A 'UNNECESSARY' by-election in Gargrave will cost parishioners up to £6,500 and could mean the delay of planned projects, such as safety measures outside the village train station.

Gargrave Parish Council normally fills vacancies on the council by co-opting new members.

But within the two week limit of the latest vacancy being announced in January, the required at least ten electors had submitted requests to Craven District Council for a by-election to take place.

It will now be up to the electorate in Gargrave to select a new parish councillor from three candidates - Robert Foster Burgess, Derek Steele or Nick Thwaite, who all live in the village - at the by-election on Thursday, March 9.

Councillor Stephen Coetzer, chair of Gargrave Parish Council told the monthly meeting that the cost of the election, including the printing of polling cards, the hire of the village hall and the cost of staffing, would be in the region of £6,000 to £6,500.

He said: "It's outrageous. Its not been budgeted for, I'm not sure that the people who have signed (the papers requesting an election) are aware it will be their money we will be spending and not the parish council's."

Cllr Coetzer said long awaited plans to fund a traffic chicane around the entrance to Gargrave Train Station, to improve safety, might not now take place, and it would also mean an increase in the next parish council precept - its part of the council tax.

The meeting heard that because of the likely low turnout at the by-election, the cost of each vote could be in the region of around £70.

A spokesperson for Craven District Council said: “When a casual vacancy arises on a parish council, the parish clerk must as soon as practicable publish a notice of vacancy. "The notice states that an election can be requested to fill the vacancy if ten or more electors for the parish submit a request in writing to the proper officer of the District Council within 14 working days of the notice being published.

"This is what happened in Gargrave. Only if no request is received after 14 working days can the vacancy be filled through co-option."

In the case of Gargrave Parish, three valid nominations were received before the deadline of 4pm on Friday, February 10 and an election will be held to fill the vacancy on Thursday March 9."