Row as by-election called

A previous by-election count at Blackpool Sports Centre.
A previous by-election count at Blackpool Sports Centre.
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UKIP has been accused of breaking protocol by calling a by-election just months 
before full elections are held in Blackpool next year.

The party has asked for an election to be held in Waterloo ward following the death of Conservative councillor Tony Lee in July.

It means voters will go to the polls on October 9, with the council having to foot an £8,000 bill for holding the 

But it is claimed it is 
usual convention in the town for the party which held the seat to call a by-election.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said he wanted to delay an election until the next full council elections in May 2015.

He said: “Coun Lee only died recently and I think more respect should have been 
given to his family in the timing of this.

“Holding a by-election will also cost the council in the 
region of £8,000 to £10,000 and we are so close to the next full local elections, I 
believe it would have been 
better to wait.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “The convention, which we have always respected, is that any by-election is called by the party who held the seat, in this case the Conservatives.

“I had spoken informally to Coun Williams, and we had agreed that as we were so close to the cut-off point, it seemed unnecessary to spend in the region of £8,000 having a by-election in Waterloo.”

But Roy Hopwood, chairman of Blackpool and Cleveleys UKIP, defended the decision to call the by-

He said: “We want the electors of that ward to have a councillor between now and next May.

“It is a reasonable time 
after Tony Lee’s funeral, and many elections are held about this time after the funeral.

“But it is not about that, it is about the electors of that ward having a voice.

“I think the cost is justifiable. You cannot buy off democracy because the council has got itself in a mess financially through bad decisions.

“The cost wasn’t an issue in Clifton ward when Labour called the by-election.”

Darren Thickett, owner of Dolls Houses Are Us on 
Waterloo Road, said he 
believed it would be better to wait until next May.

He said: “Our other councillor David O’Hara is more than capable of dealing with issues at the moment.

“I think it would be a waste of money to hold a by-
election and I can think of a lot of projects in South Shore which the council could spend £8,000 on instead.

“I think most of the community here would agree with me on that.”

Election rules state if the councillor’s term of office was due to end in less than six months, an election cannot be held until the scheduled day of elections in May. Otherwise, an election can be called if a certain number of electors submit a written request to the Returning Officer.

The Waterloo by-election will be the eighth one in Blackpool since Labour took control of the town hall at the last full elections in 2011, with Labour winning all the previous seven. UKIP polled the second highest number of votes at the most recent by-election in Clifton ward.