Less candidates than seats available
AN ANALYSIS of council elections held in May 2007 highlights that of the 85 parishes in our area, one had no candidates, 42 were not contested and of these 21 still had less candidates than seats available
AN ANALYSIS of council elections held in May 2007 highlights that of the 85 parishes in our area, one had no candidates, 42 were not contested and of these 21 still had less candidates than seats available.
This shows over 50 per cent of parish councils were not elected and if you take out Clevedon and Weston this increases to 77 per cent. The system used has been in operation since the early 1800s when church and squire ran the business of the village. Since then there has been a huge migration from the countryside to the towns and cities, but parish borders have in the main been retained.
Using Barrow Gurney as an example - this shows the electorate of only 284 has seven seats or one councillor for 41 electors, whereas the town wards vary from 1,337 per seat for Weston-super-Mare Bleadon to 4,186 for Weston Hutton Moor.
At the other end Long Ashton Leigh has two seats and Long Ashton has 19 seats, which appears to show there is no hard and fast rule.
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It is suggested a minimum of 500 electors for a parish should be required with councils limited to five to nine members.
To do this small hamlet parishes could be added to nearby larger ones, so as to make the position of councillor more equitable and more democratic. Overall only 23.43 per cent of the electorate voted which indicates there is an urgent need to review the whole system of elections to make them meaningful to the voters, who in the main rightly believe there is no reason to vote.
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Today North Somerset Council represents the same electorate and has more power, hence voters see little reason to take any interest in parish councils.
Added to this where there is a problem e.g. wind farms, road by-pass, Tropicana, mobile phone mast, airports, etc., pressure groups seem to take up the matter by organising protests and getting the media into the act, thereby by-passing elected councillors!
It is in my mind important that all the political parties should be worried by the loss of their credibility and take action to reduce the political apathy shown by the public.
C J PEVERELLE
Edinburgh Place, Weston