Sunday, September 19, 2004

Legal Challenge...Complaint to ODPM

  1. Frederick Street, Sunderland SR1 1NF
    16th September 2004
Dear Sir,

Referendum on Regional Government in the North East

A formal complaint has been made to the National Audit Office about the misuse of public money with regard to the advertisements and literature issued by the ODPM prior to the referendum on regional government in the North East, and in particular with regard to the leaflet entitled "Have Your Say".

The complaint relates to the misleading information and inaccuracies in the leaflet, which has been sent to every household in the area. The whole tenor of the leaflet is promoting a particular political view and favouring a "Yes" vote.

The inaccuracies and omissions include, inter alia,
  1. The statement that members of an assembly would be elected by proportional representation, when in fact only a minority would be so elected
  2. The failure to make it clear that running costs after the first year could be substantially higher than the 5p per week quoted for Band D properties
  3. The omission of the fact that central government would retain powers to ensure that assemblies address national priorities
  4. The substantial error in the estimated costs for option B in the local government reorganisation for County Durham

I should be obliged if you will tell me who was responsible for authorising the distribution of the adverts and the leaflet.

The Electoral Commission has already publicly stated that no further government literature can be issued during the period of 28 days prior to the distribution of the ballot papers.

How can a referendum proceed when voters have been furnished, at public expense, with inaccurate and biased "information"?

I n view of the fact that the ballot papers are due to be distributed on 18th October, I look forward to receiving an early reply.

Yours faithfully,

Judith Wallace
Chairman, North East No Campaign

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister,
London SW1A 2WH

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