Local Lib Dems have come under fire over the use of council email addresses in their campaign literature.
With just 11 days to go to polling day tensions are running high and the Lib Dems have embarked on their usual ‘robust’ and prolific leafleting campaign which has proved to be so effective for them in the past.
At the start of the campaign start a council legal officer briefed candidates and agents against the use ( by sitting councillors) of their council domain email addresses – that is the official address email that ends @eastleigh.gov.uk – correspondence to which is stored on council servers.
The electoral commission, who govern election protocol, do not issue specific advice on the use of official email addresses but frowns on it as ‘inappropriate’ in case voters perceive such use as an endorsement by the council of a particular candidate.
Candidates were told:
“Council e-mail systems are provided for use for Council business purposes only, this Council considers that its email domain name should not be used in any campaign literature.”
Despite this Lib Dems campaign literature has featured council email addresses prominently displayed in blatant campaign literature.
There are ten sitting councillors seeking re-election, eight Lib Dem and two Conservative but only the Lib Dems are using their council email addresses.
A local Tory told Eastleigh News that the Conservative campaign handbook advised candidates to use just their personal email addresses in campaign literature.
Eastleigh News understands that a complaint has been received by the council however Lib Dems have claimed that they are only including their EBC email addy so people can send them casework and contact them on local issues. The use of council email addresses on newsletters is legitimate.
A council spokesperson said:
“All prospective candidates and agents have been briefed on the Electoral Commission guidance on use of email addresses. The council has received a complaint and will be considering it in due course.”
Meanwhile it was reported on the Hedge End Independent website that Cllr Rupert Kyrle had not only distributed an election leaflet with his council email address but had also altered his postal address to appeal to Botley voters where the Hedge End Town Councillor is standing.
Cllr Kyrle had stated his postal town was Hedge End on his election nomination papers but this has been changed to Botley in the flyer.
A Chandlers Ford Tory – who did not wish to be named also contacted Eastleigh News to complain about a leaflet distributed by Lib Dem candidate Peter Child which appeared to suggest that the recently planted Jubilee Garden at Fryern was all the work of the Lib Dem Borough Council rather than Chandlers Ford Parish council on which Labour and Conservatives also sit.
This is not the first time there have been complaints about Lib Dem literature.
After Last year’s local Elections the Independent Group of Eastleigh Councillors complained that a Lib Dem leaflet had described the Lib Dem candidate for Central ward , Keith Trenchard, as an ‘experienced councillor’ which at that time he wasn’t.
No action was taken by the council or the police after Lib Dems claimed it had been a mistake.