Southchurch by-election leaflet reported to police

An election leaflet distributed by the deputy leader of Southend Council has been reported to police.

Councillor Ron Woodley sent out the leaflet in Southchurch ward, where a by-election was held yesterday.

The leaflet makes a number of claims about the Tories, and specifically about Councillor Dan Nelson.

But the Conservatives deny the allegations and say Cllr Woodley has broken election law.

Cllr Nelson said: “Ron Woodley claims I misled people over speed humps in Thorpe Bay but I’ve done nothing of the sort.

“I haven’t proposed a cycle lane in Thorpe Hall Avenue or said I’m in favour of more than 1,000 homes in Southchurch.

“He also says I rejected a road safety scheme but I’ve never been approached about it.

“Almost every single thing he put in there is either misleading or a flat-out lie.

“I will be taking legal advice because he is trying to influence an election in Southchurch ward. Electoral laws have been infringed. It’s a vile leaflet.”

The leaflet also says that the city’s Tories want to build 880 homes on Thorpe Bay golf course, and asks residents “Will you vote Tory?”.

Conservatives say the leaflet breaks election law because only candidates and their agents can distribute campaign literature and the costs have to be declared as election expenses.

Cllr Nelson added: “This is not how politics should be. It’s misleading and nasty and it’s a mark of the man.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group, has reported the matter to police. He said: “It is a leaflet telling people how to vote and that has to come from either a candidate or agent. This campaigning conducted from the gutter.”

Cllr Woodley denied breaking electoral law. He said: “I’m just stating facts. People need to be aware. I’m not telling people how to vote.

“Conservatives have done this in Thorpe ward all the time, telling people I support 7,000 homes in Bournes Green Chase but I don’t. It’s all perfectly legal.

“They are the facts and its up to people to make up their own minds.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter