As he returns to Glasgow for his party's UK conference, Nick Clegg must sort out his party’s unpaid policing bills for last year’s Liberal Democrat UK conference in Glasgow and not default on the bill – according to SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson.
The call comes as the Sunday Herald reveals that both the party and the UK Government have refused to pay £800,000 of policing costs for last year’s event. This is despite the UK Home Office picking up 85% of the costs for UK party political conferences which are held in England and Wales – with the local force picking up the difference.
Mr Robertson said that given Nick Clegg is both party leader and Deputy Prime Minister of the Government responsible for the Home Office, he must sort out the mess and not leave Scottish policing hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket.
This year the Liberal Democrats have increased their own security provision, according to their spokesperson quoted in the Sunday Herald.
Commenting Angus Robertson said:
"The Liberal Democrats made great play of standing up for local policing but now we know the reality is that they are responsible for a £800,000 hole in the Scottish police budget – and expect Scottish taxpayers to pick up the tab for their costs.
“If last year’s Lib Dem conference had taken place in Berwick on Tweed or Carlisle the UK Government’s Home Office would have paid most of the policing bill – with the local force picking up the difference. Yet the Home Office – part of the Government the Lib Dems are part of – have refused to do the same for Glasgow. To make matters worse the party themselves have also refused to pay.
“Nick Clegg, as both party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, needs to get a grip of this issue and either instruct the Home Office to play fair, or get his party Treasurer to pay up.
“We now know that the Liberal Democrats have increased their own security provision at this year’s conference – although we don’t know if it’s the Home Office or the Lib Dems who are paying. It does raise the questions of who is paying for that security provision – the Home Office or the Lib Dems – and the question as to why could this approach not have been taken last year.
"Either way the Lib Dems must not default on their bill to Scotland and should at last pay last year’s bill and thus support our police men and women in carrying out the excellent and important job they do."