A parliamentary candidate has been missed off some ballot papers in Darlington – but voters have been urged to keep voting.
The Ukip candidate David Hodgson has been missed off ballot papers delivered to the Whessoe polling district.
The council says 89 people who have voted so far are affected. The correct ballot papers have now been issued.
Ada Burns, Darlington Council chief executive, said:
“We have taken advice from the Electoral Commission and are confident that the election can go ahead as normal.
“The turnout so far has been excellent and the message is to keep voting.”
Ukip candidate David Hodgson, a lecturer, said:
“I learnt it myself ten minutes ago that my name has been missed off the papers – I don’t know if it’s across all of the wards because the info I got is very short at the moment.
“It’s shocking – absolutely terrible and inexcusable. I understand the Ukip office has been informed and will be lodging a protest.
“I don’t know what happenened but surely some law has been breached. I’ve not got a clue what happens now but I’m guessing the only way to resolve it is for it to be re-run.
“I’m working at the moment and it’s knocked me sick but I cant walk out on my class.”
Labour candidate Jenny Chapman said he had been briefed about the problem.
“I’m furious and I understand completely how Mr Hodgson feels,” she added.
Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon said he was unaware of any problems.
He said the postal votes went out several weeks ago without any issues, and these ballot papers were printed at the same time as those for people voting in person.
A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said voting in the general and local elections was continuing as normal but that the name of one candidate, David Hodgson (UKIP) had been missed off ballot papers issued to one polling station in the borough.
“Approximately 89 ballot papers (0.1% of the total number of ballot papers printed) had been issued, but as soon as the issue was identified, corrected ballot papers were issued to the polling station concerned,” she said.
Due to doubts that all 89 would be contactable the council has chosen the second option. If the 89 votes are critical to the result at the end of the polling a petition challenging the outcome could be mounted and considered by a court of law.
Source – Northern Echo, 07 May 2015
A Conservative peer sparked anger yesterday when she suggested the poor were going hungry because they “don’t know how to cook”.
Baroness Jenkin of Kennington was forced to apologise for the comment, made at the launch of a landmark study into the explosion in food bank use.
The gaffe came as the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) – criticised for benefit delays and harsh sanctions – appeared to snub the launch of the report, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith came under fire for denying he had refused to meet the Trussell Trust, which runs most food banks, when it insisted he had.
At the Westminster event, Lady Jenkin, who served on the inquiry team, blamed hunger on, in part, a lack of knowledge about how to create cheap and nourishing meals.
“We have lost our cooking skills – poor people don’t know how to cook. I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.”
Her comments immediately drew stinging criticism from across the region.
Councillor Peter Brookes, who helps run food banks in the Trimdon area of County Durham, said:
“It shows she hasn’t got a full understanding of the difficulties people who use food banks face. They don’t have the same choices as people like the Baroness to go out and buy fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Scheme coordinator, Margaret Brice said many food bank users are unable to cook due to the issues they face, adding: “These are people in a crisis.”
A spokesman for the Middlesbrough Trussell Trust Foodbank said:
“When people do not have any money it does not matter if they have 25p or 4p. They have no money.
“People at the point of crisis are not there because they do not know how to cook. If you have not got anything in the cupboard you cannot cook it.”
Later, Baroness Jenkin apologised, saying:
“I made a mistake. Obviously I was stupidly speaking unscripted.
“What I meant was, as a society, we have lost our ability to cook, or that no longer seems to be handed down in the way that it was in previously in previous generations.”
The row almost overshadowed a plea by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for £100,000 of Government cash to kick-start a new organisation to eliminate hunger in the UK by 2020.
The DWP had been asked to attend and respond on the report’s recommendations, but – unlike the major supermarkets and utility regulators – failed to do so.
A junior minister from another department went instead, while No.10 ruled out changes to the sudden removal of benefits from “sanctioned” claimants – sending them to food banks, critics say.
In the Commons, Mr Duncan Smith said:
“I do take this report seriously. We have met the Trussell Trust—I have never refused to meet it.”
But Alison Inglis-Jones, a trustee of the Trussell Trust, said the organisation felt “vindicated”, adding: “Iain Duncan Smith has refused to talk to us for 18 months.
“We simply get irate letters back accusing us of scaremongering, saying this situation isn’t happening.”
Source – Northern Echo, 08 Dec 2014
The Darlington Liberation Army (DLA) has launched a petition demanding the immediate resignation of a council leader and his cabinet.
The group is calling for a vote of no confidence in council leader Bill Dixon and his fellow councillors, claiming Darlington Borough Council is turning the town centre into a “ghost town”.
The DLA was established earlier this year in the wake of conflict between town centre traders and Darlington Borough Council over car parking policies.
It aims to act as a channel for frustrated residents and traders to voice their opinions on the council and its policies.
The group counts among its supporters local florist Rob Metcalfe, who has a copy of the petition available to sign at his shop, Claire Metcalfe Florists, on Bondgate.
