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Southend Tories see red over Ron Woodley's spoof election letter
CONSERVATIVES have accused Independent opponents of dirty tricks after a spoof newsletter was distributed across the borough.
Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe, wrote a newsletter purporting to be from Southend’s ruling Conservative group, lampooning the administration’s policies and e-mailed it to about 100 people.
But the Tories are considering legal action after someone printed the spoof and distributed it across Southend and Leigh.
Nigel Holdcroft, Conservative leader of the council, said: “This leaflet is in my view an example of cheap, negative, party misinformation of the worst type.
“It would appear to be intended to trick those receiving it and at no point makes clear that it is in fact a party political flyer on behalf of the Independent Party. It gives a misleading slant on a number of issues without suggesting any alternative plan or proposal.”
The leaflet pokes fun at the council’s policies on debt, the proposed new seawall across Shoebury Common, access to the town’s grammar schools and the cabinet system.
It closes with: “Changing our form of democracy could be risky.
“You could find Southend being run for the benefit of all Southend families.
“You would have to face transparency, openness and honesty in your local government.
“We Conservatives knowyou are not ready for this and even if you think you are, we will not be listening.”
Mr Woodley has denied being behind the distribution and claims he has no idea who carried out it, but he has backed the move.
He said: “It was just for people to enjoymy thoughts on the Conservative administration. It has got printed and distributed – I’m not bothered.
“If the truth hurts, they shouldn’t have done what they have done.”
Mr Holdcroft claims Mr Woodley has failed to respond to questions about the leaflet’s origins and said police may need to be involved if it was printed without Mr Woodley’s authority.
In tiny writing at the bottom the leaflet says: “Printed and promoted on behalf of councillor Ron Woodley.”
In a rare show of unity with his Tory opponents, Julian Ware-Lane, Labour councillor for Milton, also slammed the leaflet.
Writing on his blog he said: “This must come pretty close to outright misrepresentation.
“Don’t get me wrong, I have many reasons to complain about the Conservative administration in Southend. But I want a fight on the issues and Labour to win because it persuaded enough of the merit of its policies.
“Misleading the electorate is what gives politicians, unfortunately all politicians, a bad name.”
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