Community Centre delivering political leaflets using vulnerable people

I have been very quiet on here and for that I can only apologise. The demise of the Great Barr Observer is a loss to the estate and therefore we are left with fewer news. You may have seen as well it appears Aldi may well get the planning permission next to Asda which will impact his a lot with even more traffic on the Queslett and not a lot we can do about it.

However it is also local election time, so you will have had leaflets through the doors to help you make up your mind, to remind you the candidates are –

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To declare an interest I have proposed Shamim for the Labour candidature and I am again a labour member (after leaving) but have taken no part in this local election.

So I can only say that I have deliberated for a while about this but I feel it must be posted now. Last Friday (20th April) I was working from home and heard noise outside and saw a group of people delivering leaflets. I captured this on a You Tube Video.

Edit 16:30 – 01/05/18 – Following Mike Bird’s comments I have reviewed the footage with someone who can advise. He/she has said there is not a case to answer. In public property (and indeed on MY property) anyone can be filmed. However on reflection I have now made the video private but here is a still of the delivery and video is available on request.

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You can clearly see a group of people being led by the woman in the mauve hoodie delivering leaflets. These people are ones with learning difficulties, a couple of people with Downs for example. So I went downstairs and tucked inside of a Collingwood Centre leaflet I saw the Tory one.

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I have spoken to a couple of other people who confirmed that the Tory leaflet looked hidden away.

I felt this was wrong, as someone who has delivered 1000’s of political leaflets in the past, it should be a purely voluntary activity. Does anyone think this was moral to get these people to deliver these hidden away inside a community leaflet ? I do not. I would go so far to say it is exploitation.

Following this I checked with two experienced campaigners (one from Lab and a friend from Tories who was an agent in Cannock) and both confirmed that whilst not illegal, no party should allow this.

So following up on this I spoke to a few people within the council and learnt this.

Just to update you on the Centre, Council officials have told them to stop doing what they were doing, they get community development grant of £4K to produce and deliver leaflets to the community. As this was a political delivery then the council are claiming back £1.5K

This is so wrong that the Community centre were being used in this and along with vulnerable people being used to deliver political literature.

I know some may think that this is doing for my own political benefit but the council have stated this is wrong.

Leave up to the readers to decide …. Any comments added will not be edited as per my normal policy unless abusive of course.

26 thoughts on “Community Centre delivering political leaflets using vulnerable people

  1. Totally immoral actions from the Tory candidates in my opinion…and what we also need to question is WHO within the Community centre agreed to do this and arranged for these people to do the leaflet drop. Should their position and role in the centre be called into question too? At the end of the day, these actions have lead to the Community centre losing out on £1.5k of the development grant they were awarded…and the community, and vulnerable ones they used to deliver the leaflets, ultimately lose out too. Tory party should be made to cover that £1.5k loss, and pay that to the centre out of their own pockets.

      • Great Barr yes, not Pheasey, we are close to the border but come under Oscott and different council. We have used, and see the benefits of the Community Centre and feel what they have done is not acceptable, but sadly not surprising thing for Tories to do.

      • OK and lets be generous and say they paid them to deliver so thats at min wage 7.83 x 6 and lets say they did 12 hours to cover the estate = 563 to declare in expenses before cost of leaflets included and that probably takes very close to spending limit for Local elections.

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  3. I wondered where the Great Barr Observer had gone… not making any money? With regards to the leaflet tucked in the Collingwood Centre booklet, I think it was counter productive as I rarely read the booklet anyway. I only noticed the Chris Towe electoral leaflet by chance and probably many others didn’t see it at all. If it had been delivered separately it would have been noticed immediately.

  4. Putting the record straight Councillor Mike Bird

    Your three Tory Councillors have for many years paid the Collingwood Centre for delivering their “In Touch” leaflet and this is exactly the same arrangement.

    We are not responsible for the team of deliverers however I am now advised by the organisation involved that the Collingwood magazine has always had 200 or so delivered by these adults with their parents permission to conduct meaningful activities within the Community .which they look forward to and are part of our community.

    Permission for a video of these vulnerable people should have been sort before it was filmed and NOT posted on the internet WITHOUT permission of anyone This is in itself a safeguarding issue and despite protestations from Mr Robathan which has now been reported to the Director of Adult Social care and the police nothing more than a political act

    This has created an unnecessary workload for the well known provider of facilities for vulnerable adults based at the Library doing sterling and valuable work in our Community fully supporting the centre manager to break down the barriers that Mr Robathan has displayed along with the welcome funding from Birmingham to the centre to assist in keeping the Collingwood as an integral part of our area.

