Making Local Democracy Work

local elections
Rotten Boroughs
There's something wrong with local democracy

Making Local Democracy Work

Voters are being let down by local democracy.

What's the problem?

Our First Past the Post electoral system means we often get councils that do not represent what people voted for, and sometime we don't get to vote at all.

One Party States

In 2013 one hundred and four councils in England and Wales had a single party holding in excess of 75% of council seats. In every case this is wholly out of proportion to the support the governing parties enjoy locally – and has given these administrations carte blanche on official business. Weak electoral accountability has an impact on public procurement, as without critical oversight, costs can spiral out of control. You can read our research on the financial costs of one party councils here.

Uncontested Seats

There was a shocking increase in the number of uncontested seats in some English councils up for election in May 2015. The Eden District Council in Cumbria declared 21 of its 38 available seats before polling day, meaning that a clear majority of the council (55%) has been returned before the election has even taken place. This is up from 50% of seats in 2011.

What's the Solution?

We are calling for a fairer local electoral system which more accurately reflects people's wishes.

Scotland has been enjoying a fairer voting system since 2007. Voter choice has more than doubled, uncontested seats have become a thing of the past, and the rotten boroughs that once plagued Scotland were undone.

The big parties aspire to represent the whole nation, yet in practice they are restricted to their fortresses and locked out of whole swathes of the country.

Introducing the Scottish system of elections into England and Wales would mean that people's votes were more accurately represented, and there would no longer be any 'no go' areas for the big parties.

Read From Whitehall to Town Hall, our 2013 event on local democracy

And see below to find out more about our campaign to build a better local democracy:

The Conservative case for local electoral reform
The Labour case for local electoral reform
It's time England and Wales catch up with Scotland and Northern Ireland