Cost of electing town councillor will run to thousands of pounds
FINDING a new member of Tewkesbury Town Council will cost the hard-up authority £6,800 next month.
With costly repairs to the Town Hall and Watson Hall this year already putting the authority under pressure, some councillors feel the vacancy could be filled without the added expense of an election.
But voters have insisted the poll goes ahead.
The cost will fall on the town council when voters go to the polls on February 14 in the Tewkesbury Town with Mitton ward to fill the space created when Geoff Pope resigned from the council in November.
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Town councillor Vernon Smith said the authority needed the extra expense "like a hole in the head" and replacing Mr Pope with a co-opted member of the public would have been the best thing to do.
He said: "I understand people's requirement for democracy, but during an interim term of the council, this seems totally over the top and not the best way to spend public money at this time."
The cost of the election covers areas such as public notices, letters, postage and the hire of the polling station and count venue.
Postal voting, ballot papers and count staff also push up the bill, but one expense that has been avoided is the £1,700 cost of polling cards as councillors decided not to issue them.
By law, an election must be held for a vacancy if a minimum of 10 voters demand one.
Councillor Kevin Cromwell said he doubted whether it was worth spending £6,800 on an election for just one person.
"The money could be spent on other things," he added.
Bredon Road resident Pat Handford was one of the members of the public who requested the election.
She admitted she had not been aware of the high cost, but still believed it was right for the vacancy to be filled in this way.
"It is a necessary thing, compared to what they spend on other things that aren't perhaps needed," she added.