Monday, 4 May 2015

Post Office investigates suspected Morecambe election mail tampering

One of the leaflets found in Newlands area of Lancaster

The Royal Mail is investigating a complaint that some leaflets sent to them from the national Green Party election campaign office, to be delivered by Freepost in the Morecambe & Lunesdale Constituency on behalf of Green Party candidate Phil Chandler, have been found dumped in the Newlands area of Lancaster.

It also appears that some areas of the Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency have not received delivery of the leaflets entrusted to the Royal Mail last Tuesday. In the interests of a fair and free election, the local Green Party would like your help in mapping the delivery coverage (see final para).

Validly nominated parliamentary candidates are entitled under election rules to free postage for one election communication via the Royal Mail to electors in their constituency. Depending on the circumstances, tampering and interfering with the freepost electoral leaflet may be an offence and so the issue has been logged with the police while the scale and cause is investigated.

Angry resident's complaint about 'rubbish' sparks investigation
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe & Lunesdale Phil Chandler was very concerned when a resident of Newlands in Lancaster, Ian Robert Bowman, contacted him last Saturday via a post to his facebook page to complain that "Upon returning to our home (Winchester Ave), leaflets from your party are all over our drive,next doors drive and the road leading up to little fell lane." 

Mr Bowman probably had time to think about his complaint whilst he was clearing up a lot of messy, rain-soaked leaflets (which was considerate of him) and he went on, in his facebook post, to express his opinion about this mess very clearly.  It's safe to say he really wasn't happy with the Green Party about it. It wasn't very 'green' to say the least. And candidate Phil Chandler completely agreed and went straight to investigate.

What was particularly strange, was that Newlands in Lancaster is nowhere near the Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency where Phil Chandler is standing for election.

Leaflet from party central was only handled by the Royal Mail
On investigating the incident, the Greens discovered that the leaflets Mr Bowman had complained of were part of a particular print run that had been sent from the national Green Party election campaign to the Royal Mail last Tuesday for Freepost distribution in the Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency. These were A4 size, folded to A5. As you can see, highlighted in the image above, the words 'ELECTION COMMUNICATION' are clearly printed at the bottom.

The local Green Party have confirmed that the leaflet in question "was only ever given to the Post Office; we have a different one that we deliver by hand, quite distinguishable, so no-one here would ever have had access to them."

Denial of democratic opportunity?
Green Party candidate Phil Chandler said,
"As a political party without the vast funding that other parties have, the freepost leaflet is an important democratic opportunity to put across to every household that we are standing in the elections and that we offer an exciting alternative vision for this beautiful and environmentally important part of the country.  It is extremely disappointing to find even this opportunity may have been denied to us."

Royal Mail investigates
Virtual Lancaster contacted Royal Mail spokesperson, Morag Turnbull, who told us:
"We are concerned to hear that a number of election leaflets from the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Morecambe & Lunesdale have been found in Lancaster. We take very seriously any complaint of this nature and are proud to deliver leaflets for all parliamentary candidates. 

"Royal Mail is investigating this as a matter of urgency and will be contacting the candidate directly to discuss the matter further. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Can you help map the freepost delivery?
The local Green Party are trying to map which streets of the Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency have received their election leaflet via the Royal Mail and which haven't yet. If you live in the constituency they'd be grateful if you would tell them whether or not you received a leaflet like the one pictured above (but in better condition, hopefully :-) via their facebook page  'Phil Chandler - Green Party Candidate for Morecambe & Lunesdale' or by emailing  campaign@morecambelunesdalegreens.org.uk. Don't forget to include the name of your street!

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