Great news today as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has announced new restrictions on taxpayer funded lobbying at councils and quangos in his Department. Our report Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning is cited a number of times in the DCLG release that has been posted on Conservative Home.
The Secretary of State wrote for the Guardian that:
"Residents want to see their council tax spent on improving services, not on lobbyist loud-hailer propaganda to sidestep transparency laws or peddle more regulation or secure special favours. That only weakens democracy.
To lobby on unitary council restructuring, Exeter county council hired Luther Pendragon, Norwich city employed Connect Public Affairs and Penwith paid for Atherton Associations. And when Surrey police authorities tried to raise their council tax precept by over 7%, they hired top dogs Weber Shandwick, using public money to try to oppose a cap."
There has already been good news in the battle against taxpayer funded politics, with the abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission. We are making serious progress on this vital issue.
Politicians and bureaucrats using their access to public money to promote their political interests and views, many of which may not be shared by the ordinary families footing the bill, is utterly unfair. It is extremely good news that the Eric Pickles and the DCLG team are moving to stop councils lobbying and we can only hope that other departments take a similar, principled stand and stop quangos and other public sector bodies funding lobbying and political campaigns. Taxpayer funded lobbying is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money and a stain on our democracy. It has to end.