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York Lib Dem's angry about Labour changes


3:35pm 14th June 2011

City of York Council’s new Labour administration have been criticised after it emerged they are planning changes to the Council’s constitution to allow them to use Council Press Officers to send out political press releases.

The Council’s constitution currently includes rules to prevent the press office issuing press releases with quotes from Councillors to ensure that Council resources aren’t used for political purposes.

However, it emerged yesterday that Labour Leader James Alexander is planning to make changes to the constitution to allow Council press releases to quote the views of Labour Councillors. 

Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Carol Runciman said the existing rules had been in place to protect the independence of the press office and the political neutrality of Council press releases.

Councillor Runciman said:

“Until now the Council press office has dealt with corporate matters, issuing important information on things like road closures or service updates, while political press releases are issued by the party groups. It helped to ensure that the Council press office was not under pressure to act as a party political PR agency.”

“The current Constitution states quite clearly that it is ‘inappropriate for public resources to be used to publicise individual Councillors’. If James Alexander wants to make these changes, he needs to explain clearly why he believes that this statement is wrong.”

Councillor Runciman added:

“James Alexander needs to remember that the Council does not exist as a publicity machine to build his profile in his bid for a safe Labour parliamentary seat somewhere in the future. It is here to provide vital services to local people; local residents will not forgive him if he forgets that.”

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