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18.04.13

‘Broken’ council voting system creates one party states – ERS

More than a third of people living in England and Wales are living in ‘one party states’, the Electoral Reform Society has warned.

Data shows almost 20 million people live in authorities led by single parties without viable opposition. 104 authorities have a single party holding over 75% of council seats, which the campaigning organisation says is “wholly out of proportion”.

The Electoral Reform Society is calling for the first past the post system to be abandoned in local elections, instead following Scotland’s lead in implementing a fairer voting system that means the number of council seats won by each party better reflects the number of votes cast for each.

Darren Hughes, director of campaigns and research at the Electoral Reform Society said: “Any decent democracy requires a viable opposition. But in the ‘one party states’ of England and Wales nearly 20 million people don’t enjoy that luxury.  These authorities enjoy power without real accountability – and council tax payers deserve better.”

“We can’t rely on governing parties to keep themselves in check. Our councils need a critical mass of opposition for basic scrutiny to work – and it’s what the public keep voting for.  But our broken voting system is handing out fake supermajorities to parties out of all proportion to their real support.

“The coming elections will barely make a dent on these one party states, and it’s why they breed complacency. When councillors in Slough and Tunbridge Wells voted themselves pay increases they knew they were untouchable. 

“Quite simply no councillor and no council should be beyond the reach of voters.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Cllr John Bishop   24/04/2013 at 16:49

I could not agree more. Transparency is thin on the ground. Councillor's votes are not recorded thereby voters have no possibility to check how their councillor performed and for this reason I set up an E-Petition to have councillors' vote recorded at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44209 The major problem is which ever party is in over-all control do not want to change the system.

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