No Mirfield by-election, so applications sought for co-opted member

A DECISION not to call a second by-election in Mirfield in as many months has been welcomed.

Labour said it will not seek a town council poll to fill the Eastthorpe seat left vacant by Gary Bunton’s resignation. But party chiefs said they would reconsider their position if there were calls from elsewhere.

Mayor of Mirfield Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton (Con, Hopton) said she welcomed the news.

She said: “I’m relieved for the town council budget and because of all the nastiness and disingenuousness of the last by-election. I believe that was off-putting for the public in terms of what the town council does for them.”

She added: “But we must remember it technically wasn’t the Labour Party which called that by-election.

“It was the electors of Battyeford and the fact that some of them were Labour members or failed candidates from May didn’t matter.

On the door being left ajar she said: “I just hope it’s not open-ended and that what they’ve said is only down to how they’ve worded it.”

The town council will now seek applications for a representative to be co-opted.

But anyone seeking a by-election has until the end of October to gather the necessary 10 signatures.

The Press understands the controversial Battyeford poll cost taxpayers just under £10,000.

Mr Bunton was elected for Eastthorpe in May but stood down last month after being offered a dream accountancy job in Bristol.

Coun Lees-Hamilton said: “The duty of the town council is to find the best person for the job.

“That’s not a political decision. It’s about finding someone who can bring skills to the town council and will work for the good of the community.

“If we get several applications I’ll put it to the town council that we should have an extra meeting to discuss candidate selection.”


Taxpayers spared as Labour rejects poll

TAXPAYERS in Mirfield could be spared another by-election – but the door was left open in case there is demand for one.

Labour rejected seeking a poll to fill a vacant town council seat after a meeting last week.

But the Mirfield branch said it would reconsider its position if residents or another party called for a by-election.

It comes after Gary Bunton stepped down last month from the Eastthorpe seat he won in May.

Michael Hutchinson, secretary of Mirfield Labour Party, said: “Gary was clearly making a positive contribution to the town council’s deliberations. But he has done the honourable thing in resigning following his unexpected good fortune in securing employment away from Mirfield.”

He added: “The situation in Eastthorpe is completely different from that which arose in Battyeford, where a by-election offered the only hope of correcting an injustice and we commend the residents who called for one to be held.

“We do not consider that the different circumstances in Eastthorpe warrant the holding of a by-election there.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and make future decisions about elections and candidatures on the basis of the facts at the time.”

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