Sham consultation weakens democracy


Following one of its ‘consultations’ the government has now decided that next year’s County Council elections should be held in June rather than May.  That is so that they fall on the same day as the European elections.  A cost-saving exercise.

Once again the government ignores the advice it receives.  The Councillors Commission reported to the Secretary of State in November 2007.  The Commission was set up to propose ways of promoting local government and community participation.  That has long been a Liberal Democrat aim.

Recommendation 18 clearly says, “Local elections should not take place on the same day as national or European elections.”  The idea is that holding elections on the same day downgrades the importance of local democracy and just sweeps everything into narrow party politics rather than concentrating on track record and work in the community.

Did the government listen?  Once again, no.

County Councillor David Jenkins: ‘we’ll have to live with it of course but it will be a challenge to communicate with voters on local and European issues at the same time. And when voters go into the polling station they will be confronted with 2 voting systems, the usual first past the post system for the local elections and a proportional representation list system for the European ones. When they did this in Scotland recently there was chaos.’

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