A new missive from the Electoral Reform Society warns that ‘Local one-party fiefdoms plague local government in England – with growing powers often wielded with shrinking oversight. It is a potential gift for lobbyists and shady contractors.’

In an update to a previous report by the Electoral Reform Society, which named Salford as a “one party dominated” city, and concluded that lack of a proper opposition in local councils is a “cause for concern across England in terms of quality of public services, value for money and government responsiveness to citizen needs”. The Society recommends proportional representation to end it all.

On the eve of the local elections, the Electoral Reform Society repeated its previous claims that one party dominated councils are not good for democracy.

The missive uses the examples of Lewisham in 2018, when Labour got 52% of the votes but 100% of the seats, and East Hertfordshire in 2015, when the Conservatives got 49.8% of the votes but 100% of the seats (see here), while a further article argues that “While Westminster’s lobbying scandal continues to grow, we need to have a closer look, closer to home.”

Salford City Council compostion in pie chart.
Composition of Salford City Council prior to election on 6 May 2021. Image: Salford Star

It refers back to a report by the Society first published in 2015 called The Cost of One Party Councils and naming Salford as one of around sixty local authorities dominated by one party.

“Local one-party fiefdoms plague local government in England – with growing powers often wielded with shrinking oversight” writes the Society’s Josiah Mortimer “It is a potential gift for lobbyists and shady contractors.

“We often see the absurdity of ‘scrutiny committees’ – reviewing millions of pounds in contracts – being dominated by the same party in office” he adds “The risks of winner-takes-all politics – of sloppy decision making and dodgy dealings – are clear. One party councils could be wasting billions of pounds a year through a lack of proper oversight, according to the research. The warped voting system is actively raising the risks of corruption in England.”

The Electoral Reform Society is pushing for a shift to proportional representation, like in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (where councils have a choice of systems), and almost 28,000 people have signed its petition for ‘No more one-party councils’ – to sign it click here.


By the Salford Star

First published in the Salford Star on 5 May 2021

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