All-out for a drop in quality

As you reported last week, our district councillors will decide in September whether to retain the current electoral arrangements whereby a third of the councillors are elected each year, or to change to electing all councillors simultaneously every four

As you reported last week, our district councillors will decide in September whether to retain the current electoral arrangements whereby a third of the councillors are elected each year, or to change to electing all councillors simultaneously every four years (all-out).

There are arguments for change - electing the whole council at the same time may increase public interest, it gives the majority party a four-year mandate, and it will be cheaper. However, I am concerned that the quality of our elected representatives could fall if we adopt all-out.

In particular, nearly half our councillors are elected in wards where voters would be required to choose three candidates from a long list of names. Will voters have the information (or be willing to put in the time) to identify the best three to represent them? I fear it would engender an even greater tendency than at present for votes to be cast for parties rather than candidates, which seems a shame - is it likely that the three who would represent the ward most effectively and be proactive in tackling issues would all come from the same party?

The current system therefore has a major advantage - voters choose one councillor at a time. Furthermore, if a good candidate fails to be elected, for whatever reason, then they will often have the opportunity to continue their involvement in local affairs and try again within two years.


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I was pleased that Cabinet members felt that councillors should be allowed a free vote, but nevertheless there will be no formal public consultation. So I would ask readers who have a view either way to let their councillor(s) know.

GILES WOODRUFF, Coleridge Close, Hitchin

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