MP hits back after criticism from ex-MP Tessa Munt
MP James Heappey has hit back at former MP Tessa Munt over her attack
on local Conservative MPs for 'failing to gain Westminsters
backing to sort out the County Councils financial crisis'.
here, her comments come amid Somerset County Council's decision
to make an additional £11 million round of cutbacks on top
of the £11 million announced in February.
MP James Heappey responded: "A press release circulated by
a PR firm working for Councillor Tessa Munt has drawn ridicule after
forgetting that whilst serving as the Member of Parliament, their
client voted in favour of cuts to Somerset County Councils
budget in each of the five years she was in Westminster. As a result
of her votes to reduce Somersets grants from central government,
funding fell during her tenure by nearly £30 million per year
nearly twice the current shortfall in the councils
disturbing still is that her PR agency dont seem to understand
that Somerset is spending £15.4 million this year in interest
on the debts left by the Lib Dems when they were in charge at County
Hall. If her party colleagues had not been so reckless in saddling
Somerset with hundreds of millions of pounds of debt a decade ago,
Somerset residents wouldnt now be paying almost as much in
interest as were spending on maintaining our roads."
the savings the county council are seeking are less than the interest
being paid on the Lib Dem debt, Id have thought shed
be better asking her PR team to issue an apology rather than such
a nakedly political and factually inaccurate press release. This
really is a spectacular own goal from Councillor Munt."
Heappey says he held lengthy meetings with the leader of the county
council in January, May and July in which hed been briefed
on the financial challenges facing the council.
that period Mr Heappey says he was working with other Somerset MPs
to lobby Government for more money and he continues to do so. Whilst
chairing the Rural Fair Share Campaign, Mr Heappey says he was instrumental
in securing a review into the funding formula for allocating money
to local councils. He is also pushing hard for Somerset to be included
in the next phase of the Business Rates retention pilot.
Heappey added: "Ill take no lessons from Councillor Munt
given that she voted for these cuts in Parliament and shes
shown no remorse for the levels of debt her party colleagues have
left Somerset residents to pay off."
is telling that whilst just about every other county councillor
in the Wells Constituency including other Lib Dems - has
been in touch to talk about the situation at County Hall and my
work in Parliament to support the council, Councillor Munt hasnt
made contact at all."
know that she is busy trying to stop Brexit and campaigning for
a General Election in 2022 but Im happy to work with people
from all parties for the good of our community. She only needs to
find the time to get in touch."