St Neots Town Council could be forced into holding an expensive by-election in the next few weeks after two of its newly-elected councillors omitted to sign the correct paperwork making their posts null and void.

The error came to light when David Harty (Eaton Ford) and David Wells (St Neots East) failed to attend a Town Council meeting on May 19 and officials realised they had not signed Acceptance of Office declarations.

After taking advice from democratic services at Huntingdon District Council, nominations for the town councillor vacancies were opened on Monday. If unopposed within a two-week time limit, the pair will be reinstated, but if other candidates announce their intention to stand, the council is duty-bound to hold a by-election.

Town mayor, and chairman of the town council, James Corley, said: “What it really boils down to is, they omitted to follow the correct procedure and the rules are very strict, you have to sign within the time limit. It is a problem for the council as it is time-consuming and expensive and it's a problem for the people they represent. It's not a good start to our four-year term in office when it could have been avoided.”

Mr Corley was unable to confirm how much the by-election would cost, if it becomes necessary, but said it could run into several thousand pounds.

Mr Wells, however, said he was holiday during the period and had informed the town council and offered his apologies for the meeting on May 19.

“It was an unfortunate error and I look forward to seeing it cleared up and being able to get on with things,” he said.

Mr Wells confirmed he intends to stand again.

Mr Harty said he did not wish to discuss the matter but stated he was “not happy that it happened” and it was a “simple administration error”.