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Hurworth Parish Council baulks at inflated by-election bill
4:26pm Thursday 5th September 2013 in News
MEMBERS of a North-East parish council say they were “very surprised” at the cost of a recent by-election.
Retired teacher Margaret Williams was elected to Hurworth Parish Council, near Darlington, in July.
She replaced Councillor Jill Russell, who resigned earlier this year.
Coun Williams, who is due to be welcomed as a parish councillor at a meeting tonight (Thursday, September 5), polled 267 votes, ahead of Michelle Edwards, with 68.
A spokesman for the parish council said: “Hurworth Parish Council (HPC) was very surprised to receive a bill from Darlington Borough Council in excess of £3,200 for the costs of holding the July parish council by-election.
“The council had budgeted for a figure nearer to £1,500 – this being the amount closer to the cost of previous parish elections.
“The bill could have been even higher had the Council requested printed polling cards.
“An amount of this size could collapse and bankrupt some smaller local parish councils.
“Fortunately, the prudent financial controls practised by the parish council over the last five years, bolstered by grants for needed projects, means that the parish council can meet this bill if necessary.
“It was somewhat ironic that some election leaflets criticised HPC's handling of financial matters and complained about rises in the precept.
“As one councillor said, ‘democracy does not come on the cheap’.”
Parish councillors are set to decide whether to settle the bill in full or to add this election cost onto next year’s parish precept.
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