    Your comments on the legality of the actions of deliveries perhaps should also have applied to your diligence to your actions and the Council now accept that they were not advised that the Councillors had paid for this service and thus no further action will ensue

    I am advised that there will be NO deduction from the Collingwood grants and request that Mr Robathan takes down this video immediately with an unreserved apology to the adults and their parents for this blatant invasion of privacy.

    I trust that this will put and end to this matter in ALL internet circles and social media.

    Councillor Mike Bird

    • You are in no position to demand anything Mike.

      I will consult with a couple of people on this and seek their advice. As for the video they were delivering in a public space and delivering YOUR leaflet, you are responsible for who delivers it. I may out of respect for the people edit the video.

      Can you confirm therefore that the full cost of min wage was applicable ?

      And it was more than 200 homes as people on Park Farm received it and Tyndale.

      Once I seek clarification I will update.

      Note I have not edited your reply.

      Oh I never had any doubts on legality nor did anyone I spoke to, you have to think about the morality of this

      • Our contract is with the Collingwood Centre whose invoice, as always, will be settled in the normal way. My comments were a request to you to appease the situation that you have now created for yourself and these vulnerable adults. I am sure that the demands will come from the necessary authorities who are investigating your actions as we speak. I have sought assurances, and received them, that the adults that you illegally filmed delivered approximately 200 leaflets in an isolated area, as is the normal practice when the magazine from the Collingwood is distributed. As previously advised I will not engage with you any further but leave the investigation to Adult Social Services and the Police. I suggest that you reflect on your actions and remove this video with immediate effect.

  5. To put across another opinion/view. I myself, after reading the comments being made have just returned from the Collingwood Centre, having spoken with the centre manager. My opinion is non political, factual and true.

    1. The centre has 4000 magazines delivered over various areas every quarter. Of that only 200 magazines are actually delivered by the special needs/vulnerable adults. As stated by Mike Bird, this is with permission of the group and their parents. This is also done voluntarily as they enjoy doing it.

    2. I think the centre and staff do a grand job and what you and some of the other people who have made comments are just trying to do is drag them into some kind of political tit for tat. I saw for myself the interaction between staff and the vulnerable people and it was marvellous.

    3. Posting that video before you were in full knowledge of the truth was an invasion of their privacy and you have not given a single thought whatsoever for these vulnerable people lets not fool ourselves over that one. Are you just trying to score some labour points as its voting time?

    4. Had you have had the decency to go up to the centre and speak to the centre manager or staff, like I have first before you wrote your rubbish, you would have been aware of ALL the facts and not just the one’s you could embellish with your political innuendo’s. Is this just really about the fact that a labour candidate didn’t think to ask about having their leaflet delivered with the magazine first.

    • whoever you are lets answer the points.

      1. Regardless of 4500 or 200 the point is that vulnerable adults were used to deliver these, they had no way of consenting to deliver political leaflets, would you not agree ?

      2. irrelevant

      3. Not it is not, they are in public doing this, many houses now have CCTV is that an invasion of privacy ? No, who invaded their privacy was the ones who asked them to deliver a political leaflet. As Duncan said above the leaflet was tucked away inside the mag, you think that was legit then ? We had another delivery Sunday, on it’s own, no idea who delivered as I was out.

      4. Actually if you bothered to read you would know I have been an election agent for Labour on at least 4 elections and delivered before that since 95 We never thought about paying, we delivered our own leaflets in rain, shine, hail and wind …. because I VOLUNTEERED to do it Did they get paid from the money the Tories gave to the Centre ? Final point of course two councillors are also trustees of the centre, so not a conflict of interest ?

      • In reply to you, yes let’s look at points raised.

        1. Please look at the 2nd paragraph after your photo of the said leaflet & magazine. You state that you delivered voluntarily well so have they. You are not really bothered whether they got paid or not. Your only real issue seems to be that they were Tory leaflets.

        2. Not relevant. Really?? Take a look at the comments made by Ange on 30/4 @ 11.50 & also again @ 3.42pm

        3. You state that Duncan said the leaflets were “hidden” I think you’ll find that it is you that bought that point up.

        So I’ll ask have you bothered to actually go and out the truth. Have you spoken to the manager of the adult services provider there? I’m sure he’d like to speak to you.

