South Bank leader's astonishing attack on Hull City Council chief executive
A SOUTH Bank council leader has launched an astonishing attack on city council chief executive Darryl Stephenson.
Outspoken North East Lincolnshire Council leader Chris Shaw accused Mr Stephenson of "bearing a grudge" against the ruling Labour group at the Grimsby-based authority.
His comments follow claims made earlier this year by former city council leader Colin Inglis that the four councils bordering the Humber were privately "fighting like rats in a sack" over cross-estuary issues.
In particular, Cllr Inglis pointed the finger at Cllr Shaw for putting millions of pounds of Government funding at risk by "displaying shocking megalomania" during negotiations between the four authorities.
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Firing back, Cllr Shaw claimed Hull had a "huge chip" on its shoulder, adding: "There might have been a time when Hull clicked its fingers and everyone else came running but that doesn't happen anymore."
He also claimed Cllr Inglis was merely trying to raise his own profile by making controversial comments, saying the former Lord Mayor was in the "twilight years" of his political career.
Since then, council leaders from both sides of the estuary have attempted to play down any further claims of rifts between the neighbouring authorities.
But now Cllr Shaw has lit the blue touch paper again by attacking Mr Stephenson, who worked as interim chief executive at North-East Lincs in 2004.
He stepped into the temporary post after the council was severely criticised for poor leadership and a lack of financial management in an Audit Commission report.
Speaking at a full council meeting, Cllr Shaw was asked by opposition Conservative councillors to congratulate the Government for investing in the region after a number of recent funding announcements.
The Labour leader refused to offer any general praise for the coalition but claimed he always got a good response from ministers.
Tory group leader Councillor Keith Brookes then asked if he got a good response from city council leader Steve Brady.
Cllr Shaw replied: "Yes, I do. The person we don't get a good response from is the ex-chief executive of this authority in 2004 who was brought in from the East Riding.
"That chief executive came in and still bears a grudge against this Labour administration because we opposed him closing toilets and closing libraries."
When contacted by the Mail, Mr Stephenson hit back: "Cllr Shaw appears to have engaged mouth before brain again but I wish him well in his particular fantasy land.
"If he has a problem with me representing the interests of the citizens of Hull I would prefer it if he raised that face-to-face and not via a stab in the back from a distance.
"I have been fortunate to work with some great leaders – Sir Peter Soulsby, Pat Doyle, Steve Parnaby and now Steve Brady – men of intellect. Unfortunately, my counterpart at Grimsby isn't so blessed."
Cllr Brady said: "Darryl Stephenson is an excellent chief executive and it is a pleasure to work with him.
"He is very effective in his role at Hull City Council and I have complete confidence in him as a person and as a chief executive."