Totnes Town Council has written to request a change in law that would enable the Council to trial an alternative electoral system to the current ‘First Past the Post’ approach. Letters have gone to the Rt Hon Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, local MP Anthony Mangnall, asking him to support any change in legislation, and Cllr Hart at Devon County Council and Cllr Judy Pearce at South Hams District Council inviting them to pass similar motions in their councils.
Catherine Marlton, Totnes Town Council Clerk explains: “Totnes Town Councillors passed a resolution in April to request a change in the law that would allow Town, District and County Councils in England to choose to trial an alternative electoral system besides the current “First Past the Post”, for local authority elections. The resolution passed by the Council also requested an increase of funds from the Government to support greater levels of electoral registration.
“Totnes Town Council considers the current electoral system used for local elections in England is not a fair system, because it means that votes do not have equal weight in affecting the outcome, and many votes are wasted. This can lead to voter apathy and a feeling of disconnection from local democracy. Forms of proportional representation have been shown to increase voter turnout as well as the diversity of candidates elected. The Council would prefer a system which is more in line with the Good Systems Agreement, as supported by political parties, MPs and campaign organisations from across the political spectrum.”
The resolution noted that local authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland have been using some form of Proportional Representation in their elections for some years, and that a recent change in Welsh law gives local authorities in Wales the power to introduce changes for their elections too. The London Assembly has used the Additional Member System to elect its members. The change in the law requested would therefore only be granting local authorities in England the same choices already enjoyed by the other countries in the Union. No authority would be forced to make a change.