A borough council by-election in Luton’s Dallow ward is due to be held on August 4, after the disqualification of Labour councillor Hannah Adrees.
Adrees, of Conway Road, was sentenced to eight months in custody, suspended for 18 months, with a condition she completes 200 hours unpaid work, after admitting one count of fraud.
In a prosecution brought by Luton Borough Council, the court heard Adrees took about £7,500 intended for the personal care of her brain-damaged uncle.
The paralegal paid £3,443.80 to fund her studies for a masters degree at the University of Law and took another £2,373 as wage.
Adrees, who was elected as a borough councillor in May 2019, also spent money at Amazon and on a parking ticket.
Defence barrister Emma Kutner said: “She has shown high levels of remorse and is of entirely good character.
“She had a very bright future ahead of her, but through her own actions it’s ruined.”
A council spokesman said it would investigate all allegations of fraud “irrespective of the identity of the alleged offender”, adding that: “No individual can ever be above the law.”
Why will there be a by-election?
As the sentence at Luton Crown Court on Friday (June 10) was more than three months, Adrees is disqualified from holding office as a councillor.
A report to the local authority’s administration and regulation committee explained: “This is to give public notice of a casual vacancy in Dallow ward, following the disqualification of a member of the council. Hannah Adrees of Dallow ward has been convicted of an offence and been sentenced. The sentencing is such that she’s no longer qualified to remain as an elected councillor with effect from June 10th 2022, having been disqualified under Section 80 (1) (d) of the Local Government Act 1972. It’s therefore necessary to declare and give public notice of the casual vacancy as set out here.
“When disqualification relates to a conviction where a plea of guilty has been entered, there’s no right to appeal conviction. The vacancy is then declared immediately.”
When will the by-election take place?
The by-election will take place on Thursday, August 4.
How can people stand for election?
Dallow ward currently has one Labour councillor and one Independent councillor.
An online meeting will be held concerning the election process for candidates and agents on Tuesday, June 21. If you would like to attend email [email protected] and a link will be sent to you. Nominations can be submitted between July 1 and 8 July, between 10am and 4pm.
How can people vote?
All those eligible to vote are encouraged to ensure they are registered to do so in order to be able to take part in this important expression of local democracy.
This can be done via an online form. The deadline for registration is 19 July.
Those wishing to vote by post must apply to do so by 5pm on Wednesday, July 20. The deadline for proxy applications is 5pm on Wednesday, July 27. You can find out more about how to vote online here.
Will a new councillor still be elected next May?
Yes. Electoral services manager Sam Freer explained: “The by-election will take place on Thursday 4th August and, once elected, the post holder will be in place for nine months until all our local elections next May.”