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.