Refusal To Fill In Forms Costs Residents Dearly
Council fines residents who refused to complete electoral registrations
Thirty four residents who refused to complete their 2006/07 electoral registration forms are a combined total of £3,400 out of pocket after being fined at Brentford Magistrates Court.
Hounslow Council took the action against 64 residents who had refused to provide the necessary information to Council canvassers when they made a home visit to assist them in filling in their form.
Eighteen of these escaped prosecution by returning their applications before their appearance was due in court and 12 had valid personal reasons which they had failed to disclose previously.
Cllr Paul Lynch, Executive Member for Corporate Services, said, “We made the decision to prosecute this small proportion of residents after repeated requests for the forms to be returned were ignored.
“The forms could not be easier; there is a free helpline and a range of ways to respond. People who do not co-operate with this simple process are just very selfish. The Government requires us to pursue people who do not return their forms.
“We are obliged to spend money, chasing them, that could be used for many other purposes. In times of severe financial stringency it is absurdly wasteful that we need to hire staff to go around knocking on doors collecting electoral registration forms.”
The new arrangements for delivering and returning electoral registration forms were introduced in 2006. These included home visits by canvassers to help residents who may have had difficulty filling in the form and have produced a greatly improved percentage return.
The canvassers visited properties in October and November last year where forms had not been returned, despite households having received voter registration forms on four separate occasions.
Letters were also sent to addresses where a member of the household refused to provide the necessary information to the canvassers when they made a home visit to assist them in filling in their form.
More than 90 per cent of all households in the borough responded by returning their completed electoral registration form, or by registering by telephone or online, compared with the previous year’s figure of 76.5 per cent.
The 34 were prosecuted in their absence at Brentford Magistrates Court and fined £50 each, plus £50 costs.
August 24, 2007