Reffley hall bosses hit out over Labour election leaflet
A West Norfolk community group has been forced to deny endorsing Labour after its logo appeared on one of their election leaflets.
Party officials have insisted the picture containing the logo of Reffley Community Hall was intended to show the local connections of its candidates and should not be seen as a declaration of support.
But the Reffley Community Association, which runs the venue, has claimed the image was taken without their consent and could potentially put the group’s charitable status at risk.
The row relates to a leaflet circulated in the Gaywood North Bank ward, of which the hall is part, during the recent local election campaign.
It shows Labour’s three candidates for the borough council ward, Micaela Bartrum, Sandra Collop and Wilf Lambert, with the hall logo in the background.
But the association’s chairman, Pete Chappell, said he and his fellow committee members were only made aware of the leaflet when questions were raised about it at its annual general meeting on Tuesday evening.
He said the group was not allowed to make political endorsements, adding: “Had I seen it earlier, I would immediately have asked them to stop using it.”
In a Facebook post, he said the picture had been taken without any prior communication or request to the association and that he had voiced his concerns to Labour party officials.
Government guidance states that charities cannot support a political party, but can express support for a party’s stance on individual issues, providing that is in line with the charity’s own policies.
Mr Chappell said any potential loss of charitable status, were the Charity Commission to take such action, could cost them thousands of pounds a year in tax and business rates.
He said: “It would be catastrophic for us. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Labour’s election co-ordinator, Jo Rust, said there had been no intention to upset the association or anyone else through its election literature.
She said: “The locations are never an endorsement from the area but more to demonstrate the candidates are in that area.
“We’ve had them taken in a variety of locations and Reffley Community Association is part of Gaywood North Bank.
“I don’t want to upset the gentleman any further but I don’t think we need his permission to be there.”
She added: “They’re part of that community and they’re standing to be a more integral part of that community.
“It would never be our intention to upset the people whose votes we are seeking to get.”
Mr Chappell also suggested the picture had been taken on private property, although Mrs Rust said she would be “surprised” if that was the case.