Dan Peters 27 November 2017

Chief executive suspended after elections review

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Newcastle-under-Lyme BC has suspended its chief executive and monitoring officer after an independent review into problems faced by voters at the General Election.

Chief executive John Sellgren, who is also the council’s acting returning officer, and monitoring officer Liz Dodd, who is also head of audit and elections, will remain suspended until the outcome of an internal disciplinary process.

The review by the Association of Electoral Administrators found around 500 postal voters in the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency were disenfranchised, close to 1,000 potential electors were not included on the election register and two people not entitled to vote were able to cast a ballot.

Labour’s Paul Farrelly held on to the Newcastle-under-Lyme seat by 30 votes – the third smallest majority on election night.

Council leader, Cllr Elizabeth Shenton, apologised on behalf of the authority for the shortcomings highlighted in the review.

Cllr Shenton said: ‘I sincerely apologise on behalf of the council for that situation but we can’t turn the clock back and right any wrongs which occurred at that time.

‘What I think local people would expect me to do as leader is make sure these failings never happen again and we can begin the process of trying to rebuild public confidence in the election system in Newcastle-under-Lyme.’

The council said it was working with the Local Government Association to bring in experienced staff to help it deal with two council by-elections next month and begin preparations for local elections in May.

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