THE RESIGNATION of a former UKIP councillor is set to cost borough taxpayers up to £10,000.
It means the cost to county taxpayers for by-elections following the resignation of UKIP councillors in controversial circumstances is set to hit almost £49,000.
Voters in Church Hill will go back to the polls on Thursday, July 17 following Dave Small’s decision to resign last week under pressure about alleged racist and homophobic comments made online and in a radio interview.
The by-election takes place less than a month after Mr Small won the seat for UKIP before being booted out by the party just days later because of his views which included branding Sir Elton John and presenter Clare Balding OBE perverts.
Redditch Borough Council estimate the poll will cost between £8,000 and £10,000 and will have to come from existing budgets. But a spokeswoman insisted frontline services would not be affected.
Some councillors have suggested UKIP should foot the bill for failing to vet their candidates properly.
But council leader Bill Hartnett said he did not believe legally there was any justification for the council asking UKIP to subsidise the poll.
“Of course it’s an undue expense, it’s something we should not have to go through and it’s £10,000 we could have spent on something else but myself, the leader of the opposition and our MP called for Mr Small to go so we can’t now gripe about how much it is going to cost us,” he said.
Coun Juliet Brunner, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said UKIP had a moral and ethical responsibility to contribute towards the cost of the by-election. She added: “I would support a change in the law to make parties contribute towards election expenses if a by-election is called due to the unsuitability of a candidate.”
It is not the first time UKIP has been accused of costing taxpayers’ money. A by-election costing £22,000 had to be held in Stourport last year after Eric Kitson, who won the seat on Worcestershire County Council for UKIP, stood down after a row over racist Facebook comments.
The recent by-election for the Arrow Valley East seat in Redditch on the county council is estimated to cost more than £16,789.
It followed former UKIP councillor Martin Jenkins’ decision to quit in protest at the party’s stance on gay marriage, although the cost was partly offset by being held on the same day as the European and borough council elections.
A spokesman for UKIP said: “Certainly lessons have been learnt surrounding the situation [regarding Dave Small]. The matter was dealt with as a matter of urgency by UKIP and appropriate action has been taken.
“Regarding by-election costs, the individuals concerned are no longer UKIP members so maybe they are the ones that should be making a contribution. The failure was not on UKIP’s part to the electorate.”