Tory leader claims cost of Fair Deal adverts is too high
DERBY'S Tory opposition leader has criticised the city council's spending of thousands of pounds on adverts for its Fair Deal campaign as a "political mugging of the electorate".
The campaign, which is demanding more cash from the Government, had enjoyed cross-party support but, as revealed in the Derby Telegraph last week, councillor Philip Hickson's Conservatives pulled out of the deal.
He cited the cash spent on advertising to drum up support as a reason for the move.
The council's chief executive Adam Wilkinson has revealed that, to date, the authority had spent £3,853 on advertising.
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And leader of the city's ruling Labour group, councillor Paul Bayliss said that "as far as he was concerned" that's where the spending stops.
But Mr Hickson claims the figure may mask "labour costs" for the advertising and believes 15 current planning applications for new advertising positions in the city will initially be used for more Fair Deal campaigning.
He said: "The total number of new advertising positions in those applications is about 240. We've never needed them before so why should we need them now? I believe they will all be used for Fair Deal."
"It's a political mugging of the electorate – using money for these purposes."
The messages on the posters and banners say things such as "Government cuts ...Your children's services will be affected...", which Mr Hickson said was overtly political.
He said: "If the spending decisions Labour makes affect these services then it's down the choices they make."
Mr Bayliss said the council did not go ahead with advertising the Fair Deal campaign until it had cross-party support.
He said: "We have minimised the cost of the campaign to the council. The advertising space was basically all ours for free.
"The posters were never put up where we needed the advertising space for other things, such as advertising the Christmas panto, and when some retailers said they didn't want the posters near their shops we took them down."
He said some of the new advertising space applied for might be used for Fair Deal but that the main reason for it was to create an extra revenue source for the council and to make more space for the authority to advertise its events.
He said: "I wouldn't have thought we would be spending any more."
Councillor Hilary Jones, leader of the council's Liberal Democrats, said her party would be considering its position on the Fair Deal campaign at its next meeting on Wednesday.