Elections have cost us £14,000
HAYDON Wick Parish Council is looking to stem the number of by-elections after it has been forced to fork out more than £14,000 over the last five weeks.
If 10 residents demand an election to be held the council is duty bound to hold it, but the costs of administering them are proving crippling to the council’s budget.
Over the past five weeks, three elections have been called for replacement parish councillors, coming to a potential cost of around £21,000.
To try to reduce costs, the council decided not to provide postal votes, saving around £3,000.
Following the resignation of Coun Eddie Bedwell, an election was called for September 19.
But in the event only 441 people turned out to vote, coming to just 6 per cent of eligible voters.
A subsequent election on November 14 returned an improved vote of 7.78 per cent, when Coun Julie Martin was elected.
And considering the low turnout experienced in by-elections, councillors are now questioning the necessity of spending money on their administration.
Chairman Richard Hailstone, said: “We have had a number of councillors resign during the past three or four months. The normal way of dealing with this is for the council to co-opt people in.
“Unfortunately over the past few weeks that system has really broken down. It is quite an unusual occurrence for 10 people to demand an election, but that is what we have had to deal with.
“What we are saying is the procedure is there but it is rarely used. The implication being the parish council is being used as a political battle ground.
“There are no objections to the democratic process being used. We are just asking if it is proportionate to spend this sort of money on a limited budget, as it means resources are being taken away from other areas. A polling station at Bridlewood School in a recent election was manned from 7am to 10pm in a recent election but not one person came to vote.
“We will be trying to lobby through our national association for the rules to be relaxed. If this continues it will be crippling to our finances.
“The amount spent on these recent elections is equivalent to half the recreation committed budget for the year, so it is a considerable sum of money we are losing.”
Coun John Stooke, communications chair, added: “We all feel this is a scandalous waste of charge payer's funds, and that local residents should be made aware of these costs when they call for by-elections.
“Any individual who procures a by-election rather than the traditional co-option route should have more regard to such wanton waste and behave more reasonably.”
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