Knowsley Council has stonewalled questions as to why it is still putting money Labour’s way and paying for an exhibition stall at this autumn’s Labour Party conference despite not appearing at any other party conferences. Knowsley Council leader Ron Round has even hinted that it may continue to pay for stalls at future Labour Party conferences.
This year’s autumn Labour conference will be the thirteenth at which Knowsley Council has paid to appear, taking the total amount it has paid to Labour for these appearances to over £250,000. The thirteenth is also the most controversial because the payments are taking place despite Labour no longer being in government and without Knowsley Council paying to appear at either the Conservative or Liberal Democrat conferences.
The Labour-run council has so far declined to respond to my request for a comment on why the council is going ahead with its appearance at Labour conference and not appearing elsewhere.
Knowsley Council has also ruled out of order a question submitted by Lib Dem Dave Smithson asking why the council’s decision to pay for Labour conference “was not cancelled or left until after the election”.
The question was rejected on the grounds that the council’s conference policy was raised in questions at a council meeting on 30 June. However, the answers given then by Labour Council Leader Ron Round do not give a clear response on this point and even hinted that the council may continue to appear at future Labour conferences as it is committed, in the words of the minutes, to, “continue with the strong relationships it had developed over the last decade” and moreover to “lobby even harder with allies”.
Cllr Ron Round declined to take the opportunity to commit to pulling out of Labour conference and said that the council would only appear at conferences from other parties if, in his view, he “thought the new Government would listen”. Given that elsewhere in the meeting he strongly and repeatedly criticised the government, it is extremely unlikely that he will come to that view.