Court drama as Bryn by-election ruled ‘not lawful’ and scrapped

Coun Steve Jones
Coun Steve Jones

A top judge has ruled tomorrow’s Bryn by-election should be halted as an independent politician never resigned as councillor.

In an unprecedented ruling Mr Justice Martin Spencer found returning officer Donna Hall had no jurisdiction to start the process of choosing a new ward representative to replace Steve Jones.

He said this was a very rare occasion where the courts intervening in local democracy was justified.

This was because the vote in Bryn was simply “not lawful”, the judge said.

Wigan Council and Ms Hall were given permission to appeal but decided not to.

Despite today’s dramatic judgement Wigan Council remained defiant, still claiming that the intended election had been triggered by Coun Jones’s ‘resignation’ and that he had only performed a U-turn later when the authority felt it was too late to cancel the poll.

A council spokeswoman said: “Today’s decision is really disappointing. We feel the residents of Bryn should have the right to have their say following the resignation of Councillor Steve Jones on 5th January. The cancellation of this by election removes that democratic right.

“We’d like to apologise to those who have already taken the time to vote. It’s our belief that there’s a clear distinction between election and employment law, the key difference in this case being that councillors cannot withdraw a resignation as it takes effect immediately.

“However, in the interests of protecting the public purse we will not be appealing this decision.”