AS a practical politician who is immensely proud and privileged to represent the ward of St Thomas's I very rarely write letters to newspapers since I've always believed that actions speak louder than words.

However, I cannot allow the appalling inaccurate trash spouted by one political wannabe – Bill Etheridge, in last week’s column, to go unchallenged.

The simple fact is that at the annual budget meeting of the council the ruling Tory group chose to cut £75k funding from our magnificent flagship organisation St Thomas's Network and I had to resign from the board to speak freely – so I used my democratic right to furiously defend my community against this dreadful act.

Mr Etheridge seems to think this funny deeming it 'histrionics'.

He then rants on trying to defend his political masters by having the audacity to target our brilliant chief executive and quoting that the blame lies fairly and squarely with the management.

To enlighten Mr Etheridge’s political ignorance ‘the management’ is a board of volunteer trustees chaired by founder member and immensely respected ward legend Cyril Woodall MBE. Vice-chairs (and this is good) are one Tory councillor Colin Wilson, who again is very respected for the support he gives. The other is ex-Councillor Mushtaq Hussain. Other members include a local vicar, children’s centre manager, Asian Women’s representative and several senior community activists.

Members of this community were appalled and bewildered at insensitive comments about a colourful brochure produced by themselves who are ordinary non-political people to celebrate 20 years of service to a deprived community.

The fact it contained photos of a visit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, local MP and councillors, they thought was a measure of respect for their organisation.

How dare you belittle them by insinuating some stupid political motive.

No wonder people don't trust politicians.

Seems like one political wannabee versus the community at the moment. Having now insulted so many key members of the community your latest newsletter pictures you outside the Network pledging your support!

The editor wouldn't print what I think about that so utter rank hypocrisy will suffice. You then boast of organising a litter-pick.

Finally, you state you've tried to contact me several times to arrange a public debate.

I'll admit to one e-mail which, given the circumstances, went to the bottom of the pile. No phone messages, nothing.

Sorry, been a bit too busy trying to save the future of a magnificent organisation from people like you. However, now – through this column – I'll challenge you to a debate anytime, anywhere.

Dare I suggest the centre of our community at St. Thomas's Network, and don't forget your tin hat!

Councillor Steve Waltho, St Thomas's Ward.