Calls for new voting system in Northampton unitary election rejected without a debate

A motion that called for an alternative voting system to be introduced in the new unitary council for Northampton has been rejected without a debate.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:53 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:53 am

Elections are due to take place in May for the new West Northamptonshire Council, which would formally launch a year later in 2021. It will effectively merge the county council and the district and borough councils in Northampton, Daventry and South Northamptonshire under one roof.

And Liberal Democrat councillors in Northampton had called for an alternative voting system to be used. They argue that the Supplementary Vote system – which is used for Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections – should be used instead of the First Past The Post system which is used in the current elections.

The Supplementary Vote system sees voters cast an X next to their first choice and second choice candidates. If no candidate gets over 50 per cent, the top two remain and are allocated any second-choice votes they received. The candidate with the most votes after this stage is then declared the winner. First Past The Post simply sees the candidate with the most votes being elected.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Local elections for the new unitary councils are due to take place in May

A motion calling on Northampton Borough Council to change the voting system had been submitted to the full council meeting on Monday (January 20) by Lib Dem leader Councillor Sally Beardsworth.

But due to the meeting overrunning, the motion was rejected by the majority of the council without a debate taking place in order to rush it through for the council to finish by its 10pm deadline.

The move angered Councillor Beardsworth, but prior to the meeting she had conceded to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she was unlikely to be supported by the majority Conservative council, saying: “When you’re the winning party you’re not going to be looking at changing it. But we’ve had First Past The Post for years. It’s not a fair system.”

The Electoral Reform Society shows that in the recent general election won by Boris Johnson, the Liberal Democrats won 11.5 per cent of the vote share, but won just 11 of the 650 seats, a share of just 1.7 per cent. The Conservatives meanwhile won a 43.6 per cent vote share, but took 56.2 per cent of the seats.