8:00am Wednesday 19th February 2014
By Lucy Fulford
STROUD MP Neil Carmichael has defended the cost of moving his constituency office after facing criticism from the Labour Party.
The Tory MP moved his base of operations from London Road in Stroud to Bridge Street, Nailsworth, last July as part of a plan to rotate his office around the different parts of his constituency.
Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority showed Mr Carmichael claimed £3,443 towards the cost of the move.
This included £360 for removal costs, £983 on decorating the new office and £913 for a new telephone system.
Some £500 was claimed for new office signage, £120 spent on redirecting mail and £75 on furniture.
Stroud Labour Party criticised the relocation, claiming that it placed the MP further from many of constituents, many of whom did not know where the new office was.
Chris Minett, Stroud Labour Party branch chairman, said: "If there was some tangible benefit to the move, perhaps local residents would be willing to foot the bill. But when we asked 50 of his constituents in Nailsworth and Stroud to put a pin in a map of the constituency where his office is, only 11 correctly identified Nailsworth.
"Mr Carmichael's recently published expenses claims show that his office rent is down by about £150 a month, but the office move, funded by taxpayers, cost over £3,400, meaning his constituents will only recoup the financial costs of the move if he's still the MP and based there after the General Election."
He is hoping to be re-elected in 2015 ahead of former MP David Drew.
Mr Carmichael said the move was justified and that he fully intended to win the next election.
“My duty first and foremost is to my constituents and the new office enables me to serve them even more effectively than before,” he told the Gazette. “The new offices are also more user friendly than Stroud.
“The rent is lower per month than it was previously and that represents good value for money.”
He said the Nailsworth base provided more modern facilities still well served by public transport links and added: “I wonder why the Labour Party is focusing on this when there are much more important issues to consider, not least the need to rebalance the economy and reduce the deficit.”
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