COUNCILLORS will be advised to throw out a proposal to change the voting system in Powys for the next local elections in 2027.
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Democratic Service committee on Thursday, November 16 councillors discussed a report on the possible move to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) proportional voting system.
The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 allows local authorities in Wales to choose STV as the type of electoral system to be used after 2027 instead of the current First Past the Post System.
STV will be discussed at the next full council meeting on December 7 and at the meeting councillors will need to vote on whether or not to put the STV out to a public consultation..
Head of legal services, Clive Pinney explained that if the new system were adopted voters would need to rank the candidates in preference, one, two, three and so on.
Mr Pinney explained that candidates would need to achieve a “quota” of votes to be elected.
Mr Pinney said: “If no candidates achieve the quota in the first round of counting the bottom placed candidate is eliminated and their votes are reallocated.
“It is complex and will result the counting process being certainly more than one day and could be three or four.”
Committee chairman and Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan said: “My concern is that the consultation process itself would cost around £50,000 of our scarce resources.
“Even after that we would need 66 per cent of the members at a special council meeting to vote for it.
“Hand on heart I can’t see that happening in Powys.”
Committee deputy chairman, and deputy leader of the Indpendent group, Cllr Graham Breeze said: “I’m completely against this.
“In my opinion it damages the democratic process.
“Political parties have the ability to benefit and it will lead to the end of having independents on Powys council which I don’t see as a good thing for this authority.”
He added that several councils in Wales including Cardiff and Pembrokeshire had already discussed and refused moving to STV.
Conservative, Cllr Peter Lewington said: “If we adopt STV we lose the bond the voter has with their representatives as they would in effect be voting for a party list.”
He believed that STV would lead to “lower voter turnout.”
The committee unanimously agreed to recommend that the council don’t start a consultation on STV.
If STV were adopted in Powys there would still 68 county councillors, but the wards would be changed from the current 52 single and eight multi member wards to all multi member wards which could vary from 12 to 23.
This means the number of councillors elected would also vary from three to a maximum of six.
The process of adopting STV needs to be completed by November 15, 2024 for it to be implemented at the 2027 local election.
The findings of the consultation would need to be sifted through and then debated again by councillors.
The law also stipulates that a vote with a two thirds majority is needed at a special council meeting in favour of the changes.