Published:

Conservative-run Peterborough City Council, which proposes a 2.95% increase in the Council Tax, is providing a subsidy of £83,500 to the trade union UNISON. This is even more than the Taxpayers Alliance had earlier estimated.

Cllr Irene Walsh, the Cabinet Member for Community, Cohesion and Safety, disclosed the information in a letter to the Conservative MP Stewart Jackson. In fact the real cost is higher as as the union's free office accommodation is not allowed for "given that they occupy a small office on a floor in Bayard an office facility which has to be provided for anyway to accommodate Children’s Services staff." A pretty spurious logic given that a council interested in containing costs would wish to take every opportunity to contain its office footprint.

What about the collection of UNISON's membership subs? You might think the appropriate organisation to collect them would be UNISON given that whether or not to join a union is a personal choice for Council staff. But you may well find that Peterborough City Council collects the subs for them and doesn't even charge for this service.

Contrary to what is implied in Cllr Walsh's letter there is no statutory requirement for the Council Taxpayer to fund any union staff full or part time. Furthermore her following comment is absolutely craven:

l believe that through building positive relations with the Trade Unions, that we have been able to effect change to date without litigation or industrial action/unrest.

So the message is keep paying the Danegeld. Of course if they had really done such a great job being "able to effect change" they wouldn't be engaging in referendum dodging Council Tax hikes.

Could a Conservative councillor really have written this letter? Or might a more plausible explanation be that the Council is only nominally Conservative and that Cllr Walsh just signed a letter written for her by some left wing bureaucrat?

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