One-party election branded ‘mockery’

Banbury Cake: Tim Hallchurch was unopposed Tim Hallchurch was unopposed

A NATIONAL campaign group has branded an uncontested election in Oxfordshire a “mockery of democracy”.

There is only one candidate standing in the Cherwell District Council seat of Otmoor at Thursday’s elections.

Conservative incumbent Tim Hallchurch has, therefore, been elected to the council unopposed by any other parties or candidates.

His seat is one of only five which are uncontested in the rest of the country, and the only one in Oxfordshire.

The Electoral Reform Society has calculated that this will leave 2,500 people in the ward without a vote this year and condemned the situation as a “blight” on democracy.

Darren Hughes, the society’s deputy chief executive, said: “The first principle of democracy is that you get to choose who represents you.

“But for thousands of people in Oxfordshire, this fundamental democratic right is being denied. Uncontested seats make a mockery of democracy.

“If a seat is uncontested, democracy in that area effectively does not exist.

“The councillor elected in Otmoor will have no proper mandate from the people as they will not have had to win a single vote.

“Local electoral reform would mean there would be incentives for parties to field candidates wherever they have a vote, no matter how small.”

Mr Hughes suggested the implementation of the single transferable vote system over first past the post, the current voting system.

With the single transferable vote system, voters can select a second preference on their ballot paper rather than just voting once.

Mr Hallchurch, pictured, said: “I know it is very difficult to get people who have got the time to be a councillor, especially people who work all the time.

“The question is if we have proportional representation are you going to get more people to stand? I doubt it.

“I think we have probably got it about right.

“Proportional representation leads to hung councils and that makes it very hard to make decisions.”

David Winchester, secretary of the Henley Labour Party – which covers Otmoor – said: “It is the policy of the Labour Party to be represented in all local government elections.

“In 2013 there was a re-organisation of local government boundaries to reduce the total number of seats. This left a number of seats spanning constituencies or being in constituencies that were different from the majority of the council.

“Otmoor is such a seat and unfortunately it fell into a hole between two constituencies. It would appear that Labour was not the only party affected by this situation.

“We will be introducing administrative procedures to ensure that we will be represented in the future.”

We also contacted Tim Emptage, the leader of the Lib Dems on the district council, to find out why no candidate had been put forward, but he did not return our call.

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Comments (3)

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9:56am Wed 21 May 14

snert says...

You can hardly condemn Mr Hallchurch or the system for allowing him to be elected uncontested if there are no people to run in contest with him.
You can hardly condemn Mr Hallchurch or the system for allowing him to be elected uncontested if there are no people to run in contest with him. snert
  • Score: 2

10:54am Wed 21 May 14

icba1957 says...

What would be the point of a transferable vote when there's no-one to transfer it to!
Unless they're suggesting the alternative IS no-one!
How democratic would that be?
What would be the point of a transferable vote when there's no-one to transfer it to! Unless they're suggesting the alternative IS no-one! How democratic would that be? icba1957
  • Score: 1

12:01pm Wed 21 May 14

King Joke says...

^ What they said. I am no Tory but if no-one else can be fagged to stand then the seat has to go to the one person who can.
^ What they said. I am no Tory but if no-one else can be fagged to stand then the seat has to go to the one person who can. King Joke
  • Score: 2

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