Stroud District Council elections now every four years

Gazette Series: Council elections now every four years Council elections now every four years

ELECTIONS for parish, town and district elections in the Stroud district will now all be held at the same time every four years to avoid extra costs incurred from new Government legislation.

Until now a third of the 51 councillors at Stroud District Council stand for election every year over a four-year period, with the county council elections held in the fourth year.

However new laws coming into affect from May 2016 mean if councils keep to elections by a third, each ward will need to have three councillors, one up for election every year in a four year period.

This would mean voters would have to vote every election year, meaning a substantial rise in election costs, estimated to be an additional £300,000 over four years.

The current budget for elections £95,000 per annum.

The district has over 100 polling stations, believed to be one of the highest numbers in the country.

A consultation about the scheme ran from January 14 to March 21 this year but only garnered 39 responses from the public, with 75 per cent of respondents in favour.

May 2016 will be the first time every councillor in the district is up for election at the same time after councillors voted in the proposal at Ebley Mill on Thursday, April 10.

Two voted against the move, while three abstained.

The advantages of moving to whole council elections include that the council would have a clear mandate for four years, allowing it to adopt a strategic long-term approach.

It is also believed greater publicity of a whole council election could generate higher

turnout.

However election by thirds is believed to have its own benefits, including the gradual change of councillors meaning there is less disruption to ongoing policies.

It also allows the electorate to react sooner to local circumstances, thereby more immediate political accountability.

Cllr Simon Pickering (Green, Slade) said the council should be looking to more modern, cheaper methods of holding an election.

“In this technological age, we could move to a phone system or electrical system, than many of those costs would be reduced,” he said.

“It seems bizarre that we’re actually using an arcane system of local elections imposed on us that is going to cost us money.”

Cllr Nigel Studdert-Kennedy (Con no group, The Stanleys) said: “I am not convinced that savings will benefit democracy.

“We’re being driven by finance when we should be driven by democracy.

“Whether we like it or not, democracy costs money. There’s a price to pay.

"The question has to be if the desire is to encourage turnout."

This year 18 district council wards are up for grabs, elections also taking place at European Parliament, parish and town council level.

Anyone wishing to vote in these elections must be on the electoral register by Tuesday, May 6 although they are advised not to leave it until the last minute.

For more information, call 01453 754886 or visit www.stroud.gov.uk/elections

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