A council leader accused of “losing the plot” for using council time to express backing for Hull City owner Assem Allam defended his move yesterday.
East Riding councillors unanimously voted to support a motion tabled by Coun Steve Parnaby giving “every support” to Allam’s “endeavours to move the club to a higher level.”
However following the recent resounding rejection of plans to extend Hull Council’s boundaries, Coun Parnaby was accused of using it as a “stick” to beat the authority. Relations between Hull Council and the club’s owners, the Allam family, have been sour as a result of a long-running saga over the future of the £43.5m stadium.
Others suggested it may be to do with the club’s efforts to rebrand from Hull City AFC to Hull Tigers, a matter currently in arbitration. Allam revealed that he had reacted to the Football Association’s rejection of the plans back in April by putting the club up for sale. But Coun Parnaby told the meeting he had “no hidden agenda” and the council had passed similar motions for other sporting and business success.
He said: “In the last few hours certain media have tried to manoeuvre it into this being about a possible name change. This is not. There have been comments about ‘why should the council be passing comment?’. It’s perfectly normal.”
He went on: “It’s recognising the profile he has given to Hull and the East Riding.”
In a lengthy tribute he said the 75-year-old “should be one of the most popular men in Hull”, and described Mr Allam, who has supported Hull University and the Daisy Appeal, as “generous to a fault”.
“It is just recognition of one of the city fathers who is doing really good for us,” he said, adding that he deserved support from businesses and individuals “because I dread the day he withdraws from the club.”
However Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Beverley and Holderness, Margaret Pinder, said the motion “can best be described as bizarre, at worst, opportunistic.
“This isn’t about Assem Allam – whom I consider to be a significant local figure who has done a great deal for Hull and the wider region.
“We all know he had a high profile falling out with Hull Council over the KC and this motion is clearly a stick for Stephen Parnaby to beat Hull Council with not least over the local referendum on which East Riding Council has wasted ten of thousands of pounds.”