A “particular candidate” for the Mid Beds by-election could cost taxpayers over £1 million

Meeting told a Conservative win could trigger a Police and Crime Commissioner by-election
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Mid Bedfordshire’s by-election could cost taxpayers over a million pounds – if a “particular candidate” wins, a meeting heard.

Brian Dunleavy, democratic services manager, told Central Bedfordshire Council’s General Purposes Committee last week (Thursday, August 24) that if Conservative candidate Festus Akinbusoye became Mid Beds’ new MP then there could be a by-election for the police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Mr Dunleavy told the committee that there will be a full PCC election next May, whatever the result.

Councillor Matthew Brennan (Labour, Dunstable North) said: “Can we just clarify that point, because I just want everyone to be really clear. So if a particular candidate wins the by-election… is it right that there will be a PCC by-election and then a subsequent PCC election?

“If this is accurate, what is the estimated cost of that should this particular candidate win the MP election?” he asked.

Mr Dunleavy said it depended on when the Mid Beds by-election was held.

“There’s a six-month rule, so if the parliamentary election happens before the sixth-month rule and a particular candidate wins then potentially there will have to be a [PCC] by-election,” he said.

“If the by-election was after November 3 and the individual concerned was successful, then there wouldn’t need [to be a PCC by-election]. But bear in mind that would be the whole of Bedfordshire, and an additional by-election for the whole of Bedfordshire will be somewhere between £1 million and £1.5 million.”

The Electoral Commission told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that legislative change is required to amend the six-month rule, meaning it would require parliament to amend Section 51 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

It added that the writ for a Mid Bedfordshire by-election can only be moved once Parliament returns from recess, so the date of the Mid Beds by-election is not known at this stage.

Festus Akinbusoye had no comment to make on the possible PCC by-election.

As well as Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, there are two current Central Bedfordshire councillors standing as candidates.

MPs can still be councillors, but if they resign as a councillor there will be by-election costs.

A council spokesperson said these costs are normally between £2,000 and £3,000 per polling station.

Lib Dem councillor Emma Holland-Lindsay told the Byline Times (August 24) she would be a “full time” MP, so the LDRS asked her if this meant she would step down as a ward councillor for Leighton Linslade South.

She replied: “I am taking no votes for granted, and if I am fortunate enough to be elected as the next MP then I will consider very carefully how best to continue serving people in Bedfordshire.”

Councillor Gareth Mackey (Independent, Flitwick) told the LDRS he would continue as a councillor if he was elected as MP, so there’d be “no cost to the electorate”.

The Labour candidate, Alistair Strathern, is currently a councillor for the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

He said if elected he said he would stand down as a councillor as being an MP is a “full time job”.

Waltham Forest did not respond when asked about by-election costs.

The former Mid Beds MP, Nadine Dorries, resigned on August 26, more than two months after saying she would be resigning with “immediate effect”.