A row has broken out over Conservative election leaflets put out before last Thursday’s town council elections.
Independent and Liberal Democrat candidates have condemned the ballot style leaflets for creating the impression some candidates don’t live locally - despite all four of them being residents in Wetherby for many years.
Denise Podlewska, Independent candidate, explained: “We now have the same option as MPs in London to not put our home addresses on the ballot papers for safety reasons – we all know what happened to Jo Cox. You have to put ‘Address in Leeds’ as it’s an LCC election. And they (Conservatives) took complete advantage of this.
“With regard to living in Wetherby, see the number of years we have lived there - Cindy (Bentley), 44 years; Kazia (Knight), 48; Denise, 33; Peter (Catton), 40.”
She added: “The election rules say you can’t use material that resembles a polling card. Think it’s pretty near but the election office said it’s not their problem.”
“That is my first and last foray into politics.”
The Conservatives regained seats in Thursday’s election for Wetherby East, which now sees the party holding all 15 seats on the town council.
Fellow Independent candidate Kazia Knight posted on Facebook: “Their leaflet was a disgrace. To feel the need to go to those levels shows how much party comes before people.”
Liberal Democrat candidate David Hopps, standing for the Leeds City Council Wetherby ward, added to the condemnation.
He said: “Personally I was disgusted by the cynical manner in which a Conservative election leaflet sought to give the impression that the Wetherby Independent candidates were not local.
“All four of them have given long service to the town in so many ways – three of them on the council as Conservatives until very recently.
“Liberal Democrats have no formal ties with Wetherby Independents, but we know what’s right and what’s wrong.
“They have every right not to put their personal address on election forms for their own protection.”
But Conservative Councillor Norma Harrington said: “Our election literature highlighted the great work done by our town councillors over many years. We made a decision early in the campaign not to make any negative comments about our former colleagues out of respect for the years we have worked together on the council, instead we chose to focus on the positive work Dawn, Samantha, Joanne, Alan and Paul have been doing in our area.
“As a city councillor I’d like to add my thanks to the losing candidates for their service to the town and wish all new councillors all the very best in their roles.”
l See page 12 for results