Tories criticised over cost of eight elections

Ray Cooper, 69, from Lurgashall, is aiming to become a Chichester District Councillor for the Plaistow ward at next week's by-election.
Ray Cooper, 69, from Lurgashall, is aiming to become a Chichester District Councillor for the Plaistow ward at next week's by-election.
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TIME should be called on the Tory strangehold of Plaistow after a staggering eight elections in nine years, wasting around £20,000 in the process, according to the Lib Dem candidate.

Ray Cooper, 69, who lives in Lurgashall, is hoping to become the local representative on Chichester District Council when the latest by-election is held next Thursday.

Mr Cooper, who was a police constable for 15 years and then a publican, is unhappy that a spate of Tory resignations has seen eight elections, including five by-elections, in the last nine years, costing the taxpayer up to £5,000 each time. He has represented the Lib Dems at every contest.

He said: “There have been eleven by-elections in the whole of the Chichester District since 2003.

“Plaistow is the only ward to have had more than one by-election in the last nine years and voters here have now had to vote five times for a district councillor in that time, in addition to the standard district elections so eight times in all.

“It is now time for someone to represent the ward who actually lives in it and cares about it.”

After the death of the sitting Conservative councillor in 2003 not one Tory councillor has seen out their term of office in the ward.

The latest resignation comes 11 months since May’s district council elections and 16 months since the last by-election.

Mr Cooper says that Plaistow needs a local councillor living in the ward itself to tackle local problems, as he claims his opponent lives as far away as Midhurst.

“There is great worry in rural areas like ours that the disappearance of bus services will isolate elderly people in particular,” he said.

He previously represented the Lodsworth Ward at CDC from 1999 to 2003, and now chairs Lurgashall Parish Council after 17 years a member, coaches the Northchapel men’s football team and is a governor at Northchapel Community Primary School.

He added: “After eight elections in nine years, it is now time for someone to represent the ward who actually lives in it and cares about it. I like to stand up for the rights of my community. My main aim is to look after local people here and serve them.”

Tex Pemberton, deputy chairman of Chichester Conservative Association, explained the difficult circumstances that had led to three of the by-elections, citing ill health and job change relocation.

He said he was confident that Nick Thomas, the Conservative candidate for Plaistow, would win next week.

“Obviously we do not want to leave anyone unrepresented,” he explained “We did not have any choice in all three of them.”

Chichester District Council currently comprises 36 Conservatives, eight Lib Dems and three Independents, with the one vacancy.