What happened when I tried to inspect candidates’ consent to nomination forms at Birkenhead Town Hall?
By John Brace (Editor)
First publication date: Wednesday 12th April 2023, 14:00 (GMT).
During the election period (once the nomination period has ended and before polling day) the nomination papers and candidate’s consent to nomination are available to be inspected.
As it (usually) runs more smoothly if they know what I want to look at in advance rather than just it being a big surprise, there had been a series of emails between myself and Wirral Council about what I wanted to look at (the candidate’s consent to nomination forms for candidates standing in the election of councillors for Bidston and St James, Claughton and Heswall) and Wirral Council knew I ’d be there on Tuesday 11th April.
When I arrived at Birkenhead Town Hall, I went up to the first floor, to find that those working on the election were behind locked doors that could only be opened with a key card (which obviously I didn’t have) and there was no doorbell. I tried knocking on that door, but nobody answered. Going back down the corridor and turning left, I found another door with a piece of A4 paper stuck to the door with “Election Office” on it.
The door was locked, so I knocked on the door and waited. I was ignored, so I knocked again. The poem The Listeners by Walter de La Mere springs to mind at this point in this tale. Eventually my persistent knocking led to someone answering the door. I explained what I was therefore and was told to go to a different room which was next door.
There I explained (again) what I was there for. The person I’d previously been in email contact with was running a training session at Wallasey Town Hall and not answering their mobile phone.
However, I was then told I couldn’t inspect the candidates’ consent to nomination as the person speaking thought that they might contain home addresses (they actually don’t contain home addresses as you can see of the example of Elizabeth Anne Grey standing in Bidston and St James ward above) and to come back in an hour.
So I returned as requested an hour later, again knocking on the unanswered door. Eventually a person angrily answered the door and barked in a frustrated way, “I’m in a meeting!” at me.
This drawn out saga is now starting to become less like Walter De La Mere’s The Traveller and along the lines of Douglas Adams quote:-
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
Once again I explained why I was there and this time was told to wait in the corridor outside. Shortly after, a very apologetic Wirral Council employee appeared with the paperwork I had requested to inspect.
What did suprise when I calculated the average age of the candidates in Heswall, Bidston and St James and Claughton is (I’ve just included the four political parties already represented on Wirral Council in the analysis below and for clarity have included those who have withdrawn) is how similar the average age of a candidate standing was across different political parties. In the Labour Party the average age was 54.9 years, for the Conservatives 57.7 years, in the Lib Dems 57.3 years and the Green Party it was 57.8 years.
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