We in the UK talk constantly of being a democratic nation and how we are showing a glorious example to the world on how it should be done.
What a load of rubbish. The word democracy is used but never implemented here in the UK, and especially here in Lancashire and the Ribble Valley, as it should be.
We have at present a system where, when voting comes along, we take more notice of the few “yes” votes than we do of the majority of “no” votes. Let me explain that statement. Citizens of the UK will cross the oceans of the world to fight in other countries for Democracy, but will not cross the street to vote in elections.
When elections have been held, an approximate 40 to 60% do not vote. The successful candidate usually gets in power with 20% of votes cast (not 20% of eligible votes).
A recent poll showed the majority of non-voters (I prefer to tag them no-voters) do not vote due to lack of conviction that the people or parties standing are the correct ones to vote for. There is no system whereby a “NO” vote for any candidates can be registered on any ballot paper, thus making a mockery of the word “democracy”.
Here in the Ribble Valley we operate that non-democratic system which has allowed many councillors over the years a way into ruling over the many by obtaining fewer votes than the majority of the “no thank you” voters who are denied to have that vote recognised and acted on.
In a letter published recently I mentioned I would let you, the citizens, know what needs to be changed and why.
The following are the main points on how we can obtain a more democratic voice than the one we have now.
1. We must rid ourselves of the burden called Lancashire County Council, which takes a minimum of £28m. a year out of the Valley and gives back very little in return. The growing trend now is for many councils in what used to be called Lancashire (now a third of its original size) opting out of the system and running their own affairs. We must do the same, eliminating LCC from any further affairs concerning the Ribble Valley.
2. We must change the present way of voting for ward councillors, both Ribble Valley Borough and parish/town councillors. The present system of voting for these councillors every four years is undemocratic and was introduced by the present majority party to ensure a continuous supply of like-minded people for ever and a day.
The system does not reflect the demand for any individual candidates and relies heavily on the parties that can produce two candidates in every ward. Is it any wonder polling is down to as little as 20% of eligible voters? Does that not tell everyone the “no” voters have not got any say on who they want to represenDet them in council.
The way forward is to introduce the system now widely used in other councils around England, and that is to have the elections split into two alternative four-year periods. This would mean one councillor for each ward being voted in every two years to serve for a four-year period, giving any independent candidate an even footing and the voters (including no voters) a more democratic voice than the one we have now.
3. To ensure the citizens are truly democratically represented the system where people on the parish/town councils are also Ribble Valley councillors must stop. This must be altered to ensure a person does not sit on both.
I would also highly recommend the use of political party names and emblems be also banned from election forms. This, I believe, is being discussed at large in England. It has been mentioned previously in this paper that a system of not allowing any councillors from other wards to attend or vote in matters concerning other wards.
This is admirable in its concept, but I would introduce a more effective one whereby RVBC is reformed so any committee is formed with a equal number of RVBC councillors and parish/town councillors, with the chairman of these committee filled by a neutral citizen who is not a councillor.
How we can force the changes mentioned above (if of course the majority of the Ribble Valley citizens (not voters) want to change) will be for another letter to the Editor.
Low Moor, Clitheroe