MP’s fury at union subsidy from council

IPSWICH: Town MP Ben Gummer today launched a broadside at the Labour-run borough council after learning that the authority spends �20,000 a year on supporting a union office for staff.

The authority pays part of the salary for a union official and provides support services for an office at its Grafton House headquarters.

Mr Gummer said he fully supported the right of council staff to be represented by a union – but said it was wrong that the union activity should be subsidised.

He said: “Effectively a Labour council uses council taxpayers’ money to subsidise a union which in turn donates money to the Labour Party.

“I think it stinks.”

Labour council leader David Ellesmere said the borough had paid union officials for many years because it recognised the value of having easy access to staff representatives.

He said: “This is an arrangement that has lasted for many years including the seven years of the Tory/LibDem administration at the borough.

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“I think Ben Gummer is trying to create mischief over something he clearly does not understand.”

Mr Gummer learned about the figure in a letter he received recently from borough chief executive Russell Williams and insisted that he would have raised the issue had his party still been in power at the borough.

He said: “It is not right that the council should subsidise a union like this. It is not a question of who is in power at the borough!”

n Is it right for the borough to pay union staff? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail