Pattern as before but some concerns

Northumberland’s representative on the body for town and parish councils nationwide has reacted to the shortfall of candidates reported in the Gazette last week.

David Francis, from the county’s association for NALC (National Association for Local Councils), said that the pattern of parish elections seems to be very similar to previous elections with only about one in six going to a poll.

He added that the presence of political parties usually ensures votes for town council seats, but suspects some have been struggling to find candidates.

“In the more-rural parishes, it appears to have been local issues which have triggered polls, for example, in Warkworth and Longframlington,” he said.

“It is not unusual for there to be a slight shortfall of candidates in many of the rural parish councils, but I am concerned that there seem to be more examples at this election of parishes that have experienced such a shortfall of candidates that the county council is now having to organise by-elections.

“It would be interesting to know whether this is due to public apathy, or to the new (more-demanding) arrangements for submitting nomination papers.”

Regarding the transfer of services to parishes and towns, he said that in north Northumberland this had been relatively light, but there would be a bigger impact in the south east.