By-election 'a waste of public money'

PUBLISHED: 19:43 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:48 11 May 2010

A TOWN council by-election at the end of the month has been described as a waste of public money . And it will cost Royston Town Council more than £2,000 to elect a new councillor for the next 21 months. The by-election has been called for a vacancy in t

A TOWN council by-election at the end of the month has been described as "a waste of public money".

And it will cost Royston Town Council more than £2,000 to elect a new councillor for the next 21 months.

The by-election has been called for a vacancy in the Meridian ward after the death of ex-Royston mayor Cllr Peter Lill in May.

Cllr Rod Kennedy told the town council's Finance committee on Monday evening: "The by-election is unlikely to be well attended.

"It's a waste of public money and not going to make any difference," he said.

Cllr Kennedy said the calling of a by-election was a political gesture when the town council could have co-opted a new member.

It was a veiled criticism pointed towards members of the Liberal Democrats, who are believed to have called the by-election.

Liberal Democrat councillor Cllr Robert Indwood said, however, that to have an unelected co-opted member of the town council would show a "lack of democracy".

He even contrived to suggest that the lack of a by-election would mean that the town council was riding roughshod over democracy and such a move could be compared with the undemocratic actions in Zimbabwe.

He said the by-election would show "democracy in action".

He continued: "We should be proud we all live in a democracy. This is a way of people saying here are our choices."

Mayor Cllr Paul Grimes said it was emotional to compare a town council by-election with events in Zimbabwe.

"The by-election has been called and we are not going to achieve much by name-calling at a political party," he said.

Cllr Lynn Berry, the leader of the town council, said, however: "The town council is apolitical. We are working for the town together and by calling a by-election we are going against the town.

The town council will be issuing polling cards to residents in the Meridian ward.

It was suggested that £262 could be saved on the costs by not issuing polling cards.

Cllr Robert Smith said: "If we do not issue polling cards then people will not know there is a by-election."

And Cllr Peter Burt said: "People expect to receive polling cards and we have to be seen to do everything to support democracy and the cost of democracy."

The by-election will be on Thursday, July 31.

There will be one polling station at Icknield Walk School and the count will be held after the polls close.

Nominations for candidates close tomorrow (Friday).

THE COST OF DEMOCRACY

Polling station charge £100

Returning officer £237

Presiding officers £410

Poll clerks £246

Count supervisor £35

Count assistants £75

Postal vote openers £125

Postal vote kits £443

Ballot papers £276

Polling cards £261

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