Fight on 'clean' council ticket

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The Independent Online
Anti-corruption campaigners in Doncaster are to sponsor a candidate in the election to campaign for the clean-up of the council, where several councillors are under investigation by the police. Neil Swan, a former Doncaster councillor, is standing on an "Against Corruption on Doncaster Council" (AC/DC) in the Doncaster North constituency held by Kevin Hughes, a former miner and junior Labour whip, with a majority of 19,813.

While he has raised his deposit from local sources, Mr Swan is seeking sponsorship. The campaign launched yesterday by the People's Trust, the anti-corruption campaign,announced it was spending pounds 1m donated by Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods

Mr Swan's candidacy will draw more attention to the troubled Labour stronghold, where the council has been the subject of a district auditor's report criticising the lack of control over foreign trips and extravagant "working lunches".

The auditor has referred the matter to the South Yorkshire police, who are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the affair and have interviewed a number of councillors.

Mr Swan said that the local council has been run by an inside group called the Miners' Community Group, which meets in secret to decide council policy and dispense patronage: "If a councillor falls foul of the Miners' Community Group, they are ostracised. If they stand up to ask a question in Labour Group meetings they are shouted down." The leader, Peter Welsh and the deputy leader, Ray Stockhill, have resigned following the publication of the district auditor's report in January.

AC/DC is targeting Mr Hughes because he is a former councillor who was chairman of the social services committee. There is no evidence on any wrongdoing on his part.