Thursday, 16 January 2020

Kirklees Green Motion to Full Council on Proportional Representation in Local Elections

The General Election. Tories lack a majority of votes but get a majority of MPs
Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to Proportional Representation in Local Elections

To consider the following Motion in the names of Councillors Cooper, Lee-Richards and Allison;

This Council notes that;

The electoral system used for local elections in England and Wales, First Past the Post (FPTP), is not a fair system, because it means that votes do not have equal weight and many votes are wasted. This leads to voter apathy and a feeling of disconnection from local democracy. Certain parties are over-represented, the most extreme example in May 2019 being Havant, where the Conservative Party
took all of the seats up for election on Havant Council with just 43.9% of the vote.

The alternative to FPTP is a system of proportional representation (PR), where votes cast for parties translates more or less directly into seats won. There are many variants of PR. The Single Transferable Vote system (STV) variant of PR is already in use for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland. With this system, voters rank candidates and those who receive the most backing
(including second and subsequent choices) are elected to serve in multi-member wards.

Kirklees Council (in common with most other Metropolitan councils) already has multi-member wards and thus the transfer to a similar system would be easier than if the wards were single-member.
The introduction of PR for local elections in Scotland has led to an increase in turnout, which was 47% at the last elections, held in 2017. In contrast turnout in Kirklees in 2019 was 33%.

A move to a system of PR for local elections would necessitate moving to all-out elections every four years, rather than the current one-third system. This would benefit the council and Kirklees residents too, since it would mean more time for decision-making.

This Council believes that a move to the use of proportional representation for local elections would boost turn-out, make the council more representative of the political make-up of its residents,
and improve the quality of its decision-making, thereby benefiting all Kirklees residents.

This Council resolves to;

- write to the Minister responsible for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting that Kirklees be allowed to pilot a system of Proportional Representation on the Scottish model at the earliest possible election
- signal our interest to be a pilot area for Proportional Representation to the Electoral Commission
- work through the Local Government Association to promote Proportional Representation more widely in English and Welsh Local Authorities.

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