Tuesday, 17 May 2011

More on the Elections

Just a bit more information and a few thoughts from me on the local elections that were held earlier this month. I've totted up the Rugby Borough Council-wide vote totals to judge the relative strengths of the local parties compared to when these particular seats were last fought four years ago, and these are:

  • Conservative - 12,889 votes (46.2%, +1.0%)
  • Labour - 8,296 votes (29.7%, +4.0%)
  • Liberal Democrats - 4,522 votes (16.2%, -9.5%)
  • Green - 1,456 votes (5.2%, +2.2%)
  • Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - 758 votes (2.7%)

  • In terms of the share of the vote, the losers on the night were the Liberal Democrats, although given their results across the country as a whole, I suspect they'll be relieved to have lost only one seat. Their share of the vote seems to have split one of three different ways: to Labour, the Greens or the new Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition. The Conservatives will no doubt be pleasantly surprised to have increased their majority on the council (along with their share of the overall vote) despite pre-election predictions of widespread party losses.

    At the local parish level, special mention must go, of course, to Birdingbury and Wolfhampcote parish councils for being the only two villages within the borough who generated enough candidates to require elections to be held (see here for more on this).

    It was obviously a national problem, which the Daily Telegraph picked up on in a short piece entitled "Dibley Effect 'Hits Parish Councils'":

    The BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley has been blamed for putting people off the idea of running for parish councils.

    In a number of wards around the country, no candidates put their name forward in Thursday's elections, meaning vacant seats were uncontested.

    No candidates stood in three wards of Forest Row Parish Council in East Sussex.

    Rodabe Rudin, the clerk of the council, said "I think people are stuck with a Dibley-esque mentality when it comes to parish councils.

    "They see parish councillors as powerless eccentrics like in The Vicar of Dibley. But that is outdated and untrue."

    Across Rugby borough, 14 seats were left unfilled because not enough local people put their names forward. Parish councils will now need to try and co-opt individuals to come forward, a situation that I feel is never particularly satisfactory.

    But for anyone thinking that the public at large aren't really interested in parish-level politics, consider this: the voter turnout in the two villages that did have parish council elections were 75% (Birdingbury) and 68% (Wolfhampcote). The highest turnout for the borough council elections was just 55% in Dunchurch & Knightlow ward, and only 35% of voters turned out in the New Bilton ward to elect their borough councillor.

    Perhaps proof, if it were needed, that if only more local residents would consider standing for parish council elections, the voting public are more than willing to play their part in the process?

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