Nationally we are used to the routine that every 4 or 5 years the whole of Parliament stands for re-election – an “All Out” electoral cycle. Whether or not we like the outcome it does provide some sense of certainty for a period of time.
Not so in Derby.
Derby operates an electoral cycle “By thirds”
Derby City Council are now consulting on whether to change. Link to the consultation
There are 17 wards in the City, 3 Councillors in each ward, making a total of 51 Councillors. Each one is in office for 4 years. Each year, one-third, of the Council – 17 people, 1 from each ward, are up for re-election, with the 4th year being a “fallow” year – where no election takes place.
Whilst this might give the illusion that the electorate have a chance to remove the ruling party each year that is rarely the reality.
The main problem with the current system is that there is little stability and little chance for longer term plans to take root before the next round of elections.
Too much time is undermined by elections, electioneering and managing continuity.
Elections are always in early May.
From early April there is the pre-election period (purdah) which restricts activity by elected members and Officers. After the election in May there is a further delay as the Annual General Meeting isn’t until the end of the month, and posts need to be assigned.
There is a 2 month window until the holiday season, where, potentially, new people are getting to grips with their new roles. From Sept- December, there can be productive time, before the Christmas period. In the New Year, the parties then start getting into election mode, and deciding who the candidates will be. The ruling group will be trying to avoid pre-election mistakes and going into “safe mode” in the lead up to the pre-election period in early April again.
It could be argued that the current cycle injects lethargy and procrastination into the decision making process. The recent delays in the build of Moorways, and the cancellation of the Assembly Rooms refurbishment are partly attributable to the existing system.
In November 2016, a similar change was promoted by the ex-Leader of the Council, Cllr Banwait. This failed as the vote was more about a lack of confidence in him, as Leader, rather than the merits of the change to the system.
The time is now right to move to an “all out” electoral cycle which will cost less, waste less time, provide more stability to the Council staff and the residents and allow the ruling group, whoever that might be, to lead with purpose, for the benefit of the whole City and not solely to curry favour for short term political gain.
Categories: Derby City Council