Earlier in the week, we posted some photographs of public bodies spending taxpayers' money on exhibiting and lobbying at the Tory Conference in Manchester. This is utterly unjustified - even the Cabinet Secretary has expressly forbidden them from doing so.
We'll be reporting the bodies involved to the relevant authorities - to make sure we caught the full set I went on the hunt in Manchester yesterday morning to catch a few more:
This is a new local authority, set up in Hazel Blears' carve-up of Cheshire. When I asked them why they were exhibiting, their response was that being new they had a "responsibility" to tell national politicians about themselves.
Shockingly, when I said it was a waste of taxpayers' funds, their justification was "of course, all the money we're paying goes to the Conservative Party". They had assumed I was a party delegate, and would therefore be happy that the Tories were hoovering up taxpayer funding through the back door.
Suffice to say, they looked a bit less comfortable when I introduced myself!
The Standards Board for England
This is a classic example of a quango trying to use taxpayer-funded PR to solve an image problem that is actually rooted in their own failings rather than any issue of perception.
You can't see in this picture the full blurb on the left hand side of their stand, but it was entirely focused on trying to rebut the popular view that the Standards Board has become a tool for disgruntled councillors (and increasingly council officers) to bind elected representatives and prevent them doing their jobs properly.
Forgive me for being so naive, but I had assumed that the budget of NHS Procurement was for, ah, procuring things for the NHS.
Why on earth is an organisation which is meant to be a behind the scenes, logistical aspect of a front line service, lobbying politicians at national party conferences?
The sheer irony is that their stand was themed around value for money - I'm sure patients, medical staff and taxpayers would rather they just got on with their job.
Ah, Network Rail. Not content with repeated and overrunning disruption to people's travel, or with a funding structure that makes spaghetti junction look as simple as a one-way street, they had possibly the most grand stand at Manchester.
Network Rail have in the last few months moved to a much more outward-facing PR effort - including advertising on TV, despite them having no need to attract business from the public.
Needless to say that all of the above bodies will be getting some interesting letters very shortly...