DORSET Conservative councillors have accused the Liberal Democrats of spreading misinformation in campaign leaflets.

The Lib Dems put out a leaflet stating the Tories "voted to slash £2million from the cost of living fund".

However, Tory councillors have hit back saying the statement is untrue and have reported the issue to the police and the electoral commission.

Cllr Laura Beddow said: "The chief executive has confirmed this is untrue.

"We do have fully-funded cost of living work.

"This leaflet implies we have no support for the cost of living crisis and that the Conservative group voted against it, but there was no vote and no £2million slashed.

"They agreed to stop using the statement but we are still seeing it.

"It is frustrating because we have proven that it is false and we have helped a lot of people with the cost of living."

It is understood that Dorset Police said they could not prosecute as the statement was not made against an individual councillor.

The Lib Dems have defended the statement, arguing that the money that was previously made available to support struggling families was not renewed.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Liberal Democrats said: “We are confident in all our statements and will comply with any investigation.

"We stand by our statement that the £2m that was made available in the financial year 23/24 by Dorset Council to support hard-pressed families in the cost of living crisis and hasn’t been renewed or replaced in the Conservative budget for financial year 24/25 or by any other means, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis showing no sign of abating.  

"A Lib Dem-led administration after May 2 will look to restore the Cost of Living Fund in line with the recent unanimous recommendation from Dorset Council’s people & health scrutiny committee that the funding should be extended for the financial year 24/25.”

Cllr Nick Ireland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Dorset Council, said: "The cost of living fund existed for one financial year and the money had been a big help to many organisations and people who used it.

"The budget meeting was held in February for the current financial year and they have not replaced it.

"We thought the word 'voted' had ambiguity but we agreed to take the word out and that is what we have done.

"But it is a fact that the £2 million has not been replaced and we stand by that fact.

"It now says the Tories slashed £2million from the cost of living fund, it definitely isn't there anymore and there was no proposal to put it back."

However, Cllr Beddow said she still believed the information on the leaflet was incorrect, claiming £2 million had not been "slashed".

However, police found no breach of the legislation had occurred.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: "We received a report on Thursday, April 4, in relation to information on a Liberal Democrats leaflet in Dorset.

"The matter was reviewed and it was established that no breach of electoral offence legislation had occurred and therefore, no further police action is required."

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “At the Full Council meeting on Wednesday, February 28, Dorset councillors voted to approve the council’s budget for 2023-24 which included £2 million from reserves to be used as a one-off fund to support residents struggling with the cost of living.

"This funding and this was always agreed as a one-off fund, as was explicitly set out in the report.

“However, during the 2024/25 budget setting process, no political party put forward a request for the fund to be extended or replicated, hence no vote on this matter took place.”

It comes after another Lib Dem leaflet was labelled "grossly misleading" by Green Party Bridport candidate Kelvin Clayton.

The leaflet claimed "only the Lib Dems" could win Bridport in the upcoming council election.