LATEST NEWS: David Cameron branded “pathetic” after attacking Sunderland Council spending

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COUNCIL chiefs have defended themselves after Prime Minister David Cameron attacked their spending on lobbying firms.

The PM is due to slam Labour councils for “wasting” cash as he launches his party’s local election campaign today – with Sunderland among those singled-out for criticism.

He will say: “Labour councils remain trapped in their old wasteful ways.

“Sunderland spent £113,000 on lobbyists, Lambeth almost £30,000 on a sculpture and Camden spent almost £200,000 on seven trade union activists.”

Click here to read our story on Sunderland City Council’s lobbying bill

But Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson defended the outlay, claiming it was not spent on recruiting companies to lobby for them, but instead on putting forward vital cases on Sunderland issues to MPs.

He added: “It was necessary for us to spend the money to put cases for things like the new River Wear crossing and bridge to MPs.

“We did not spend that on lobbying as we are more than capable of doing that ourselves, so I don’t know what he is going on about and I find his words pathetic.”

Mr Cameron will claim Tory-led councils are the “best-value councils in the country” with the lowest average council tax.