Somerset

Shepton Mallet poll 'not adequately advertised'

A would-be councillor in Somerset has said he could not stand for election because the district council failed to publicise the poll in a conspicuous place.

Dave Evans wanted to stand for election as a Shepton Mallet town councillor.

He said Mendip District Council had only put a notice in the reception of its offices, and nowhere else in the area.

The council said it was taking steps to improve publicity.

The election was held earlier.

Deadline passed

Mr Evans told BBC Radio Somerset the council was supposed to put notices up in the ward to inform members of the public. The deadline for nominations was 6 May.

"There was no notice on the town board or in the ward itself," he said.

"The Mendip offices are in East Shepton and the election was taking place in West Shepton."

He said it took him just over a day to find the notice. Only one Conservative candidate and one independent candidate had been aware of the poll details, he claimed.

"We reported it to the Electoral Commission and they have severely rebuked them.

"What we hope is that they learn from it... every election should be fair and seen to be fair."

'Important points'

A district council by-election is due to take place on 1 July.

Mendip District Council said in a statement: "The Electoral Commission has outlined five important points which it has asked us to consider for future elections.

"Some of those points have already been implemented for the district council by-election in Shepton Mallet, which has included working with the local press to advertise the vacancy and providing the town council with election posters to display.

"The district council did advertise the town council vacancy and the Electoral Commission recognises this, and the fact that candidates have put their names forward, including one which has not listed himself as being linked to a political party, shows that members of the public were aware of the election and the deadlines for the candidates.

"We take on board the comments made by the Electoral Commission that there is 'room for improvement' and are already taking steps to improve publicity."

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