NOW that the dust has settled following the latest round of local council elections, I think it is worth reflecting upon whether these are anything more than an opportunity for the electorate to express their opinion upon the national Government’s performance?
If you accept that this is indeed the case, it follows that the chance to
comment, via the ballot box, on the ruling administration of any local district council is, at best, diminished.
This is a very serious matter if we are to place any value upon the democratic right to hold local authorities to account. If local elections are to serve any real purpose over and above being seen and used as a national party political opinion poll, they surely have to be determined by a local district agenda?
If such a genuinely local poll were to be held, the voters would be much more likely to examine the calibre of the candidate and indeed their
views on key
local issues. In Hastings, for instance,
elections could turn on attitudes shown by candidates
towards the Pier, St Mary-in-the-Castle, Jerwood, the former
college site perhaps?
How then could all this be achieved?
It is my conclusion, based upon many years of direct experience that the only way would be to remove all political party labelling from the district electoral system.
All candidates and subsequently councillors would be independent and truly accountable in that role.
I accept that this would be an extremely difficult task but to delude ourselves in to believing that we currently enjoy local council elections is patently absurd.
former Hastings borough councillor