CONSERVATIVES were accused of not having any sums to add up in their General Election manifesto – now they are being accused of not being able to add up.
While Maidenhead MP Theresa May was derided for her use of the phrase ‘magic money tree’ during the recent campaign, Wokingham Conservatives may be wishing they had one after their election expenditure report appeared to show that their total spend was £3,000 less that the figures they had entered.
All candidates in the General Election are required by law to file reports of their spending during the campaign. These are first sent to the relevant local authority and then on to the Electoral Commission.
For the Wokingham candidates, these have been filed with Wokingham Borough Council.
Figures reveal that Liberal Democrat candidate Clive Jones spent the most – £13,477.25.
Next came the Conservatives campaign for the winner, John Redwood. Their declared spending comes to a total of £7,368.55, but their declared total is £4,118.55.
Labour candidate Andy Croy spent £3,564.36, while the Green candidate, Russell Seymour claims to have spent nothing.
Clive Jones’s expenditure included £924.42 on administration, £11,992.60 on mailouts to voters and £462.89 on advertising, including Facebook.
A sum of £3 was also declared on juice for his adoption meeting attended by Lord Jonathan Marks.
He said: “We have to account for all expenditure. Most of the admin costs are paper, envelopes and ink cartridges for the letters that we produced.”
And Mr Jones would like to see more transparency on the way in which election expenses are recorded.
He said: “I wanted to work out how many leaflets the other parties delivered. We delivered more than 200,000: our invoices are there.
“Conservatives delivered less than 100,000 and with Labour you can’t tell, they’ve just put a figure in without saying how many they delivered. They should be showing how many they delivered.”
Mr Jones also queried the Conservatives return, filed by their election agent Fraser McFarland.
“You’d think someone had checked their figures. John Redwood must have signed them off.”
Labour candidate Andy Croy spent £857.56 on advertising, £2,666.80 on election addresses and £40 on public meetings. His total, £3,564.36, was matched by donations from supporters.
John Redwood, the Conservative candidate, spent £330 on advertising, £4,475.62 on election addresses to residents, £1,625 on staff costs and £937.93 on administration. He did not have any personal expenses.
These figures come to more than £7,000, but the total declared was £4,118.55 – a difference of £3,250.
Andy Croy was critical of the Conservatives’ return.
He told The Wokingham Paper: “The candidate and the agent are jointly responsible in law for submitting the statement of expenses. This is symptomatic of local Tories regarding elections as little more than an administrative inconvenience.
“It seems Mr Redwood is paying as much attention to his admin as he does to Wokingham.
“I am sure there are plenty of Primary schools in the borough where the teachers would love to be able to take Mr Redwood through the basics while at the same time explaining to him more advanced maths, such as the impact of school-cost inflation on limited cash budgets.”
Fraser McFarland, John Redwood’s election agent, was grateful to The Wokingham Paper for bringing the figures to his attention.
He said: “It’s simply human error and I’ll be submitting an updated version.”