Hucknall: Ruling Ashfield Independents will not call for by-election following town councillor's death

The ruling Ashfield Independents at Ashfield District Council have said they will not ask for a by-election after Hucknall councillor Jim Blagden died at the weekend.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 11:28 am

However the group has invited Labour and the Conservatives to call an election if they wish – and said residents in the Hucknall Central ward Jim Blagden represented can also ask for a poll.

Tributes poured in for the 74-year-old politician after his death from cancer was confirmed.

Colleagues described him as ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘committed’, while a tribute from his family celebrated a “wonderful father and grandfather”.

The Ashfield Independents says they will not ask for a by-election in the Hucknall Central ward following Jim Blagden's death

His death leaves one of two seats in Ashfield District Council’s Hucknall Central ward vacant, with Coun Trevor Locke (Ash Ind) currently holding the other seat.

Local government rules confirmed by Ashfield District Council mean a by-election does not have to be held unless it is called either by political parties or at least two residents living in the area.

The council says it will advertise the current vacancy “in due course”, but the by-election will only be called if it is asked to hold the poll.

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Coun Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North and is chairman of the council’s standards and personnel appeals committee, has confirmed the Ashfield Independents group will not look to call the by-election.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “Estimates from the council are that any by-election would cost upwards of £15,000.

"We are living in a cost of living crisis and that seems to me to be an extortionate amount.

“Hucknall Central elects two councillors, so local people would still have representation.

"However, we are more than happy to put our record to voters if the Conservatives or Labour want to do that.”

Coun Waters also confirmed Coun Blagden’s funeral will take place next month, so a by-election would not be held until at least the end of September as campaigning could not start until after the funeral.

This would mean any successful candidate would only be the role for seven months before next May’s full, district-wide election is held.

However, if the by-election does go ahead in Hucknall, it would be fought amidst the backdrop of the council’s draft housing plan that sets out plans to build 3,000 homes on the town’s greenbelt at Whyburn Farm.

Political parties would also likely discuss the recently-approved town centre masterplan, leisure improvements and new health facilities at Piggins Croft Car Park.

And while the Labour group, which has both its councillors based in Hucknall, says it is ‘too soon’ to discuss by-elections, the party believes the ward needs two councillors to represent it.

Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who represents Hucknall South, told the LDRS: “I think it’s too soon to talk about by-elections.

"Jim’s family and friends need time to grieve without political leaflets being pushed through doors.

“However, the central ward needs two councillors, especially with everything that’s going on with Piggins Croft and with the town centre masterplan.

“Plus, it means Hucknall has one less representative on the council, which means one less voice to oppose building on our greenbelt.”

The Conservative group, which has all three councillors based within Hucknall, was approached for a comment by the LDRS but did not respond to requests.”