Hartlepool election candidate who lost by 10 votes plans High Court legal challenge

A former councillor who lost his seat by 10 votes in the Hartlepool local elections is lodging a High Court challenge amid claims voters were misled by opposition campaign material.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 5:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 5:56 pm

In May Bob Buchan, who previously represented the Independent Union on the borough council, missed out on being one of three councillors elected in the Fens and Greatham ward to Labour’s Jennifer Elliott by 609 votes to 619.

Mr Buchan has now filed a petition to the High Court over claims of inaccurate information in Labour’s campaign material and is seeking a by-election against Cllr Elliot.

Cllr Elliott, however, said she has no intention of standing down and will be “defending herself robustly regarding the allegation”.

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Defeated councillor Bob Buchan, left, is planning a High Court challenge after losing to Jennifer Elliott by just 10 votes in May's Hartlepool Borough Council elections.
Defeated councillor Bob Buchan, left, is planning a High Court challenge after losing to Jennifer Elliott by just 10 votes in May's Hartlepool Borough Council elections.

Ray Martin-Wells, Hartlepool Conservatives’ Association President, who was assigned by Mr Buchan to speak on his behalf, said the challenge comes after claims made in election material.

Mr Martin-Wells said a letter incorrectly claimed Mr Buchan had voted in favour of a controversial 18-home development in Hill View, in Greatham, which was approved by councillors in January, despite more than 100 objections.

The plans had previously been before councillors in July 2020 when they were rejected by four votes to three.

Mr Martin-Wells stated Mr Buchan was not at the second meeting and voted against the initial application.

He said: “Obviously he lost by 10 votes and because this was such a contentious planning application you’ve got to ask yourself, would a reasonable person believe that six people might have changed their mind and voted for him?”

He added that Mr Buchan is now asking for the third seat in Fens and Greatham to be rerun, continuing: “The next steps, within about the next 20 days, Bob needs to apply to the court for a hearing date and then it will go before a judge who will ultimately decide one way or the other.

“The public of Hartlepool are potentially facing the cost of a by-election. This could have been avoided.”

In response, Cllr Elliott said: “I do not intend to stand down and I will be defending myself robustly regarding the allegation.”

She added she was unable to comment further due to it being an ongoing legal case.

A Hartlepool Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the petition and we await the decision of the High Court.”