Electoral process questioned after American councillor denied re-election

Debenham village parish sign.

Debenham village parish sign. - Credit: Archant

The leader of a Suffolk village authority has questioned the electoral process after a representative could not stand for re-election due to citizenship issues.

David Hughes, a Debenham Parish councillor, can not run for election next week due to being an American citizen.

Parish council chair Richard Blackwell said he was “extremely disappointed” that Mr Hughes could not stand.

Mr Blackwell said the decision was regardless of the fact Mr Hughes lives in the village and has done so for more than 30 years.

Mr Blackwell also said Mr Hughes also runs a business in the county, which has done so for more than 30 years.

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Electoral Commission rules state a candidate has to be a British or European Union citizen or an eligible Commonwealth citizen.

Mr Blackwell said Mr Hughes had “put in a great shift for Debenham” while a councillor.

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He added: “Parish councils generally struggle to fill all their allocated seats so it seems ludicrous a willing and very able person is barred simply because they hold the wrong citizenship papers.

“Questions must surely be asked about what appear to be unnecessary restrictions on people taking up public office and serving their communities.

“Most parish councils willingly accept people who are prepared to do their bit for their community and take on the responsibilities of public office, and do not need barriers like this one put in the way.”

A spokesman for the electoral commission said any changes to the process were a matter for government to change the law.

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