Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


Ipswich Borough Council subsidises TUC Tory-bashing event

Back on Ipswich Labour’s favourite day of the year – May Day – I wrote a piece pointing out that the TUC union were due to pitch up in Ipswich Borough Council owned Alexandra Park for their yearly beer and sandwiches event with plenty of Tory-bashing from the various tents and the main stage.

I asked at the time why on earth does Ipswich Borough Council allow a political event staged for the purpose of attacking the Conservative Party to be held on publicly owned land: Alexandra Park in east Ipswich? This post caused a bit of a stir in the right-wing blogosphere (whereas the loony left, including Cllr Alasdair Ross were strangely quiet on this one). My fellow Tory blogger, James Spencer, over at the Bridge Ward News parish, saw an opportunity to put in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to Ipswich Borough Council asking how much the TUC union pay the Council to rent the land for the duration of their Tory-bashing event and how much the Council charges for the clean-up operation after the comrades have gone home. The FoI answer exposes a scandal:

Ipswich Borough Council only charge the TUC union £250 to rent multi-acre Alexandra Park for the entire day. Some meeting rooms in Ipswich cost more than that to rent! As James Spencer explains on his blog, the cost is far higher than £250:

There’s a lot of work involved.  Security, ground remediation, closing the park before and rubbish clean up afterwards. The market value for taking on a large plot of land near the town centre is also quite princely.

And how much does the Council charge the comrades to pick up their litter afterwards: zero, zilch, nothing!  

So, let me summarise this: Ipswich Borough Council subsidise a Labour-supporting union event laid on to attack the Conservative Party. Is this not illegal?

Now, as I’ve said before, anyone who has ever been an Ipswich Borough councillor soon realises how terribly bias the officers are at Grafton House towards anything left-wing, which has always included the union affiliated Labour Party. The FoI answer, James Spencer acquired, states the Council has been subsidising the TUC event for at least the last five years, four of which were when the Conservatives were in power with the Liberal Democrats (2008-2011)?
So I have to ask, why did Tory Finance chief Cllr John Carnall allow the officers to continue this arrangement when he was in charge of our money?

James Spencer explains the issue very succinctly:

The problem is that those of my readers who are Labour councillors will see nothing wrong with this massive hidden subsidy from the council tax payers to the Labour party. Like the full time union officials, it’s just part of the everyday kickbacks and favours which permeate so deeply into Ipswich Borough Council that we just accept it as normal even under Tory rule.
And we should be as mad as hell about this ever-lasting, everyday, petty corruption.

I expect an explanation from Labour-controlled Ipswich Borough Council in quick time.