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Tory leaflets cause fury at County Hall
THOUSANDS of Tory party leaflets for the upcoming police and crime commissioner elections were secretly stored at County Hall’s car park, sparking fury.
The Conservatives covered them in dust sheets to “avoid drawing attention to their identity” and used the site as a distribution hub for activists to go along and pick them up last week.
Boxes of the leaflets, extolling the virtues of Tory candidate Adrian Blackshaw, were unloaded onto a section of bays in the staff car park last Monday.
A leaked e-mail to the party from Councillor Ken Pollock, who is co-ordinating the campaign, said: “I would be grateful if you could arrange to collect your allocation from the car park as soon as possible after Monday at noon – I have said they would all be cleared by Friday.
“I will seek to arrange some dust sheets to cover them, to avoid drawing attention to their identity.”
The party was given permission to use the car park to store leaflets by Simon Mallinson, the county’s legal chief, and David Harrison, boss of property services.
But the move has prompted fury from political rivals, who are outraged the council allowed it to go ahead.
Coun Richard Udall, a Labour councillor, said: “Simon told me if we’d have asked for the same thing, we’d have got permission, but I told him I would never have put him in that position.
“This is an abuse of the council’s goodwill. They have been using the car park as a distribution hub for their own ends. I am outraged. The car park has effectively become Conservative central office.
“This is a public building and should be treated with more respect by the Conservatives and senior officers.”
The commissioner elections, on November 15, will see Mr Blackshaw take on Labour’s Simon Murphy and independent Bill Longmore for the £75,000-a-year role.
Mr Blackshaw said: “This is not meant to be a political appointment, and when you bring politics into it, it undermines the end game.”
Coun Pollock said: “It’s very sad some people should criticise a concession made specifically to me, when I would have had difficulties moving the boxes up two flights of stairs to the offices.” Mr Mallinson said it was a reasonable and sensible agreement that did not cost the authority any time or money.
“The council agreed some leaflet boxes could be left temporarily in the underground car park to avoid the need for them to be taken up and down the floors,” he said.
“This was on the condition the council would not be involved, nor be put to any cost or inconvenience.”
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