February 23rd, 2021.

Lewes District Co-Operative Alliance release:

Councillors Christine Robinson (Labour) and Johnny Denis (Green Party) call for proportional representation at local and national elections backed by Labour, Green and Lib Dem District Councillors.

Councillor Christine Robinson put forward the motion to full Council calling on the Council to write to the government to allow the change. It passed with full support from all Labour, Green and Lib Dem councillors. Conservative and Independent councillors opposed the motion.

Cllr Robinson says: “It is evident that we have a broken system in which all votes are not equal and seats do not match the votes cast. It is time for a change and I’m pleased the Council supports this move.”

Cllr Robinson referred to recent changes approved by the Welsh Assembly which allowed votes at 16 and allowed for Councils to introduce Proportional Representation for local elections.

She added, “We’ve asked the Local Government Association (LGA) to review the new policy for Wales and to see how it can inform reform of local democracy in England.”

Councillor Johnny Denis, who seconded the motion, highlighted the unfairness in the present system of First Past The Post (FPTP).

Cllr Denis says: “When present councillors were elected in 2019 the results showed us that the Conservatives became far and away the largest single group because they elected the largest number of councillors, more than twice that of the second largest party, the Greens. The unfairness of this is that Greens actually polled more votes than the Conservatives across the District.

“If all the votes had been counted proportionately, Greens and Conservatives would each have won 11 seats while, Lib Dems 9, Labour 4 and independents 4, giving rise to quite a different council.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, James MacCleary, added: “It won’t surprise anyone to know that Lib Dem councillors were fully supportive of this motion. Our party has long led calls for a fairer electoral system that creates governments that people have actually voted for. Campaigns like Make Votes Matter have highlighted how damaging it is to our democracy when people feel they are not being heard at the ballot box. Change is long overdue.”

The Council agreed to the motion to call on the Chief Executive to ask the government to change the law to permit a change and to ask the LGA to review the new policy in Wales and to see how it can inform elections in England.
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