Elections in Upton labelled “undemocratic” because adverts were placed in steamed up noticeboards, claims council chairman

Election notices were placed in noticeboards in Upton - but condensation made them hard to read.
Election notices were placed in noticeboards in Upton - but condensation made them hard to read.

Fresh elections being held in a Northampton parish council because of an error last year are “undemocratic”, its chairman claims, because none of the 12 seats will be contested.

In December, Northampton Borough Council meeting agreed to order the re-election of Duston and Upton parish councils after the Electoral Commission ruled the vote both parishes held in May 2015 was not legally binding.

Chairman of Upton Parish Councill Bob Barrett says poor advertising by the borough council has resulted in a lack of candidates for an upcoming "election."

Chairman of Upton Parish Councill Bob Barrett says poor advertising by the borough council has resulted in a lack of candidates for an upcoming "election."

While the commission reviewed the boundaries of the Upton and Duston parishes back in 2013, somehow the authority failed to implement those changes when it came to election time. The “administrative error” was expected to cost the borough council up to £42,000.

The re-elections of both parishes were scheduled for February 11.

But in Upton there will be no vote needed because of the 12 seats available, only nine uncontested candidates will be standing.

Chairman of the parish council, Bob Barrett, says poor advertising by Northampton Borough Council prevented more candidates from coming forward.

He said: “They put notices up at the Guildhall and the Central Library in Abington Street - places that are miles away from the parish.

“Our parish clerk put up a copy on the parish notice board, but really how many people will read that in a week? And besides, it was covered in condensation because of the weather.”

Mr Barrett said the previously contested elections have now only drawn nominations from existing councillors and two connected nominees.

“I have had reports that indicate parishioners would have stood for election if they had known of them,” he added. “Clearly the lack of publicity compromised their opportunities.”

However the parish council chairman, who says his opinions do not reflect those of the council as a whole, believes the poor advertising is a deliberate ploy to make sure Upton will now not need to hold a costly election, saving the borough’s council’s blushes - and a hefty bill.

Although Mr Barrett says the lack of advertising and the fact the full 12 parish vacancies were only advertised for he statutory minimum of 25 days is “undemocratic” and has sent a letter of complaint to the Electoral Commission.

However the borough council says Upton Parish Council needs to shoulder some of the blame for shortage of candidates.

A spokesman for the authority said: “The timetable implemented for these elections was the timetable laid down in legislation and notices were duly posted.

“The Parish Council was free to publicise the elections more if they wished to do so.

“The provision and condition of the noticeboards in Upton is a matter for the parish council to address. We will of course respond to any enquiries from the Electoral Commission in due course.”

In neighbouring Duston, nine candidates will be standing in the six available seats.