A BIG debacle broke out in the run-up to a Polegate Town Council by-election for North Ward taking place yesterday (September 13) after the Lib Dems tackled the Polegate Residents Assocation (PRA) about parking in the town
The Lib Dems alleged the PRA have not submitted a parking survey for the past six years and said this contradicted a claim made in a by-election leaflet. A Lib Dem statement said this alleged claim gave the impression that Wealden District Council (WDC) had been influenced in a recent decision.
Polegate Town Councillor Chris Berry said: “We have investigated a claim made in [a recent] PRA leaflet claiming credit for a parking review recently announced by WDC. The council’s decision was in reality a response to a proposal by the former Lib Dem Cllr Roy Martin, who recently passed away.
“In a conversation between a council officer and myself, the council confirmed to us that no parking survey has been produced by the group since 2006. We call on the candidates to provide evidence of their organisation’s involvement in Wealden’s latest decision or to publicly clarify that the survey was several years ago. If residents are misled when they go to the ballot box, the PRA would be showing a lack of respect not only for the democratic process but also to the memory of a man who spent his life devoted to Polegate.”
Lib Dem candidate Hugh Parker was believed to be making an official complaint to the Returning Officer to demand the alleged claim be withdrawn prior to polling day.
Polegate Residents Association was horrified at the Lib Dem inference the PRA had not honoured Roy Martin’s memory and accused the Liberal Democrats of point scoring. Town Cllr Joe O’Riordan said the PRA refuted any suggestion that misinformation was included in election leaflets.
Cllr O’Riordan said: “The parking issue in Polegate is one that all councillors have been attempting to solve for a number of years and have at various times asked our district councillors to take the ‘cause’ forward to Wealden District Council (WDC), Roy Martin being a district councillor did so.
“The parking problems of Polegate, caused in the main by commuter parking, is an on-going matter which councillors are consistently seeking ways to solve, that the passing of Roy Martin appears to have brought some positive response from WDC in the matter is to be welcomed.
“We fully understand that WDC said “the late Cllr Martin had long lobbied for the council to take a closer look at the parking provisions in Polegate.” The PRA are very appreciative that Roy did, as he said he would, lobby on behalf of Polegate.”
Cllr O’Riordan said any official complaint would be ‘robustly defended’ by the PRA.
He added: “That Libdems accuse PRA councillors of showing a lack of respect for Roy Martin is distressing in that every councillor, certainly the PRA, which worked alongside Roy throughout his political career, always demonstrated the very highest regard for his commitment and continues to honour his memory.
“The PRA is surprised by this allegation and simply see it as an attempt to score points and increase the Libdem vote [at the By Election].”