We would expect the Camden Labour Party and the Lambeth Labour Party to spend their money campaigning against the Government. What is outrageous is that they are using money from the Council Taxpayer to do so.
As the Sunday Times notes (£):
Lambeth council in south London, a Labour stronghold, has spent £600 on posters in bus shelters targeting commuters outside Waterloo station. They show a pair of scissors cutting into a blue-coloured £ sign with the message, “The government has cut our money so we are forced to cut services”.
Camden council in north London has spent £1,000 on posters that state, “National government spending cuts mean tough decisions for Camden’s future”.
The Code on Local Authority Publicity is very clear.
Here are some extracts:
13. Where publicity is used to comment on, or respond to, the policies and proposals of central
government, other local authorities or other public authorities, the comment or response should be objective, balanced, informative, and accurate. It should aim to set out the reasons for the council's views, and should not be a prejudiced, unreasoning or political attack on the policies or proposals in question or on those putting them forward. Slogans alone will not be an adequate means of justifying or explaining the authority's views or their policy decisions.
16. Publicity touching on issues that are controversial, or on which there are arguments for and
against the views or policies of the council, should be handled with particular care. It should not
over-simplify facts, issues or arguments. Again, it is unlikely that slogans alone will achieve the
necessary degree of balance, or capture the complexities of opposing political arguments.
40. Publicity should not be, or liable to misrepresentation as being, party political. Whilst it may be appropriate to describe policies put forward by an individual councillor which are relevant to her/his position and responsibilities within the Council, and to put forward her/his justification in defence of
them, this should not be done in party political terms, using political slogans, expressly advocating policies of those of a particular political party or directly attacking policies and opinions of other parties, groups or individuals.
The Sunday Times article also notes that Leeds are spending £30 million on home insulation (a political requirement to prop up the minority Labour administration with the votes of two Green councillors). Ealing is spending £3 million upgrading computers. Newham is spending £111 million on a new Town Hall – with chandeliers costing £1,850 each. Brent's new Civic Centre is running over its £100 million budget.
And then there is Barnsley:
Barnsley council has announced that “free swimming is to be withdrawn as the effects of the government’s comprehensive spending review begin to be felt”. But Phil Coppard, its chief executive, earns £19,000 a year more than the prime minister and the council has 38 full-time trade union officials who earned a total of more than £1m last year.
I hope Labour will be challenged over this spending in the forthcoming Barnsley Central byelection.