Oh no! East Devon’s General Election postal voting screwed up AGAIN

It happened in the 2015 election when the wrong voting instructions were sent out with postal votes:


and now it’s happening again this year – but worse and affecting many more people.

And in an election where a handful of votes might decide a winner between Swire and Claire Wright.

If Claire Wright is within 9,000 votes of Swire could she demand a rerun?

Our Returning Officer was called to Parliament to explain why he “lost” 6,000 voters too – saying he preferred to telephone them rather than sending canvassers into deepest, darkest East Devon:


In 2015 he blamed his postal vote fiasco on “inexperienced staff”:


What will it be this year?

Is it perhaps time for Mr Williams (EDDC CEO and Election Officer) to consider his position(s)?


A total of 9,000 postal voters in East Devon have been reassured after a mistake meant their slips did not have the correct security mark.

A statement has been issued today by the Acting Returning Officer for the East Devon Constituency (Mark Williams) to reassure postal voters who have not yet returned their postal votes.

He said: “It has come to my attention that the postal vote packs we issued on 25th May contained voting slips that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper. This has affected a total of 9,000 postal voters.

“I want to reassure those postal voters affected that if they have not yet returned their postal votes they should still do so. We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure the postal votes are valid and will be counted. I apologise for the error but want to reassure postal voters that they should still complete their postal voting statements and return their postal voting envelopes back to me for validating as part of the normal postal voting process.

“To be valid, a postal vote has to be accompanied by a valid postal voting statement containing the voters date of birth and signature. After these are checked, the envelope containing the postal voting slip is opened and the slip is put into a sealed ballot box where it is kept safe until the formal count. My postal vote opening teams will ensure that all validly completed postal votes are double checked so that they will go forward to the count along with all the other votes that will be cast on polling day itself.”

There is a second issue of postal votes tomorrow (31st May) and all the postal voting slips will have the appropriate security mark. Similarly all ballot papers issued at the polling stations will have the necessary security mark.

The news comes after it was revealed East Devon was chosen as one of eight UK constituencies to be monitored as part of an international mission to ensure elections are fair.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has announced that the constituency will be one of its target seats for the general election.

An Election Assessment Mission (EAM) will be conducted in the area from June 4 to 9 by Phillip Paulwell, an MP from Jamaica who will lead a team of Observers from the Commonwealth.

The Mission, which is being arranged by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch (CPA UK) as it did in the 2015 and 2010 general elections, will also observe elections in seven other UK constituencies to oversee:

post-election complaints or appeals

The team will compromise of three parliamentarians and one election official from Tonga who will monitor Election Day procedures at polling stations, meet with candidates, returning officers, local officials, community groups and other relevant stakeholders in order to assess the conduct of the election.”


Essex council switches to ‘more democratic’ committee system

“Councillors at Basildon last week (25 May) voted to switch to a committee system to run the council in place of the Leader and Cabinet.

Following a vote at the council’s annual general meeting, councillors were appointed to various committees and other positions.

The committees include: policy and resources; housing and community; regeneration and environment; infrastructure, growth and development; planning; licensing; and audit and risk.

Cllr Gavin Callaghan, Policy and Resources Committee Chairman, said: “We have taken a very important step to change the way that decisions are made because we believe it will make the council more democratic and more effective. It is now down to us to prove it.

“All of us need to commit ourselves to listening to what our constituents and our communities are saying and to making sound decisions based on good evidence and careful consideration. We will need to work together and listen to each other too.”

The council has resolved that no one should use the title of Leader of the Council but that the chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee shall assume the responsibilities of a Leader of the Council in a committee system.

Basildon councillors had resolved on 15 December 2016 to cease operating the Leader and Cabinet form of governance and start operating a committee system from the earliest permitted time, which was the AGM in 2017.

The authority cannot resolve to make another change to its governance arrangements, including a return to the Leader and Cabinet form of governance, for five years, except if approved in a referendum.”


Time running out to tell Clinton Devon Estates what you think about them

The survey is here:

And, for information, here are the questions the survey asks – perhaps you have questions you would like them to answer that don’t appear on this rather arbitrary list:

Clinton Devon Estates Survey, time is running out to take this survey. They’d love your views.

“We look to listen carefully to our staff, customers and those in our community. How we engage with you and what you think about our approach to sustainability is important to us and we want to get it right. Your feedback to this survey will play an important part in helping us develop our future communications.”

“Please click on the button below to start the survey. It will take around 3 minutes to complete.”


“Everyone who takes part in the survey will be entered into a prize draw with a chance of winning one of three £100 high street gift vouchers. The prize draw will take place on the 7th of June and the winners will be notified on the 9th of June 2017.”

