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Labour and Liberal Democrats disagree over whether websites can be accessed from council-owner computers
A political row has broken out over whether payday loan websites should be accessed on council-owned computers.
At tonight’s full council meeting, the Liberal Democrats will put forward a motion calling for the websites of high cost, short-term lenders to be blocked on staff computers in those available to the public in libraries.
But the borough’s Labour group hit out at the proposal yesterday, accusing the Lib Dem's of being “out of touch” as the authority introduced a block on such sites in the summer.
“Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats should concentrate on holding their superiors in government to account for their role in creating an economy in which so many low-paid workers need to use payday lenders,” a Labour spokesman said.
But Lib Dem Councillor Bob Sullivan replied by saying that he managed to access various loan websites yesterday from Walthamstow Library.
“Labour seem to be under the bizarre impression that they’ve blocked access to all websites of payday lenders,” he said.
“I spent a grand total of three minutes in Walthamstow Library this afternoon, and within seconds I had visited several websites from payday lenders.
He said he could access Wonga’s website and various others by searching ‘payday loans’.
“If I can get to a button that says ‘Apply Now’ in less than a minute of searching then anyone can,” he added.
“Blocking the most high profile lenders and hoping nobody will notice the rest is not good enough. If Labour thinks this is a job well done then I shudder to think what other well done jobs are out there.”
The Guardian accessed the websites of eight of 11 high-cost, short-term loan companies tried in Highams Park library.
The Lib Dems say high cost loan companies are socially and economically damaging, a claim denied by the industry.
Labour say the council is investigating further ways of restricting access to payday lenders.
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