Election row at ‘misleading tax leaflet’

A POLITICAL row has erupted over a Conservative election leaflet which rival candidates claim is “misleading’’.

The leaflet delivered to homes in the Alpheton and Long Melford seat by Tory candidates Margaret Maybury and Will Shropshire states that, if elected, they would make sure there was no return to the days of 18% council tax increases “that our opponents delivered”.

The claim has outraged opposition councillors fighting the May 5 elections, including Independent candidates Richard Kemp, who currently holds the seat, and John Nunn, who is running for the first time.

Mr Kemp said the statement was “misleading to the electorate’’ and “extremely disappointing’’.

He added: “This is not how we expect to run elections here and I can say I’ve never experienced anything like this since first standing for election in the district in 1973.

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“They claim their opponents delivered 18% tax increases. Well we are the opponents and we clearly have never delivered anything of the sort.”

Mr Nunn added that it would have been “very difficult” for him to have introduced the tax rise considering he had never been a district or county councillor.

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When asked about the statement, Mr Shropshire and Mrs Maybury declined to comment but Conservative Party agent Peter Burgoyne, who is promoting the candidates and helped to produce the leaflet, said he stood behind the statement.

“In 2003 an 18% tax increase was introduced by our Liberal and Labour opponents at Suffolk County Council. This is a fact so we will have to agree to disagree on the issue,” he added.

The council tax increase of 18.4% was introduced by the Liberal/Labour amalgamation at Suffolk County Council in 2003 – a decision that Mr Kemp said he voted against at the time.

Mr Kemp added: “The fact is that was a county council issue, not Babergh, and this is a district council election. I’m afraid the opposition have got this wrong on many counts and it’s important the electorate is made aware of this.”

A total of 122 candidates will contest 43 seats in Babergh on May 5, which is believed to be the highest number to contest the four-yearly elections in the district.

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