All 70 council seats to be contested every 4 years
BRISTOL'S electorate will vote once every four years in council elections from 2016.
The decision to bring an end to the system of "one-third elections" – where one third of the council's 70 seats are contested every year – was made last night at an extraordinary meeting of full council.
For the proposal to be passed two thirds of the city's councillors needed to vote in its favour.
While the Tory and Labour groups had previously voiced support, there was uncertainty about which way the city's Liberal Democrat councillors, who had a free vote, would go.
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After around an hour of debate the motion for "all-out" elections was carried, with 46 out of 61 councillors voting in favour and 12 against, with three abstentions.
It means that polling day in 2016 will see elections for councillors as well as for the elected mayor.
In the meantime elections will be held this year, next year and in 2015.
The change was proposed by Conservative group leader Peter Abraham who believed an overhaul of the voting system was desperately needed because of low election turnout.
He argued that the city needed a voting system which was popular and encouraged people to take part in the decision-making process.
Mr Abraham said: "I feel very strongly that all-out elections are the way we should be conducting democracy in this city. It would bring us in line with the mayoral elections and save us considerable sums of money.
"The main reason for doing this is that the current system has caused lots of confusion over the years."
Labour leader Helen Holland also supported the proposal.
"It makes great sense to line up the council elections with the mayoral elections – it will be a kind of 'democracy fest'," she said.
One of those who spoke out against all-out elections was former Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke.
She said the system made it more possible to have a mayor, a council and a Government all of the same party, with no chance to change anything for four years.
A request to the Government for a boundary review of the city's wards was also passed unanimously.
The idea behind it is to achieve "greater numerical parity of electors in each ward and to create boundaries that better reflect Bristol's communities".