1. Which of the following do you associate with Clinton Devon Estates?
Residential properties;
Forestry and timber;
Equestrian events;
Wildlife conservation and management projects;
Commercial properties;
Farms and land;
Other (please specify)

2. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates puts responsible stewardship and sustainable development at the heart of everything they do?
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

3. Clinton Devon Estates understands and conserves the wildlife it manages
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

4. Clinton Devon Estates contributes to the local economy
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

5. Clinton Devon Estates supports the local community
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

6. If you disagree strongly or slightly with any of these statements, please tell us why………………………

7. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates takes the views of its staff and the local community into account when making decisions.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

8. Clinton Devon Estates communicates the reasons for its decisions and actions to its staff and the local community.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

9. Clinton Devon Estates is transparent and open about the decisions it makes as a business
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

10. If you disagree slightly or strongly with any of these statements, please explain why…………………

11. Clinton Devon Estates is considering using the sentence: “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” to help communicate their commitment to sustainability and making decisions that will have a positive impact on future generations.
In this context – How would you describe the word “pledge”?
Traditional; Meaningful; Irrelevant; Old-fashioned; Powerful; Meaningless; Don’t know what it means
Other (please specify)

12. What does the word “pledge” mean to you?……………………………………………..

13. Again thinking about the meaning of the words : “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” in relation to Clinton Devon Estates commitment to sustainability – Do you prefer the word “promise” to the word “pledge” ?
Yes; No; Don’t know

14. Why do you say that? ………………………………………………

15. How credible do you think “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” is as a statement from Clinton Devon Estates?
Not at all credible; Not very credible; Neither; Quite credible; Very credible

16. Why do you say that?………………………………………………….

17. If you’d like to be entered into the prize draw to win one of three £100 high street gift vouchers, please complete your contact details below: Thank you and good luck with the prize draw.”

Pensioners, disabled and mentally ill scapegoated by Tories in this election?

The dementia tax betrays the Tories’ underbelly. For a leader who protects our homes and offers our grandchildren hope, it’s got to be Corbyn for us pensioners.

The Conservative manifesto assault on pensioners bore all the hallmarks of Thatcherism – without the competence. Even the U-turn on the “dementia tax” will do little to win back pensioners who’ve been thrown under the bus – the one with £350m a day for the NHS emblazoned on the side – once too often.

Theresa May’s intervention was designed to mollify us oldies, but it did nothing of the sort. There was nothing that made me feel more secure in my home than I had before the whole sorry mess had started.

That the Tories would come after their most loyal supporters wasn’t a shock to me. We’re vulnerable and compliant and, in the past at least, voted Tory out of habit. Even with the extortionate charges for residential care and the drive to force people into buying their hip replacement surgery, pensioners were still set to vote Tory. But the election’s triple whammy – scrapping the triple lock guarantee on our pensions, attacking the winter fuel allowance, and the social care plans that mean vulnerable pensioners could be made homeless – has changed that.

This attack came in a context in which pensioners are increasingly scapegoated. The headlines would have us believe that it’s “bed-blockers” making the NHS grind to a halt. Not Tory cuts. There’s a constant, nasty subtext that, in times of austerity, old people are living too long which is damned inconvenient because we’re expensive to maintain.

The fact that May thought she could get away with this flagrant attack on her most steadfast supporters shows just how out of touch she is. But blaming the vulnerable is a strategy that has worked for the Tories. Deflecting the financial crash away from financial institutions and political failings, and on to the poor, the sick and the old, has allowed the Tories to justify austerity, to say: “It’s not bankers’ bonuses we should be cutting back, it’s the welfare state.”

The elderly, disabled and mentally ill are portrayed in much of the media as shirkers and spongers, so it’s no wonder we’re seen as easy prey.

Pitting the elderly against the young has been a growing and divisive tactic. Our protected state pensions and our dominance in the housing market are cited as causing the financial misery of the younger generation. We have our great big madeira cake and we’re jolly well going to eat it.

The reality is quite different; 1.9 million pensioners live below the poverty line, one in four people over 65 struggle to survive to the end of each month, the waiting list time for elective surgery is anything up to a year, and now, should we need nursing home care, our own homes will be sold to pay for it. Old people are not the cause of the problems of today’s younger generation, they are scapegoats for a social care system that has been made bankrupt by reckless cuts and Tory incompetence.

May’s dementia tax betrayed the underbelly of the nasty party. It has not only abandoned but attacked a generation of citizens, many of whom lived through the second world war and the dire austerity that followed. She would rather steal from her loyal pensioners than ask her friends in the city to pay their fair share. The curtain has been lifted, and we see May as she really is – a reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the palms of the poor to line the pockets of the rich.

This gigantic own goal will be followed by days of grovelling promises to “look after” older people. I may be old but I’m not stupid. Who on earth would trust anything Theresa May now says? I’ve lived through many an election but never in my life have I seen a U-turn on a manifesto pledge before an election has even been won. Incompetence on this scale is unprecedented. If Theresa May can’t get this right, how can we possibly trust her to handle complex Brexit negotiations? … “


“Why help to buy your home is no help at all to the economy”

“State subsidies to promote home ownership is not always a good thing – it hikes public debt, cuts labour mobility and often boosts prices not ownership levels …”