The resignation of a Conservative councillor on Bradley Stoke Town Council just eight months into a four-year term of office could lead to a costly by-election.
Nikki Hallur, who won one of the seven seats representing the Bradley Stoke South ward in the May 2019 election, handed in her notice of resignation in the second week of January, citing “personal reasons and work commitments”. A ‘Casual Vacancy for a Councillor’ notice has subsequently appeared on the town council’s noticeboards and website.
According to the notice, an election will be held to fill the vacancy should ten electors (residents) living in the ward request one by 5th February.
If no request for an election is received by that date, the town council will fill the vacancy by ‘co-option’, a procedure which effectively involves the remaining 14 council members appointing someone of their own liking.
Speaking at the January meeting of Full Council, where the resignation was formally announced, mayor Tom Aditya (Conservative) asked members to be “mindful” of the financial cost of a by-election, which would fall on the town council.
The mayor’s comments were presumably directed at the three non-Conservative members of council, who might be expected to consider forcing a by-election in the hope of increasing their respective group’s representation.
Following the recent resignation, the make-up of the council is 11 Conservative, 1 Labour, 1 Citizens Movement Party UK and 1 independent, so a by-election for a single seat would not affect the balance of power.
Five (single ward) by-elections were contested in Bradley Stoke between 2008 and 2013, but there have been none since.
Also speaking at the Full Council meeting, Cllr John Ashe (Conservative) warned of the likely increased cost of a by-election after the Boundary Commission reduced the number of wards in the town to three (from seven previously), ahead of the May 2019 elections. This would be a consequence of having a much larger electorate in the ward.
Cllr Ashe said that, from memory, the last by-election in Bradley Stoke had cost the town council around £4,500. He estimated that, with the larger ward size, it might be in the region of £7,000 to £8,000.
Cllr Ben Randles (Conservative), who was first elected to the council through a by-election in 2013, seemed less concerned, pointing out that the council maintains a dedicated contingency fund to cover the cost of by-elections.
When contacted by the Journal, former councillor Nikki Hallur confirmed that she had resigned from the role for personal reasons, adding that she “would not want there to be a by-election”.
Unlike South Gloucestershire (district) councillors, who receive an annual allowance, town councillors receive no remuneration.
More information: Draft minutes of the Full Council meeting on 15th January 2020 [MS Word]
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 27). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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