She is currently under investigation by the House of Commons authorities for alleged misuse of the Communications Allowance. Prentice's tax-payer funded Annual Report was being delivered to residents of two wards outside her constituency. These two wards will form part of the new Lewisham East constituency at the next election. The leaflet stated that 'after the next election Bridget Prentice will be your MP'. The small matter of an intervening general election is obviously no impediment to Mrs Prentice.
Prentice has now written to one of the constituents (see letter - click on it to enlarge) that she does currently represent, urging her to write to a neighbouring MP with her problem! The resident lives in Lewisham Central ward, which is currently in Prentice's Lewisham East seat (maj 8,758). After the next election, it will move into Lewisham Deptford, currently represented by veteran leftie Joan Ruddock (maj 13,0120). Notice a pattern here?
The bottom line is that the Lewisham MPs are contriving to use the boundary changes to manipulate public money and seek influence with their 'potential' electors. And its not just Lewisham's ladies. Jim Dowd, the Labour MP for Lewisham West (maj 7,7779), has also reportedly been caught distributing his paid-for-by-the-public annual report to residents in Penge - which isn't in Lewisham West (yet), but will be after the next election.
The key paragraph in Bridget Prentice's letter is this...
Joan Ruddock will be your new MP from the next general election and she will take on casework and any other queries from residents of xxxxxxxx and the rest of the Lewisham Central Ward. We've been doing this since January 2008 and have agreed to continue taking caseowrk from our new wards until the next General Election.I have been unable to identify any actual rule that has been broken, but it surely goes against everything that Parliament stands for to essentially tell your constituents you won't deal with their cases. I rang the Speaker's Office who professed great surprise that this was happening. I was told "They shouldn't be doing this." I rang six other MPs I know in three different parties and they all expressed astonishment.
Two of the three seats could be classed as semi-marginal, so it's clear what is going on here. They are using parliamentary correspondence and constituency casework to become known in their new areas and they have formed a cosy little cartel to organise it. If it is happening in Lewisham, maybe it is happening elsewhere - all in the name of promoting incumbency.
And it stinks.