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Calls for Caerphilly Council to abolish current first-past-the-post elections

Polling Station

A COUNCILLOR in Caerphilly has proposed abolishing the traditional voting system for local government elections.

Kevin Etheridge, an independent from Blackwood, said the current first-past-the-post method of electing councillors could be improved with a more proportional system of representation.

He believes a system called the single transferable vote (STV) is the way forward, and has called on councillors of all parties to support his motion for the public to have their say on the matter.

Cllr Kevin Etheridge (Pic: CCBC)

STV is used for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and asks voters to choose, in order of preference, several candidates within a multi-member constituency.

Once a candidate crosses a threshold of ‘first-choice’ votes, they are elected. All ‘second-choice’ votes are then counted as if they are first choices, and the system continues with ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ choices, and so on, until the constituency’s seats have all been filled.

While it tends to lead to longer, more complicated counts after polling day, it is popular among campaigners for electoral reform, and in theory should lead to better representation because most voters will have at least one of their choices elected.

Under the current first-past-the-post system, the candidate – or candidates – with the highest number of votes win seats, and there is no consideration of voters’ orders of preference on the candidate lists.

Cllr Etheridge told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it was time for a “full and frank debate” on the future of voting in Caerphilly Council elections, and believed STV would lead to a more representative council.

“Signing my all party motion on the voting system will show the residents we are all working for Team Caerphilly,” he told the LDRS.

Two other Welsh councils – Gwynedd and Powys – had already raised the possibility of consulting their own residents on a similar move to SVT, Cllr Etheridge added.