Ranjit Banwait lost his Boulton Ward seat by 474 votes in the May 3rd election to UKIP candidate Paul Bettany. This was not a close-call, he received 30% less votes than Bettany, and 2379 voted against him. Rather than accepting the voice of the electorate with good grace and moving on, he has served a petition on Cllr Bettany from the High Court of Justice, dated 23rd May 2018.
His issue? That in Bettany’s election material, there was reference to the claim that Banwait mis-represented where he lived, and that Bettany called him a “liar”. Banwait’s assertion is that this one statement, influenced enough of the electorate to vote against him, and so make the result null and void.
The subject of Banwait’s address was covered in a previous Derby News article “Why is Cllr Banwait creating ambiguity over his address and where he lives?”
- Banwait lives on Magellan Way, in Wilmorton. This is a recognised district within Derby. It is used as his official postal address on his nomination papers/ electoral roll.
- Alvaston is a separate district within Derby, separate for postal purposes.
- Alvaston electoral ward is a different area which extends further into the City and includes Wilmorton – it’s based on a population size.
- Banwait was seeking re-election to the Boulton Ward which comprises some of Alvaston district and Allenton.
- Banwait has always referred to his postal address as Alvaston, despite his declaration on the nomination papers being in Wilmorton.
This ambiguity has been raised on a number of occasions in the past with the Council’s Legal Officer. It is clear that Banwait does not understand the distinction between the Ward and the district. The petition served by the solicitors, equally does not understand the geography of Derby, as exampled by:
“The wards of Boulton and Alvaston have traditionally been regarded as forming a single area, generally referred to as Alvaston,….”
-this is incorrect, it is 2 areas – the Boulton ward includes the area of Allenton.
It goes on to say..
“….The Petitioner ( Banwait) lived in the ward of Alvaston at the material time and continues to live there”
– that is true, however the issue is not about the ward he lives in , but the postal address, and district.
The petition then states that:
“….The Petitioner (Banwait) now understands that the electoral register lists his address as being in Wilmorton….”
implying that despite personally approving his entry into the electoral register, and signing his own nomination papers he hadn’t actually, recognised that, formally, he lived in Wilmorton.
Bettany’s claim that Banwait was lying about his address, together with other leaflets:
“…so extensively prevailed in relation to the 3 May 2018 election for the Boulton Ward as they may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result, such as to mean that the election should be declared void….”( per the petition)
Candidates have the right to refer leaflets to the Monitoring Officer during the pre-election period where they think they are illegal , incorrect, libellous etc . This does happen, and there are examples of where material has been withdrawn. Banwait did not make any such referral in this case
He seems to mix up the difference between the electoral ward in which he lives, and his postal address. It is not common practice in any context to quote one’s electoral ward as part of a postal address. This is what Banwait has consistently done – presumably to indicate that he lives amongst the people that he is representing – which he doesn’t.
It seems that Banwait feels that the sole reason that he lost the election was simply due to negative comments on election leaflets, and nothing to do with the general public displeasure with his performance over the last 4 years.
In much the same way as many feel about the Brexit vote – he wants to re-run the election, with all of the cost that that entails, in the vain hope that the next time the result would go in his favour.
The petition ends by stating :
“The Petitioner (Banwait) prays that it may be determined that the said Paul Dene Bettany was not duly elected and that the election was void”
Categories: Derby City Council