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Politics South Wales Torfaen

Petition calls for abolishment of first past the post voting system

Brendan Roberts

A PETITION calling for abolishment of the system which gives Labour near-complete control of a Gwent council has been presented to councillors. 

Brendan Roberts brought his petition calling for a change to the system used to elect members of Torfaen Borough Council to its full meeting at the Civic Centre in Pontypool on Tuesday, April 25. 

The Welsh Government has given local authorities the power to ditch the first past the post voting system, in which the candidate who gets the single largest number of votes is elected, to the single transferable vote system. 

That allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference, with a number elected to represent any one area. The system is intended to produce results which better reflect the range of support. 

Mr Roberts, who gained 127 votes for the Liberal Democrats but failed to get elected in Cwmbran’s Two Locks ward in last year’s council elections, said the system is supported by “all the mainstream parties in Wales except the Conservatives”. He added Welsh Labour also backs introducing the system to elect all Senedd members if the Welsh Parliament is expanded. 

Mr Roberts told councillors: “By changing our voting system I hope we would be able to potentially create a more inclusive politics and more representative for the people of Torfaen. A party that does not get more than 50 per cent of the vote share should not get more than half the seats in this chamber.” 

Following last May’s council elections Labour won 30 of the 40 seats on Torfaen Borough Council, with the remaining 10 split between independent candidates. Last week Labour member Giles Davies quit the party to sit as an independent. 

Councillors agreed to refer Mr Roberts’ petition to the cabinet member responsible. 

The number of signatures the petition received has not been revealed, and there is not a minimum number of signatures required before a petition will be considered by the council.