Yesterday a tape was leaked of Cllr David Hodge telling his colleagues on Surrey County Council that he had secured a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Government to avoid a council tax referendum. Overnight, Hodge has sent an email to Tory council leaders and group leaders right across the country denying that any such deal has been struck.
In a message distributed nationally via the Conservative Group on the LGA, he wrote:
Just to give you a heads up that unfortunately there has been a rerun of the story concerning Surrey this evening.
In light of this I just wanted to reconfirm to you all that at no time was a deal agreed with Government for Surrey CC.
As you are no doubt aware not only have I told people there was no deal but this has also made clear [sic] by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for DCLG
With best wishes
The story is of course rather more than a “rerun”, given that it is new audio of Hodge apparently contradicting his own denials. It’s true that he has “told people there was no deal” in public, but the tape suggests he has also told his councillors in private that an understanding has been reached, at minimum.
It isn’t yet clear what his explanation of this disparity is – is there really a “gentleman’s agreement”, despite his protestations, or was he misleading his councillors by claiming there was one?