--- On Mon, 26/4/10, Geoffrey Pook
From: Geoffrey Pook
Date: Monday, 26 April, 2010, 9:56
Hello Ms Pender.
I have just left a message on your answering service for you to ring me, but it is important that you receive the information set out below as a matter of urgency.
I regret to have to advise that your nomination paper for the above by-election has had to be ruled as invalid. The proposer and seconder are electors in a different ward and the requirement is that they be registered in the relevant electoral area.
I appreciate that the elector numbers for the proposer and seconder were supplied by us upon request when Mr Brookes visited the offices, I believe on 15 April. Obviously my colleague did not make the connection at that moment and with resources committed fully to the demands of the Parliamentary election, the nomination papers were not examined again until after the close of nominations on 22 April.
There is no discretion available to the Returning Officer to affect this unfortunate situation. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that a nomination is valid within the rules.
I am sorry to have to give you this disappointing information.
Deputy Returning Officer
Dear Mr Pook
Thank you for your email. Martin Brookes left my nomination papers with Ms Stokes some time ago and was told the papers were in order. Indeed I was handed the electoral roll and a schedule of events, via Martin Brookes. Just to make sure I called at the Council offices last week to find out if my nomination paper was in order and spoke to Edward on customer services who rang the electoral offices.
So you have had ample time to inform me that the nomination was invalid. To tell me that my nomination was invalid in an answerphone message to my mobile at 10.41 this morning is, I would suggest, either grossly negligent, or deliberately playing foul with the electoral duties your department has been entrusted with. Valid nominations have to be in by noon and I am not in a position to get new nominations in the time available. I am fairly certain you would have been aware of this.
I repeat you have had more than ample time to tell me that my nomination was invalid, However I did suspect that this ploy might be tried and told Martin Brookes of my suspicions.
It does all begin to look rather smelly. Although the upside of this failure, on your electoral department's part, does add to the evidence that a full audit of Council activities is long overdue. You had a duty to tell me that the nomination was invalid when it was lodged with your offices.
That no one did so, for several days and left it to the last minute to inform me, appears on the face of it, to be a hijacking of the electoral process in order to ensure that I am ineligible to stand. I will have to consider my position and what options are open to me.
I suppose that if one shakes a tree with cankered fruit one should expect some of the falling rotten apples to aim for ones head.
On another matter perhaps you would be kind enough to let me know whether the current Mayor has invalidated her own position by her continued absence from Council meetings over the last few months. I cannot believe that her continued apologies and non-attendance can be accepted ad infinitum - with or without apologies being sent to each meeting.
Fortunately I will be able to stand for her seat when that election falls due, so we live to fight another day.
Forgive me for blogging this letter to you. Your actions, or lack of them, do deserve to be disseminated to a wider public. Your negligence, or deliberate shenanigans, are deserving of some publicity and the lack of transparency in local politics is something that has to be changed.
An email of congratulations has been sent from Martin Brookes to the new Councillor:
Dear Cllr Allen Walters,
Due to a cock up by Rutland County Council, you are now elected unopposed. Congratulations and welcome to Oakham Town Council.
You may be keen to sign your papers but in procedure, that was introduced when I was elected, you cannot sign your acceptance now, and if you are officially welcomed at your first meeting there will be a protest. Not because you have been elected but because I have never been welcomed.
I have a feeling there maybe a delay due to the town clerk's illness.
Allen Walters now represents Oakham North East having been unopposed in the 'election.' He may be contacted on:
The end of the story
From: Helen Pender
Subject: RE: Oakham Town Council - North East Ward - By-election
To: "Geoffrey Pook"
Cc: "Martin XXXXXXXX
Date: Friday, 30 April, 2010, 8:40
Dear Mr Pook
Having considered the position over the debacle of Oakham North East by-election and spoken to Mrs T Stokes I am not going to take any further action.
Mrs Stokes was professional, open, transparent and refreshingly frank about the mix up. Although I was not privy to the conversations Martin Brookes had with Richard White, I now wonder if Richard White told Martin he was in Nouth East Ward and perhaps the mix up stemmed not from the County Council Offices, but from the Town Council offices.
I have the utmost confidence in Mrs Stokes' integrity and was most impressed by her. It would not, in my opinion, serve the community or democracy well to try to remove or discipline Mrs Stokes. She is an asset to RCC and to the democratic process.
I will of course blog this too, since it is only fair to let my infinitely small audience know the position.
Best wishes to both you and Mrs Stokes