FOLLOWING the by-election that took place in respect of two town councillors for Huntingdon s East Ward last week, I am writing to clarify the situation in respect of voting cards. Readers will be aware that it is Huntingdonshire District Council that has

FOLLOWING the by-election that took place in respect of two town councillors for Huntingdon's East Ward last week, I am writing to clarify the situation in respect of voting cards.

Readers will be aware that it is Huntingdonshire District Council that has responsibility for the management of local, national and European elections. The elections officer at the district council was informed about the town council vacancies when these occurred and subsequently published notices of vacancy, received petitions requesting a by-election, issued notices requesting nominations and published the names of candidates and notices of poll.

These services are provided by the district council as the statutory authority and their cost will be directly charged to Huntingdon Town Council, at an expected £1,000, which covers polling staff and premises costs, as well as the costs of printing the notices mentioned above.

Voting cards are issued by Huntingdonshire District Council to the postal address of every elector, as standard in the case of all elections, with the exception of by-elections organised for town and parish councils, unless they are specifically requested.

As town clerk, I was not aware of this policy, nor was the council advised in the run-up to the by-election that such a policy existed, or invited to request a despatch of polling cards, despite a council resolution in 2006 to fund any provision of polling cards in by-elections organised in Huntingdon.

As soon as the absence of voting cards was realised by local town councillors, Huntingdonshire District Council was contacted and asked to provide them. Since that request was received after the authority's deadline, which was March 6, it was not possible for cards to be sent. As a result, some cards were issued by local political campaign organisers.

Huntingdon Town Council at no time made a decision not to fund the provision of voting cards for this by-election. The council's policy for the last three years has been to meet this cost, estimated at £1,850, in the interest of local democracy and maximising voter participation. Local electors are assured that we have now taken action to ensure that a specific request will be made to the elections officer to issue voting cards for any future by-election.

KAREN CAMERON

Town Clerk

Huntingdon Town Council