New date for elections causes 'difficulties'

3:29pm Thursday 5th April 2001


After much speculation, Tony Blair announced the county council elections would be put back to June 7. MARGARET SMITH reports.

WOULD-BE county councillors rushed to get their election nomination papers in by the closing time of Tuesday at noon knowing perfectly well that they could probably have hung about for another month and still not missed the boat.

Things were in disarray, following the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday that the date of the county council elections had been put off from May 3 to June 7.

You would have thought that this automatically meant the closing date for nominations would also be a month later.

But the legislation to fix the new election procedure won't be through the House of Commons this week.

So at Wycombe District Council, electoral services officer Peter Stevens found himself getting a circular from the Home Office saying that although the new closing date for nominations would be May 10, the council had to go on preparing as though the election was on May 3, with a closing date for nominations of April 3 and with the lists to be made public yesterday.

"It makes things extremely difficult," Mr Stevens said mildly.

Home Office advice on this was that the lists should be published in a "low key way". Quite what it had in mind is not clear, but it was never going to be possible with party agents and candidates eager to know who their opposition was.

The change in dates leaves the door open for last-minute candidates to stand where they think they might have a chance and even for candidates to change seats, having seen who their opponents are, though party agents deny anyone would do anything so shabby.

Mr Stevens said: "Once the list of persons is published that will be an open invitation for further nominations. This is totally against how election law is supposed to work."

As for the arrangements for the big day, district council officers say the date change won't affect them.

But they now have to make sure the polling stations are all available and re-booked and that the people who have agreed to man them are still available.

Then there's the problem of the electoral register. Once people could only put their names on it in October. Now people can register at any time and be eligible to vote a month later.

People who went on the register at the beginning of this week would have been able to vote on May 3. Will the Home Office allow people registering this month to vote in June? Mr Stevens is still waiting for an answer from the Home Office on this one. It could make a difference, because between January and March the Wycombe list had 900 new registrations.

The General Election is also probably taking place on June 7, though no one has said so officially and no one needs to say so until about May 13.

A joint election also happened four years ago, when Labour took over the country, but Buckinghamshire remained resolutely Conservative.

Buckinghamshire County Council has always been Conservative controlled and no one is going to be putting bets on the situation being different after June 7.

The council has 54 members, 38 of them Conservatives, ten Lib Dem, five Labour and one Independent.

Over the four years since the last election several members have died, most notably Peter Mullins, Liberal Democrat from Amersham, in a car accident and the Labour group leader John Huddart, of High Wycombe. Equally strong characters moved in; Clare Martens in John Huddart's Marsh and Micklefield seat and Michael Brand in Amersham East.

Several familiar faces will be missing after June regardless of the voters. Conservative chairman of the council Ken Ross (Flackwell Heath) is retiring after 21 years. His vice-chairman Audrey Bainbridge (Fulmer, Wexham and Iver Heath) is also going after 16 years.

The opposition are losing the gentlemanly Alf Plumridge (Stokenchurch) a member since 1985 and the only councillor to call himself an old-style Liberal.

Mark Greenburgh (Ivinghoe), who until November was the Conservative group leader, is retiring at the tender age of 30. He had wanted to leave the council, but as an MP. The seat didn't come up but with a family and mortgage he decided he couldn't afford full-time council work, so is leaving anyway.

Also leaving are Philip Cochrane (Conservative, Amersham North), John Oakes (Conservative, Buckingham South) and Susie Pearce (Lib Dem, Aylesbury Northern).

Among those hoping to re-take a seat is Independent David Coe, who lost Marlow Rural to Conservative Bob Woollard last time and is out for revenge. Mr Coe is also standing in the by-election on June 7 for the district council seat of Great Marlow, from which Mr Woollard resigned last month.

The Bucks Free Press will be giving full coverage to the run-up to the general and county elections, including interviews with the candidates.Buckinghamshire County Council election candidates to date

This list is of candidates who got their names in in time for the election orginally proposed for May 3. Now that's it's been put off until June 7, people will be able to withdrawn their names and fresh candidates can come forward - provided the legislation for them to do so gets through Parliament.

WYCOMBE DISTRICT

Booker and Castlefield: Ricki Hussein (C), Brian Stenner (L)*

Bowerdean and Daws Hill: Frances Alexander (LD), Ian Bates (L)*, Julia Langley (C)

Cressex and Frogmoor: Lesley Clarke (C), Adam Gielgud (L)

Flackwell Heath: Jeffrey Herschel (LD), David Shakespeare (C)* (formerly West Wycombe and Sands)

Green Hill and Totteridge: Matthew Brown (LD), Rilla Knight (L), Val Letheren (C)

Hazlemere North: Cherry Aston (C)*

Icknield and Bledlow: Miranda Piercy (LD), Paul .Rogerson (C), Susan Tracey (L)

Keep Hill and Hicks Farm: Michelle Gausman (LD), Ian McEnnis (C), Julia Wassell(L)*

Marlow North: James Campbell (LD), Jean Collins (L), Frank Sweatman (C)*

Marlow Rural: David Coe (I), Anthony Hill (LD), Trevor Snaith (L), Bob Woollard (C)*,

