Opposition call for shake up in voting

Opposition councillors have called for a shake up in the way voting is calculated, after a large number of people voted against the main parties in the European and local elections.

By Molly Williams, local democracy reporter
Thursday, 06 June, 2019, 11:08

Green Party councillors Paul Turpin, Gleadless Valley ward representative, and Douglas Johnson, City ward representative, have put a motion to full council criticising the first-past-the-post system currently used for local and General Elections.

In the motion, which has been sent to every MP in Sheffield and to central government, they have called for a more proportional method to be adopted.

A ballot box being taken to count

It comes after 77 per cent of people voted for parties other than Labour or Conservatives in the European elections – which uses proportional representation.

In their motion, they said: “We believe many people who voted for the Brexit Party at the European elections must feel disenfranchised and feel they lack representation and involvement in politics.

“Elections for all levels of government should be by systems of election that provide high proportionality, few wasted votes and good accountability, so the political aspirations and views of everyone are better represented.”

They added that in May’s local elections “no councillors were elected to reflect the wishes of 21 per cent of the electorate.”

Councillor Paul Turpin winning his seat in Gleadless Valley in the local elections this year

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They said that whenthe total number of votes in last month’s poll were counted up across the city and divided by the number of councillors elected, the result was 2,775 votes per Liberal Democrat councillor in contrast to approximately 7,000 votes per Green councillor.

But the results meant that Labour still has a large majority with 49 councillors, Liberal Democrats have 26, Green Party 8 and one independent.

They said at a local level, democracy could be improved by using a committee system – which involves councillors from different political parties working together on all decisions.

Campaign group It’s Our City has also pushed for this and reached more than 6,760 signatures on their petition so far.

Councillor Douglas Johnson

Opposition parties have also called to lower the voting age to 16, adding that climate strikes are showing an increasing number of young people involved in politics.

The motion will be discussed at a full council meeting on Wednesday, June 12.