9:36am Thursday 17th April 2014
By SNJ Reporter
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.
The district has over 100 polling stations and the current budget for elections £95,000 per year.
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 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 last Thursday night.
Among advantages are 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 a 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 SDC 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, then 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 on the matter of the new system: “I am not convinced that savings will benefit democracy. We’re being driven by finance when we should be driven by democracy.”
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