Thursday, February 07, 2013

Tory wrongly declared elected refuses to give up his seat

Last month the Daily Post carried this story:
Confusion over similar names led to a laughable blunder by vote counters that saw a Tory candidate handed a council seat in Labour's north Wales heartland. 
Labour stalwart, Paul Penlington, turned red when his true blue rival, Allan Pennington, was declared the winner of the May 2012 poll in Prestatyn North. 
It cost tens of thousands of pounds and required the attention of no less than three High Court judges before the muddle was today finally sorted, with Mr Pennington being ousted and Mr Penlington handed the seat that should have been his in the first place.
However, news comes that Allan Pennington is refusing to go quietly. He has told the Daily Post:
"I’ve been as much a victim of this as Mr Penlington and I don’t dispute the fact that there has been a mix-up," he said. 
"My concern is that the difference in votes was so tantamount it makes me wonder why Mr Penlington didn’t speak up about it on the day of the election count if the mistake was so obvious to him. The first I got to know about it all was three days later. 
"From what I understood about electoral law, I thought that once you’ve been sworn in, that’s it – like a referee in a football match – that decision stands. 
"If I lose my seat, I lose money – my livelihood is at stake and I am 60 at the end of the month. Not only will I lose my position within the community but I also stand to lose my home and so I will fight tooth and nail."
It seems that Mr Pennington's understanding of electoral law is at fault. But the more fundamental point is that local councillors should not be reliant upon their allowances for a livelihood.

This trend - and I have even been told of councillors who look down on colleagues who also have a full-time job - is partly responsible for the position we now have where backbench councillors are treated more as middle-ranking employees than people elected to hold the council to account.

Still, you think the Labour agent might have looked a bit more closely on the night as the party was losing a previously safe seat. And what does Mr Pennington mean by " the difference in votes was so tantamount"?

Thanks to Tim Minogue and David Boothroyd on Twitter.

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