No contest for form fillers

Danny Moody
Danny Moody

THE complexity of local authority nomination forms has been called into question after a large number of papers were rejected.

After last week’s Advertiser story on the number of uncontested parish and district council wards, Danny Moody, chief executive of the Northants County Association of Local Councils said 24 parish nominations were declared invalid.

Mr Moody said: “In one case it cost the parish a contested election. South Northants Council offered an informal checking service to potential candidates which I know picked up many more instances of incorrectly completed nomination forms, which the candidate was then able to correct.

“In addition there were, I believe, 6 nominations that were received by SNC after the close of nominations and were therefore discounted.

“Again I know of at least one parish where this cost them a contested election.”

Mr Moody added: “Detailed analysis of procedures would be required but questions must be asked about the complexity of the nomination forms, the potential for human error, not necessarily on the part of the candidate, and the legal process that effectively creates a window of just one week for candidates to submit their nomination forms.”

Luke Ross, of Brackley Town Council initially had his nomination forms rejected but has since been reinstated as a candidate for Brackley East Ward.

Mr Ross said he contacted the Electoral Commission after his forms were declared invalid by SNC and added: “It was frustrating at first because obviously I want the opportunity to represent the wards I have represented as a town councillor previously.

“I was quiet shocked, but the main things is, as the Advertiser said on last week’s front page, is democracy dead. This is an element of democracy which might ben misinterpreted.”

A spokesman for SNC said the ultimate responsibility sat with the candidates, but they had checked the papers of more than 450 candidates before submission.

The spokesman added: “Working with these candidates we significantly reduced errors in their final submissions.

“Whilst we’ve provided information to candidates covering all parts of the election process, the degree of candidate error suggests that there is room for improvement to help the candidates complete the form correctly. We are always looking to see how the process can be improved.”

SNC confirmed they used the same nomination packs as the rest of the country.