Council to save £200k by changing the vote

Council to save £200k by changing the vote

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Tunbridge Wells Town Hall

The way our councillors are elected is set to change, with savings of £195,000 driving a shift in policy due to be approved at a full council meeting this evening.

Councillors are currently elected by thirds, with one third of the council voted in at each election.

But tonight’s decision will begin a move to whole council elections, whereby the entire council will be voted in at the same election.

The move was first considered in December 2012, and a task and finish group recommended that the council make the shift in February 2013 to achieve savings of £195,000 over the next eight years.

The recommendation was not carried, with the majority of members at the time believing elections by thirds ‘provide a more democratic process through which the council could engage with the electorate’, ‘provide a good mix of experienced and new councilors’, and ‘reduce the risk of policy reversal.’

Nearly two years on, the overview and scrutiny committee has asked the council to ‘support a move to whole council elections in principle’, based on the work previously undertaken by the task and finish group.

Alongside the projected savings, other reasons for the change include ‘encouraging greater long-term planning by the council’ and ‘maintaining the level of voter turn out.’

If a resolution is passed by full council now, the earliest year they could hold complete elections would be 2019. The council would continue to elect by thirds until then. There are several steps, including the fulfi lling of legislative requirements, that need to be taken before the resolution can be passed. Consultation with residents and interested parties has been recommended as the next step.