        And now to your final point. I have lived in the estate for many years. If you had done your research properly you will of course seen that in previous years there have been quite a few labour councillors and even a mayor (labour) on the committee of the Centre. Do you think there was a political interest there???

  6. sorry ‘concerned resident’ are you saying people who had to be guided to how to deliver leaflets etc voluntary agreed to deliver a leaflet for a political party ? Really ? So if I spoke to one of them they would know what the Tory party stood for and what Chris Towe was standing on ?

    • Oh I see we are not going through point by point anymore.

      Well I don’t know whether they would know about the Tory party or councillor Towe. The same as I don’t know whether they would know anything about labour or any other councillors. But just because they may or may not need guidance to deliver leaflets that does not mean they are not capable of having thoughts of their own. Maybe the manager of the adult service provider there could answer your questions on that.

  7. I am a parent of a son with learning difficulties and after reading some of these messages it deeply concerns me. I have in fact contacted the Manager of the provision who has explained to me that the people you see distributing the Centre Magazine in the video, enjoy this activity and love going out and meeting people. The group also deliver leaflets inviting people to events and open days held at the Centre to bring the community together. The manager informed me that they are very much a part of the community and are people before their disability. In my opinion, these poor people have been caught up in a political spat ahead of voting day. If it was my son or daughter video’d without their knowing and uploaded for the world to see then I would definitely be seeking safeguarding advice on this matter with social services and the police. Both parties have behaved despicably. If you were so concerned about the exploitation of these ‘vulnerable people’ as you put it, then why have you posted a video of them as you appear to also be exploiting them. There is no need for this video you can give your opinion in writing without the need for it. If this concerned you so much then why haven’t you taken it up with the Centre Manager face to face and privately rather than publicly.

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  9. Some right beauts on here, complaining of ‘Invasion of privacy’ – GET IT RIGHT ROUND YOURSELVES, AND LEARN THE LAW.

    And what happens if Towe loses out in the election? It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that those vulnerable people who ‘volunteered’ to deliver the leaflets will have been reported to the DWP as being ‘fit for work’ , or another method employed to strip them of their disability benefits, such is the vindictiveness and snideyness of the toerag…sorry – tory party.

    • I have held back from commenting on the last one from the ‘concerned parent’ but yes they were happy to do that, I am not denying that and if just the centre leaflet, you think it would matter.

      However they delivered political material, material that either they should have been paid fully to do or volunteered to do because they support the tory policies or councillors.

      They HAD to be directed how to post these leaflets, do you think they even knew what they were delivering.

      I call that an abuse of people.

      • Held back – really – why??? Basically, so what if some of the people needed guidance to deliver the leaflets I saw the video you put up which was also posted on other sites by some of the people commenting so although you may have albeit reluctantly, blocked the people out these other people didn’t and it clearly showed that actually not all had to be directed. And the “political shenanigan” that was supposedly done to cause some stirring made no difference after all anyway. Totally agree with concerned parent’s comments on 2nd May and I reiterate, you were not bothered whether the people were paid or not only that it was a tory leaflet and wonder whether you have been up to the centre or spoke with the services provider there regarding the matter yet?? I think not and now the election is over may be it might not be worth it now!!!! I personally feel this was all just a political “show & tell” for you and nothing more

  10. Oh, and Cllr Mike Bird….I hope the police arrest & charge you with wasting police time and making malicious complaints when you try telling them to make any arrest.


  11. It seems to me that regardless of whether these leaflets were delivered innocently or for political gain, that to post a video of these vulnerable people publicly is disgraceful, illegal & against data protection laws. Shame on you, if you have a valid grievance then talk face to face about your concerns directly with the centre. Do not publically shame vulnerable people !

    • “It seems to me that regardless of whether these leaflets were delivered innocently or for political gain, that to post a video of these vulnerable people publicly is disgraceful, illegal & against data protection laws.”

      Nope. Have another guess and refrain from making laws up. Read this, then you can apologise profusely to the author of the article who, in my opinion, has done us all a service.

      Click to access ACPO_Guidance_PhotographsPublicPlaces.pdf

      Shame on YOU for refusing to acknowledge an exploitation (bordering on abuse) of disabled folks.

      ‘Concerned parent’ MY ARSE AND YOURS.

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