New North Ward Councillor Nick Skeens

Normally Town Council by-elections in Burnham don’t create much controversy, but in this case it was incident packed from start to finish Maldon District Council kicked off events with polling cards incorrectly spelled in just one key respect. Then on July 14th through social media, with less than a week to go, popular independent candidate Wayne Davey announced that he intended withdrawing from the election because when advised to check

with Maldon’s elections office, they had told him that he could be reported to police and prosecuted because he’d omitted the legally required ‘promoted by and printed by’ small print on his election flyer. In these circumstances Mr. Davey recommended that electors should vote for the other independent candidate Nick Skeens and promised that he’d stand again in 22 months’ time at the next full Council election. Over the next six days, social media blazed with postings on this controversial issue, with a fair number rightly or wrongly pretty critical of the role of national political parties in a local small Town Council. In a bizarre twist MDC then allegedly informed  Wayne Davey that he was far too late to withdraw from the election, the withdrawal cut-off date being Friday 23rd June 2017. On July 18th through social media Mr Davey announced that to avoid any risk of prosecution if elected on Thursday 20th July, he would stand down with immediate effect to initiate a new election, his decision being on the basis that other parties had 21 days after the election date to file an election petition regarding the mistake on his documents. He had been assured that this would not be done by MDC or their solicitors but could be filed by other parties. On election day itself, electors gave a clear first place to independent candidate Nick Skeens, a more than respectable second place to Wayne Davey, while Conservative candidate Sarah Harvey was pushed into a lowly third – a last surprise result in an election full of surprises!

Congratulations to new Town Councillor designate Nick Skeens on a successful, well fought campaign.