Haydon Wick Parish Council is worried that the mounting cost of by-elections it has recently been forced to undertake is wasting taxpayers money.
Over the past 5 weeks 3 elections have been called for replacement Parish Councillors with a potential cost of around £21,000.
Parish councillors are re-elected in their entirety every four years. In between they tend to co-opt new councillors when a vacancy occurs.
Parish Councillors are generally not professional politicians and they do tend to come and go a bit more between elections, which is why the co-option scheme exists.
At a recent Parish Council meeting an angry resident berated the Parish Council for wasting money. Chairman Cllr Hailstone said: “there is a limit to what we can do when a by-election is called by residents”.
A by-election is called when 10 members of the parish come forward and request an election. The election wheel then begins and costs are similar to a general election. However, perhaps the electorate regard them as less important event and turnout can be low. At a recent Parish Council by-election, the polling station at Bridlewood Primary School was fully staffed from 7am to 10pm but not one person used the venue to vote.
In the event, the Parish Council were able to save approximately £3000 by not distributing polling cards and were fortunate that only a single candidate stood in one of the three elections, so actual expenditure was able to be limited to approximately £14,000 for two new Councillors.
Parish Council councillor with responsible for communications John Stooke said: “We all feel this is a scandalous waste of charge payers’ 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.”
He added that it’s likely that residents asked to sign forms calling for by-elections have no idea of the eventual costs and behave that they are simply charged back on the Parish to pay.