ELECTIONS to Ledbury Town Council will not go ahead next week, because not enough people are standing.

The electorate isn't happy about it.

Even the present chairman, Cllr Nina Shields, has decided not to stand.

Instead the ten people who have put their names forward will automatically get in for the next four years, without anyone having cast a single vote.

The remaining eight seats will probably be filled by 'co-option', again without the public having a say.

Ledbury will be very much the odd one out on May 2, because town and parish elections will be taking place in more that 200 communities throughout Herefordshire.

The news has been met with anger, disbelief and dismay by Ledbury voters, who have faced a 26 per cent rise in the council tax this year for Ledbury town's precept, after reserves were drained to the tune of £220,000, following a damaging and divisive judicial review.

Kerry Bancroft Martin, posting on the Voice of Ledbury Facebook site said: "Town councillors should hang their heads in bloody shame! What a shambles!

And Anthony Webber said: "They can pay their own legal bills next time. Just let Hereford govern us, as Ledbury Council clearly isn't capable."

Town and county councillor Andrew Warmington, who will also not be standing for re-election next week said: "The last Ledbury town council election in 2015 was the most contested ever, though even then it was only 23 people for 18 places. This was also the one that elected the council that fell out so spectacularly - so not that good an advertisement for democracy either!

"I agree it's very far from ideal that so few have come forward this time and I'm sure the judicial review didn't help much in that respect."

But he warned against the idea of Herefordshire Council dissolving the town council, adding "be careful what you wish for".

Cllr Shields, the current chair of Ledbury Town Council said she was not standing again because "it’s been an extremely challenging year and I now need a break".

She added: "We have made a huge amount of progress and it is now a good time to encourage new people with fresh ideas."

The new town council, a mix of new and experienced town councillors will include Matthew Eakin, Nick Morris, Timothy Rae-Clarke, Phillip Howells, Andrew Manns, Dean Whattler, John Bannister, Liz Harvey, Linda Dee Knight and Dan Vesma.

Cllr Vesma was upbeat about the road ahead.

On the Voice of Ledbury he said: "I would like to express my sadness that more people didn't volunteer this time around. In the nine months that I have been on the council, I have seen genuine improvements. That said, there can be no escaping the fact that we still have much work do to in order to pull the council into shape, and in turn to rehabilitate its image. We need to draw a line, put a good foot forward, and involve as many of Ledbury's passionate and talented citizens as possible in shaping the future of our wonderful town."

But Linda Nussbaum-Richman, who was a town councillor several years ago, said: "No one has been elected; it’s not a good state of affairs for democracy, is it? There are some talented people with good local knowledge who have stood down."

However, county council elections will be contested in Ledbury on May 2, and local people will be voting in these.

The candidates for the South Ward are Matthew Eakin (Liberal Democrat); Emma Holton (Independent); Helen l'Anson (Conservative); Maria Mackness (Labour).

The candidates for the West Ward are Debbie Baker (Conservative); Phill Bettington (Indepedent); Phillip Howells (Liberal Democrats).

The candidates for the North Ward are Karl Bufton (Conservative); Liz Harvey (It's Our County).