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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Sittingbourne Labour leader Cllr Mike Haywood calls for Swale council to fund by-election to oust Cllrs Alan and Jean Willicombe

18 March 2014
by Hayley Robinson

The opposition Labour group says a £20,000 underspend in the electoral services department could be used to cover the estimated £5,000 cost.

Tories Alan and Jean Willicombe caused uproar after they announced they would continue with their roles after moving to Lincolnshire last October.

Cllr Alan Willicombe, whose move to Lincolnshire with wife and fellow Woodstock ward representative, Jean, led to calls for their resignation.

Cllr Alan Willicombe, whose move to Lincolnshire with wife and fellow Woodstock ward representative, Jean, led to calls for their resignation.

Despite calls to stand down and questions being raised about how they can represent their Woodstock constituents, the couple – who are still entitled to claim allowances of more than £4,737 each – say they have no intention of quitting.

They defended their decision saying they would be coming back to attend meetings and that their colleagues, Cllr Sylvia Bennett and Cllr Derek Conway, were covering for them.

They also said it was pointless to pay for a by-election when the ward will disappear as part of 2015 election boundary changes.

Labour leader Cllr Mike Haywood made the suggestion when the financial arrangement report was discussed by the cabinet committee at Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, last Wednesday.

Cllr Andrew Bowles, council leader, said Labour calls for a by-election were daft and mischievous.

Cllr Andrew Bowles, council leader, said Labour calls for a by-election were "daft" and "mischievous".

Speaking afterwards, he said: “When the situation arose, there wasn’t one, but two years to go before the next election.

"Cllr Andrew Bowles [leader of the council] has said all along they can’t have one because of the costs.

But this saving means we can afford to have not one or two but four by-elections and we still wouldn’t touch next year’s budget. Let’s use the money for what it was intended for.”

Cllr Bowles said: “We have no powers to call a by-election unless a member or members do not attend council meetings for a six-month period.

"The suggestion is plainly daft, mischievous and designed to mislead and confuse our residents.”

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