The mayor of Watford has slammed claims she tried to “buy votes” after  a youth project was loaned thousands of pounds.

Watford Labour’s election agent Mike Jackson says he wrote to the council’s monitoring officer requesting a ruling on whether Dorothy Thornhill was in breach of purdah rules.

He was outraged to see the £150,000 loan for the Muslim Youth Project being presented at the organisation’s fund raising event on Sunday, April 15.

However, Watford Borough Council has responded that no rules were broken as the pledge was decided by Cabinet on July 3, 2017.

Mayor Thornhill said: "This is typical of Labour in Watford. Last week in an election they will always come up with a spurious complaint. This funding was agreed back in July. If their councillors paid attention to Cabinet decisions they would have already known about this.

"It was entirely appropriate to remind the community at the fundraiser. Mr Jackson already knows this as he has already has an official answer from our legal officer.

"This is old news. We are more than happy to support any community group that is fundraising on this scale."

Manny Lewis, the council’s managing director and returning officer, added: “The council has not broken any pre-election rules. The loan to the Muslim Youth Centre was agreed at a public council meeting on 3 July 2017, to enable the construction of a new community centre.

"All the information relating to the decision is available on the council’s website and no new funding to the Muslim Youth Centre has been announced during the pre-election period.

"The event itself was arranged by the local community organisation, not by Watford Borough Council.”

Mr Jackson said: “From what I can see the mayor appears to be trying to buy votes using Watford Council money.

“If so this is in direct breach of purdah rules which specifically forbid this type of use of publicity and use of public money during an election period.

“Her action was highly improper, probably illegal and morally wrong.”

Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, Labour’s mayoral candidate who was present at the event, added: “I am very disturbed by this incident.

“The mayor is giving away public money less than two weeks before an election.

“The clear implication is vote for us and you’ll get £150,000. This can’t be right.”

Watford Observer:

An image taken at the Muslim Youth Project fund-raising event in April.