December 8 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Political parties have criticised the lack of advertising and notice given for the upcomingWithycombe by-election.
Representatives from Labour, UKIP and the Lib Dem candidate have all criticised the ‘limited’ publicity for town by-election on September 5.
The election was called following the death of former deputy mayor Jean Mitchell in July – the seat is being contested by two candidates, Conservative Fred Caygill and Lib Dem Brian Toye.
Both Ray Davison and Carole Newton, the chairman of the East Devon Constituency Labour Party, conceded that there was a notice at the town hall and on the East Devon website.
But she added that few residents, especially those with mobility problems, would call at the town hall on a regular basis on the off chance of finding crucial information.
She said: “Applications for postal votes had to be received by August 20.
“Yet I imagine few, if any, voters were even aware of the forthcoming election and many will now have missed the opportunity to vote.
“The notice of election was posted on July 31 and nomination papers had to be completed and returned by noon on August 8.
“This provided a remarkably short time for potential candidates to become aware of the election.”
She added: “I have always had a high regard for the returning officer and his team [at the district council] but, on this occasion, I believe we have been badly let down.”
Brian Toye agreed that he struggled to get his nomination papers in with just a week’s notice.
“I don’t think it was that well advertised. If it hadn’t been for my colleagues on the council I’m not sure I would have heard about it in time.”
UKIP East Devon branch chairman John Kelly said: “We saw nothing advertising the by-election, but I did learn of it just this week from our county councillor John Hone.
“Unfortunately, we have no suitable candidate to put forward at this time – suitable in the sense of making a commitment to being a town councillor were he or she to be elected, which on current polling data, would be likely.”
However, one sitting councillor said that it was up to political parties to ‘keep their ears to the ground’ and that Cllr Mitchell’s death had been reported in the Journal over two weeks earlier.
Town clerk Colin Poole said that, by law, there was a fixed amount of time at every stage of the electoral process, which has to be given.
At the time of going to press the Journal had had no response from EDDC.