What Cost Democracy?

0 votes

I’ve lived in my small village for about 24 years and, in all that time, I’ve never known the parish council publicise an election or co-option. To be honest I’ve been too busy with work and travelling and so have not taken a great deal of interest in what the parish council has done (or should have done).

Recently I’ve had a great deal more time and have become part of a newly formed community group and so a few of us have been going along to the monthly (now every other month) parish council meetings. It’s very obvious that this has caused the existing councillors a lot of discomfort as they’ve been put under the spotlight – they just don’t like it.

A few months ago a councillor resigned and so we forced an election, fielded 2 candidates and one was duly elected. The first time this had happened in at least 24 years!

During the next parish council meeting the clerk announced how much the election had cost, a little over £2000, to which all the councillors were aghast. One councillor even said what a waste of money it had been and how were they going to pay for it (There is never anything in the budget for elections).

The clerk then said, unprompted, that if they’d been allowed to co-opt someone then it would not have cost anything. She also then said, incorrectly, that any decision regarding who was co-opted would be taken by an independent body.

This just goes to show how incompetent the clerk is. I believe that she has now realised her mistake!

I despair sometimes but will keep plugging away. May 2019 isn’t too far away smiley

asked by (920 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
The cost of elections is scandalous and it should be addressed in the government's consultation on ethics in local government. You can find it here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/local-government-ethical-standards-stakeholder-consultation

Co-opting always runs the risk of cronyism so the cost of parish elections is relevant to the ethical discussion, in my view.
answered by (560 points)
I've no idea of the breakdown of the costs for an election but they obviously include:-
1. Hire of venue (in my case the church)
2. Two council employees being there all day (although they are already employed so no additional cost to the council apart from overtime?)
3. Printing and sending out polling cards including envelopes and postage.
4. Processing returned postal votes
£2000+ is a lot for a small council but if planned for shouldn't be too onerous, so long as they don't happen too often.
Any idea what the costs are of each item?
Some typical costs involved for a small parish as charged by District.

Polling station venue     £125
Poll staff Pay                 £245
Clerical staff                  £160
Printing Costs               £770
Postage costs               £440
Other Staff costs           £340
(Inc travel, Counting staff, training etc)
 Total                             £2080

(Assumes 1 polling station)

Costs maybe less if a district elections are held at same time.

HTH

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