Marlow South: June Coleridge (C), Lynda Devereux (L), Maurice Oram (LD)*

Marsh and Micklefield: Victoria Amediku (LD), Peter Lawes (C), Clare Martens (L)*

Naphill: Andrew Green (L), Christopher Morley (LD), Richard Pushman (C)*

Oakridge and Tinkers Wood: Maureen Bowles (C), Trevor Fowler (L)*

Princes Risborough: Rosemary Eames (LD), Dennis Green (C)*, John Phillips (L)

Stokenchurch: Chris Elliott (LD), Stephen Finn (L), Jean Teesdale (C)

Tylers Green: Ian Forbes (LD), Betty Lay (C)*, Liz Tench (L)

West Wycombe and Sands: Grace Jones (C), Reginald Rundle (LD), Alan Waterson (L)

Wooburn: Mike Appleyard (C)*, Elizabeth Bell-Smith (L), Brian Pollock (LD)

CHILTERN DISTRICT

Amersham East: Michael Brand (LD)*, Gearoid de Barra (L), David Meacock (C)

Amersham North and Chesham Bois: Howard Maitland-Jones (LD), Colin Mills (G), Janet Sjogren (L), Pauline Wilkinson (C)

Amersham Town and Penn: Peter Lawrence (C)*, David Tench (L), Richard Williams (LD)

Chalfont St Giles: David Rafferty (LD), Jeremy Ryman (C)*, Doreen Wilcockson (L)

Chalfont St Peter East: Bruce Allen (C)*, Alan Kaye (L), Wendy Nowell (LD)

Chalfont St Peter West: Pam Bacon (C)*, Jane Bramwell (LD), Malcolm Horne (L)

Chesham East: Noel Brown (C)*, David Cross (L), Peter Hawkes (Green), Patricia Lindsley (LD)

Chesham North: Christopher Spruytenburg (LD), Peter Ward (L), Nicholas Wilkins (Green), Hugh Wilson (C)*

Chesham West: Patricia Birchley (C), Pam Crawford (LD)*, Kathleen Folly (G), Ken Hulme (L)

Missenden Prestwood: Brenda Barker (LD), Michael Colston (C), Barbara Hunter (L)

Missenden Ridings: Carolyn Pudney (L), Francis Robinson (C)*, Nicholas Slope (LD)

SOUTH BUCKS DISTRICT

Beaconsfield: Margaret Dewar (C)*, Patrick Dossett (L), Barbara Sadler (LD)

Burnham and Old Beaconsfield: Christopher Cole (LD), Lin Hazell (C), Anne Veart (L)

Denham: Sarah Lawrence (L), Stella Lee (I)*, Edwina Mitchell (LD), Peter Roberts (C)

Fulmer, Wexham and Iver Heath: Gwendoline Bunce ((LD), Kathie Webber (C)

Gerrards Cross: Rex Lingham-Wood (C)*, Kirsty McCullagh (L), Gillian Underwood (LD)

Iver: Bill Lidgate (C), Alan Oxley (LD), Michael Phelan (L)

Stoke Poges and Farnham Royal: Malcolm Barres-Baker (L), Paul Henry (LD), Rodney Royston (C)*

Taplow, Dorney and Lent Rise: Edwina Glover (I), Louise Raffo (L), Mark Taylor (C)*, Christopher Tucker, (LD).

AYLESBURY VALE DISTRICT

Aston Clinton and Weston Turville: Bill Chapple (C)*, Sheelagh Nolan (LD), Gordon Richardson (L)

Aylesbury Bedgrove: Mary Evans (L), Chester Jones (LD)*, Ian Robertson (C)

Aylesbury Eastern and Bierton: David Clarke(C), Harold Heron (L), Chloe Willetts (LD)*

Aylesbury Northern: Andy Huxley (C), Shushana Kendrick (LD), Richard Wells, (L)

Aylesbury North Western: Mary Baldwin (LD)*, Malcolm Pike (L), Nick West (C)

Aylesbury Southcourt: Daniel Fludgate (C), Shirley Raw (L), Freda Roberts (LD)*

Aylesbury South Western: John Champion (C), Anne Edwards (L) Steven Kennell (LD)*,

Buckingham North: Hugh Carey (C)*, Rob Lehmann (L), Laura Takuma (LD)

Buckingham South: Christopher Hodges (LD), Ken Liverseidge (C), Robin Stuchbury (L)

Haddenham and Stone: Margaret Aston (C)*, Robert Lewis (LD)

Ivinghoe: John Brandis (C ), Avril Davies (LD)

Long Crendon and Brill: Crispian Graves (C)*, Heather Howes (L), Kevin Peters (LD)

Waddesdon and Whitchurch: John Cartwright (C)*, Margaret Ewan (L), Margaret Morgan-Owen (I), Harold Newman (LD)

Wendover: Marion Clayton (C)*, Gordon Knight (LD), Harry Rhodes (L)

Wing: Brenda Jennings (C)*, Maureen Payne (LD)

Winslow: Michael Cashman (LD), David Rowlands (C)*, Kevin Taylor (L)

Conservative (C), Labour (L) Lib Dem (LD), Indepedendent (I), Green (G)

* Denotes existing county councillor

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