Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parish Council elections

The call by a vocal few for a return to the golden era of independent councillors on St Neots Town Council has to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Parish Council sector of local Government shows  less and less Independents are will to stand for election at this level of Government.

In the notice of uncontested elections many Parish Councils simply don't attract the number of candidates needed to hold a contested poll. A majority of Parish Councils (I've excluded the Town Councils which have political parties standing) simply don't have enough people interested to stand for election.
Of the 33 Parish Councils up for election this year, 5 have contested elections, 12 have exactly the right number and 16 have less candidates than the number of seats up for election. Some are just below the number of seats. Some like Bythorn and Hail Weston only attracted 2 candidates each.

In the case of Hail Weston this means it will lose Quality Status as it doesn't meet the electoral mandate test of 2/3rds of members being elected. But meeting the mandatory tests isn't the CPALC way and Hail Weston will probably retain this now dubious status.

Political parties do have a role to play in local politics. Even at Parish level they would try and get candidates to stand for election. The exclusion of party politics at this level of Government is to the detriment of Parishes. Whilst our population is growing and with an ageing population there should be more candidates than ever for these positions. In essence people don't want to put the time into Parish Councils as they are pretty useless without the money.

I hope when HDC takes a look at the Parishes again it does so with open eyes on how many of these Parishes are actually viable. The Parish Council has been around for over 110 years. Isn't it time for reform of the system that only covers 35% of the population of England?

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