Wokingham Borough Council electoral services has successfully prosecuted two residents for not completing and returning their annual canvass forms for the 2011/2012 Register of Electors.
Mr Johnny Burne of 270 Kingfisher Drive, Woodley and Ms Tay Maddams of 8 Martineau Lane, Hurst both pleaded guilty at Reading Magistrates Court yesterday (June 12). Taking into account their guilty pleas and personal circumstances, Mr Burne was given a fine plus costs totalling £595 and Ms Maddams a fine plus costs totalling £290.
Alison Wood, electoral services manager, said: "We have never prosecuted before and this really was as a last resort as we had made several attempts to get them to complete the forms, but they refused. By law, we have to take certain steps to obtain the canvass form from households.
"If occupiers do not return the initial form they receive by post, we have to send a personal canvasser to call at the property on more than one occasion. This incurs cost, which ultimately comes out of council tax. If someone does not return their form, then it’s their neighbours that have to share the cost and this, we feel, is not fair. At this time there is enormous pressure on councils to get value for money for every penny spent.
"Householders should remember that it is a legal requirement to return the annual canvass form. As well as not being able to vote, not being on the Register of Electors may also mean people could experience difficulty obtaining credit. Prosecution for not returning the form could lead to a criminal record and a fine of up to £1,000."