The County You Live, Work And Play
McCann Takes Down Campaign Posters
Labour candidate Michael McCann has removed campaign posters from his rented office at East Kilbride Civic Centre following the ‘postergate’ row.
The town’s SNP group hit out at South Lanarkshire Council accusing the local authority of Labour bias in the run up to the General Election.
Party members launched a scathing attack on the council’s chief executive and Returning Officer for the Westminster election, Lindsay Freeland, after spotting Labour campaign posters plastered across the windows of Michael McCann’s office at the Civic Centre.
SNP leader Anne Maggs described the act as an “outrage” and lambasted Mr McCann for “abusing the democratic process”.
Although South Lanarkshire Council maintained that Mr McCann was not breaking any rules by displaying the posters at his former constituency office, Mr Freeland said that allowing the posters to remain following the furore could bring the local authority’s impartiality into question.
Michael McCann said, “The chief executive of the council explained to me his concern that the local authority’s impartiality could be questioned.
“Although the constituency office and my campaign office are discrete and separate entities to the SLC office I had no desire to contribute to that impression and I volunteered to take down the posters. The council thanked me and accepted my offer.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The council had agreed with Mr McCann that it was in order for him to use part of his constituency office as a political campaign office. This agreement complies with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s requirements (IPSA).
" Such agreements are endorsed through arrangements with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). An agreement about advertising wasn’t discussed.
“In normal circumstances campaign posters in a campaign office wouldn’t be a problem. However, while the constituency office is a discrete and separate part of the civic centre, the proximity to SLC services meant concerns have been raised about the potential for such an arrangement to be misconstrued.
“We have discussed this issue with Mr McCann and he has made it clear that he does not wish to do anything that might prompt others to suggest South Lanarkshire Council has been compromised.
“He has therefore voluntarily agreed to take down the campaign posters at the civic centre and we are grateful for his cooperation.”
But the SNP are still refusing to accept the council’s response, maintaining the council is in breach of the Local Government Act.
EK SNP secretary Duncan McLean, said: “It seems Mr McCann may not have been telling the truth when he claimed the Chief Executive’s office cleared his use of the Civic Centre as a poster site. According to the council it was powerless to stop him.
“Council lets to other parties banned the posting of adverts. Yet, in this case, the council’s position is that it omitted that ban, making Mr McCann a gift of free advertising in a prime location. This is a donation in kind to his election campaign and a breach of local government legislation.
“To resolve the confusion, the council must publish the lease, and this has already been put in train through a Freedom of Information request.
“The statement fails to address why the council set aside its own policy of keeping politics out of operational buildings and let Labour use the Civic Centre as its General Election HQ.”