Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Cost of democracy to rise in Whitwick?

Today the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has announced a new warding pattern, to come into effect in May 2015,  for North West Leicestershire District Council comprised of 38 'single member wards'.

The warding pattern will mean that Whitwick, which has long been represented by a 3 councillors in a 'multi member ward' will now be divided into 4 distinct wards (picking up parts of the old Thringstone and Greenhill wards) each represented by a single councillor.

Whilst this might not make a great difference to local people the knock on effect to Whitwick Parish Council and local residents almost certainly will.

As a result of the LGBCE decision the civil parish of Whitwick will now become warded, which means that in May 2015 separate elections will have to take place for each ward.

Currently Whitwick Parish is represented wholly by 11 Parish Councillors. From next May 2 Parish Councillors will be returned from the Broom Leys ward and 3 each respectively from Holly Hayes, Hermitage and Thornborough.

County Councillor for Whitwick, Leon Spence, expressed his concern "What this means is that the cost of carrying out elections in Whitwick, a cost borne directly by local residents, may well increase significantly.

"In 2011 £6,500 was budgeted  to cover the cost of the inaugural election for the Parish Council but because only 9 prospective candidates put their name forward an election was not needed and the actual cost was £43.26.

"Under these new arrangements it's entirely possible that some wards will have more prospective candidates than places, thereby forcing an election, whilst other wards may have nobody putting themselves forward to stand.

"It is quite possible that in 2015 the cost of electing a Parish Council could top £10,000 - and we may still end up having to hold additional elections or co-opting.

"I desperately want to see more local people taking part in the life of the Parish Council but these ridiculous proposals could have the effect of taking money away from local services whilst at the same time turning aspiring candidates off the democratic process even further.

"The sensible thing to do to increase participation is to hold a single election for the whole of Whitwick, the boundary commission have done just about the daftest thing with these recommendations."

Full details of LGBCE's proposals can be found here.

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