'Fighting like rats in a sack': Hull and Grimsby councils in war of words that could put regeneration cash at risk
MILLIONS of pounds of government money that could help regenerate Hull is at risk because local councils are "fighting like rats in a sack", it has been claimed.
Former city council leader Colin Inglis has accused the local authority in Grimsby of trying to usurp Hull over a series of cross-Humber issues and claimed its Labour leader Chris Shaw is "displaying shocking megalomania".
Cities minister Greg Clark was due to visit Hull today to announce proposals for the city and the Humber sub-region to act as a pilot area, putting ideas from a recent review of economic growth by Tory Peer Lord Heseltine into action.
Mr Clark is expected to stress the need for closer co-operation between the region's four councils.
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He is also encouraging a bid for "City Deal" status covering the Humber, which would see more powers and funding devolved from Whitehall to local decision- makers.
Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson has also called on the four councils to pull together over City Deal.
But speaking at a scrutiny meeting this week, Councillor Inglis claimed recent behind-the-scenes rows between the councils over a number of issues cast doubt over their ability to work together.
They are believed to have included demands by Grimsby for the City Deal bid title to not just focus on Hull.
He said a report presented for the committee giving an update on the bidding process "only told half the story".
"There is a negative side to this as well," he said. "The real story is that the four local authorities are fighting like rats in a sack over this and the leader of Grimsby is clearly mad because he thinks Grimsby is a city and will not give up on the idea. Councillors in Hull know which is the city in the sub-region and it's not Grimsby.
"There needs to be a strong political commitment on this but we've got people pulling in several different directions. The other three councils are pulling against Hull and have a huge chip on their shoulders about us.
"I suspect we will get this bid and then there will be hell on."
The former Labour leader singled out Councillor Shaw for particular criticism.
"He is displaying shocking megalomania which even I find astounding," he said.
But Councillor Shaw hit back with his own attack on Cllr Inglis.
He said: "Colin Inglis is an ex-leader of the council who is in his twilight years and this is a case of him trying to increase his profile.
"He wanted us to have an equal share of the Humber Bridge debt but now he doesn't want us to have an equal stake in the City Deal.
"He's got this impression that Hull is a schoolyard bully but unfortunately they've met someone in the schoolyard who is not going to hand their dinner money over.
"There might have been a time when Hull clicked its fingers and everyone else came running but that doesn't happen anymore.
"Colin Inglis seems to think that Hull should be some kind of superpower. He wants to fill the void left by Russia.
"If he wants to be critical of me he ought to come and be critical of me to my face."
Asked about claims the four Humber authorities were "fighting like rats in a sack", Cllr Shaw said: "That's not right at all. He means the other three authorities have come to an agreement and Hull doesn't agree."
"I am not a megalomaniac. I am just defending the interests of North East Lincolnshire."
Follow Angus Young on Twitter @Angus_Young61