The frontpage of The Bromley Times
couldn’t have been much more unhelpful for Tory candidate Bob Neill (right). It will be a boost to the LibDem candidate whose dirty tactics have been exposed by Ed Vaizey and hilariously by Guido Fawkes.
Ahead of May 4th’s local elections I sought your predictions on how many seats the Tories would gain. What are your predictions for tonight?
- What will be the size of the Tory majority (assuming that there will be one!)?
- What percentage share will Bob Neill win?
- Will UKIP beat Labour into fourth place?
- Will Labour retake Blaenau Gwent?
Eric Forth’s 2005 result can be seen here.
FULL TEXT OF PATRICK CLIFT’S BROMLEY TIMES STORY
"VOTERS could face ANOTHER by-election if Conservative Bob Neill is elected today, following claims his candidacy is invalid. After weeks of campaigning by the 11 Bromley and Chislehurst by-election candidates, legal challenges may force the contest to be repeated in the autumn.
Problems arose after Mr Neill signed a by-election nomination form while he was a £5,000-a-year member of the North-East London Strategic Health Authority. The high-profile job barred him from becoming an MP. Yet by completing the form, the barrister claimed he was NOT prohibited from standing, leaving him open to possible legal action should he win the vote.
The Tory candidate told the Bromley Times that the issue was irrelevant as the quango is due to be abolished on July 1, and that he resigned from his post last Friday. He added: "It is a non-issue as far as we are concerned. I will not be a member of the strategic health authority at the time of polling day or when I take the seat. "Other parties can argue about it after the election, but I don’t think they would want to waste the legal fees."
However UKIP candidate Nigel Farage, who confirmed he was taking legal advice on the issue, claimed: "His declaration to the returning officer was clearly incorrect. Mr Neill has far too many jobs and sits on too many committees already, and there is a strong legal argument for his disqualification as a candidate."
Liberal Democrat by-election agent Shaun Roberts said he hoped that situation would not arise. "People have been expressing their reluctance to elect a part-time MP who lives in London’s east end," he said. "The idea of another by-election if he wins could be the final blow to Mr Neill’s chances."
And Independent candidate John Hemming-Clark promised: "If the election goes ahead and by some outside chance Mr Neill wins, then I will be contacting the acting returning officer to have the result declared null and void."
As chief returning officer for the election, the candidates’ nomination forms were submitted to Bromley council chief executive David Bartlett. However, a council spokesman said the authority had only to check the forms were completed fully, rather than accurately. She added: "It is the candidate’s responsibility to make sure the information they give us is correct, and it is not down to us to challenge that information." Only the death of a monarch could halt a by-election once it had been called, a spokesman for the Electoral Commission said."