Honiton Mayor’s warning over costly elections deterring young people

Honiton mayor, Caroline Kolek.

Honiton mayor, Caroline Kolek. - Credit: Archant

Honiton’s mayor has expressed concerns about election costs following the resignation of three town councillors last month.

Over the Christmas period, St Paul’s ward members Julia Lake, Anne Mountjoy and Kim Smith all stepped down from Honiton Town Council.

Town mayor Councillor Caroline Kolek had hoped to avoid costly elections, preferring to co-opt their replacements.

However, the mayor confirmed a minimum threshold of 10 signatures needed to force a vote has been received by the town council.

The last election held in Honiton cost the council an estimated £5,000.

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She said: “I was hoping that the town council would be able to co-opt due to the cost of having an election.

“There will now be two elections and the last election held in Honiton cost in the region of £5,000.

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“It’s great that people have been upholding democracy, but that comes at a cost.

“I feel torn because on one hand we’re upholding democracy, on the other hand there was a turnout of just 13 per cent last time.”

Cllr Kolek also said she knew that resignations had been coming and was hoping that the vacancies would be an opportunity to encourage younger people to stand.

She added: “I would like to encourage young people to get involved and have their say over how the town is run.

“When you’re looking at a neighbourhood plan for long-term building, these are the people who are going to be around in 30, 40, 50, 60 years’ time.

“The nice thing about the council that was elected in 2015 is that we were a relatively young council, so we actually broke the mould.

“I am concerned we are not going to get young people. There are a couple of young people who would have been interested in being co-opted.

“I really don’t think we’re going to encourage young people to get involved with the council.”

Two elections will now take place to fill the three spots in the St Paul’s ward.

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