Knowsley Council pays Labour over £250,000 for conference appearances

Labour-run Knowsley Council is continuing to pump money in to the Labour Party’s coffers by exhibiting at the party’s conference. The council pays to appear only at the Labour Party’s conferences, ignoring other parties, and is continuing to do so even now that Labour is no longer in government.

Back in January 2007 Liberal Democrat Voice revealed Knowsley Council had spent £47,000 on exhibiting at the Labour conference over the previous four years. At the time the council said that, “Knowsley does not attend any other party political conference, it attends the Labour Party Annual Conference as the party in power.”

However, the council is exhibiting at this autumn’s Labour conference even though the party is not in power. Moreover, it is not exhibiting at either the Conservative or Liberal Democrat conferences. Even if the conference presence had been booked well in advance (despite the knowledge that there would be a general election this year), there is still time to cancel plans as shown by the order that has gone out this month to other parts of the public sector not to spend money on stalls at the autumn conference.

Knowsley Council first started paying to appear at Labour Party conferences in 1998 and in the four years 2002-2006 spent £47,243 on this. In the three years 2007-2009 it spent a further £137,509, taking the total to £184,752. Figures for 1998-2001 are not available from the council, but assuming a similar rate of spend as in 2002-2006, this would bring the total to over £230,000. A further £32,950 is expected to be spent for this autumn’s Labour conference.

All these figures are from Freedom of Information requests and appear to exclude the costs of staff time. Some of this money has gone on costs but a significant party will have been direct profit for Labour.

Some other councils have also paid over the years to appear at one or more party conferences, but these appearances have had far stronger justification than Knowsley, e.g. Liverpool appeared at all three autumn party conferences in one year as part of its successful campaign to become European City of Culture.

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11 Comments

  • Is there any way this could be subject to a legal challenge ?

  • Dave Smithson 24th Aug '10 - 1:01pm

    Thanks for exposing this – we have been pushing this line for months!

  • Can anybody find out for me whether Cheshire East BC is exhibiting at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool?

    They were at the Tory conference (Manchester) last year, and claimed it was because it was local, not pro Tory bias, no no no no

    So will they be in Liverpool?

    [Yes, I could ask them under FoI but it’d take them weeks to answer!]

  • In a similar vein, I’ve noticed that Islington Council donate significant funds to UNISON (£140k in 2009-2010, £234k in 2008-2009 and £221k in 2007-2008) as well as smaller sums to the GMB. What residents of Islington get in return for these donations is not clear.
    It looks as though the Labour controlled councils are quite adept at ensuring a steady flow of funds through to their “comrades”

  • What has the Audit Commission been doing all this time. It seems they can insist on bi-weekly refuse collections on the grounds of efficiency but haven’t been that bothered about political lobbying at council taxpayers expense. No wonder they are for the chop!

  • Tom Winskill 25th Aug '10 - 12:39pm

    This should be illegal. We pay our taxes in order to receive public services. This is clear abuse of our trust in those dreadful labour councillors who are simply using OUR money to prop up their failed political party – a party that has spent the last 13 years in power lying and fiddling and perpetuating false propoganda. These crooked councillors should be removed from power and banned from working in the public sector where they seem to think they can spend and waste other peoples money on what they like. You can see why these misfits work in the public sector; there is no way most of these pen pushers would ever get sustainable jobs in the private sector – they are simply not up to it.

  • Dominic Curran 25th Aug '10 - 1:02pm

    @ Nick Powell

    Islington was controlled (just) by the Libdems until May! not sure how that explains the Unison donations…

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