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Hurdles Tory does not have to jump

(June 21, 2014)

The Warminster West town council by-election is harder work if you are independent of party politics than that of being an official political party complains an Independent town councillor.

"I was approached by supporters of and the work of fellow Independent town councillors Steve Dancay and Nick Dombkowski," says Cllr. Paul Macdonald.

"They wanted the vacancy caused by the resignation of Tory councillor Steve Welling to see an election as for seven years they had not had the chance and they wanted another Independent like us to vote for.

"I told them to write in or I would quite happily collect their signatures and deliver them 

"I went to the library in the town to find their electoral numbers as they have to be registered voters."

Paul hit a stumbling block. Library staff told him that access to the electoral register was no longer allowed.

This stumbling block does not exist for officially recognised political parties like the Tories who have complete access to the voter's register.

"I left with the nine signatures needed to ensure that election was actually called and the Tories on the town council who control it were not left in the default poistion of being able to co-opt another councillor like they did with George Jolley."

A train journey later and Paul arrived at county hall and presented the nine signatures on deadline day.

Deliver The Request or Not

He knew that two others had sent their request by recorded post and would arrive at about the same time as he delivered his list of residents angry at the action of west ward town councillors.

"I told someone who saw me on to the way to the train station who I knew was a west ward resident what I was doing," adds Paul.

"You do not have to worry as I have already signed a request and the by-election will be held.

"I nearly changed my mind. Yet I had promised to do this so off I went to county hall with the signatures."

County hall on a Friday is a busy place but the staff were very helpful.

"I phoned to find out that six signatures from residents of Warminster had been received but three were disqualified as they did not live in the ward," says Paul.

"The maths quickly kicked into place. Three were valid. Three were not," says Paul.

"I took the train and arrived to a very helpful member of the elections team who announced himself as Jim.

"He did his work and came back down to confirm that two requests had bee received that morning and that although two of the nine I had delivered had been rejected there were enough to ensure the by-election will be held.

"Unfortunately because I was not allowed access to the electoral register in Warminster I could not check the situation myself before setting off.

"The nearest places to look at the register are Trowbridge or Salisbury I was told partly as a money saving exercise and partly because I can only look under supervision."

"May I ask the question that is being put to me?," adds Paul.

"Why did the Tory party in Warminster not request that the by-election is held by getting ten of their numerous members so that the electors in their strongest ward give a verdict on their representation of their interests for seven years?

"It was so much easier for them. They did not have to go to the library to be refused access to the electoral register. They have them in their office."

*  Nominating an Independent as a council candidate follows on Monday as well as more views from local residents.

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