SamCam row: Now, Baroness Warsi is appalled

HERE comes Baroness Warsi…

THAT quote in the last blogpost, given to Tom Foot by ‘a Conservative
Party spokesman’ in relation to Samantha Cameron, Nash Ali and the future of the Surma Centre, as printed in Thursday’s Camden New Journal:

It is extraordinary that Camden can’t find the money to keep this centre open. This is a decision taken by a Labour-run council that has spent more than £3million on publicity in 12 months, lavishes its chief executive with a £230,000 pay packet and is led by Councillor Nasim Ali, who has been able to claim the best part of £100,000 in perks over just four years.

Councillor Ali’s allowances since 2007 alone would keep the centre open for eight months. The closure appears to be nothing more than a cynical move by another Labour council determined to play politics with people’s lives. They should rethink their decision.

And now for something not completely different, a quote from Baroness Warsi printed in this morning’s Mail on Sunday:

It is appalling Labour-run Camden Council can’t find the money to keep this centre open when they waste so much money on perks, publicity and pay The leader of the council has himself claimed the best part of £100,000 since 2007.

Nash is clearly not a popular figure at Conservative HQ. You don’t bring Mrs Cameron into the debate and get off lightly.

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8 Comments on SamCam row: Now, Baroness Warsi is appalled

  1. Cllr Andrew Marshall // February 20, 2011 at 9:08 am // Reply

    Baroness Warsi might like to remember that Camden Council is currently operating under a budget set by the LibDem-Conservative partnership in March 2010.

    I dispute CCHQ’s figure of £3m on publicity.

    I find the characterisation of Cllr Ali’s allowances since 2007 “£100,000 in perks” pretty disheartening. As it happens, a number of Conservative councillors, including me and Cllr Ali, have claimed around £100,000 in allowances since 2007. Just as plenty of Conservative council leaders and cabinet members around the country have. You can have a debate about the exact level of councillors allowances, of course . But toting up four or five years of allowances to portray Cllr Nash Ali as a fat cat is just laughable, and just not balanced commentary given the scale of the budget cuts.

    CCHQ also seems to have forgotten – in its enthusiasm for the Surma Centre – that firstly no final decisions have been taken on these services, and secondly and importantly, that Camden rightly has taking a more competitive/challenge approach to voluntary sector services through bidding and negotiated funding contracts. Presumably it isn’t really saying that the Surma Centre should by definition be ring-fenced just because SamCam visited it.

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    • With respect Andrew are you not standing against CCHQ and Conservative policies generally making this public statement. Would itbnotvbe better to have a discussion behind the scenes with CCHQ and BaronessWarsi. I don’t feel that SamCam should be a factor in what is a local Council decsion anyway!

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      • “Would itbnotvbe better”…. Should read “would it not be better”.
        As a comical aside it has been noted in the press that the iPad word replace and spell check has a difinate mind of it’s own. That’s my excuse anyway!

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  2. Cllr Andrew Marshall // February 20, 2011 at 9:17 am // Reply

    Camden’s current budget is actually that set by the LibDem-Conservative council in March 2010.

    I dispute the £3m figure for spending on “publicity”.

    The focus on Cllr Ali’s allowances – bundling together allowances since 2007 to get “£100,000 in perks” is rather distasteful and disproportionate to the budget issues failing the council.

    As it happens, several Conservative councillors in Camden, including Cllr Andrew Mennear and myself, have also claimed around £100,000 in allowances since 2007. As no doubt have many Conservative council leaders and cabinet members in council around the country. Of course there should be a debate about the level of allowances, and in the current situation there probably is a case for some reduction. But portraying Cllr Ali as a fat cat is a bit laughable.

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  3. M o S: “Mr Ali has claimed £86,248 in allowances and expenses since 2007 but Ms Warsi claims the total figure pushes £100,000 when ‘freebies’ including pop tickets and a box at Lord’s cricket ground are included………….

    But Mr Ali hit back saying: ‘None of the events I was invited along to ever cost the taxpayer money. I receive a salary, but it is well below that of equivalent Tory council leaders.’…………..”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358680/Storm-Sam-Cams-community-centre-axed-Labour.html#ixzz1EUhVY1EE

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  4. Cllr. Theo Blackwell // February 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm // Reply

    While I respect Andrew’s stance on this: Warsi is a total disgrace – although we don’t want to fight on her level, she doesn’t quite come clean on ther £350 a day she takes in Lords allowances before she criticises local politicians for their salaries.

    You can also check her Lords register of interests here: http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/sayeeda-warsi/35329 – two trips to Saudi Arabia and – wait for it – free membership of the Carlton Club!

    It inexcusable for someone of her standing to be peddling ignorance and untruths at this important time.

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  5. shemoli begum // February 21, 2011 at 11:48 am // Reply

    I don’t normally comment on write on blogs but this is an exceptional case. I have grown up in the Regent’s Park ward having experienced the excellent work of Cllr Nasim Ali, who is seen a role model within the Bangladesh community not just in Camden but internationally.

    Cllr Ali has spent mos of his life, since the age of 14, helping the people of Camden and it is disgraceful that his integrity is being questioned.

    It is blatantly clear that neither Baroness Warsi or SamCam’s spokesperson are aware of the hard work that councillors have to do. It is more than a full time job. My husband told me that Councillor Ali was at an engagement at the Surma Centre at midnight last night. That’s commitment for you.

    I am also aware that Camden’s Cabinet members and Leader (only get’s £28,000pa)are some of the lowest paid in London. Tory Leader’s in Barnet and Kensington and Chelsea get double the level of allowances than the Leader of Camden.

    So Baroness Warsi get your facts right before having a go at our hardworking Councillors. Why don’t you give back your membership to Carlton Club and think of the environment before accepting freebies from your rich Arab mates.

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  6. shemoli begum // February 21, 2011 at 11:51 am // Reply

    They should also get their facts right. The Surma Centre will not be closing down. Some of the services are facing funding cuts but it’s the fault of the Tory-Led government NOT our hard working Councillors!

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