Bizarre blunder sees anti-incinerator campaigner withdraw from Norfolk County Council election race
18:00 06 September 2012
A “bizarre” blunder has caused an anti-incinerator campaigner to make a dramatic withdrawal from his bid to become an independent councillor at Norfolk County Council.
Richard Burton, an independent environmental consultant who has been one of the most vocal critics of plans for an incinerator at Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn, had been named as one of the candidates in the Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South by-election.
But Mr Burton, who lives in Clenchwarton, announced last night, with polling day three weeks away, that he had decided to withdraw, after he realised he had made a mistake on his nomination form.
He said: “To stand for election 10 people have to nominate you. In one case it turns out that two houses on the same street both display the same street number. This is because one house is on a corner, and really belongs to the adjoining street.
“By a bizarre coincidence, the people at both houses have the same surname and similar initials. This resulted in me collecting the signature from the nominee but, when later using the electoral register, filling in the details of the person at the other house.
“This error was entirely my own. I felt it was important to be honest and inform Electoral Services immediately, as it would be wrong for me to mislead the electorate.
“Although the error was made in good faith, and my nomination remained valid, this did mean that if I continued to stand as a candidate I could be challenged in the High Court.
“My election agent or I could be liable for costs, and I am not willing to put my family or anyone else at financial risk.”
With reference to his fellow campaigner’s failed attempt to force a judicial review into Norfolk County Council’s decision to award a contract for the incinerator at Saddlebow, he added: “I know from Michael de Whalley’s experience in the High Court, that there are those who are prepared to claim severe costs from those who stand against them.
“Neither can I risk damaging the anti-incinerator campaign should anyone else try to portray this as anything other than the honest and improbable mistake it is. I have to do the right thing, and for this reason I had to withdraw.”
He added: “I would like to apologise to all the many people who have helped with the campaign, and to thank those who have supported me. I will be standing as a candidate for the same seat when it is contested again next May.
“I urge everyone to use their vote wisely, by voting only for the parties at County Hall who oppose the incinerator, and who respected the referendum result.”
The by-election, which will take place on Thursday, September 27, was triggered following the death of Conservative David Harwood.
The remaining candidates are: Paul Foster (Conservatives), Alexandra Kemp (Labour), Kate Sayer (Liberal Democrats) and Michael Stone (UK Independence Party).