1,2,3...it’s a waste of our money

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Controversial plans which will involve Horncastle residents ‘going to the polls’ three times in a matter of weeks have been branded as a waste of public money.

First, people living in the town will face a referendum next month on The Neighbourhood Development Plan (HNDP).

Soon after, they will have a chance to vote in the election of Lincolnshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner.

Finally, residents will vote in the national referendum regarding EU membership,

Town councillor Phil Cantwell questioned why at least two of the events could not be held on the same day.

It comes as town councillors were told the cost of staging the HNDP referendum will be £20,000.

East Lindsey District Council, who is organising the referendum, stress the funding will come from central Government.

However, town mayor Coun Angela Birchall said she was angry at the proposals.

Speaking at a town council meeting last week, Coun Birchall also hit out at ELDC’s planning officer Anne Shortla nd.

Ms Shortland had confirmed the funding arrangement for the referendum at a town council meeting in February.

However, Coun Birchall accused Ms Shortland of making ‘flippant remarks’ abouti t being Government money.

Coun Birchall said: “It doesn’t matter whether it (the £20,000) is coming from central Government or not, it is still taxpayers’ money, our money.

“I thought the way Anne Shortland explained things was very flippant. She might not have meant that but it is how it came across.”

Coun Birchall and Coun Cantwell questioned why the HNDP referendum could not be held at the same time as the commissioner election.

She said saving of £20,000 could be spent on improving town services - like schools, health or the library.

She was backed by Coun Jonathan Ferrari who claimed people would be confused by three separate votes in a short space of time.

ELDC’s Returning Officer, Stuart Davy, said: “The Horncastle Neighbourhood Plan referendum will be held on April 14, 2016 as already announced.

“As well as the Neighbourhood Plan referendum, the district council is also preparing to run two major national election exercises – the Police and Crime Commissioner election and the EU referendum, both of which are well into the planning and very complex operationally and logistically. For those reasons it was decided that the Neighbourhood Plan and PCC elections should be kept distinct and separate.”