Northampton Lib Dem councillor denies breaking lockdown canvassing rules after concerns raised by rivals

Dennis Meredith insists they door-knocked individually having posted picture with wife and ex-councillor on social media

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 6:53 am

A Northampton Liberal Democrat councillor has denied breaking coronavirus lockdown rules around canvassing after being pictured with two activists.

Councillor Dennis Meredith posted on Facebook that he was out with his wife, Rona Meredith, and former Lib Dem councillor Brendan Glynane on Saturday (March 13).

The town's Conservative and Labour parties were concerned as campaigners are only allowed to campaign by themselves ahead of the council elections in May.

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Dennis Meredith

But Councillor Meredith, who represents Talavera ward at the borough and county councils, said they were out as a three but were knocking on doors individually.

"The two parties are trying to stir up trouble as they don't like the fact the Liberal Democrats are going out and talking to residents," he said.

Councillor Meredith was pictured stood next to Mr Glynane and Ms Meredith, all wearing masks, in a residential street in the post at 12.40pm.

The caption said his 'focus team' were out canvassing and they had had 'a very good response' with a lot residents saying they will vote for him.

Former Liberal Democrat councillor Brendon Glynane, pictured ahead of the elections in 2017

Northampton Conservative and Labour parties released a joint statement raising concerns about councillor Meredith's post and urging the Lib Dems to stop breaking the rules.

A Tory party spokesman said: “This is just not the right thing to do.

"Although voters have the right to talk with and question the candidates who want to represent them, in our opinion this still represents too great a risk right now, particularly given the context that many people have not been able to see their own families face to face for months, for safety."

However, Councillor Meredith insists no rules were broken as they had met Mr Glynane outside, despite the restrictions stating it must be two people meeting, not one household and another person.

They were then canvassing one person at a time, with the couple on one side of the road and Mr Glynane on the other side, all wearing masks and keeping at least two metres apart, other than in the picture.

Councillor Meredith added that he is well aware of the coronavirus restrictions as he nearly died of the illness after catching it in September.

"We never had one person saying we shouldn't be there after knocking on their door and standing back two metres,"he said.

"They were so pleased to see me and had a smile on their face as I'm a councillor that interacts with residents.""

The Conservative and Labour groups said they had made a pact not to do any canvassing until April but said the Lib Dems did not want to commit to doing the same.

The statement said they had been assured the Lib Dems would not be door-to-door canvassing in Northampton borough.

A Labour spokesman said: "To see social media posts showing a group of Liberal Democrats boasting that they had been visiting households’ doorsteps in a group, completely against the regulations, just seems highly irresponsible, and we call on Northampton Liberal Democrats to immediately stop this illegal activity."

But Councillor Meredith said he was not aware of any potential pact with the other political parties and accused them of 'scaremongering' and causing unnecessary trouble.

Mr Meredith has been a borough councillor for Talavera ward since 2007 and a county councillor since 2009.

Mr Glynane was a borough councillor until 2015 and a county councillor for Delapre ward from 2005 to 2017.

Ms Meredith stood for the Lib Dems in Duston East in the 2017 county council election and plans to stand for election on May 6.