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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 14:04 GMT
Lottery fund choices criticised
Lottery ticket
The board spends 630m a year of lottery revenue
The appointment of five Labour supporters to the new board of the Big Lottery Fund is "astonishing", the Conservatives have said.

Shadow arts minister Ed Vaizey said it was "a little excessive" that almost half the 12 commissioners had been "pretty active" in Labour politics.

The board distributes 630m a year, covering health, education, environment and charitable causes.

UK chairman Sir Clive Booth has campaigned for Labour in elections.

England chairman Sanjay Dighe is a former deputy leader of Harrow Council, while another committee member - Roland Doven - is surgery clerk to Labour MP Keith Hill and is a former Lambeth councillor.

Appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the appointments process
A spokesman for the department of culture

Meanwhile, John Gartside was Labour leader of Warrington Council until 2002 and Albert Tucker is also a party member.

The Tories say the fund extends beyond its proper remit to include services - such as providing fruit in schools - which the government should pay for.

Mr Vaizey told the BBC: "It seems to me pretty astonishing that five out of the 12 commissioners have a pretty active track record in Labour politics.

"Of course you'll always get people who go for jobs like this who have a background in politics, but to have almost half of them as Labour activists seems a little excessive, especially considering the Big Lottery Fund is the biggest lottery fund and there have been questions about its independence from ministers from the very beginning."

The Big Lottery Fund was set up in 2004 with the stated aim of "bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need".

A Department for Cuture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "These appointments have been made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Code of Practice.

"Appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the appointments process."


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24 Apr 06 |  UK Politics

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