Swindon residents will be asked for their views on how often they would like to vote for their Borough councillors.
At a meeting held by the Council earlier this year, councillors agreed to hold a consultation on potentially changing the Council’s election cycle, which will be carried out by council officers independently from politicians.
Every household in the borough will be sent a letter and explanatory leaflet from Monday (16 Sep) asking residents if they would like to move away from the current ‘by thirds’ election model to a ‘whole council’ model instead.
The current election cycle used by the Council currently takes place in ‘thirds’. This means that a third of councillors are elected for a four-year term over a period of three consecutive years. This is then followed by a fourth year when there are no elections. As most wards have three councillors and these are chosen one at a time, voters in a given ward may need to vote three times within four years under the ‘by thirds’ system.
The proposed alternative model, ‘whole council elections’, would mean that all seats on the Council will be elected at the same time, once every four years. Currently, this model is used by 70 per cent of unitary authorities across the country. The biggest difference with ‘whole council elections’ is that there would be no elections between the four-yearly elections apart from by-elections, which would be triggered when an elected borough councillor does not complete their four year term.
Residents will be asked to return their opinion on the potential change in a pre-paid envelope.
The forms will be delivered across the borough throughout next week with all residents in each household over 18 asked to take part in the consultation.
The postal element of the consultation is being run independently by election specialists Election Reform Services (ERS), who will provide the results of the postal consultation to councillors before they make a decision. All postal responses need to be with ERS by 25 October with residents advised to have put their responses in the post by 21 October.
Businesses, community groups and other local organisations are also being asked to contribute to the consultation via the Council’s website by the 25 October.
After the consultation period has finished, councillors will consider all the feedback received from the public consultation and make a decision on which model to use at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 21 November 2019.
Residents can find out more information by visiting swindon.gov.uk/electioncycles.