Bureaucratic bungle prompts voter to stand for election

A bureaucratic bungle has meant a group of residents in Burgess Hill have been exercising their democratic right at the wrong polling station, helping to elect the wrong candidates - for years.

Saturday, 3rd May 2014, 5:32 am
Trevor Butler is fuming at the change in electoral boundaries, behind him the polling station. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140426-174320001

The discovery has led to one disgruntled resident deciding to stand for election himself ‘to ensure that publicly-funded officials are made more accountable and to reduce waste in our local authorities’.

The error came to light at Mid Sussex District Council, which runs elections, and has seen the households in Junction Road moved from the electoral area of Franklands Ward which they had been part of since the 1975 local government re-organisation.

When poll cards were issued for this month’s Euro elections, resident Trevor Butler noticed that his polling station had changed.

Querying this with the deputy returning officer, he was told that there had been ‘an historical error’ and that he and his neighbours were in fact part of the neighbouring Meeds ward, even though they had voted in several elections as part of Franklands.

Rather than being represented by just Conservatives, Mr Butler is now a constituent of Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.

Explaining its mistake, the council said: “Recently, the council’s planners identified that a small part of Burgess Hill Franklands had for some time been assigned incorrectly to that electoral area.

By way of explanation, in examining the applicable ward boundary, the planners advised that there is a deviation in the alignment that means that the top of Junction Road, Keymer Road and also Tower House in Silverdale Road falls into Meeds ward. In order to correct this historical error these properties are now assigned to Burgess Hill Meeds.”

Trevor is considering appealing to the Electoral Commission which oversees voting arrangements in this country.

“The least the council could have done was come clean and let us all know that we had been voting for the wrong candidates in the wrong place all these years,” he said.