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What Cost Democracy? PDF Print E-mail
Supermarket Debate
Written by John Eager   
Friday, 16 March 2012 14:21

Ledbury resident, constituent and tax payer Rich Hadley dropped a metaphorical bomb shell on Ledbury Town council last night when he suggested that the council consider holding elections.

Mr Hadley said that, as there had been rumours circulating about councilors resigning, it would be more democratic to hold elections than to go through a co-option process.



Mr Hadley also suggested, to the sound of scoffing from one councilor present, that the whole council resign en masse, and to hold an election which would enable free and open debate and create a real democratic mandate.

Mr Hadley criticised a council that rarely had elections, but produced councilors through co-option.

Mr Hadley told council "We need the best people, the most competent people [on the council] and... electors need to know what people stand for."

The mayor, Mr Conway, replied to Mr Hadley telling him he was 'happy with his council.'

The deputy mayor, Mr Bradford, described Mr Hadley's words as a 'character assassination' on the council and told him within the council there was 'no conflict.. we debate, we vote, we do not get personal.'

Ward councilor, Mr Watts, asked Mr Hadley if he had considered the cost of an election.

Mr Hadley replied that it was 'a price worth paying for accountability' and that money was set aside for elections. He told council that a 'free and open election' would give 'a statement of democratic aspiration'.

Councilor Roberts, rumoured to be a hopeful future mayor, told Mr Hadley 'people cannot be bothered to turn up' to meetings.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:03
Comments (7)
7 Friday, 30 March 2012 16:03
Andrew Warmington
There's nothing sinister about co-option. It is a simple and cost-free way to fill spaces on the Town Council when very few people are prepared to stand or give up the time it takes to be a town councillor, which has probably been the case for most of the time.

However, times seem to be changing. The huge amount of activism on both sides on the OOTS issue suggests that. Plus, the Localism Bill may well give more power to Town Councils, making accountability more important than ever. Which is why dismissing calls for an election on the grounds that they cost and not many people will vote seems out of touch, to put it no stronger.
Balloon-toting fans
6 Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:07
mmmm jealous because you did not have any!!!!
Outrageous accusations
5 Thursday, 29 March 2012 10:56
I agree wholeheartedly that the town council has too many co-opted councillors, and it needs to be democratically elected. It would then reflect the townfolk's views rather than the shop keepers!

To make the sweeping comment that those co-opted have paid back handers to do so is outrageous
Take the chance
4 Monday, 26 March 2012 11:55
Andrew Harrison
It is true that Ledbury has the council it deserves...if not enough people stand then you have to have some way of filling the seats.
However, Rich was making the two points that:
1) There has been an upsurge in interest in the Town Council because of the supermarket issue
2) The powers that the TC will be wielding under the Localism Act are said to be enhanced
This means that public involvement is both more important and more likely than it has been in the past few years.
There has been some misinformed defence of esrtwhile mayoral candidate Roberts in the Reporter, but she is a great example of what we will get if we don't step up to the democratic plate...someone who is prepared to run down our town to make a populist point and who's only defence is that she is willing to give up one night a month to discuss whether we replace the town swing.
Peter Watts' shameful question "how much will it cost?" said it all...especially considering that when i asked the council how much the botched LESS referendum on Supermarkets would cost and was told not to worry as we always had budget for it and the lack of recent elections meant the budget was nice and full...Mr Watts wasn't quite as questioning about his balloon-toting friends.
3 Friday, 23 March 2012 22:11
martin alastair cooke
I would really be interested to know how anyone can be 'co-opted' onto the Town Council. The notion is filled with all sorts of fantasies about backhanders, squalid late night meetings in darkened rooms, cash changing hands,nods as good as a wink tactics, shake-hands, who you know and what you can do for them - possible corruption in other words.

Is there a good soul out there who could tell me how to get co-opted because I might be interested ..... and so might other, local people.
democracy? what democracy?
2 Friday, 16 March 2012 20:01
martin alastair cooke
This Town Council has already shown how utterly shambolic it is during the debates concerning the superstores. We have also witnessed how utterly out of touch it is regarding current issues in the town. Only one or two members appear to have any sort of caseload and most appear to just enjoy the status and privilege of the position and their own, individual pet loves.

There is no democracy here, only arrogance and an expectation that 'they' are the chosen ones. Well chosen they might be but it's NOT DEMOCRACY. There should be a full election and every current councillor who wants to stand and face the people of the town should do so. This is not East Germany @ 1970 yet!!!
Further proof...
1 Friday, 16 March 2012 16:05
Andrew Warmington
'People cannot be bothered to turn up to meetings'. Right, that's a pretty clinching argument against democracy isn't it? Along the same lines of logic and coherency as 'I'm in favour of an OOTS because a shopkeeper was rude to me once' (c) Cllr Roberts during the 2 February meeting.