Rejected by-election opens door for co-option
There will be no by-election for the Parish Council vacancy after all it seems, although no official announcement has been made yet.
Too few requests for an election have been received to justify an election, Colnbrook Views has learned.
Leslie Jarrett announced his resignation on this website on October 5, publicly detailing a list of complaints against the chair, vice-chair and clerk. He subsequently made a Code of Conduct complaint to the monitoring officer at Slough Borough Council.
Just ten requests for an election needed to be made to the returning officer within 14 days of the announcement.
The Council may now choose to co-opt somebody for the first time since the 2010 election. Then, no fewer than 23 candidates put their names forward for the first contested election in a generation. A number of candidates attributed their interest in standing then to lethargy and intransigence at the status quo, but lack of name recognition and an effective combined campaign by the rump of incumbents – the “Independent Minds” group – saw most re-elected.
Turnout of the new intake of councillors has been steadily falling as they have complained about struggling to make a difference. Vice-Chair Ray Angell called for Cllr Burke to resign last month.
Last year’s by-election still saw 5 candidates but a voter turnout of just 14.3%.
The by-election would have been the first opportunity to test public opinion since the Community Governance Review found the Parish Council was failing to engage with the community.
72% of individual responses in the first round of consultation were strongly against leaving the Parish Council unchanged and nearly all in the second round demanded the same referendum on the parish council future extended to Britwell and Wexham Court.
While days of cold winter canvassing may have put off would-be contenders confusion around the cutoff date and lack of publicity may also be partly to answer.
The vacancy was formally declared on November 5, but a formal announcement dated November 7 wasn’t published on the parish website until November 11. While 14 days were allowed no clear date was advertised.
… In computing any period of time for this purpose, a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a bank holiday or a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning must be disregarded …
Unlike vacancies in Britwell and Wexham Court parishes the vacancy was not advertised at all on the Slough Borough Council website.
Neither was the vacancy published in the local newspapers, according to comments posted on this website.
Last month the Parish Council established a working party comprising Councillors Angell, Hood, Jones, Laxman and Verma to investigate and report on future community engagement.