Rogate villagers go to the polls

Villagers in Rogate are going to the polls for the first time in more than a decade tomorrow (February 16) to elect a new parish councillor after a seat became vacant.

The election comes after unrest in the village over the co-option by Rogate parish councillors of two new members in December.

Chairman of the council Shon Sprackling said: “Despite a truly democratic voting process certain residents of Fyning were and are not happy.

“These parishioners have now forced the council into a by-election to fill the single vacancy remaining.

“This of course is their right but the net result will be a cost of £3,000 to be borne by the parish.

“In my opinion this is a shame. The current economic climate means that we are able to increase our precept this year so these costs will be met by our reserves.”

But villager Roddy Carritt said he did not agree that elections were a waste of money and believed there should be money earmarked to pay the cost of elections.

“As I understand it, over the past 12 years or more it has been customary for existing council members to co-opt new members to fill vacancies and in fact most of the existing members were themselves also co-opted.

“The parish electorate has never been given a chance to vote. No consultation takes place and the choice as to who shall be co-opted and who shall be turned down lies with the existing committee. Is this, as Mr Sprackling states a ‘truly democratic’ voting process?”

He said it seemed that once members were co-opted or elected in any other way to the council ‘they remain members indefinitely unless they resign or fail to be elected in a subsequent election’.

But Mr Sprackling said there appeared to be a misunderstanding as to why there had not been a parish council election for some time.

“It is because we have not had sufficient nominations at the time of elections to warrant a vote.”

The candidates are Max Harwood and Michael Williams, who both live in Fyning Lane.