Mystery behind new Mirfield by-election

ANOTHER costly town council by-election was called in Mirfield just hours before an official deadline expired.

Groups had until Wednesday to lodge a petition with at least 10 names on it – and on Tuesday one materialised. The Tories, who run the council, and Labour both denied calling the Thursday December 3 poll.

A town council meeting on Tuesday night heard a claim that at least one of those on the petition has a connection to UKIP. It prompted Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Battyeford) to warn against political game-playing.

He said: “If their identity is some indication then the calling of a by-election is a political event.

“And if we are now to hear UKIP banging their anti-European drum it should be stressed that it’s Mirfield that matters, not Maastricht.”

A vacancy arose in Eastthorpe, which covers the town centre, when Labour councillor Gary Bunton quit last month. It had been hoped the town council could co-opt somebody to save a likely £10,000 bill.

That was the cost when just weeks earlier Coun Martin Ibberson was elected in a controversial Battyeford poll.

But nobody came forward and Coun Bolt said: “If anybody felt strongly enough that they could make a difference they should have come to us.

“Co-option could have saved another £10,000 which could have been spent on community projects.”

Candidate nominations must be in by Friday November 6. If only one stands he or she will be elected unopposed.

Issues that could feature in the winner’s in-tray include Christmas lights and maintaining the public toilets on Huddersfield Road.

Coun Bolt, who cannot recall two by-elections in a year since he joined in 1997, added: “This is a town council, not Westminster.

“Somebody like Gary Bunton is the calibre of person we’re looking for, somebody who isn’t a political activist and who wants to do their best for Mirfield.

“Anyone coming into this because they want to fight Government cuts or whatever will quickly get bored.”


‘Not us to blame this time’ say Labour

LABOUR denied being behind a petition which could lead to another Mirfield by-election.

The Easthorpe poll, set for next month, was called when a petition with the 10 names needed was submitted on Tuesday.

Labour had ruled out calling a by-election to find a successor to former town councillor Gary Bunton.

Branch honorary secretary Michael Hutchinson said the party had been true to its word. The decision was made after he lost a controversial by-election in Battyeford last month which cost the town council £10,000.

Mr Hutchinson said: “Mirfield Labour Party has played no part in the call for a by-election in Eastthorpe.

“We regarded the circumstances in Eastthorpe as being completely different from those in Battyeford. We said we would not call for an Eastthorpe by-election and we have not done so.

He added: “I am consulting members of Mirfield Labour Party about the latest position. We will take a decision about whether or not to nominate a candidate in the light of the facts available to us and the outcome of our discussions.”

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