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From Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column

Private_eye_2 Items include a mention of Haringey Council's communications team being "highly commended" in the recent PR Week awards. As Private Eye says: "None other than the Council that has done so much to present its case clearly and openly to the world in recent weeks."

There's a complaint against Chesterfield Council spending £24,000 on Christmas lights. (I'm actually rather in favour of Councils spending money on Christmas lights.)

Conflict of interest stories over SNP-led Fife providing £1million to Stagecoach to set up a Hovercraft service across the Firth of Forth. (In 2007 Stagecoach boss Brian Souter donated £625,000 to the SNP.) Also Newham Labour councillor Alec Kellaway is named and shamed for having £25,000 of shares in Hill & Knowlton, a PR firm spinning for City Airport - whose expansion Cllr Kellaway supports. Not sure either of these rate high on the sleazeometer.

But I think Private Eye score a hit with their piece on Labour-run Rotherham Council. They have a follow up their earlier story on the Council spending £7,400 sending reps to an award ceremoney in London. (Which resulted in one Labour councillor resigning in disgust.) A member of the public Don Buxton put in a Freedom of Information request to establish spending on sending four councillors to another event, a conference in London in June. Councillors Jane Austen  and Hilda Jack "travelled down the day before and stayed the night at the £140-a-night Victoria Park Plaza hotel - at a cost of £560 plus travel. Cllrs Glyn Whelbourn and Colin Barron travelled by train on the day. while Barron roughed it in standard class, Whelbourn decided only first was good enough - costing the taxpayer £258.75 return."

So what was this conference that Mr Buxton had such a struggle to find out about? The annual gathering of the Centre for Public Scrutiny.


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