PR Week has the story:
‘We are setting out clear rules banning councils using taxpayers’ cash to lobby government and this includes publicity stalls at conferences,’ [Local Government Minister Grant] Shapps said. He also called for councils to disclose how much taxpayers’ money is being spent on overall comms.
Although I have been very critical of Knowsley Council for its spending on Labour conference (and only Labour, even now in opposition), I am not won over by the first part of this policy, which smacks rather too much of micromanagement.
Central government decisions can have a huge impact on local government, so the idea of local government wanting to influence central government is perfectly acceptable. The second part of the policy – disclosure of communications spending – is a good move.
But the choice of methods should be for the council to decide, the public to know and the ballot box and public pressure to keep accountable.