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MOVES TO OVERTURN BANS ON OFFICER POLITICAL ACTIVITY

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Unison is backing a test case to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights in April next year which is being b...
Unison is backing a test case to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights in April next year which is being brought by four council officers who have been prevented from being politically active. The Independent (tabloid p14) reports that the government seems poised to overturn restrictions on the political activities of local government officers. These restrictions have been criticised as a breach of human rights.

Senior lecturer in local government at Birmingham University Chris Game is quoted: 'There should be a relaxation of the definition of what constitutes political activity. It is more or less a straight steal from the civil service, but that is not appropriate in the context of local government. This blanket ban is so extreme it is invidious. There is still uncertainty about posters, canvassing, writing to the press and office-holding in a (political) party.

All the political parties accept that it is inappropriate for advisers to party groups on councils to be covered by the restrictions. The Independent quotes Paul White, leader of the Conservative group on the Local Government Association, who said: 'It is daft if they can't stand. There are a lot more political advisers now than when the Widdicombe review took place.'
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