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Taxpayers' money being spent on Labour propaganda

February 21, 2012 7:55 PM

Welsh Liberal Democrats in RCT have accused the Labour Cabinet of abusing their position for political gain after a campaign website was set up which uses official Council photographs for Labour publicity. Cllr Mike Powell says it is a blatant misuse of public resources and should be stopped

"As part of its substantial public relations department the Labour administration employs a Council photographer who takes photographs of Cabinet Members in suitable poses at various events

"Launch of the Pontypridd regeneration project, opening of new schools, promises of road improvements, even nice close up shots of Russell Roberts in the Chamber. Taken supposedly for the Council website, press releases on behalf of the Council and the ever popular Outlook magazine.

"They feature only Labour Councillors. What better resource then for the Labour party to use to populate its website? Photographs taken at the taxpayers' expense used for their political propaganda.

These photographs include shots of children in various schools, a couple of Police Officers, and Ponty rugby legend Dale Macintosh. Did all of these give their permission for their images to be used to support the Labour party?"

When asked if they had been given permission to use images from the Council website the RCT Monitoring Officer said they had. He said that the question of whether they had the relevant permissions from the parents of the children concerned should be addressed to the Labour party.

However, as RCT Welsh Lib Dem Campaign Manager Karen Roberts points out, the person they needed to gain Council permission from is himself a Labour supporter and the son of a Labour Cabinet Member. Not only that but he appears in several of the photographs

Christian Hannigan ( 2nd from right)

"The Head of the Public Relations and Strategy Department, Christian Hanagan, was the Labour candidate for Llanharry in the 2004 elections. Shortly after being unsuccessful he was appointed as PA to the leader of the Council and two years later was given his current job which was never advertised.

He features in some of the photos on the Labour website which would appear to be in contradiction to the code of conduct for Officers which states they should maintain political neutrality at all times.

The Monitoring Officer has been asked whether he thinks it appropriate for a senior officer to be seen apparently endorsing a political party but merely referred us to the code of conduct. Obviously he has a very different idea of political neutrality to that of most people and intends to do nothing about it.

The Labour Council spend over £1million a year on staff salaries alone running this department, money which we have long said is not being effectively spent. It would, however, seem that the Labour party at least is getting its money's worth."

ENDS

Notes:

The Officer Code of Conduct states:

Officer Relationships with Party Groups

6.1 It must be recognised by all Officers and Members that in discharging their duties Officers serve the Council as a whole and not exclusively any political group, combination of groups, or any individual Members.

6.2 Officers may properly be called upon to support and contribute to the deliberations of political groups but must at all times maintain political neutrality. All Officers must, in their dealings with political groups and individual Members, treat them in a fair and even handed manner.

The Labour party website gallery can be found here:

Controversy has raged for some time over Christian Hanagan and the way in which he obtained his current post. See more here and here.

Christian Hanagan was the Labour Council candidate in Llanharry in 2004.

Llanharry Council election result 2004

Vyvyan Williams PC 477

Christian Hanagan Lab 428