Bye-election in Whitby’s West Cliff Ward
Following the dramatic ‘on-the-spot’ resignation of Whitby Town Councillor Mike Ward, during a ‘behind closed’ doors session at the Extraordinary Meeting of Tuesday 26th October, WTC Town Clerk Pam Dobson issued an erroneous Notice of Vacancy the following day.
The Notice was erroneous insofar as it stated that unless “TEN ELECTORS for the PARISH” made a written request to the Returning Officer (SBC’s Jim Dillon), no bye-election would take place, and the Council would be free to co-opt.
Co-option is the process by which existing Councillors may select a new member without reference to the electorate. What the Notice of Vacancy should have stated was “TEN ELECTORS for the WARD” – ie: electors living within the West Cliff boundaries.
Acting on that erroneous information, 36 electors of the Parish signed a request for bye-election. This was (quite correctly) rejected. A complaint has been made to the Mayor regarding the Clerk’s error. No acknowledgement or response has been forthcoming. This is just the latest in a long series of errors by the Town Clerk.
Meanwhile, 13 electors of West Cliff Ward (including Whitby Town Councillor Dennis Collins) have since signed a new request for bye-election. SBC’s Sue Bedford (Election Team Leader) has now confirmed that the new document is valid.
A bye-election will therefore now take place on Thursday 16th December 2010.
Would-be candidates for the West Cliff seat should contact Sue Bedford (Tel: 01723-232309, or Email: Sue.Bedford@scarborough.gov.uk) to apply for nomination papers. Each candidate will require two signatures (proposer and seconder) of electors of West Cliff Ward.
When a vacancy occurs within six months of the full-term of the Council (5th May 2011) no bye-election can be called. So today’s (expected) resignation of Abbey Ward Councillor Dan Johnson will not result in a bye-election.
Four more Councillors are reported to be preparing letters of resignation for delivery at the next Council Meeting.
However, the Council may, if it wishes, fill the vacancies by co-option. If there is only one candidate for the West Cliff vacancy, he (or she) will be declared “Elected Unopposed” and no election will take place.
Of the remaining 17 Councillors (at the time of writing), only 8 have been elected at the ballot-box. The remainder were either elected unopposed or co-opted, without a single vote being cast.
That’s democracy – Whitby Town Council style.
Article kindly by submitted by Nigel ward