Further to the story on Tuesday about Council tenants being banned from displaying anti Labour election posters I was expecting that by about now we would have had an apology. Something about an honest mistake by a well intentioned junior member of staff and how there are sincere apologies to the tenants concerned and procedures being tightened to ensure it never happens again.
Not a bit of it. As voting takes place in the Nottinghamshire County Council byelection for the Rufford division we still have Newark and Sherwood Homes, the council's housing "almo" justifying their position – which is that displaying posters in support of the Labour candidate John Peck are acceptable but posters opposing him are not.
I have been sent a statement from Newark and Sherwood Homes issued via their PR firm Dragonfly. What are they doing employing a PR firm anyway? The sooner spending transparency is extended to "arms length" council bodies the better.
Anyway here is the statement:
A tenant can display a poster, political or otherwise, in their property as is their democratic right.
Newark and Sherwood Homes received a number of complaints from local residents in Edwinstowe regarding the content of posters being displayed in the windows of tenants which were causing offence to members of the community. In line with their tenancy agreement, Newark and Sherwood Homes asked that the tenants displaying the posters causing the offence be remove them and the company understands that the posters have since been taken down. The process followed and the action taken is in accordance with the standard operations of the company when undertaking housing management.
We will contact the tenants involved to advise them of our customer comments policy should they wish to access this.
So we have the second paragraph flatly contradicting the first. Not the PR's firm fault, I suppose. They have to work with what they are given. How about getting Robert Mugabe as a client?
I have emailed the council to ask whether their electoral services department regards the intervention by Newark and Sherwood Homes as being legal.