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Is co-option damaging Council democracy?

0 votes
With more Councils needing to co-opt Members to keep up numbers, they appear to become more vulnerable to agenda-setting by a few activists pursuing their own causes without reference to the local electorate. Should referenda be compulsory on significant decisions?
by (880 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
Think of the cost Frank!
by (37.2k points)
You cannot put a price on democracy.
Rightly or wrongly, I think we have to. The current system for referenda is too time-consuming and costly to be the solution. Perhaps the solution might lie in a new process for co-options to avoid the "mate-in-the-pub" scenario? For my last co-option, we leafleted every home in the parish and received 12 expressions of interest. We invited them to submit written testimony which I then anonymised as much as possible for a vote at the meeting. Members voted without knowing who the candidates were and I announced the successful candidate. As it happened, the person we chose had no connection to any member of the council. The key is that the council must be willing to act in an open and transparent manner.
If the electorate want an election and ten are more write and ask for one, to avoid a co opted stooge, then the cost of democracy is worth it. The town or parish council should use their reserves and precept to cover it.
I've had four election petitions in the last three years, but on two occasions, no candidates were nominated. On the other two, a single candidate, unconnected to the petition, submitted a nomination and was elected unopposed. The electorate doesn't care. People signed the petition without understanding what they were signing and with no interest whatsoever in becoming involved in their local council. I increased a precept by more than 1000% and only one person asked for an explanation.

As I've said before, the electorate gets the council it deserves.
We should soon reach the point where a digital response is possible. Pragmatically enough residents will be accessible compared to the vagaries of a ballot paper circulated in the parish newspaper and, if security is deemed good enough for TV reality shows, why not extend it to local democracy (not yet for elections)?
Can't disagree on with that
Why not indeed, but I doubt that it will happen in my lifetime.
0 votes
Is the regular need for co-option simply a symptom of the sectors wider problems & the apathy and total indifference within the communities they serve.  It will never happen but personally I would like to reduce the number of seats on first tier councils as part of a wider reform package. I find it horrifying that truly inept/vile people know they have a seat for life however bad they are.. should they wish.  We have got to change that
by (3.5k points)
The problem that PC's are facing is that with democracy is that it requires the support and engagement of the majority of the people. If there is apathy for whatever reason caused then those people feel disenfranchised and easily follow the path of " well it doesn't matter it's someone else's job".
In this vacuum left, t is the breeding ground for people who are pursuing their own agendas and self fulfilment which in many cases have no connection to the aims and aspirations of the majority of the population. Human beings are by nature opportunistic, that is how we have survived as a species. What has kept such traits on the straight and narrow has been our "moral compass" which some might say is sadly lacking in today's world

Seeing this road ahead has claimed many a dedicated councillor who has become disillusioned by trying to do a Canute and finally states" why should I bother no one else does?"
We need strong principled people to take up the challenge for their communities future and brush off criticism of lively, intelligent debate as being branded "bullying or worse" as per todays woke thinking.

In a democratic institution all points are valid.
 Here endeth the first lesson :-)
As usual I completely agree with Mentorman
Let’s face it there’s no difference between Co-option and no contest elections
Whilst there are some good Councils that don’t have elections my experience is that Councils where residents vote for their representatives are far far better than ones that don’t
As Doctor Johnson said “ hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully “ and the same applies to elections
+1 vote
In some circumstances yes. Remember that there is no scrutiny over the process that town and parish councils use to co opt. A mate of the chair or other councillor could be coopted who is is inferior to someone with no links to any of the councillors.  A by election will cost money but Town and Parish councils can use their reserves and precept to cover it.
by (27.3k points)
How democratic is a by-election with a turnout below 20%?
It is as democratic as a UK getting an overall majority In Westminster when only 38% of the electorate voted for them

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