Row mars council backing for Maplewood

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A VOTE of support from Preston Council for Maplewood House parents was marred by heated exchanges in the debating chamber.

Preston councillors unanimously voted to condemn County Hall colleagues for their plans to close the respite care unit in Bamber Bridge.

But parents in the public gallery had to sit and watch as 75 minutes of increasingly bitter argument unfolded in front of their eyes.

One councillor told colleagues that they "should hang their heads in shame".

Another, Coun Ken Hudson, said: "When I came to the council chamber today I thought we were unanimously going to vote for the notice of motion.

"I didn't think it would be about trying to win Brownie points."

All parties, however, stressed their support for the campaign to keep Maplewood open.

The debate became divided on party lines after Conservative councillor Geoff Driver tried to introduce an amendment stating the county council could make savings by stopping paid secondment of County Hall staff to work on union business.

Coun Driver, who stressed his support for Maplewood, was jeered by Labour councillors.

Labour's Coun Steven Brooks called it "an horrendous amendment". He said that unions did "beautiful" and "brilliant" work.

When the amendment was lost by one vote, order broke down and an altercation erupted between Coun Driver and Labour's Coun Jack Davenport.

After the debate, campaigners said they were just grateful councillors had supported their cause.

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