Cheshire election row as winner fails to sign declaration

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A ROW has broken out over the successful candidate in a parish council by-election.

Labour candidate Ian Gibson was elected last month to fill the vacant Upton Heath ward seat on Upton-by-Chester Parish Council.

He won with 324 votes beating Conservative candidate Jodie Egerton into second place with Liberal Democrat candidate Christopher Reeve in third.

But angry Conservatives claim the by-election will need to be run again because Mr Gibson has not signed his declaration of acceptance of office as he has been out of the country.

They are also want Chester Labour Party to cover the £5585.51 cost of the original election should another election take place.

Conservative councillor Tom Parry said: “What were Labour thinking of when they nominated someone who would be unable to take up office?

“There will now be a second election costing another £5,000. Well let’s see them do the decent thing and refund the Upton taxpayers who have to pay for this farce.”

But Labour hit back and said the Conservatives had misunderstood the relevant section of the Local Government Act 1972.

Janet Black, Mr Gibson’s electoral agent, said the parish council could still accept his declaration of acceptance of office or co-opt him in order to avoid another election.

She said the declaration could be signed in front of a commissioner appointed to administer oaths in Australia, where Mr Gibson is visiting his daughter following the birth of his grandchild.

“Ian, who was a candidate in the 2011 Cheshire West and Chester Council elections, has been active in the community and fully intends to serve the electors who wholeheartedly endorsed him in the Upton Heath election,” she said.

Cheshire West and Chester Council ran the by-election and said Mr Gibson should have signed his declaration at the next parish council meeting following his election.

Council spokesman Ian Callister said this had not happened and Mr Gibson had therefore vacated his seat.

He said the parish council would discuss the matter at its next meeting on April 8 and it was possible another election could take place.

l AN ELECTION is being held today for an Upton Park ward vacancy on Upton-by-Chester Parish Council.

The candidates are Nick Dixon, Labour, Eliza Austin-Lea, Conservative, and  Jean Evans, Liberal Democrats.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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