Liberal Democrats in Andover have been criticised for delivering leaflets during lockdown.

Residents in the south of town received leaflets from the party on January 4. At the time, Andover was under Tier Four restrictions, which carried a ‘Stay at Home’ message, except for essential activities.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed to the Advertiser that “there is no exception” for leafleting under the regulations, with one town councillor accusing the party of having “one rule for them” and another for the rest of the public.

However, the Liberal Democrats said that the deliveries were “in accordance with national legal guidance and advice” and that contact with no members of the public had been made.

Residents of St Mary’s, Millway and Winton wards, which cover much of the town south of the railway line, received the ‘Andover South Gazette’ from the party, detailing their work and views on local issues, within the past week.

At the time, national Liberal Democrat guidance was that members could continue to deliver leaflets in Tier Four, but that group deliveries, and knocking on doors, should not take place, with any planned door knocking to be replaced by phone calls.

However, Hampshire Constabulary said: “We have been made aware of campaign leaflets being delivered in the Andover area, for which there is no exception for under the previous Tier Four regulations and now the national lockdown.”

Under coronavirus restrictions in place at the time, members of the public were told not to leave their home unless they had a “reasonable excuse,” including work, shopping for essentials, medical care and education.

The force said that they had written to the local Liberal Democrat party with “appropriate advice.”

Other parties in the area had previously stopped delivering literature to residents during the imposition of Tier Four restrictions. The Labour Party ceased delivery on December 22, while similar advice from Conservative Party HQ saw their members do the same.

Councillor David Coole, of the Andover Independents Party, criticised the Liberal Democrats for delivering leaflets, saying that they “while residents and the Andover Independents Party comply with Government Covid-19 Pandemic guidance,” the Liberal Democrats were “behaving like Dominic Cummings; one rule for us and one rule for them.”

However, the party hit back, saying that they had been acting “in accordance with national legal guidance and advice received by our HQ.”

Mark Hall, chair of the Test Valley Liberal Democrats, said: “For Tier Four, this advice laid down strict criteria which have been followed by our volunteer deliverers. All of the leaflets delivered had been sterilized for 72 hours, were delivered by single volunteers taking their daily exercise wearing gloves and masks. At no time was any contact made with any member of the public, no doors were knocked on and the delivery is similar to that carried out by Royal Mail who deliver similar materials throughout both Tier Four and lockdown. The Liberal Democrats will not deliver during lockdown unless national advice confirms that it is permitted.”

He said that the party had discussed issues with local police, and said that they had not been notified of any “alleged breaches of regulations during Tier Four”.

He added that the leaflets “offered a way for many in our community to get action during the pandemic on issues where they feel they are being let down” and that the Liberal Democrats “will continue to look for ways to support our community at this difficult time.”