Name change could ease ballot-box confusion

PEOPLE FIRST ... Couns George Elsom, left, Linda Hemmer and Steve Harrison.
PEOPLE FIRST ... Couns George Elsom, left, Linda Hemmer and Steve Harrison.

BALLOT vote confusion could be a thing of the past in South Tyneside after a political group opted for a name change.

There are two independent groupings on the borough council – South Tyneside Independent Group (STIG) and South Tyneside First, each made up of three councillors.

Now STIG has been granted permission from the Electoral Commission to have its full name included on local election ballot papers.

In future, the group will be known as South Tyneside Independent Group – People First. And it’s hoped the name change will prevent public confusion over which independent candidate they are voting for.

George Elsom, STIG leader, said: “In the past, people have stood as independents simply to split the vote.

“Now there should be no confusion when people go to cast their vote in 18 months’ time.

“Our logo will be a black and white circle with the words ‘Putting People First’ inside it.

“We remain a political grouping, not a party.”

STIG is calling for a reduction in the number of borough councillors from the present three to two in each ward, no free food for councillors before meetings and no free first class travel for elected members.

Coun Elsom, who represents Cleadon Park, added: “Many of these cost-cutting measures that we have been highlighting are now being suggested by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

“I believe these measures have the support of the borough public.”

STIG, also made up of Councillors Linda Hemmer and Steve Harrison, is seeking candidates to stand for the group at elections in May 2014.

South Tyneside First’s members are Councillors David Potts, Jane Branley and Jeff Milburn.

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