Councillor resigns over catering equipment dispute

A dispute over a council loan to purchase thousands of pounds of catering equipment for a Burnley theatre venue has led to a Labour councillor resigning his position.

According to the Burnley Express, Labour councillor Howard Baker quit after disagreeing with plans to loan Burnley Leisure Trust further funds to pay for kitchen appliances. The equipment is needed by the Mechanics entertainment venue, which is owned by the Trust.

In a speech at last week’s Full Council meeting, Counillor Baker said he did not believe that providing the Trust with £50,000 to install new catering equipment at the Mechanics was in the best interest of the taxpayer, adding that bailing the Trust out should not be the council’s responsibility.

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“The Trust has entered into a business relationship with a local catering company,” he said. “The equipment will be provided at no cost to the company. I do not believe that the council’s purchase of the equipment and its free loan to a commercial company is in the best interests of the majority of people in Burnley.”

The paper reported that Councillor Baker was elected in 2006 and will continue to represent Trinity Ward as an independent. He will remain a member of the Labour Party, a party he joined in 1966.

Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend said: “I am delighted our partner, Burnley Leisure, has exciting plans for the Mechanics. For too long this fantastic council facility has been under-utilised and we want to work with our partner to make it a real asset for the town centre economy.”

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