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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Campaigners disappointed over delay to Copeland mayor election

Campaigners who successfully pressed for a mayor to run Copeland say they are disappointed that the elections will not be held for another nine months.

Paul Walker photo
Paul Walker

The Time for Change group, which called for a referendum to scrap the existing council set-up and bring in a directly-elected mayor, originally supported an election date for next May as opposed to October based upon cost grounds.

However, following yesterday’s announcement that new Government legislation has been published and people will now take to the polls next year, the team say the election “cannot come soon enough”.

A Time for Change spokesman said they had initially asked the Government for a May 2015 date.

“However, following our assessment of a massive £1.2 million underspend in the last financial year, from Copeland Borough Council, we changed our position,” he added.

“We were continually told there was no money, and that Copeland council couldn’t afford an October election. The underspend highlighted a very poor grasp on finances by Copeland council and meant that those responsible for the failing would continue to waste taxpayers’ money.”

The new legislation means it will take place the same time as the general and local elections.

Copeland council wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government earlier this year requesting that the election be held next May.

The council’s chief executive Paul Walker said: “Holding this election at the same time as the general election and local elections should significantly reduce the cost. The stand alone cost of holding this election in October would have been around £120,000.”

The Time for Change spokesman added that following the news of the council’s underspend, they asked the public for their preferred date, with the majority wanting October.

He added: “We then made representations to the Government. Unfortunately we have been unsuccessful to have the election held in October as the current law dictates, due to the impending legislation change. We are obviously disappointed with this news. But, we will continue to fight for what is best for the people of Copeland.”

The Notice of Election for the elected mayor is now scheduled to be issued no later than March 30, 2015, with delivery of nomination papers by April 9 and the deadline to register to vote by April 20, ahead of polling day on Thursday May 7.

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