Dave Hodgson for Mayor of Bedford

There’s shortly to be a mayoral by-election in Bedford following the August death of the incumbent mayor and blogger Frank Branston.

Local Lib Dems are the first to name their candidate as Cllr Dave Hodgson, familiar to many attendees of party training as the membership recruitment and retention expert, spreading best practice to local parties up and down the country.

LocalGov.co.uk reports:

Cllr Dave Hodgson is leader of the Bedford Liberal Democrats group, and was appointed to Bedford BC’s cabinet as member for partnerships and IT by the late mayor.

He expressed his delight at being selected to stand, adding that he was committed to the borough.

‘We face enormous challenges such as the decaying town centre, regeneration of the bus station area and the need for a quality transport system,’ Cllr Hodgson added.

‘It will require each and every one of us to work together, if we are to succeed and bring about the changes that the borough so desperately needs.’

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, MP, has backed Cllr Hodgson for the role after the pair discussed key issues and priorities for the by-election campaign.

‘The Liberal Democrats go into this by-election in a strong position after coming first in the recent council elections,’ Mr Davey said.

The by-election is expected to take place on 15 October.

The Lib Dems are the largest party on Bedford Borough Unitary Council with 13 seats to 9 Conservatives, 7 Labour and 7 Independents. And as yet, it’s unknown who else will contest the election. Will another wealthy newspaper magnate throw his hat into the ring? Only time will tell.

Mayoral by-elections are vanishingly rare in the UK as only a few boroughs and towns are run by elected mayors, and so far, few of them have died or resigned. My brief research, however, indicates that this is at least the second – the first having been on North Tyneside in 2003, where the incumbent resigned following a scandal.

Mayoral elections are expensive at the best of times – one of my first party experiences was as a very green agent to a very experienced candidate in the first Mansfield mayoral elections. One of the key debates there was whether the party could possibly afford to be represented in the booklet prepared by the local authority with details of all candidates. Contesting the race in Bedford will not come cheap – the campaign will cover a population equal to some three constituencies by my reckoning. So I’m sure the local party will welcome your donations – find details for their local party officers here. Don’t forget to include your name and address to help them fulfil their PPERA obligations – and if you’re being really generous, it might help to include your electoral number.

One final aspect to explore: in 2007 when the mayoralty was last contested, the ballots were counted electronically. IT and business blogger Dynamoo was not impressed at the conduct of the count.

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