Fly posters a ‘matter for the police’ warn the Electoral Commission
24th January 2019
ELECTION fly posters that have been put up around Tunbridge Wells’ town centre and several parks are illegal and a matter for the police, the Electoral Commission has warned.
The posters, erected by opponents to the council’s theatre and civic development, highlight the date of the local elections in May and lists councillors, and the wards they represent, who support the Calverley Grounds scheme, urging people to not vote for them.
Under strict election rules, all political campaigning and electioneering posters require an imprint - information that includes the name and address of the printer and promoter of the material to prevent inaccurate and unaccountable information from reaching the electorate.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “This material is from what is called a non-party campaigner.
“Imprints are required to be on all election material and this literature falls into that category. Imprints help to ensure that there is transparency about who is campaigning, and must therefore be clear and visible.
“As this poster is candidate-specific election material and does not have an imprint, it is a matter for the police to look into,” he warned.
Kent Police said so far nobody has made a formal complaint to them about the posters, but they would investigate and liaise with the council if the matter was reported.
Returning Officer for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, William Benson, who is also the chief executive of the council, said: “The Electoral Commission provides clear guidance on the use of electoral materials and posters to ensure there is transparency about who is campaigning.
“If anyone is concerned about an electoral offence, they should contact the police using the 101 non-emergency number or report the issue anonymously by calling Crimestoppers.”
Regardless of their political content, fly posting is illegal and the perpetrators could face a fine if the council takes enforcement action.
In a statement on their website, the council says: “Fly posting is illegal advertising using posters, flyers or types of other literature.
“We aim to remove flyposting within ten working days of it being reported.
“We can take enforcement action against anyone caught flyposting and any venue or business benefiting from an illegal advertisement.”
Nobody has yet taken responsibility for the illegal posters, which started to appear in the town before Christmas but have continued to spring up in and around the town. Several were spotted in Dunlorlan Park last weekend.
Tunbridge Wells Alliance, which was founded to oppose the £90million Calverley Square civic complex, denied the posters have anything to do with them but have so far failed to condemn them.
In a statement on their Twitter account, they said: “A number of these A3 posters have been seen across the Borough.
“TW Alliance is not responsible for these posters, but is aligned with the sentiments of them.”
They later added: “The words have not come from TW Alliance or any known member of TW Alliance.”