'Your town needs your voice' says town council
Around 87 percent of parish and town council wards have gone uncontested in this year’s local elections in what leaders believe is a “growing crisis” for local democracy, with a lack of awareness around parish councils and declining community involvement being blamed for the falling interest.
Out of 429 wards across Lincolnshire, including both parish and town councils, just 38 have been contested by candidates of different affiliations, around nine percent.
A total of 372 wards have seen candidates walk into seats due to a lack of competition, while around five percent of wards received no nominations at all, meaning they will face either a further election later in the year or councillors may be co-opted onto the authority.
East Lindsey District Council – which saw eight wards at a district level go uncontested – saw the highest number of uncontested parish wards across Lincolnshire.
Out of 137 parish and town council wards, 113 will go uncontested – 82.48 percent of seats.
Here in Horncastle, only ten candidates stood for the 12 seats, so the town council will be going through the co-option to fill the two vacancies needed to fill the seats which remain vacant following the recent election, and those who would be interested on serving their town as a councillor are urged to apply.
A spokesman for Horncastle Town Council said that being a councillor is a great way to make a difference to your town and community:
"You will be making decisions which affect our community, such as local developments and planning applications, and being involved with decisions that will shape Horncastle and working together to put on events.
"You also have a voice which will be heard to help our town.”
The co-option policy and application form can be downloaded from the town council’s website at www.horncastletowncouncil.co.uk/co-option-policy/ or call the office on 01507 522957 or email [email protected].
The town council are aiming to co-opt the new councillors at their next meeting on Tuesday May 16, and the deadline for application is 4pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 8.
ELDC’s Labour Group leader Councillor Ros Jackson said: “This is a really important issue for democracy, and potentially a growing crisis.”
She said there were a number of causes, including a lack of awareness around parish councils and local government, a drop in the number of volunteers and those available for community involvement following the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the poor state of the economy.
“Parish councils are important, helping link more distant upper tiers of government with local communities, fostering pride of place, and carrying out many local functions such as maintaining benches and bus shelters, commenting on planning applications, and running events,” said Coun Jackson.
“A well-run one can really enhance a community.
“It is disappointing to see many seats uncontested; it’s not good for local democracy for so few people to have a choice at this level of government.”
She suggested the number of parish wards needed reconsidering due to moving populations. For example, Skegness now has one councillor per 1,000 residents, while some smaller parishes had one councillor per 50 or 60 residents.
Independent group leader Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said she felt it was a “sign of the times, unfortunately.
“We have so much news thrown at us 24 hours a day we have become ‘absolutely politicised up’.
“Sadly, so much is down to Westminster these days, there is a frustration on a local level about getting things done – and the funds to do it.
“Issues get people interested and there is such a frustration that common sense fails to prevail that they do get on board … and then realism hits and Netflix wins.”