It gets murkier and murkier with regards to whatever ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ is and their generous £10k cash donation to the Bristol North West Constituency Labour Party.
It almost seems as if there’s two Bristol Labour Groups operating at the Council House. On the one hand we have one organisation – ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ – which has an office at the Council House, called either the ‘Labour Members Services Office’ according to the council’s website or the ‘Labour Group Office’ (pdf) according to the council’s weekly Members’ Information Service newsletter.
And working in this office are at least two council officers who are employed, not by the Labour Party but by us, the council tax payer. One is called Roger Livingston, although we’re still tracking down his precise job title. The other is Laura Protheroe, known as the Labour Group Members’ Support Officer. She, rather conveniently (although this might become rather inconvenient), is the partner of Labour Councillor, Fabian Breckels.
The purpose of this office and the staff is to provide support services to Labour councillors on Bristol City Council – who are apparently known as ‘the Bristol Labour Group’. However, legally, this office and its staff can only work on council business. The staff and the facilities provided by the taxpayer should not be used for either private purposes or for working on party political or campaigning activity, such as say, fundraising and party donations.
Obviously then this office and its staff, despite sharing a name and address, can’t have anything to do with ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ that gave a cash donation to the Bristol North West Constituency Party can it? Because that would mean that council officers and council facilities would have been used for party political activities and party fundraising matters.
Is there another ‘Bristol Labour Group’ then? Another one specifically for party political purposes and fundraising rather than council administrative purposes? Or are cash donations to the Labour Party being channeled through a council office at the Council House with the help of our entirely disinterested city council officers?
You also have to wonder how this £10,000 cash donation is being accounted for and by who? The paper trail so far leads directly to a publicly owned office staffed by public servants.
Who exactly was responsible for the fundraising and the consequent donation and who is keeping the records of it all and where on earth are they? Let’s hope it’s nothing to do with the ‘Labour Members Services Office’/’Labour Group Office’ or its staff because that’d be against the law.
But if they’re not in any way responsible then who is? All we know at present is that it’s a group working out of the same office with exactly the same name and exactly the same address. How very odd.
And remember we’ve got nowhere near finding out where this cash came from yet!!!
Further info’: The Blogger’s research team has contacted the ‘Labour Members Services Office’/’Labour Group Office’ requesting their membership list, accounts and governing documents in order to help clear up any confusion here.
They have also contacted the City’s legal officer regarding placing a complaint about the Labour Party’s registered interests.
A further complaint will be made regarding possible maladministration by council officers apparently engaging in party political activity and allowing our public facilities and address to be used for party political purposes.
A freedom of information request will also be made to obtain any membership lists, accounts and governing documents with regard to ‘the Bristol Labour Group’ that might be on the council’s premises, held by the city council or its officers.