THURROCK Conservatives have expressed their disappointment that the 49 councillors who make up Thurrock Council did not sign up to a new election system, which was designed to boost voter turnout and save nearly Â£400,000 in four years.
"Councillors, like myself, are currently elected in thirds and the majority party forms an administration", says Cllr Shane Hebb, Shadow Cabinet Member for Transformation & Corporate Services. "However, what happens if another party wins outright at one of these three elections, but doesn’t have enough councillors to form an administration?
"Although being the winners of that particular election, the administration of the day claw onto power despite losing at the ballot box. It’s simply not democratic.".
Just 29-35% people turn out in what are perceived as meaningless elections to some.
The motion put forward by the Conservatives aimed to change the view that "it’s just another election" to "it’s THE election". In short, ‘meaningful’ elections – not ‘meaningless’.
Thurrock Conservatives argued that, instead of frequent and small elections, that if there were two votes – one for the UK Parliament and one for the entire Council (rather than in waves of three) – that residents would a greater reason to come out to vote, as their vote would directly influence the political make-up of their council.
"Had the 49 councillors gone with the idea, residents would know that once every four years they would individually shape the next four years of their borough. At the moment, about a third of the borough vote one way, and the Administration hangs on and on, having its majority eroded over time. This year, UKIP won, but Labour held onto power. This isn’t democracy, it’s self-serving and comfortable for the administration of the day!"
The Thurrock Conservatives may have lost this motion, but vow to keep this is a manifesto commitment should they assume control of Thurrock next year.
"Some of my colleagues may be happy to be elected by no more than 10-15% of their communities ballots, but the Conservative leadership are not", notes Cllr Hebb. "Some colleagues who were aghast at the idea should remember the UK government are elected for five year terms, and the people then have a choice – TOGETHER, AT THE SAME TIME – if they want the government to go or stay. Our motion last week would have given residents that ability too".
Here is some of the speeches in the debate plus a debate on whether the council should return to a committee system.