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Tory Nominates Opponent in Mole Valley Council Election

Published on: 4 May, 2022
Updated on: 5 May, 2022

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

A Conservative standing in the Mole Valley local election has nominated an unlikely candidate to stand against him – his rival.

To be accepted as a candidate, you must have the signatures of 10 people registered to vote in the ward in which you’re standing.

The first to sign Independent Jessica Moram’s nomination paper was Paul Purcell, who is standing in the same ward of Leatherhead North – not as an Independent but for the Conservative Party.

Mr Purcell stood in the same ward last year when he narrowly lost out to Liberal Democrat Bridget Kendrick with 5.5 per cent between them.

Cllr Kendrick said: “It is allowed but it is highly unusual for a candidate to nominate someone to stand against him.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Paul Purcell and Jessica Moram but had no response from either candidate or from Mole Valley Conservative Association.

Mole Valley District Council declined to say if it was unorthodox for a candidate to sign in support of an opponent, or if it was the first time it had happened in the borough.

Kath Richards, who works as an elections manager checking nomination papers in a different Surrey borough, said it did comply with electoral law.

“As long as they’re on the electoral register and they live in that ward there’s nothing to stop them doing it,” she said.

“Regardless of whether they’re a candidate standing against them or whatever, the provision is that they have to be a local elector within that ward.”

She agreed it was unusual and added: “It’s politics at the end of the day, it’s democracy and there are loads of quirks.

“They can even sign their own. I have had that and you question it and you think, really? But there’s nothing to stop them doing it.”

Leatherhead North voters have four candidates to choose from this year.

Both the Conservative and Independent, as well as Liberal Democrat Josie Brinker, live in the ward itself and Labour and Co-operative Party candidate James Stringer lives in Dorking.

A district council spokesperson said: “When any candidate wishing to stand in local government elections submits their nomination paper to the returning officer, they need to comply with the requirements set out in The Local Elections Rules 2006.

“The rules cover a number of requirements, and provided these are met, a candidate will then stand validly nominated.”

There are 14 seats up for election in Mole Valley on Thursday, May 5.

The Liberal Democrats have overall control of the council at the moment with 22 of the council’s 41 seats.

Their nearest rival is the Conservative Party which has 12 seats, and there are seven “Informal Independent” members, as described on the council’s website.

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