Do you live in a Rotten Borough?

Electoral Reform Society
Author:
Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 17th April 2013

With this year’s county council elections only a few weeks away, we’ve undertaken new analysis that has revealed the parlous state of local democracy in England and Wales.

Evidence shows 21 million people are now living in the local government equivalent of ‘One Party States’ – with single parties holding undeserved supermajorities, and other parties incapable of providing viable opposition.

One hundred and four councils in England and Wales now have 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.

Of course all three major parties have ‘One Party States’ – which include both urban and rural authorities. ??ERS has defined ‘One Party States’ as authorities with a single party holding over 75% of council seats, leaving opposition incapable of providing any checks of council decision making. With a 2/3 alone majority parties have the ability to overturn standing orders, and change the way the councils are run. We’ve allowed the possibility of some party rebels offering pseudo-opposition to the one party state in their area.

Any decent democracy requires a viable opposition. But the 21 million living in local One Party States don’t have that luxury. These authorities enjoy power without real accountability – and council taxpayers deserve better.

We can’t rely on governing parties to keep themselves in check. Our councils need a critical mass of opposition for basic scrutiny to work – it’s what the public keep voting for. But our broken voting system is handing out fake supermajorities to parties out of all proportion to their real support.
 

The coming elections will barely make a dent on these One Party States, and it’s why they breed complacency. When councillors in Slough and Tunbridge Wells voted themselves pay increases they knew they were untouchable.

Quite simply no councillor and no council should be beyond the reach of voters.

It’s time for England and Wales to follow the lead of Scotland, and abandon First Past the Post for a fair voting system in local elections. Since they made the move in 2007 most of Scotland is still run by single party governments – but all councils now have vibrant opposition.

Fair votes have made Scotland’s One Party fiefdoms a thing of the past. There are lessons here for anyone who believes local democracy in England and Wales should be better.

It’s time to make the change: the solution is right in front of us. Fair votes in Scotland has worked. The same single transferable vote (STV) system the Scots use could offer Welsh and English voters so much more.

If you’ve been failed by local democracy we want to hear from you. Visit our Rotten Boroughs page and tell us your story…
The One Party States of England and Wales

Full data by region and party is available for download here…

The Lib Dems One Party States

Population LD Seats %LD Seats
Eastleigh

125,199

38

86.36%

Oadby & Wigston

56,170

22

84.62%

Sutton

190,146

43

79.63%

Total

371,515

 

Labour’s One Party States

Population Lab Seats %Lab Seats
Barking & Dagenham

185,911

51

100.00%

Knowsley

145,893

63

100.00%

Newham

307,984

60

100.00%

Leicester

329,839

52

96.30%

Sandwell

308,063

68

94.44%

Rotherham

257,280

58

92.06%

Tameside

219,324

52

91.23%

Nottingham

305,680

50

90.91%

Manchester

503,127

87

90.63%

Halton

125,746

50

89.29%

Bolsover

75,866

33

89.19%

South Tyneside

148,127

48

88.89%

Hackney

246,270

50

87.72%

Salford

233,933

52

86.67%

Slough

140,205

35

85.37%

Wigan

317,849

63

84.00%

Gateshead

200,214

55

83.33%

St. Helens

175,308

40

83.33%

Barnsley

231,221

52

82.54%

Wakefield

325,837

52

82.54%

Neath Port Talbot

139,812

52

81.25%

Liverpool

466,415

73

81.11%

Barrow-in-Furness

69,087

29

80.56%

Rhondda, Cynon Taff

234,410

60

80.00%

Coventry

316,960

43

79.63%

Doncaster

302,402

50

79.37%

Blaenau Gwent

69,814

33

78.57%

Greenwich

254,557

40

78.43%

Stoke-on-Trent

249,008

34

77.27%

Stevenage

83,957

30

76.92%

Tower Hamlets

254,096

39

76.47%

Corby

61,255

22

75.86%

Luton

203,201

36

75.00%

Total

7,488,651

 

 

 

Conservative One Party States

Population Con Seats %Con Seats
Waverley 121,572 56 98.25%
Shepway 107,969 44 95.65%
Bracknell Forest 113,205 40 95.24%
South Bucks 66,867 38 95.00%
East Hertfordshire 137,687 46 92.00%
Tonbridge & Malling 120,805 48 90.57%
Maldon 61,629 28 90.32%
Broxbourne 93,609 27 90.00%
New Forest 176,462 54 90.00%
Havant 120,700 34 89.47%
East Hampshire 115,608 39 88.64%
Hambleton 89,140 39 88.64%
Bromley 309,392 53 88.33%
Windsor & Maidenhead 144,560 50 87.72%
Christchurch 47,752 21 87.50%
East Northamptonshire 86,795 35 87.50%
Surrey Heath 86,144 35 87.50%
Hertsmere 100,031 34 87.18%
Breckland 130,491 47 87.04%
Sevenoaks 114,893 47 87.04%
Kent 1,463,740 73 86.90%
Adur 61,182 25 86.21%
Arun 149,518 48 85.71%
Runnymede 80,510 36 85.71%
South Staffordshire 108,131 42 85.71%
Wealden 148,915 47 85.45%
Forest Heath 59,748 23 85.19%
Fenland 95,262 34 85.00%
Ribble Valley 57,132 34 85.00%
St. Edmundsbury 111,008 38 84.44%
Wychavon 116,944 38 84.44%
Dacorum 144,847 43 84.31%
West Oxfordshire 104,779 41 83.67%
Bournemouth 183,500 45 83.33%
East Dorset 87,166 30 83.33%
Mid Sussex 139,860 45 83.33%
Central Bedfordshire 254,361 49 83.05%
South Norfolk 124,012 38 82.61%
Bexley 231,997 52 82.54%
Chiltern 92,635 33 82.50%
Lichfield 100,654 46 82.14%
Spelthorne 95,598 32 82.05%
Cherwell 141,868 41 82.00%
Tandridge 82,998 34 80.95%
Buckinghamshire 505,283 46 80.70%
Staffordshire 848,489 50 80.65%
Daventry 77,843 29 80.56%
Essex 1,393,587 60 80.00%
Suffolk Coastal 124,296 44 80.00%
Westminster 219,396 48 80.00%
Wokingham 154,380 43 79.63%
Rochford 83,287 31 79.49%
Chichester 113,794 38 79.17%
East Riding of Yorkshire 334,179 53 79.10%
Wandsworth 306,995 47 78.33%
Lincolnshire 713,653 60 77.92%
Kensington & Chelsea 158,649 42 77.78%
Horsham 131,301 34 77.27%
Uttlesford 79,443 34 77.27%
Tunbridge Wells 115,049 37 77.08%
South Northamptonshire 85,189 32 76.19%
Northamptonshire 691,952 55 75.34%
Braintree 147,084 45 75.00%
Huntingdonshire 169,508 39 75.00%
South Hams 83,140 30 75.00%
Test Valley 116,398 36 75.00%
Wellingborough 75,356 27 75.00%
West Berkshire 153,822 39 75.00%
Total 12,060,925

 

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