A LEGAL argument has erupted after claims that Swindon's Tory councillors are lining their own pockets with taxpayers' money.

The claims have come from a pre-election leaflet released by a Labour councillor.

About 7,000 residents in Moredon have received the leaflet from Coun Maureen Caton, which centres on Labour's concerns over the council's plans to sell off what it calls "a whole swathe of council owned facilities."

In the leaflet, which is also reported to have been distributed in Toothill by Labour candidate Junab Ali, Coun Caton writes: "It's just astonishing that the Conservatives believe they can get away with selling community centres, libraries, playing fields and leisure centres in order to pay themselves a whacking 54 per cent pay rise, and waste £26m on a block of swanky new offices.

"They are wasting council tax payers' money to fund their own pet schemes and fill their own pockets."

And that has provoked an angry response from council leader Rod Bluh, who described the leaflet as propaganda and a pack of lies.

Coun Bluh (Con, Dorcan) said: "None of the things in there are true. It says we are selling community centres, and we are not.

"It says we are selling libraries, we are not. Playing fields? We may be in some schools, but we are replacing them.

"And as far as I'm aware we are not selling any leisure centres, so it is a pack of lies."

And Coun Bluh poured scorn on the Labour group's attack on councillor allowance increases.

"There were pay rises put through, but all councillors got them. Kevin Small got the biggest pay rise as leader of the opposition and he supported the pay rise," said Coun Bluh.

"And when Andy Harrison objected to the increases he backed down in council. The increases were recommended by an independent panel, not by councillors themselves. The pay rise was peanuts."

With reference to claims that £20m is to be spent on new offices, Coun Bluh said a proposal to build a new civic centre were still a long way off and that any proposal would benefit the council in terms of efficiency.

He said the Link Centre was likely to be refurbished and not sold, while any plans to demolish the Oasis would see a new leisure centre built .

"This whole leaflet is utter trash and as for the headline Tories aim to sell off and shut down Swindon', I think most people would see it for the rubbish that it is," he said.

"We have been libelled and we are going to fight it because it is dirty politics and we are not going to be part of it.

"They were clearly going to put this out across the town they are that desperate. We want a full retraction sent to every household.

"They have crossed the line and they really should start to come up with their own policies."

But Labour leader Kevin Small said the leaflet was all part of the election process.

He said: "In an election period you put leaflets out. We are arguing our case. Sometimes leaflets are going to upset the opposition.

"It is no different to leaflets put out by the Conservatives which upset us and that is what electioneering is all about. It is up to people to judge for themselves."