Nottingham Post

A million ‘pointless’ leaflets – candidate hits at election cost



A CANDIDATE to become the first East Midlands Mayor says a million more leaflets than needed are being printed about the upcoming election.

Independen­t Matthew Relf says recycling bins will be the biggest beneficiar­y of the election on May 2.

He has also criticised the fact that, as well as needing a £5,000 deposit just to be a candidate, those in the running are being asked to fork out another £5,000 on top of that to have a message printed in the official booklet about the election.

Voters in Nottingham­shire and Derbyshire at the May election will be choosing the first mayor, who will head up the new East Midlands Combined County Authority. That authority is being given billions of pounds by the Government to manage powers currently held by Westminste­r. It means the authority will be able to make local decisions on issues ranging from housing to transport.

Five candidates have come forward to be the first East Midlands Mayor, but those from smaller parties say the cost of running in the race is “anti-democratic”.

In terms of the leaflets, the decision has been made to post an official booklet about the mayoral election to every eligible voter – rather than just to every household – in Nottingham­shire and Derbyshire.

If a household has four eligible voters it will get four separate leaflets.

Mr Relf said that across both counties, this means that around 1,250,000 more leaflets than necessary are being printed.

Mr Relf said: “The price of this election goes up and up. This is an election that nobody asked for and news that we will be charged an extra £5,000 just to get a page in their brochure is shocking. It is an affront to democracy.

“To stand a chance of winning this £4m election, an independen­t like me has to find £10,000. The election should be about who the right person is for the role, not who has the deepest pockets or the richest donors.

“Costs are spiralling out of control and the returning officer is trying to claw cash back from charging everybody prohibitiv­e costs.

“The election is stacked in favour of the main political parties – it seems appalling to me that the Conservati­ves can use part of their multi-million donation from an alleged racist to reach every resident in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottingham­shire.

“Putting to one side that the vast majority get informatio­n online, the fact that they are preparing to print and post more than 1,250,000 more copies of a brochure than they need is bonkers. The biggest beneficiar­y of this election will be residents’ recycling bins.”

A spokespers­on for the East Midlands Combined County Authority returning officer said: “For a mayoral election such as this the law requires that a booklet must be produced and sent out to every registered elector. Therefore, in order to comply with the law, a booklet will be sent out to over 1.6 million electors who are eligible to vote to explain the elections, and the role of the mayor and confirm the candidates who are standing.

“Candidates who wish to stand in the election will be required to have 100 local electors who support their nomination and to pay a deposit of £5,000. All candidates who are validly nominated to stand will be listed in the election booklet.

“Candidates will have the choice, if they so wish, in addition to being listed in the booklet to include their own election address, which the returning officer will circulate to over 1.6 million electors. Candidates who wish to have their election address included are required to contribute a small cost towards printing, which is £5,000.

“This is in line with Electoral Commission guidance and entirely consistent with other combined authority areas who have produced booklets.”

The other four candidates were asked to comment on the costs faced by candidates and the number of leaflets being produced. Three of them responded.

Frank Adlington-stringer, for the Green Party, said: “I am concerned about British democracy and the seriously unfair electoral rules which those in power have designed. The Green Party is the only major political party which refuses donations from unethical private interests in order to remain accountabl­e to voters, not dodgy donors.

“Just as I had almost crowdfunde­d the £5,000 required to get my name on the ballot paper in this election, it was announced that another £5,000 was necessary to appear in a supposedly democratic election booklet.

“If I fail to raise this cash by the month’s end then only the wealthy will be represente­d.

“This self-perpetuati­ng cycle of excluding people-powered candidates only reinforces the two-party system. The establishm­ent gatekeeps our democracy.

“Even once we jump the financial hurdles to the nomination, the voting system used for mayoral elections has now been changed by the Conservati­ve Government to a far less representa­tive system. Surprise – they chose a voting system which favours the two major parties.

“Something tells me that those in power have no intention of sharing. I, like Greens across the country, will keep working hard to raise funds responsibl­y and deliver effective community-led campaigns.”

Ben Bradley, the Conservati­ve candidate, said: “It’s really important that we start as we mean to go on and that everything in this process is as efficient and effective as it can possibly be within the legislatio­n that’s been set out for us. I’ll be asking those questions about whether everything is being done to manage that cost and to make it as effective as it can be.

“We’ve also got a task... to make sure we’re explaining to people what it is, how it will work and how it will benefit people.

“There’s a balance to be struck in all of that, but we absolutely shouldn’t be spending more than is necessary on duplicatin­g things. If that is the case, I trust the authority and the officers involved will sort that out.”

Alan Graves, standing for Reform UK, said: “I oppose the creation of a newly elected politician and so all the costs are extortiona­te. I believe that people should have had a referendum on the issue rather than have it imposed on us. “The political fat cats say there was a consultati­on. This was a consultati­on no one, except a small elite group, knew about.

“I agree that delivering a booklet to every elector is a ridiculous idea when each household only needs one booklet. However, as the returning officer says, this is allowed in the terms of the rules so they are doing nothing wrong.

“There needs to be a root and branch change of the existing elite politician­s and civil service. How did the Electoral Commission come up with the idea of four booklets for a household of four people? What happened to common sense?

“The deposit and the insertion charge is there to put people off standing. This makes it anti-democratic.”

It should be about who the right person is for the role, not who has the deepest pockets

Matthew Relf, Independen­t

 ?? ?? Candidates Matthew Relf, Claire Ward and Ben Bradley at a mayoral hustings event
Candidates Matthew Relf, Claire Ward and Ben Bradley at a mayoral hustings event
 ?? ?? Matthew Relf is an independen­t candidate for the role of East Midlands Mayor
Matthew Relf is an independen­t candidate for the role of East Midlands Mayor

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