Who can forget the atrocious misspending of £800 by WLBC for an opinion of Counsel that a Labour borough councillor absent for six months should stay in office with no loss of publicly paid allowances? Or the continued absence of a Conservative borough councillor who, having moved lock, stock, and barrel to London and having publicly given notice to his party leader found himself the fortunate ongoing recipient of the same publicly paid allowances?
Both, of course, could have done the right thing and formally resigned. But now it appears they will extend their sucking from the public teat by virtue of cononavirus. It seems elections due to take place on 6 May will “almost certainly” be postponed due to the coronavirus, Conservative MP Steve Brine has said. And Labour’s Meg Hillier said she could not see “any option but for some delay”.
2021’s elections are set to be the biggest for years, with seats up for grabs in more than 140 county councils, district councils and unitary authorities, including 118 which should have happened in 2020. 13 mayoral contests are also due, including in London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Liverpool City region and Bristol, while the London Assembly’s 25 members will be elected.
The Cabinet Office said it was working with electoral and public health officials to enable people to participate safely and to ensure polling stations were Covid-secure. The government has signalled it will not allow a postal-only vote, saying this would “remove choice” from those who wanted to vote in person and increased the risk of fraud.
Mr Brine said “I’ve been talking to my local party about it and I’ve been talking to [Conservative] Central Office about it. I just cannot see how you could do that”. He said some activists were already “out delivering leaflets, they’re opening gates, touching letterboxes, putting bits of papers through doors in a lockdown with a highly virulent virus. It is deeply dangerous, it is deeply irresponsible. if you push the election back it pushes back that temptation”.
Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Ms Hillier said she was “surprised the government hasn’t thought about this before”, adding that election organisers would be making decisions about the 6 May polls this week.
“I can’t see any option but for some delay” she said but added “I would hate to see a very long delay because it’s really bad for democracy. And actually, politicians standing for election want to get on with their elections usually because being held to account by the electorate…we rather relish that”.
What, we wonder, can be in the minds of the two WLBC elected members who are the face of “Bad for Democracy”. Might they be invited to avoid the shame of ongoing public greed and humiliation and do the decent thing for council tax payers?
They might, by resigning, even be remembered as forward thinkers for the policy for reduction in the size of our Council by two towards the publicly discussed target of one third less? What a legacy!