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WELSH LOCAL GOVERNMENT REJECTS CALL FOR PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

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The WLGA has rejected the call for proportional representation in local government elections, following the publica...
The WLGA has rejected the call for proportional representation in local government elections, following the publication of the report of the Commission on Local Government Electoral Arrangements in Wales (see below). The association will need to further consider the report in its entirety, but support the broader recommendations in the report, including widening participation in councils. Many of these recommendations were set out by the WLGA in its own report to the commission.

Speaking from the LGA annual conference in Bournemouth, WLGA leader Harry Jones said:

'The WLGA does not support the introduction of proportional representation (PR) in local government elections in Wales and we do not subscribe to the argument that a new complex voting system will increase voter turnout. The key issue facing the democratic process in the UK is a crisis of participation and engagement with the democratic process as a whole.

'The incumbent first past the post system is tried, tested and trusted. It has a reputation for clear outcomes, which regularly promote change in leadership - during the last Welsh local government elections in 1999, Plaid Cymru secured two traditional Labour authorities through this system. It has served local government well and, contrary to popular myth, produced considerable diversity in political control.

'Proportional representation can create an 'open door' for extremist parties and can result in unstable government.'

The WLGA in its submission to the commission put forward a number of recommendations to encourage greater voter turnout, including reducing the voting-age to 16; extending voting over a number of days; improving access to polling stations, such as locating stations in supermarkets; use of electronic voting; and increased use of postal voting. The English council elections in May demonstrated the potential of all-postal ballots, with authorities that conducted all postal ballots seeing an increased turnout of an average 28%.

The WLGA will be considering the commission's full recommendations at its forthcoming coordinating committee on 28 June, and will further respond to the commission's report to the National Assembly for Wales.

Summaryof the Sunderland report

Full report.

Notes

- The WLGA's Response to the Local Government Electoral Commission - 1st October 2001 can be accessed at http://www.wlga.gov.uk/policy/Betterlocalgov/electoral_commission_report_011001.pdf

- The WLGA Plaid Cymru Group withdrew its it's support for the WLGA's response to the Local Government Electoral Commission.

- Further details about the Commission on Local Government Electoral Arrangements in Wales can be found at http://www.cologea.com/

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