At the next full council meeting (17th October) we are due to discuss whether the council should move to ‘all-up’ elections.
At the moment the council is elected by thirds – yearly a third of councillors come up for election (one in each ward) and they are elected for a four year period. Every forth year we get a year off elections.
The proposal is to move to having an election every fourth year, where every councillor is put up for election (three in each ward).
This would save over £50,000 a year (more if we don’t have a by-election). Every year. With no effect to frontline services. A no brainer if you ask me. If MPs can be elected for a five-year period, the Mayor of London and the President of the United States for a four-year period, I’m not quite sure why Southend-on-Sea Borough Councillors can’t be elected for a four-year period as well. If we hold these elections at the same time as other elections (such as General Elections (2015) and European Elections (2019)) we will be able to reduce our costs even further.
But, surprise surprise, my inbox is already getting full of emails from opposition councillors telling me that “it is only proposed to gratify the present administrations ambitions” and “It will have to be made very clear what the advantages of whole council elections might be. Democracy is precious and money-saving is not an acceptable argument” (I won’t say who said these comments as I don’t have their consent).
The first comment is quite right – I will be voting for four-yearly elections to gratify the present administrations ambitions – that is to save money without affecting front-line services wherever possible. If the opposition’s ambitions are to have us trapes to the polls yearly, then I look forward to hearing from them about which Children’s Centre I have to close, which roads should be left with pot-holes in them, which refuge centre should close for another day or how much more we should tax our minimum-wage workers to fund their unnecessary extravagance.
Council elections cost YOU every time we hold them. So let’s hold them a bit less often! Money-saving is not an acceptable argument – Please!