cost per household? About that of a Mars bar a week.
   They have thrown out the furniture, closed the offices, dumped the computer system and sacked the staff and spent a small fortune on lawyers. But I accept that people weren't prepared to pay it and they is why we lost the election. HELP inherited enough resource to meet all liabilities. We are proud of our record for doing good in the town and stand by our values of helping those in most need and successfully defending people rights in the town.
Philip Ross
Mayor of Letchworth 2007-9

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