Should political parties be going door to door to deliver leaflets during the lockdown?
Nationally the Liberal Democrats have been criticised by the Conservatives and Labour for the practice.
The Liberal Democrats have defended their decision not to suspend all door-to-door leafleting, arguing it is a form of volunteering, which is permitted under the guidance. The party has reportedly said its activists do not knock on doors, and that leaflets contain links signposting Covid-19 support and other useful community information.
In the first days of lockdown in South Cambridgeshire at least two residents posted on social media to express their discontent with the Liberal Democrats, claiming leaflets had been delivered to their homes, with the South Cambs Conservatives saying residents had been in touch about the issue.
The Tory leader on the district council, councillor Heather Williams has branded it “shocking”.
‘We asked volunteers not to deliver’
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Leafleting for party political purposes goes against the national message of stay at home.
“And we are staying at home, and we are staying at home to help protect our NHS and save lives. I think for the Lib Dems to continue leafleting through volunteers door-to-door is wrong, and putting parting politics above everything else including safety, and our residents deserve better.”
One person said on social media that their 85-year-old father received a leaflet posted through the letterbox by a South Cambs Lib Dem volunteer in the first week of lockdown, which they described as “not okay”.
In that case the South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Twitter account responded saying: “I am sorry to hear this. We had communicated with our volunteers to ask them not to deliver. We do have 100s of deliverers and it appears in this case on didn’t see the message”.
That reply tweet from the Liberal Democrats was sent on January 5, prior to the party’s national stance defending the delivery of leaflets via volunteers.
So what do the South Camb Lib Dems say now?
Stephen Drew, Chair of South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in South Cambridgeshire have a proud track record of keeping in touch all year round in our local community, relying on a large network of volunteers to deliver leaflets.
“For many people, their regular local Lib Dem newsletter is how they access important information about their area – for example how to get help from their local elected representatives or how to access vital Covid support.
“This is even more important for the many elderly or isolated people without access to the internet for whom this may be their only source of help.
“As soon as the government announced the latest national lockdown, the South Cambs Liberal Democrat party sent a message to our hundreds of volunteer deliverers asking them to pause delivery of existing leaflets while we review the latest guidance. We will continue to take a cautious approach to how we communicate with our residents in a safe and responsible manner throughout these challenging and unsettling times.”