Police launch cash probe into Mansfield’s mayoral elections

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A fraud investigation has been launched by police into the electoral campaign of Mansfield mayor Kate Allsop, the Chad can exclusively reveal.

Officers confirmed they are looking into alleged ‘financial irregularities’ surrounding the election, focusing on the amount of cash spent on her campaign before May’s election.

Candidates are under strict rules to spend no more than £6,969.72, with all expenditure declared.

A complaint was put to police alleging more was spent on Mrs Allsop’s campaign than was legally permitted.

Since then officers have demanded documents relating to the breakdown of costs in connection to the election.

These include the amount spent on newspaper and radio advertising and election leaflets.

Officers have even taken away documentary evidence from the Chad connected to adverts placed in the weeks before the election.

Mansfield businessman Stewart Rickersey, who helped fund Mrs Allsop’s campaign, is confident no rules were broken.

Councillor Rickersey was elected as a Mansfield Independent Forum councillor on Mansfield District Council during the May elections and has since been named as the portfolio for corporate services by the mayor.

He said: “I am aware there is an ongoing police investigation following the mayoral election in May and as such I have no further comment at this time except to say I had anticipated an investigation being prompted as that has happened in previous mayoral elections.

“But I can tell you that the total amount allowed for each candidate in the mayoral election campaign was £6969.72, and Mayor Allsop’s actual spend was £5731.32 which is considerably lower - £1,238.40 - than that allowed.”

The Chad attempted to contact Mrs Allsop, but she was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, Phil Shields, who stood against Mrs Allsop in the election, feels Coun Rickersey and Mrs Allsop should both step down until the issue is resolved.

In the weeks following the election, major decisions have been taken to axe two leading executives from Mansfield District Council, including chief executive Ruth Marlow and housing director Ajman Ali.

Mr Shields feels no further decisions should be taken until the investigation is concluded.

He said: “If it turns out there has been any wrongdoing, I will feel completely cheated.

“I think the minute the police picked up that they were launching an investigation, for what technically is fraud, they should have been suspended.

“It’s happened at FIFA with Sepp Blatter. Why should they be able to make decision still when this is going on?

“It’s their duty to stand down.

“It may sound like sour grapes to some, but rules are rules and if they have been broken, it’s everybody’s right to know.”

Martin Lee, the Labour Party candidate who finished runner-up to Mrs Allsop in the election, agreed, saying: “Without a doubt they should be suspended.

“They are making serious and long-term decisions - the council has lost two senior directors recently.

“When someone is in this position, and the legitimacy of their election campaign is brought in to question, they should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

“We are all aware of the spending limits put on political parties and candidates.

“If someone has a greater amount of spending power it puts them at a greater advantage.”

Meanwhile Bev Smith, interim chief operating officer at the council, said: “We are aware there is an ongoing police investigation following the mayoral election and as such we have no further comment at this time.”

Mrs Allsop became Mansfield’s second elected mayor following her victory at the polls in May.

She followed in the footsteps of Tony Egginton, who enjoyed three successive terms at the helm from when the position of elected mayor was first introduced in 2002.

Like Mr Egginton, Mrs Allsop belongs to the Mansfield Independent Forum.

The race for the coveted position, which offers an annual salary of more than £53,000, was close run during the first-choice round of votes with Mrs Allsop and Labour hopeful Martin Lee picking up 17,604 and 17,562 votes respectively.

The third candidate, Phil Shields – who ran as an independent candidate – was counted out after the first round after polling 9,672 votes.

However, it was Mrs Allsop who was named mayor after the second-choice votes put her 2,280 votes ahead of Mr Lee with a total of 22,600.

Pictured: Mansfield mayor Kate Allsop following her election win earlier this year.