A COUNCILLOR set to become the leader of Bath council won his seat after registering himself as living in a caravan inside the constituency – despite allegedly living in a completely different county.
To be eligible to stand as a candidate in a local government election, candidates must either be registered as a local government elector in the authority, have occupied a premises or lived in the constituency for at least 12 months before the election, or work predominantly in the area.
Questions, however, have now been raised over Councillor Kevin Guy’s eligibility to have ever run for office in Bath and North East Somerset, after it was revealed that he registered his address as being in Bath, despite allegedly living outside of the constituency.
Guy, an ex Labour leader for Telford, crossed the floor to the Lib Dems before standing for a council seat in Bath in 2019 – registering himself as living in a caravan at New Leaf Farm, Bathampton, despite allegedly living and working in the Midlands.
It is understood that Police have now questioned Guy, and the matter is ongoing after it was revealed that the caravan and farm belong to Mr Guy’s husband’s father, Ken Horler.
Not only does it appear that Mr Guy lied about living in Bath so that he could run for office there, but the caravan in question was deleted from the council tax valuation list in September 2014 following the rejection of a planning permission application.
Mr Guy is in fact registered as living with his husband at an address in the neighbouring authority of Wiltshire, and – with the local elections just around the corner – has suddenly created a new company ‘New Leaf Farm Ltd’ in an apparent attempt to cover-up allegations that he was previously ineligible to stand.
In a further twist, Kevin Guy’s name was removed from the electoral register at New Leaf Farm from 1st April this year.
Already, angered constituents have raised complaints with Bath and North East Somerset Council, with one providing VoteWatch with a copy of an acknowledged email, part of which accuses the council of attempting to distance themselves from liability:
“You stated the council had ‘no control’ over the allegation that Mr Guy committed electoral fraud. It is an open secret amongst councillors, leaders and political parties that Mr Guy was not eligible to stand at the point he registered his papers and during the election campaign.
“Aurora Loi and the legal department chose to ignore the concerns raised to her and advised people to just carry on and we will see what happens. The result being him elected. Indeed she imparted that it wasn’t her job to check candidates forms and this was affirmed by Maria Lucus when answering a query; saying Aurora had done her job.
“You tell me in the same that Kevin Guy will be removed from the electoral role of New Leaf Farm from the 1st April 2021. So from that date for you, he no longer resides there. He never did. Therefore not meeting the criteria for residency. He has a house in Telford and is a teacher at Halesowen college. His husband has a house in Wiltshire. Are you really telling yourself that he was resident in a caravan which also lost the right of residency in 2014, which the planning office of BANES should have updated the electoral role department on? That this was his chosen place of residence as opposed to two houses and the need to be in the Telford area to teach?“
It is a criminal offence for a candidate to make a false statement on his or her nomination papers. In 2019 the Electoral Commission investigated almost 600 cases of alleged electoral fraud, 360 of which related to local elections.
The allegations against Cllr Guy are reminiscent of a recent case that led to Labour councillor Chaudhary Mohammed Iqbal being sent to prison.
Iqbal, 51, told election officials that he lived in Ilford so that he could trick them into thinking he met the legal requirements to run for a seat in the constituency. In doing so, he committed electoral fraud.
Mr Chaudhary then broke the law yet again after his questionable election win in 2018, by continuing to hold that seat of office based on his deception, and collecting thousands of pounds in expenses payments.
The former councillor pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements in candidate nomination papers and one count of perverting the course of justice.
Iqbal, who has since moved to Preston, appeared at Southwark Crown Court earlier this year and was sentenced to a total of 17 months in prison.
He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,422.54, compensation to Redbridge Council of £10,000 for the by-election costs and compensation to Redbridge Council of £18,368 for the allowances paid to him and will not be allowed to run for office for at least five years.