A candidate in the constituency I live is running both for MP of the constituency as well as local councillor in a ward nearby. Whilst I know this is possible, although I question how one person can do both effectively, I was more shocked to hear one of the candidate’s supporters suggest (how true this is I don’t know) in the event the candidate won both elections they would resign the councillor position. This sounded like a great waste to me and I needed to understand the implications – could this waste taxpayers money in the event of a by-election or votes if the candidate with the second highest votes was subsequently elected?
My first stop was Twitter, that being said it wasn’t greatly helpful. So I calledBirmingham City Council’s election line. The person on the phone asked me who I was and I couldn’t help but answer “a concerned resident of Birmingham” – it had to be done. According to him at least, I couldn’t be given the information unless I was a candidate. So I emailed. A day and a half later I had no response, so I called again. I was once again told this wasn’t the sort of thing they dealt with as they weren’t in the Back Office (?! I’ve no idea what that means). I kicked up a bit of a fuss and got put through to the mysterious Back Office where a nice person consulted a colleague and said they thought it would result in a by-election, but to call the Electoral Commission.
So I did.
And spoke to a lovely person who was the most helpful person I spoke to during all this. They mentioned a few things and then said they’d look into it and email me back. Sadly I have a difficult email address so I didn’t get it until I emailed in and checked the spelling of my Irish-variant surname. At the same time I got a response from Birmingham City Council.
The email from Birmingham City Council confirmed that if a successful candidate resigned “This would therefore trigger a by election [sic]. There is no provision for the candidate with the second highest number of votes to be elected.”
This was backed up by the email from the person at the Electoral Commission who said the failure to sign the declaration of acceptance would, according to the Local Government Act 1972, be dealt with in the usual way according to rule 89. This, after reading it, backs up the comment from Birmingham City Council, thankfully. You can read it here, if you’d like.
Oh and the cost of a by-election. According to the person at Birmingham City Council; “As for the cost of a by election this would be approximately £20,000.”
NB: I’ve contact the candidate in question a couple of times to check whether they are intending to resign from the councillor position if elected to both, but as of yet I have had no response.
*This was originally posted on my old blog BeanHeartBatman*