'Software error' blamed for town council election mix up

Returning officer Paul Medd

Returning officer Paul Medd blamed 'software error' for publishing a Tydd St Giles councillor as a candidate for Wisbech Town Council by-election. - Credit: Archant

Chief executive and returning officer Paul Medd today blamed a “software issue” for publishing incorrectly that a deputy chairman of a parish council was a candidate for a vacancy on Wisbech Town Council.  

Geoff Mathias, a Tydd St Giles parish councillor, found himself at the centre of a political mystery when his name appeared on a list of declared candidates for Octavia Hill ward by election on May 6.  

Days later his name had been removed and the list of candidates reduced to three.  

Mr Medd, chief executive of Fenland District Council and returning officer for local elections, confirmed today that Mr Mathias “is not standing as a candidate at the Octavia Hill Ward of Wisbech Town Council by-election".   

He explained: “Unfortunately there was a software issue whereby Mr Mathias details, who was a candidate in the parish elections in May 2019, pulled through as a candidate for this by-election.   

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“This error was picked up when the ballot papers were checked against the submitted nomination papers.” 

He said: “The Statement of Persons Nominated had already been published at this point, which was subsequently removed and amended, to show the correct candidates that had been validly nominated. 

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“It was an unfortunate oversight that was quickly rectified once discovered.  

“We will be contacting Mr Mathias to offer our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.” 

Cllr Mathias appeared not to know of his ‘surprise’ nomination when I contacted him last night after spotting the anomaly in the statement issued on Friday by the district council and the current statement online.  

He said he had no knowledge of how his name came to be on the list. 

The parish councillor said he had never been a candidate, never considered it, never completed any paperwork, and had never been approached by anyone to stand for the Wisbech ward. 

It now means the race to win a seat on the town council is a three-horse race between independent Peter Freeman of Wisbech, the Tory candidate Sidney Imafidon.  

Ironically a third name is on the ballot – this time of a Norfolk parish councillor and former candidate for West Norfolk Council.  

Yvonne Howard is a member of Emneth Parish Council and, surprisingly, wants to add a second string to her political bow by representing a Wisbech ward on a Cambridgeshire town council. 

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