Money saving election changes dismissed
ALLOWING voters to have their say every four years instead of every two would reduce council inactivity, save money and prevent "policy making on the hoof".
That's the view of a number of Cheltenham Borough Council's Conservative members who back the idea of a democratic shift. But the Liberal Democrat-led authority has dismissed the idea.
It has been estimated that moving to a four-year cycle, where every council seat would be up for grabs instead of the current system where half the seats are contested every two years, would save Cheltenham around £25,000 a year in election costs. But money is not the main reason behind the push.
Councillor Rob Garnham (Park, C) Conservative group leader, said: "It would lead to better running of the council.
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"My concern is that there are long periods of inactivity by the ruling group and we tend to see that six months before an election not much happens and then six months after when everyone is settling down, not much happens.
"It is crazy. We should be making decisions. We need to be bolder and more decisive."
The cost of a local election in Cheltenham has been estimated at £130,000, equating to £260,000 over a four-year period.
If the council was to run a single full election it would cost an additional £30,000 but would result in a saving of £100,000 over four years.
Jon Walklett, cabinet member for corporate services, said that while savings were important, letting people have their say every two years should take precedence.
"My fundamental issue with it is that the people of Cheltenham currently have the opportunity to change the administration every two years," he said.
"If people have a problem with what the Lib Dems, for example, are trying to do, at least in May 2014 they will have the chance to perhaps replace them if their view is not a very positive one. Otherwise they would have to wait until 2016.
"I think for the sum of £25,000 it is not a lot of cost to give the people of Cheltenham the democratic right to express their view every two years. That is critically important."