TWO ward by-elections are likely to be staged in South Tyneside on a single date in June or July, it has emerged.
Members of the full council will next week be informed of a need for a forthcoming by-election in the Cleadon and East Boldon ward as a result of the recent untimely passing of Coun David Potts.
No date for that poll has yet been set.
And a second poll is also expected soon in Jarrow’s Primrose ward.
It follows Coun Emma Lewell-Buck’s victory in the South Shields Parliamentary by-election.
Her win means an election in the ward – once the new 34-year-old MP tenders her resignation, which she had not done as of yesterday.
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “Coun Lewell-Buck remains a member of the council until such time as she wishes to tender her resignation; a vacancy exists in Cleadon and East Boldon and full council will be informed as such at their meeting next week.”
The decision on when both elections are held is to be decided by the Local Government Forum, of which senior borough councillor Michael Clare is secretary.
But because of cost and organisational issues, it seems certain both elections will be held on the same date and within two months.
UKIP has already stated it will be fielding a candidate in Cleadon and East Boldon, which will also be a target for Labour as it looks to continue its grip on power in the council chamber.
Labour has already made inroads in the ward after its candidate Coun Joan Atkinson won a seat in the May 2011 local elections.
Meanwhile, political friends and foes were gathering today to pay their final respects to Coun Potts.
Coun Potts, who represented Cleadon and East Boldon for UKIP, lost his battle with alcoholism at the tragically young age of 30.
A service was being held at 1.30pm this afternoon at the Independent Methodist Church in North Road in Boldon Colliery, followed by cremation at South Shields Crematorium.
Despite the controversial nature of his political career, he has received praise from Labour council leader Coun Iain Malcolm and Coun Jeff Milburn, the Conservative ward member for Cleadon and East Boldon.
And Coun Potts’ family had called on a “colourful celebration” today – and told well-wishers there was no need to wear black at the service.