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Labour party gave £4k donation to help win local poll

Same number of seats won by party in borough elections despite cash injection

More than £4,000 was donated by the Labour party in Rushmoor to help its candidates fight to win seats in May’s local elections.

The party ultimately emerged with the same number of seats it began with following polling on May 22, winning four of the 13 seats available, while UKIP gained one seat and the Conservatives lost one.

The Tories spent a total of £5,765.36, including candidate spending and other donations, in winning their eight seats, with Labour close behind with £4,128.31, and UKIP throwing £1,589.43 behind its efforts.

Of the totals spent, mainly on the cost of printing leaflets, the Conservative party donated £1,863 to their candidates, Labour £3,955.96, UKIP £394.20 and the Liberal Democrats £680.33. The Green and Christian parties contributed nothing to their candidates’ campaigns.

The ward that experienced the highest spend on campaigning was Farnborough’s Cherrywood, where Conservative candidate Derek Cornwell spent £595, compared with Labour’s £795.19 and the Liberal Democrats’ £159.33, totalling £1,549.52.

The lowest spend was £615.69 in St John’s, in which Labour spent nothing.

Labour directed almost 60% of its spending on retaining the Aldershot Park, Cherrywood and North Town seats it has traditionally held, with just £17.40 spent on Empress campaigning and £25 on Knellwood.

Labour treasurer Barry Jones said the disparity in spending had been due to the party concentrating on the wards it realistically expected to win.

“We direct the resources where we think we’re going to get the return,” he said.

“We would like to have done more in Fernhill as we thought Ben Amos was a good candidate, but we have a limited number of people who can patrol the streets and we didn’t print anything that we weren’t going to get delivered.”

The Liberal Democrats aimed 61% of its expenditure at its attempt to win the St Mark’s seat, despite fielding candidates in three other wards.

Councillors are expected to meet their own campaign expenses but are aided by donations from their party and sometimes supporters, up to a set limit.

Cllr Martin Tennant, one of the few candidates to disclose his personal expenses, shelled out £298 of his own money in retaining his Cove and Southwood seat, and said it was money well spent.

“It depends how hard you are willing to fight to get your seat,” he said. “The only way to get the word out is to give people the information about what you have done and what you are going to do.

“Elections aren’t a cheap business. Trying to communicate with 3,000 households costs money.”

Conservative candidates in Manor Park, North Town, Rowhill, Wellington and West Heath benefited from donations made by party supporters totalling £1,277.

Jeff Green, leader of the Christian Party, said the decision to spend nothing on its campaign in St Mark’s was due to its focus on gaining power in town and community councils around the country. The party ended up with 58 votes in the ward – the only seat it competed for – compared with the 649 votes that secured the seat for the Conservatives.

The Green Party candidates, who also failed to win a seat after standing in St Mark’s and Empress wards, spent £176.08 on their campaigns, with Donna Wallace forking out £127.08 of her own money in a bid to gain Empress.

 
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