LIVE FROM 5PM: Bristol City Council votes on four-yearly elections
COUNCILLORS will decide this evening whether to hold local elections in Bristol every four years.
It would mean an end to one-third of the council’s 70 seats being contested every year.
One of the big benefits of the change will mean that polling day will see elections for councillors as well as for the elected mayor.
This will mean voters will have the chance to force a clean sweep at City Hall if they are not satisfied they are being properly served.
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The new format would be introduced in 2016, the same year as the next mayoral election.
In the meantime, “one-third” elections will be held this year, next year and in 2015.
The change is being promoted by Tory leader Peter Abraham who believes an overhaul of the voting system is desperately needed because we often see up to three-quarters of the electorate not bothering to vote.
He said we need a voting system which is popular and encourages people to take part in the decision- making process.
Councillors will meet from 5pm today to decide on all-out elections. They are holding an extraordinary meeting of the full council because the issue affects the council’s constitution.
You can watch the meeting live here:
A two-thirds majority will be required and although Labour and Tory councillors are in favour, the Lib Dems, who have the largest number of councillors, have been given a free vote which means the decision is not a foregone conclusion.
Councillors paved the way for a switch when they passed a resolution in March last year which recognised “the growing demand for a change”.
This led to a consultation exercise which showed that more than three-quarters of people (78 per cent) were in favour of all-out elections.
This was further endorsed by the Citizens’ Panel which showed a similar outcome – nearly three-quarters (68 per cent) were in favour.
If the all-out elections go ahead, then the new voting system will not only be easier to understand, it will also be cheaper.
Council officers have estimated that all-out elections on the same day as choosing an elected mayor will save £1 million in the long term.
South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset councils have all used all-out elections for years.