Can’t have a level playing field so let’s kick the proposal into the long grass.
Time to Change the Guard at Devon County Council – Owl
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
Debate over whether the Government should facilitate free postal delivery of leaflets for each council election candidate in the May local elections has been ‘stifled’.
Cllr Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance councillor for Seaton and Colyton, had put forward a motion to Thursday’s Devon County Council full council meeting calling for discussions to be held as to how the elections can be made safer following the decision that they will go ahead as planned.
The regularly scheduled 2021 Devon County Council elections will take place May 6 as per usual, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Shaw had asked the council to discuss and debate his call for the Government to facilitate online registration for postal voting, and a free postal delivery of leaflets for each council election candidate on the day, rather than the usual process of referring it to cabinet before returning back to full council, as by the next council meeting, it would be out of date.
He said: “This is an urgent matter, and the Government only recently decided to hold the election and the rules for it. The next meeting is after the elections so if it is referred to the cabinet so will be out of date.
“We are in a pandemic and voting in person cannot be guaranteed as safe, but the Government is doing nothing to make postal voting easier, and banning leafleting by candidates won’t help the less well-off candidates.
“I would hope you would welcome the opportunity to discuss how to make the elections safer but if you don’t like the wording of the motion, you can amend it or you can vote it down, but don’t stifle debate.”
However, councillors voted 32 votes to 11, with four abstentions, against debating the motion on the day and instead referring it to Cabinet, a decision Cllr Shaw said was ‘disappointing’.
A second motion around elections from Cllr Shaw, calling for councils to be able choose to change their voting system from the first-past-the-post system to the proportional Single Transferable Vote system, which is already used for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, was also referred to the cabinet, but in accordance with the wishes of Cllr Shaw.