Posted: Thu 21st Mar 2024

Bridgend Council opts to keep current voting system for local elections

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

Council bosses in Bridgend have decided they will not go ahead with public consultations on plans to change the area’s current voting system.
It means the way local county borough councillors are elected will remain unchanged until at least the 2027 local elections, following a decision at full council this March.
Members decided against holding a consultation over transferring to a single transferable vote system from the current first past the post system used for local elections in Wales.
A council spokesperson said: “The STV system would require voters to rank the candidates on the ballot paper in order of preference. Voters would have the choice of ranking as many or as few of the candidates as they wish. The counting, which often takes two to three days, is done in rounds and based on candidates meeting a quota figure (calculated by a standardised formula) in order to be elected.”
They added that changing the voting system would require a boundary review of all current county borough wards, as well as statutory consultation, which could cost the authority as much as £25,000 for sending a letter to every household in the borough, as well as an additional £25,000 per day during voting periods due to complexities in the counting process.
Speaking during the meeting, Cllr Alex Williams said that while he was in favour of a more proportional voting system in principal, he was also concerned about the costs of the process, as well as increasing the work load for members under the new system.
He said: “I don’t believe that the public will thank us necessarily for spending the best part of £150,000- £200,000 on what is essentially a naval gazing exercise I suppose, on how we are elected, rather than spending this money on front line services during a very difficult budget setting process.”
Cllr Jane Gebbie said she felt the discussions were important for democracy, however she also felt the authority was currently not in a financial position at the moment, adding that Welsh Government should fund any changes.
Council Leader Huw David, added: “Whilst there was some support for electoral reform there is a clear consensus amongst members that now is not the right time to explore a change to our voting system.
“Given the context of the national financial challenges and considering that only last month we set a budget, we must continue to focus scarce resources on front line services for our most vulnerable citizens instead of finding a budget of at least £25,000 to fund a consultation on voting systems.
“Members have also raised concerns about further changes to ward boundaries that were only changed in 2022. It’s worth noting that this proposal could be revisited again in future Council terms, if supported by a majority of elected members.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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