Accusing Darlington Borough Council of “serious failings” it says:
“We would like to declare a vote of no confidence in William Dixon and all of the other Cabinet members.
“We ask that as a result of their serious failings they all resign from their positions as council leader and cabinet members respectively, with immediate effect.
“By signing this petition we express that we no longer have any confidence in the leader and the cabinet and request that they stand down now.”
“Their decision making appears to be professionally skewed and has ulterior motive/s and as such they are turning the town centre into a ghost town not only for shoppers but retailers…”
According to Darlington Borough Council’s website, any petition containing more than 1,000 signatures will be debated by the cabinet at the next possible meeting.
The petition organiser will be given five minutes to present it at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by members of the cabinet who will decide how to respond to issues raised.
He added: “I will make sure that happens.”
Asked if he was considering his position in the light of the petition he replied: “Definitely not. That’s a matter for the electorate.“
Source – Northern Echo, 05 Nov 2014
In a big row over a small park, a council leader has criticised the naming of a plot of land after a “right wing Tory”.
A community banded together to transform a tiny patch of private land into Councillor Gerald Lee Park, named after Darlington’s environmentally-friendly town mayor.
The park – which measures around 25 square metres and will be opened tomorrow (Tuesday, July 29) – will soon be pitted against Prince’s Park in Burntwood, Staffordshire in a bid to be named Britain’s Smallest Park.
Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon openly criticised the decision to name the park after Councillor Lee, taking to Darlington Labour Party’s Facebook page to say: “Nice to see we as a Party are so inclusive we celebrate a right wing Tory and name part of our town after him. I think we should rename High Row, Thatcher Way, good idea or what?”
Expanding on his comment, he said: “The council has a policy of not naming things after living people which goes back to the time of the Quakers.
“I’m not detracting from anything Councillor Lee’s done, but we waited a year after John Williams’ death to name somewhere after him.
“There are two issues here, my views of Gerald as a politician – which are my views – and the issue of naming.
“We’ve got it right, you see other authorities naming all sorts after living, politically active people and I think that’s wrong – where does it stop?
“If they tried to name a new building after me, they’d do it over my dead body.”
The park – situated on Victoria Road – has been created by the South Terrace Residents Association in conjunction with the Darlington Guerrilla Gardeners.
One resident said: “We’ve told them to get stuffed – we’ll call it Councillor Gerald Lee Park because he’s our litter-picking Tsar and we admire him for what he’s done in the area.
“Hands off our park is the message from us.”
The mayor echoed the sentiments, saying: “Leave my park alone, Councillor Gerald Lee Park has a nice ring about it – keep my blooming park.
“We’re trying to encourage ideas like this as they make a difference in communities and bureaucracy like this gets in the way and upsets people.”
Source – Northern Echo, 28 July 2014
A disgruntled resident has plastered a North-East town with posters attacking its council for their parking policies.
Posters spotted across Darlington recently accuse the local authority of creating a ghost town and damaging trade.
The anonymous protestor has created a variety of signs, all illustrated with a picture of a parking ticket.
One says “Welcome to Darlington, we don’t want you or your customers in our empty town” while another says “Welcome to Darlington, we love empty shops”.
A more detailed – and laminated – version found pinned to the Old English Gentleman pub on Bondgate said: “Welcome to Darlington. Darlington Council loves empty shops, Darlington Council hates vehicles, hates customers, hates business. Traffic warden *** is helping make their dreams of a ghost town come true.”
Council leader Bill Dixon described the posters as cowardly and criticised the attack on the individual traffic warden.
He said: “As a town centre we are doing incredibly well and have the lowest rate of vacant shops in the North-East.
“We’ve got enough town centre parking at present. Parking wardens have instructions and take ten minutes to issue a ticket. Where possible, they ask people to move but if someone’s parked illegally, what can they do?
He added: “This person is running their town centre down which doesn’t help anybody here.
“We have the best performing town centre in the North-East and some of our traders are turning against it and that’s sad.
“This kind of fly-posting is the last thing people need to see and it gives the wrong impression.”
Local trader Beryl Hankin, from the Guru boutique, has been lobbying the council to improve parking for years but says this approach could put more people off visiting the town.
She said: “It smacks of desperation and is probably someone who feels this is the only way to get their message across but it’s not great for the town in general.
“Since pedestrianisation, there’s been a noticeable detrimental difference – if you can’t get cars in, it effects trade.
“Vehicle access is vital to a town’s success. The multi-storey car park being built will help but it will take a long time and a lot of little businesses can’t hold on until then.”
> So if someone can’t drive their car virtually into a shop, they won’t shop there anymore ? And will spend more on fuel to go to another town, just to spite ?
As a non-driver, I have to say the fewer cars in town centres, the better I like it.
And if you don’t want a parking ticket, dont break the parking rules.
Source – Northern Echo, 28 June 2014