Confusion over the date postal votes in West Berkshire were being sent out could have “a serious effect on the election” for the Newbury seat, party agents have said.
David Marsh and Tony Vickers, party agents for the Greens and Liberal Democrats respectively, say they had been told by West Berkshire Council that postal votes would start going out from today.
As such they had been planning to send out their own campaign materials to coincide with this date.
But the first postal votes were delivered last Friday, leading the agents to raise concerns that voters wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see what all the parties have to offer.
Mr Marsh said: “We’re really upset about this.
“We don’t have the resources to constantly bombard people with stuff so wanted to properly target it to avoid annoying the voters, and then they all get their votes early.
“We were categorically told no postal votes would go out until Tuesday at the earliest. The agents were given completely the wrong information, and this has had a serious effect on the election.”
In the 2015 general election, more than 15,000 people in the Newbury constituency cast their votes by post, equating to just over 26 per cent of the turnout.
This compares to a figure of 16.4 per cent nationally.
And Mr Vickers believes that around half of those in Newbury who have received their postal votes would have already voted by the time his party’s literature arrives through their doors.
He said: “We’ve wasted a lot of money, in our case thousands of pounds, on mailing postal vote letters, half of which probably will arrive after the voters concerned have sent their ballot papers back.
“We had been told in good faith from the council official the earliest date the postal ballot envelopes would be released to Royal Mail, and we’ve planned on this basis.
“Parties like us don’t have the money to spare to waste. It’s really annoying.”
Peta Stoddart-Crompton, spokesperson for West Berkshire Council, said: “At a meeting with party election agents last week they were advised of the latest dates we had from our printers.
“However, they were also advised that we could not make any guarantees.
“As soon as we had confirmation that the votes would be released to Royal Mail on Friday all agents were advised.”