Councillors in angry clashes on plans to shut pool Dimensions splash pool in Burslem
LEAKED emails have revealed how Labour councillors clashed behind closed doors over plans to close the Dimensions splash pool.
The emails describe a stormy emergency group meeting held in March 2008, following the announcement that Stoke-on-Trent City Council wanted to shut the Burslem splash pool.
• READ MORE:The full Dimensions correspondence
Mark Meredith, who was then elected mayor, and Mohammed Pervez, a cabinet member at the time, angrily denied rumours that talks had taken place with Waterworld-owner Mo Chaudry.
It is now known that senior officers and politicians had held secret talks with Mr Chaudry about the Dimensions proposals which involved £50,000 in taxpayers' cash being used to run a pilot scheme offering 'free' access for school-age children to WaterWorld.
But according to an email from councillor Joy Garner, she claimed Mr Meredith and Mr Pervez 'bullied' their colleagues over the issue at the meeting. Mrs Garner says Mr Pervez, now council leader, claimed he was being 'racially abused' in relation to the links between Waterworld and Dimensions.
This was after Mrs Garner referred to a BNP email touching on the issue. She wrote: "He ranted to the room, hoping that using this issue would make members agree with him. All he did was anger myself and others with his attitude, barracking, and mudslinging. I am not racist. I cannot let this go unchallenged, as every time race is used wrongly, it undermines and weakens real cases."
Current cabinet member Olwen Hamer, who was present at the meeting, also lodged a complaint, but did not refer to either Mr Meredith or Mr Pervez. She accused unnamed councillors of making 'inappropriate and personalised attacks' on colleagues. Mrs Hamer declined to comment, but a spokesman for West Midlands Labour said: "I can say with confidence that Olwen Hamer was not referring to Mark Meredith or Mohammed Pervez in her email, but to people who are no longer Labour Party members."
The spokesman declined to comment on the leaked email from Joy Garner.
Former councillor Mike Barnes, who called the meeting as Labour group secretary, said he was shocked at the behaviour of Mr Meredith and Mr Pervez.
He said: "There have always been disagreements over issues, but this meeting stuck in the memory because in the 20 years I was a member of the Labour Party it was unique. "What's even more shocking is that no action was taken. In the past, people have been warned or banned from meetings for a time. I know there were four written complaints, and other people made verbal complaints, but nothing came of them."
Mr Pervez and Mrs Garner declined to comment. Mr Meredith was unavailable.