Dismore: Barnet Council has many questions to answer after “disgraceful shambles” election

Dismore demands Cornelius’s resignation



Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore has  hit out at  Conservative Barnet Council over last week’s election-day fiasco that saw voters turned away from polling booths as the wrong electoral register was sent to all polling stations across the Borough.


Barnet Chief Executive and Returning Officer Andrew Travers stepped down from his post this week as a result of widespread criticism, which even made international publications. Mr Dismore said the resignation of Mr Travers was “inevitable, but not enough”.


Mr Dismore said:


‘Whilst Andrew Travers must rightly take the blame for the administrative cock-up, I believe there is political responsibility. What happened last Thursday  is the inevitable consequence of the Conservatives’ cuts and  privatisation  agenda, and their complete lack of scrutiny and oversight.


‘It is time for the Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius, and the chair of the General Functions Committee Cllr Joan Scannell to go. They are both responsible as chairs of the committees that administer elections, and the buck stops with them.


‘Barnet Council’s shambolic incompetence has been exposed for all to see. We can see that this affected turnout most heavily in Labour leaning areas, which had a turnout of 42%, compared to almost 47% in Conservative leaning areas. Thankfully I won by a substantial enough margin that it does not call the result into question. But what really angers me is that voters were disenfranchised. Many of those who were told they could not vote at 7 am are those who cannot vote later.’


‘I have sent a list of  29 questions to Cllr Cornelius  that must be answered ( see attached letter) concerning the scope and conduct of the inquiry.


‘I have also  made it clear to the Council that I believe an independent senior QC would be best qualified to lead the investigation with a senior council chief executive from elsewhere as an advisor and assessor.


‘The inquiry must be  transparent and  public, and the voters affected empowered to make  written and oral representations – and its conclusions and recommendations published in full, without  any interference or editing.


‘In the meantime, there is  no realistic prospect of the Council getting  its  act together in time for next months’ referendum. They should call in another council, like Camden which has a good record of running elections, to take over the Referendum in Barnet  for them.’