The starting whistle has not yet been blown, but already politicians are at war over May’s county council elections.
The leader of the Conservative group on Lancashire County Council has accused a sitting Labour County Councillor of “alarming arrogance and shameful contempt for voters” in a row over a leaflet distributed to 1600 households in the Garrison ward area of Fulwood.
Coun Geoff Driver took issue with the leaflet which he says misleads the public with a claim that County Coun Kevin Ellard is the “new councillor” for the redrawn council division of Preston East.
Coun Ellard already represents Preston East, but boundaries will change in May with some 3,000 Fulwood voters coming in and a similar number of voters from the Ribbleton area leaving to join a new ward.
Coun Driver said: “Not only is this a deliberate attempt to mislead the electorate, it also shows an alarming arrogance and shameful contempt for the voters in Garrison Ward by leading them to believe that Coun. Ellard has already been elected as the County Councillor for the new Preston East Division. ”
Coun Driver complained to the county council’s Chief Executive Jo Turton and said: “Coun Ellard must be aware that it is simply wrong to mislead the electorate in this way.”
A council spokesperson said: “We have taken advice from the Electoral Commission and they do not consider this as a breach of the guidelines and therefore it is not something for the Returning Officer to deal with.”
Coun Ellard said : “The important thing was to tell people ‘Listen Up the boundaries have changed’.It’s obviously a statement of aspiration, clearly the election is on May 4...I would not go round telling porkies to people. The idea was just to grab people’s attention.”