What did Gillian Wood’s election campaign to become a councillor in Claughton ward spend £1,354.53 on?
ED – updated 4.7.2017 to include extra detail on VAT treatment and comment
Below this blog post is the paperwork submitted as part of the election expense return for the Labour candidate for the Claughton byelection for a councillor to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.
These are open to public inspection and I inspected these at Wallasey Town Hall last week (although there was a delay due to “staffing issues”).
The agent for the Labour candidate Gillian Wood was Martin Morris. Although Cllr George Davies and the Wirral Labour Group have had an involvement in the campaign too.
On the 5th May 2017, the result was announced. Gillian Wood was returned as a councillor for a period of one year with a vote of 1,761 votes (52%), a majority of 1,021. The second placed candidate for the Liberal Democrats received 740 votes (22%) and the voting system used was first past the post.
The nomination papers for this candidate show that her nomination papers were submitted on the 3rd April 2017 at 4.30 pm and the initials (KR) of the Wirral Council employee that accepted them was Kate Robinson.
Strangely, this date on the nomination papers doesn’t match the date given on page 1 of the election expenses return (see below) (5th April 2017) as the date she became a candidate and is after the date given that the agent was appointed (4th April 2017).
I asked another election agent in this Claughton byelection (Allan Brame who was agent for David Evans the Liberal Democrat candidiate) about matters involving the documentation below. He helpfully pointed out that leaflets are zero-rated for the purposes of VAT.
He also stated that the latest date a person could become a candidate was the 4th April 2017 (close of nominations) and the earliest date 27th March 2017 (if the candidacy had already been announced). On the subject of donations he stated “I am surprised that the details of donations have not been provided.”
However, the election expenditure return shows expenditure of £1,354.53 (the spending limit was £1,427.42).
Invoices accompanying the return are for hire of a car PA System on polling day from SS Radio (£30) and for leaflets from LT Print Ltd (2,500 Vote Labour cards) for £169.20 (£141 + £28.20 (VAT)). Although as these are VAT zero-rated I’m puzzled as to why VAT is included on the invoice!
There are references to invoices 76414, 76415, 76796 and 76795 also from LT Print Ltd, also for leaflets. These invoices were paid by BACS payment and amount to £491, £364, £253 and £491.
It is claimed by the agent that of the first of these (invoice 76414) for £491 that £415.47 doesn’t apply to the election period as 5,500 of these leaflets were delivered prior to the 26th March 2017.
This would imply that this invoice (which was not supplied) was for 6,500 leaflets, of which 1,000 were delivered during the election period.
Where the money came from referring to the £1,354.53 spent during the campaign is unknown as donations were entered as £NIL.
As the candidate who was elected, Gillian Wood also has to state in a declaration which individuals or organisations funded her elections campaign which is published on Wirral Council’s website.
At the time of writing, there is no link to her register of interests from the page about her on Wirral Council’s website.
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