Voters in England and Wales are being let down by their local democracy.
England and Wales councils that reflect how they vote
In England and Wales the electoral system means we often get councils that do not represent what people voted for, and sometime we don’t get to vote at all.
One Party States
In 2013 one hundred and four councils in England and Wales had a single party holding in excess of 75% of council seats. In every case, this is wholly out of proportion to the support the governing parties enjoy locally – and has given these administrations carte blanche on official business. Weak electoral accountability has an impact on public procurement, as, without critical oversight, costs can spiral out of control.
Following 2018’s local council elections three London boroughs, Barking and Dagenham, Lewisham and Newham are now 100% Labour councils with no opposition whatsoever, even though substantial numbers voted for other parties.
There was a shocking increase in the number of uncontested seats in some English councils up for election in May 2015. The Eden District Council in Cumbria declared 21 of its 38 available seats before polling day, meaning that a clear majority of the council (55%) has been returned before the election has even taken place. This is up from 50% of seats in 2011.
What’s the Solution?
We are calling for a fairer local electoral system which more accurately reflects people’s wishes.
Scotland has been enjoying a fairer voting system since 2007. Voter choice has more than doubled, uncontested seats have become a thing of the past, and the rotten boroughs that once plagued Scotland were undone.
The big parties aspire to represent the whole nation, yet in practice, they are restricted to their fortresses and locked out of whole swathes of the country.
Introducing the Scottish system of elections into England and Wales would mean that people’s votes were more accurately represented, and there would no longer be any ‘no go’ areas for the big parties.
It's time that England and Wales caught up with Scotland and Northern Ireland
May's local elections showed our voting system to be utterly broken. Next year, yet more councillors are going to be elected on tiny majorities, or simply returned unopposed. But while pressure is mounting on the party leaders, it's not yet enough to make them act. Northern Ireland has had proportional representation for local councils since 1973, Scotland joined them in 2007, now it's time England and Wales caught up.
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More information about Local Democracy
Reclaiming our Coalfield Communities
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The background, ideas, processes and outcomes of a collaborative experiment in local democracy run in collaboration with Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
Democracy Denied: The 2019 Election Audit
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A comparison of the 2019 first past the post English Local Elections, 2019 party list European Parliament Elections and 2017 STV Scottish Local Elections
Response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on electoral reform
Response to the Welsh Government’s ‘Electoral Reform in Wales’...