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"To put the record straight, the owners of Kent Science Park have no wish to develop homes in the vicinity of the science park"

James Speck

Police to quiz deputy mayor

THE deputy mayor of Swale is at the centre of a police investigation into alleged election fraud.

Alan WillicombeConservative councillor for Tunstall, Alan Willicombe was due to be quizzed by officers after it was claimed he coerced a woman into signing a proxy voting form.

Cllr Willicombe's seat in Woodstock ward was not involved in this month's local election. However, his wife Jean successfully defended her place on Swale Council, polling 1,011 votes and earning a majority. of more than 600.

Cllr Willicombe, who lives at Chegworth Gardens, Tunstall, said there was little he could say until he had spoken to the police, adding: "I really don't know if I can say anything at this stage because I don't know what I'm supposed to have done. I know allegations have been made, but until I speak to the police I can't make a corn-
ment. It goes without saying that I will have to speak to them and I've been told that by the council leader.

"I don't think I've done any-thing wrong but that's up to the police to decide."

A proxy vote allows a voter to select someone to vote on his or her behalf.

Because the ballot is secret, the person chosen as proxy is usually someone known and trusted by the voter for whom they are acting.

Proxy votes are used by people who are unable to go to ,he polling station in pen on because they are elderly, disabled, ill or prevented from doing so by work or education commitments that may require them to be out of the area or overseas on polling day.

A police spokesman confirmed an investigation into the allegations against Cllr Willicombe had been launched, adding it was still in its early stages.

She added: "We are investigating a complaint made of suspicion of election fraud"

Cllr Willicombe has represented Woodstock ward for eight years and has also been a member of Tunstall Parish Council.

He was selected as deputy mayor at this month's mayor-making ceremony.

Cllr John Morris, from Sheppey, was voted in for a second term as mayor because his former deputy Adrian Crowther lost his seat and therefore could not take on the top civic role.



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