03:30PM, Friday 27 April 2018
A row over ‘blind donations’ funding a council trip to a glamorous property show in the South of France erupted at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) meeting on Monday, April 24.
A motion was submitted by the Slough Conservative Group calling for SBC to stop accepting ‘blind donations’ and to ensure all sponsorships for products, events and services are fully transparent.
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “People deserve to know who is making such sponsorship investments.”
SBC leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) guessed this was in reference to his trip to the MIPIM property show in Cannes last month with senior council staff.
The council has said that Cllr Swindlehurst was not made aware of who his trip’s sponsors were before he and senior council staff jetted off to France.
He said he was confident his trip ‘secured plenty of inward investment’ for Slough, but that sponsorship due to outrage over last year’s trip being funded taxpayer funded.
“It’s the only blind arrangement that the council has made,” added Cllr Swindlehurst, who said he would have been accused of ‘being in the pocket’ of sponsors had he known who they were.
“I support the idea of making the policy but I’m not pandering to this ill out dog’s breakfast here tonight,” he added, arguing the matter should be dealt with by the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee.
Cllr Amarpreet Dhaliwal (Con, Langley St Mary’s) said accepting the motion would demonstrate a very public commitment to transparency.
An email seen by The Express reveals the trip was funded by publisher 3Fox International, which is producing a brochure promoting investment in Slough.
The company has sold advertising space for the brochure to Heathrow Airport and Slough Urban Renewal (SUR), a development partnership between the council and Morgan Sindall Investments LTD.
The email, sent on Friday, April 20 to a councillor by SBC assistant director of finance Neil Wilcox, says the council paid £12,250 towards SUR’s advertising but he clarified that this money was not for the trip itself.
Councillors rejected the motion the meeting, which took place at The Curve in William Street.
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