At one point in last night’s epically disappointing council debate on the breach of purdah, one half of Southend UKIP’s answer to Ant and Dec, Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park), tried to make a point which was shot down by the Mayor as not being relevant to the subject at hand.
The story Cllr Waterworth was trying to tell was one regarding an Independent candidate who was part of the mass exodus from Southend UKIP during the civil war, and one which my little birds have been feeding me bits and pieces of over the last couple of weeks.
Cllr Waterworth was right that it’s an important public interest story. So too was the Mayor right that this was not the proper forum for it. Better, perhaps, would be a blog. Such as this one, perhaps. Not so awful now, eh Floyd?
Paul Ryder stood last year in Prittlewell ward, as an Independent councillor. Initially he had been going to stand for UKIP, but when the argument between Cllrs Moyies (SIG – West Shoebury) and Waterworth broke out, he sided with the Moyies faction and headed into exile. Paul is standing again this year in Prittlewell, but presumably he’s getting his leaflets printed by a different printer.
I say this because from what I hear Mr Ryder has yet to pay his debts to said printer a year on, and is standing for election again this year.
Now, I stress this is all from whispers from my little birds, but it’s clearly something that Cllr Waterworth feels strongly enough about to attempt to raise in the council chamber — from what I understand, because Mr Ryder sent the printer after UKIP for the owed money.
The law, under s78(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1983, requires that:
“All election expenses shall be paid not later than 28 days after [the day on which the result of the election is declared].“
So if these allegations are true, then Mr Ryder is guilty of a breach of electoral law right there, as well as bad practice. My little birds tell me that the printer took Mr Ryder to court to obtain an order that he had to pay, but I’m unclear on whether any payments have been made. At any rate, I wonder if Mr Ryder’s current printer is aware of this track record?
This is, in many ways, a non-issue. Mr Ryder came third last year, and I don’t anticipate he’ll do much better this time around. But one the one level, alongside the furore about the Conservative Party breaching spending limits in the General Election, it shows how inadequate this country’s electoral spending laws are. On another, there’s a local business that is (Allegedly -Ed) out around £800…