Seats will go untested due to lack of candidates:Parish elections expose a ‘democratic deficit’ at grassroots level.
Eastleigh’s Liberal Democrats will keep control of most the Parish councils that go to the polls on May 2 as seats go uncontested due to a lack of candidates who are prepared to stand against them.
Despite an increase in their responsibilities with setting the Parish precept and managing devolved services – parish councillors are not compensated for their time while borough councillors receive a basic allowance of £6,800 a year with added expenses and extra payments for special responsibilities. Parish councillors can only claim for basic expenses.
Parish council elections coincide with the borough elections on May 2 with six of Eastleigh’s nine parishes holding ballots including Hedge End Town Council.
But Bursledon, Fair Oak, Horton Heath and Hound have already been declared ‘no contest’ because of a lack of candidates.
Hound is the only Parish Council going to the polls that will not be under Liberal Democrat control in. It too has been declared a ‘no contest’ with one seat going to a Lib Dem, one to an Independent and one to a Green Party candidate. The other vacant seats are allocated to residents who have not recorded a political affiliation but have previously served as Parish councillors.
Bursledon saw all seats filled by the only candidates standing, nine Liberal Democrats and one Independent, while In Fair Oak three seats will remain empty as there are only 12 candidates to fill the 15 vacancies.
In West End six of the seven wards have been declared ‘no contest’ with eight seats going to the Lib Dems and three to independent candidates.
An election will be held in Chartwell Green ward where three Lib Dems and one Labour candidate will vie for the last three seats.
One of Hedge End Town Council’s wards has been already declared a ‘no contest’ with both seats claimed by the Lib Dems. The remaining eight wards in the town are being contested by 20 Lib Dems seven Conservatives and three Labour candidates. The Maths are such that whatever the outcome, Liberal Democrats will retain control of the Town Council.
In Chandler’s Ford just one seat – in East Ward – will be contested in a by-election following the retirement of Lib Dem Rebecca Allen but the Parish Council will remain under Lib Dem control regardless of the outcome.
One Parish Councillor admitted to Eastleigh News “it’s difficult to persuade people to stand as volunteer councillors”
The lack of Parish Council voluteers and vacant seats is not just a problem in Eastleigh, last year it was reported that Coventry City Council had to step in when one outlying Parish council had so few members it was “unable to function”.