We can be assured that Banwait’s focus on changing the electoral cycle is not for broader democratic reasons, or cost savings, its being done to favour his own long-term leadership aspirations. He obviously realises that his position is becoming more and more untenable and he needs to manipulate the voting procedures to his advantage.
Under existing rules, the next local elections will be in May 2018 when one-third of all of the Councillors will be up for re-election, across the 17 wards in Derby. This gives the electorate the next opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Council Chamber – including the position of the Leader, Cllr Banwait ( he is up for re-election in May 2018)
A proposal will be presented to the next Council meeting on the 23rd November to change the process. Rather than having elections each year, for 3 years ( the 4th year has no election as will be the case in 2017 – all Councillors are in office for 4 years), the motion is to change this to one election every 4 years, for all 51 Councillors – but this will not be implemented until 2020 – the General Election year.
You might wonder why the new process is not being proposed from 2018. The primary reason is that Labour don’t believe that they would be successful in retaining power if it was that soon. A General Election typically brings out more voters and that is better for Labour Councillors.
There is an argument that an election every 4 years would be cheaper however I understand that this is not considered to be well-founded even by Derby City Council insiders. Certainly more infrequent elections provides more stability, but it also means that there are less opportunities for the voter’s voice to be heard, formally.
The other issue with 4 yearly elections is that there will be a need for all main parties to be able to offer 51 candidates in one go. Currently the parties only have to find 17 people to sit at a time and quite often people who are unsuccessful in one year can try in a future year. The proposal could lead to the quality of the candidates becoming seriously diluted with longer term impacts on local decision making.
Also, as there are 3 Councillors in each ward it could result in a greater polarisation towards one party in a district. Ideally people should vote for the candidate however, invariably people vote for the party, this will mean that the number of split wards would most likely reduce, and potentially undermine proper representation and neighbourhood democracy ( such as it still exists).
Any Councillor that secures a seat in 2018 or 2019 will not have their full 4 year term – they’ll have to stand again in 2020. Perhaps many candidates may choose to wait until 2020 before standing ,further exacerbating the competence dilution effect within the next 4 years.
In my opinion there should be 2 options:
- Implement the 4 yearly cycle from 2018
- Continue with existing process of “thirds” being elected each year.
In order for this to be passed, it needs to be agreed by a two-thirds majority ( 34 Councillors). The Labour Party only has 26 Councillors. So, 8 Councillors from Conservative, Lib Dems and UKIP need to vote in favour of the motion.
This will be debated at 6pm on 23rd November in the Council House.
Lobby your Councillor to ensure that they know your preference.
Categories: Derby City Council