THE council has been forced to apologise after it barred a candidate from hiring a council-owned room for a visit by Jeremy Corbyn last year.

Labour Party organiser and previous parish council candidate Andy Graham had chosen the Lyppard Hub in Ankerage Green as a potential venue for Jeremy Corbyn's speech to rally party members before they canvassed around Warndon.

But that plan was thwarted by Worcester City Council who said it was against electoral law to use public rooms for political meetings in the run up to elections - otherwise known as Purdah - and stopped Mr Graham from hiring the room.

Whilst the Lyppard Hub is run by a board of trustees, it is actually owned by the city council.

Following a joint complaint by Mr Graham and fellow Warndon resident and now parish councillor Andrew Cross, the city council admitted it was wrong to block the booking and apologised.

A city council spokesman said the authority is required by law to make a list of bookable public meeting rooms available for candidates to use during the period of local government or parliamentary elections.

At the time of the row, Councillor Marc Bayliss, leader of the city council, said explicitly the city council could not hire public rooms during the time leading up to an election.

Mr Graham said: “While this may seem like quite a dry and technical matter, it actually strikes deep into the heart of local democracy.

“If people who decide to stand in local elections are denied their right to hold public meetings, it makes it much harder for them to hear the views of residents on local issues.

“This creates a democratic deficit favouring the incumbent councillors and in the end will just turn people off local government – low voter turnout is a symptom of this.

“It’s really important to have all elections managed fairly, openly and in compliance with legislation and I’m glad issues around Purdah have now been clarified.”

Mr Cross, who tried to make a separate booking for a non-political leader attending meeting at Lyppard Hub which was also refused by the council, said: “We are really pleased to see the council has acted swiftly to put in place new arrangements which comply with the law in time for this year’s elections.”