Party political feathers have been ruffled in Mid Suffolk ahead of next month’s council elections, when a candidate shown as unopposed on the official list of candidates later found he had an opponent to face after all.
When nominations closed, the first list showed that there was only one candidate for the St Peters ward in Stowmarket: Ollie Walters representing the Greens. However, some hours later the list was republished, this time showing that he had an opponent, Richard John Stephens representing the Local Conservatives.
‘Local Conservatives’ is a title many Conservative candidates have chosen to use during the forthcoming local elections, in order to dissociate themselves from the government in Westminster and give the impression they have no connection with the party. But they are all still members of the Conservatives.
Uproar from other parties
There was uproar from other parties, who accused the Tories of attempting electoral fraud by trying to insinuate a new candidate onto the list long after nominations had closed. The confusion began when the list of candidates was published in the East Anglian Daily Times, showing two nominations for St Peters.
But Mid Suffolk District Council admitted that the fault was theirs, a “clerical error”, one of two. The other incorrectly stated that Dave Muller was standing in the Stow Thorney ward.
Returning officers have the power to correct procedural errors, and both Green and Conservative agents were made aware.
In a statement, the council said: “We are committed to ensuring all voters in our district have the information they need to participate in the elections on 4th May.
“Should have been beyond reproach”
“Unfortunately, the list of candidates published on our website on Wednesday afternoon contained two errors, but these were spotted almost immediately, we investigated, and the information was quickly corrected.”
The Electoral Commission have been contacted for comment. They say they are satisfied with the steps the council have taken.
“This has not been the best day at the office for Mid Suffolk’s election department,” says Andrew Stringer of the Green and Liberal Democrat group, which will be bidding to win control of the council. “With such a finely balanced council, this really should have been beyond reproach. But what we find are more questions.”
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