Labour councillors accused of 'running away' from May election

Residents should be given the opportunity to vote this year on the record of the Labour-run Slough Borough Council, according to an opposition councillor.

Slough is set to hold ‘all-out’ elections in May 2023 which will see every seat contested rather than the current system where a third of the council is elected each year.

But during an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, the council agreed to ask Government to postpone the planned elections this May so it can prepare for the electoral overhaul.

Councillor Dexter Smith, leader of the Slough Conservatives, said the opposition group welcomed the opportunity to contest every seat but called on residents to be given a say at the ballot box this year.

This follows a year of financial crisis for Slough which included a ban on all non-essential spending, spiralling borrowing debts and Government intervention to try and rectify the council’s cash woes.

He said: “I do not support running away from elections and that is what this is about.

“The people of Slough deserve the opportunity to be able to vote.

“Our deficit this year is an unprecedent one. We will be forced no doubt to increase the council tax by a rate that is above the Government cap simply because we cannot cover a legal budget.”

Labour councillor Rob Anderson (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) said it was ‘illogical’ to host an election in May which would have no impact on who runs the council and cost £187,000 to organise.

He told the meeting: “If you accept that you want to move to four-year elections I don’t understand why you’d want to carry on with a redundant one third election.

“Irrespective if we did hold an election for one year, the result of those elections would have no impact on the control of this council.”

Council leader James Swindlehurst said postponing May’s elections could save approximately £160,000 and argued the move could give the council time to work on re-drawing the ward boundaries for May 2023’s all-out contest.

He added: “We had an election in 2021 with a very clear result where Labour won 11 of the 14 seats up for election.

“In 16 months time we’ll be having an all-out on revised ward boundaries.”

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