Why did Liverpool City Council charge £29.80 for copies of nomination papers and consents to nomination for the candidates to be a councillor in the 2018 elections?
On Wednesday morning I carried out an unannounced inspection on the nomination papers and consents to nomination for the candidates currently standing in elections to be a councillor to Liverpool City Council.
These are open to public inspection until 2nd May 2018 during working hours on working days.
The voters in Knotty Ash will be electing two councillors this year, whereas all other wards will be just electing one. There are thirty wards in total and elections are by thirds with 2018 being an election year.
The inspection was carried out at Venture Place, Sir Thomas Street Liverpool, L1 6BW at the ground floor reception as we were told no rooms were available (although the building is eight stories).
We (myself and Leonora) were told that all chairs had been removed from reception a few days before our visit which meant it was a standing inspection (which was ok for myself but was a bit tough for Leonora with her walking stick to stand for long periods).
We did raise this issue with a different section of Liverpool City Council based in the building and were told that Liverpool City Council’s plans are to rent off the ground floor to the private sector which explains why the furniture in reception has disappeared along with the power cable to the flat screen TV there.
During our time in reception at Venture Place two chairs were delivered by Jenkinsons Office Supplies but sadly were not for reception or for sitting on. This being the local government public sector two chairs required two different Liverpool City Council employees (one for each chair) to meet with the delivery man in reception at different times in order to accept delivery separately of each chair and take it to where it was going.
The reception area was unstaffed, with the procedure being that you pick up the phone and either ring the extension of (or state the name) of the person you are there to see.
Sadly the automated voice system on the phone had problems recognising my pronunciation of Stephen Barker. When I tried it however with a more Liverpudlian accent it seemed to work better though.
We rang at about 9.44 am to announce what we were there for, but were both still waiting in reception at 10.00 am for someone to arrive.
So I made another phone call at the reception desk telephone at around 10.00 am.
When I did finally see the papers in the reception area, the inspection was supervised by Stephen Barker.
Each cardboard folder had a ward name on, in each folder was a number of plastic folders for each candidate.
Each candidate plastic folder had a nomination paper, candidates’ consent to nomination, pieces of legislation, agent appointment form and for party political candidates the form to use a party name or description and emblem.
Each nomination paper had at the top right the order in which it had been received for that ward (for example 1, 2, 3 or 4 etc), the initials SB (which stand for Stephen Barker) and the date and time that the nomination paper had been delivered (which has to be by hand).
When the nomination papers are delivered as far as I know, impacts when the election expense periods starts.
Although this “Office Use Only” section was also part of the Candidate’s consent to nomination form it wasn’t used.
A number of the candidates were qualified to stand because they were registered to vote in the Liverpool City Council area, owned or rented land in the Liverpool City Council area, worked in the Liverpool City Council area or for the whole 12 months prior lived in the Liverpool City Council area.
On some of the forms there were a number of crossings out, amendments and tipex used mainly relating to names, signatures, polling district and elector numbers of the 10 electors proposing, seconding and assenting to the nomination.
I asked the Electoral Commission’s press office on the point about inspection, copies and the charging for copies and received this reply:-
“By law, Returning Officer’s[sic] must allow public inspection, and copies to be taken, during office hours on any working day from the close of nominations up to and including the day before polling day, of nomination papers and consents to nomination. Therefore a person may inspect and take copies, and the legislation does not provide for a charge to be applied – it would be a matter for the Returning Officer to determine if a fee was appropriate and the level of that fee.”
The Returning Officer for the 2018 elections of councillors to Liverpool City Council is Jeanette McLoughlin.
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