Hucknall: Labour blasts £12,000 election costs 'lie' by Ashfield Independents
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Labour says the Independents-led council ear-marked more than £100,000 for elections in it’s budget this year.
But the Independents have hit back, claiming this reserve was being set aside for the main full council elections next year and that having to use some of that reserve now for next month’s by-election means funding will need to be found from elsewhere to top up the main election fund.
When the Independents announced their candidate for the vote next month, Coun Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North, was quoted in the Dispatch online as saying:
“The £12,000 cost of the by-election that the Labour Party have asked for is frustrating.
"This could have been spent on extra CCTV, continued improvements to our parks or paid to help food banks in a time of national crisis.”
However, Labour members have immediately denounced this a ‘blatant lie’.
The party said: “It did not take long.
“On the very day nominations opened for the Hucknall Central by-election, the Ashfield Independents are delivering leaflets containing a blatant lie.
“They are claiming that Hucknall Labour are costing taxpayers £12,000 to pay for a by-election that could have been spent on local amenities.
“But in their own budget for 2022-23, the Ashfield Independents allocated an ‘ear-marked reserve’ for elections of £118,000 at March 2022 rising to an allocation of £192,000 by March 2023.
"This is an amount, allocated by the Ashfield Independents themselves, specifically to pay for elections.
“To suggest that the cost of a by-election in Hucknall Central will be at the expense of restoring a local park area, new CCTV cameras or funding for charities or food-banks is obviously untrue and it is shown for what it is – an Ashfield Independent lie.
“Hucknall taxpayers have already paid for this funding because the Ashfield Independents put it in their budget.
"If this is, as the Ashfield Independents claim, ‘public money down the drain’, why did they do the pouring?
"If this could have been used for play areas, CCTV or food-banks, why didn’t they use the money for these purposes?”
John Wilkinson, the Labour candidate, added: “Once again, the Ashfield Independents set off on their election campaigning relying on lies, distortions and misinformation.
"The problem they face is that the residents of Hucknall Central can see right through them.”
However, Coun David Martin (Ash Ind), lead member for finance at the council, said: “The £12,000 cost of the by-election that Labour demanded will have to be met from the existing election’s budget.
"This will have an impact on the costings that relate to the 2023 all-out elections.
"This money will have to be found from somewhere as holding periodic elections is a legal requirement.
"The money could have to come from the CCTV budget, the parks budget or from contributions we make to voluntary sector groups like the ones who run food banks.
“I am not surprised that Hucknall Labour Party has a poor grasp of finances.
"The last time Labour ran the council, they spent £4 million shrinking your red bins.”
The election, which has been called following the death of Jim Blagden, will take place on November 23.