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Row over by-election costs breaks out at Princes Risborough meeting
A TOWN councillor said an elderly resident was duped into signing a letter calling for a by-election at a meeting where tempers flared.
At Princes Risborough Town Council on Tuesday night Cllr Gary Hall and Cllr Bill Bendyshe-Brown argued over the upcoming by-election.
It was called after 21 people from the town wrote to Wycombe District Council requesting a by-election, when Eunice Clifford resigned.
In previous reports Cllr Hall said the cost of about £8,000 for the election would have to come from somewhere, and suggested the town festival would have to be scrapped to cover costs.
Cllr Reg Orsler hit out at Cllr Hall for suggesting the festival could be cancelled.
Cllr Bendyshe-Brown then said: “First of all, we didn’t even know Eunice had handed in her resignation. Did we get an email from the clerk?”
But Cllr Hall, who is chairman of the town council, cut Cllr Bendyshe-Brown off and said: “I am not going to allow you to grandstand.”
He continued to speak over him to which Cllr Bendyshe-Brown replied: “Listen, you are being Stalinistic again.”
Cllr Hall retorted: “The subject is the election. You have now started attacking the council and the clerk.”
Cllr Alan Turner said the clerk did her job to the letter and agreed with Cllr Hall that the money had to be found from somewhere.
He added: “We have gone 30 odd years without the need for a by-election in the past. It is a very rare thing in parish and town councils because of the cost of it.”
Cllr Hall later added that not all of the people who signed the letter knew there was a cost.
He said: “An 82-year-old recovering from cancer received a knock at the door and ‘Will you sign this letter as a favour?’
“’Why of course, I will.’ He signed it. The poor man is beside himself that the cost has fallen on his friends and neighbours. People have been stopping him in the street.
“His words to me were; ‘I have been taken in haven’t I?’”
Cllr Bendyshe-Brown said it is a democracy and there is a statutory requirement that ten people can ask for a by-election.
He said the reason people wanted a by-election was because there were three issues which needed addressing including the one way system, Molins and free parking.
To which Cllr Turner responded that if people were unhappy why did they vote overwhelmingly for the current council.
Cllr Will Streule said: “We are wasting a lot of valuable time. It is a democracy. If ten people wrote then we need to have one.”
Cllr Turner said, as chairman of the finance committee, they did budget £2,000 this financial year for elections, with the four year election in mind. He suggested the remaining money could be taken from the reserves put aside if the one way system needed to be reverted, which was agreed by councillors.
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