‘Renting land enables me to stand again’, election candidate who moved away states

Councillor Emma Evans by the charging post
Councillor Emma Evans by the charging post

An Adur District Council election candidate who moved away from the district said she qualifies to seek re-election because she rents land in the area.

Election rules state candidates must have a link to where they are standing, usually through living or working in the area.

Neither of these are true of Conservative Emma Evans since she moved to Twineham, in Mid Sussex, last year.

But the incumbent Buckingham ward councillors is on the ballot paper as she rents grazing land in Adur – a less widely-used method of qualification.

Mrs Evans argued her move had not affected her ability to carry out council duties.

She said: “My family and I have recently moved out of Shoreham having lived here for 47 years.

“I am still back in Shoreham every day and do not feel that my ability to represent the residents of Buckingham ward has been impacted negatively by our move.

“As always I am available all day every day by phone, email and also in person at our monthly street surgery at Shoreham Farmers’ Market.

“Those residents who are on Facebook will also know that I deal with queries, questions and complaints as and when they are posted from residents across the district not just those living in the ward I represent. I hope to be given the opportunity to continue the work I do for voters in Buckingham ward on May 3.”

A reader forwarded Mrs Evans’s election material to the Herald, suggesting it did not give voters the true picture of her circumstances.

The leaflet makes reference to her long-standing connection with Shoreham but not the move.

Mrs Evans said she had not lied.

Electoral Commission guidance states that to meet the test around renting land, candidates ‘must have occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the local authority area during the whole of the 12 months before the day of your nomination and before polling day’.

It goes on to say: “The interpretation of the term ‘occupy’ in other legal contexts suggests that it is not necessary for a person to be personally resident on the land or premises (which may in any event be covered by the qualification of ‘lived in the local authority’). However, it does require something to be actually done on the land or premises.”

Adur District Council said it could not comment on the issue as it was a matter for the candidate. It confirmed no formal complaint had been received.