September 5th 2020
Tamworth Council: Leader Daniel Cook Stops Play
Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, leader of Tamworth Borough Council, is accused of making false statements on the council’s website in relation to Leisure Leagues, the UK’s largest provider of not-for-profit small sided leagues.

A dispute has arisen over whether or not Leisure Leagues booked pitches with the Council to run a six aside league on a Sunday and Monday at Tamworth Enterprise College.

Leisure Leagues say they did complete an application to use the pitches, but Cllr Cook states in an article that no such application has been completed by Leisure Leagues for a Sunday slot.

The dispute could mean that hundreds of local Tamworth residents have their league delayed by a week whilst the issue is being resolved.

Leisure Leagues Head of Media, Andy Thorley said: “We have no idea why the Council is being so confrontational and antagonistic, and have been for the last few weeks. We have simply wanted to talk to them and provide evidence that we did complete necessary booking forms, which were sent to the council on 17th August, and we rightly assumed that we had bookings on the pitch. Indeed, the Councils Assistant Director of Leisure, Sarah McGrandle even confirmed that by sending the bookings back to them saying the slot on a Monday was confirmed. It makes you wonder what more you have to do to book the pitch, especially when we know that other users have done exactly the same thing as we have”.

Mr Thorley continued: “Councillor Cook really does need to get his facts straight before going to print. We did try and call him to give him the evidence but he simply hung up on us. This is not of the way our elected leaders should behave, and they should be open to talking with us and looking at the evidence in a dispassionate way”.

Leisure Leagues have sent numerous emails to the Council since the 18th August and none have been responded to. “It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone, even if it is to say ‘Sorry, but I can’t say anything’, so what are they so frightened of?”

Daniel Cook also stated that officers of the Council and a Councillor  have had several discussions with Leisure Leagues and “they are aware of the process that needs to be followed”.

Mr Thorley said: “This is simply untruthful, plain and simple. We had confirmation of our booking from Mrs McGrandle in the middle of August, evidence we have provided to our solicitors, and we have done everything requested of us in respect of booking the pitch on a Sunday, supplying insurance, Covid 19 regulations, risk assessments, booking forms and signing the terms and conditions”.

“As nobody from the Council, nor any Councillor, apart from one supportive member, has actually spoken to us to discuss the process, Councillor Cook really needs to stop saying things which are untruthful. The Council is simply digging a bigger hole for themselves”.

Councillor Cook also claimed that on a Sunday a number of slots had been booked throughout the day by local football teams.

Mr Thorley said: “Why would Daniel Cook say this when it is patently not true, and he must know it is not true? You only have to go on the Councils own website to see that from midday onwards there is only one hiring booked in, and that doesn’t even start until the following week. From 4pm onwards nobody will be using the pitch on the 6th of September later on in the day when it is exactly the time we want to get our players playing. Everybody accepts that all politicians might do a bit of spinning, but this really is taking it a bit far”.

Mr Thorley said: it is time the Council stopped behaving like this, looked at the evidence and the facts, and started to talk with us in a proper way rather than coming out with untruthful statements like this, which have no bearing in fact or reality, simply to try and convince people how well they are doing. What they need to do is look at the evidence properly, and talk to us to reach a solution. We are prepared to compromise. But it takes both sides to talk to resolve this, and so far the Council and its elected members seem to be terrified of actually talking”.

“We have the evidence that the pitches were booked in accordance with the procedure that we were advised by the Council. Our bookings were properly confirmed through email communication. Councillor Cook and his colleagues should perhaps act properly as elected people, and scrutinising the Council, and start listening to another side of the story, particularly when the evidence is so overwhelming”.

“Not replying to calls, acting in a discourteous fashion, hanging up the telephone, is not what our elected leaders should be doing. They have a duty to the residents of Tamworth to operate their sports pitches in a fair and proper fashion. Not, as the evidence we have shows, in a way that has been consistently discriminatory from the outset”.

“We are open to have constructive dialogue with the Council, but they first of all need to behave in a more adult like fashion, and deal with the evidence in front of them”.

“We are a not-for-profit trust. We deal with hundreds of schools, academies and universities across the length of the country. We have an international reputation. We have excellent partnerships and relationships with everybody apart, it seems, from Tamworth Borough Council. We are open to repairing that relationship and entering into proper dialogue, but the Council and its elected members need to behave sensibly and start dialogue with us rather than seeing this matter continue to escalate out of control. Let us hope somebody sees sense, looks at the facts, and picks up the phone to talk to us”.

“Leisure leagues have already shown their willingness to compromise by asking only the vacant pitch slots. The council appears happy to let the pitch lie empty which is a travesty and a waste of public money. Statements containing untruthful comments are simply not helpful. Somebody somewhere needs to have the courage to pick up the phone and correct an injustice to the residents of Tamworth, who only want to play sport, not engage in tribal feuds involving politicians and the Council”.

Leisure Leagues have said that if it transpires that Cllr Cook has made false statements about Leisure Leagues then they would consider taking legal action against him.

Mr Thorley said: “If Cllr Cook has not told the truth then he is going to have to review his position. Making statements about organisations which are false, whether you have checked your facts or not, is an extremely serious thing for an elected person to be doing.”

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