Motion to debate new voting system for unitary authority

Liberal Democrats in Northampton are pushing a debate on changing the electoral system for the new unitary authority
Liberal Democrats in Northampton are pushing a debate on changing the electoral system for the new unitary authority

Councillors will debate a motion that calls for a new voting system to be used when unitary authorities are formed in Northamptonshire.

Last week six of the seven district and borough councils in Northamptonshire, as well as the county council, voted to abolish themselves in order to form two new large councils to serve the area.

North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire councils are likely to be formed in 2020, and just a week after the proposal was submitted to Whitehall conversations are already being steered as to how the new authorities will operate.

And one of the early motions is raising the issue of whether proportional representation should be used in elections, rather than the current First Past The Post system (FPTP).

Elected members at Northampton Borough Council will debate a motion from Liberal Democrat councillors Brian Markham and Sally Beardsworth which calls on the authority to write to the Secretary of State for communities and local government 'requesting that the election for the new unitary council be trialled under proportional representation using the Single Transferable Vote'.

The current First Past The Post system sees voters pick their preferred candidate, and the candidate with the most votes is elected.

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) requires more candidates, and sees voters rank the candidates in order of preference. Once a councillor receives enough votes, those votes are then transferred onto the person's second-choice candidate. The process continues until all the seats have been filled.

The motion from the Lib Dem councillors states that this alternative voting system 'will produce a result which more closely reflects the views of a diverse Northampton community'.

However, it will face a tough task on Monday to receive support from the current administration, with the current councillors all winning using the current First Past The Post system.

It is also currently unknown whether local elections are scheduled to take place as usual next year. Many councillors across the county have questioned whether elections next year will serve any purpose given the current councils will soon be abolished.

But the choice of whether to suspend next year's elections lies with the government.