Liberal Democrats have welcomed the announcement of the recall petition against Peter Bone MP following his suspension. Details of where and how to sign have now been announced by North Northamptonshire Council, who will oversee the vote. These are available on their website at https://www.northnorthants.gov.uk/elections-and-voting/recall-petition-wellingborough-constituency. It will be available to sign for 6 weeks, from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, between 8th November and 19th December 2023. It will also be open for extended hours on 13th November, from 9am to 8pm. However, we are disappointed that there aren't further extended voting opportunities for people to sign the petition outside of working hours.
In the recent recall petition in Rutherglen and Hamilton West this summer, there were 5 days of extended weekend voting, and two weekend voting days on Saturdays. Unfortunately with only one extended day of voting for Wellingborough constituents it means that just 3 hours of the around 240 hours of poll opening will be outside of working hours. This is just 1.2% of the polling time, compared to 7 hours out of 15 for a General Election being outside of work hours so people can vote, around 46.7%. We believe that it is important that all Mr Bone's constituents have the chance to have their say on the petition - whether they are employed or not - and that means we need adequate time outside of working hours for it to be signed. In order for people to have faith in the political systems they must be accessible to them, and we must avoid the appearance locally of a Conservative-run council failing to ensure adequate opportunity for people to sign a petition against a recent Conservative MP. We don't feel that a 3 hour extension on one day is sufficient to meet this.
We have therefore written to the council and asked them to look again and see if there is any way to extend voting on more days, or offer weekend voting on a saturday or multiple saturdays. We call on councillors to provide hard-working Council staff with the funding necessary to achieve this. We also repeat again our call for Peter Bone to resign, and save his constituents the cost of this recall petition and allow them to move on with effective representation in Parliament, away from Tory sleaze.