When I was elected to the Illogan Parish Council in June there was some confusion as to why ballot cards had not been sent to the residents of Illogan. I promised to investigate the matter and to report back.
I have discovered that whether or not to send out ballot cards at bye-elections is entirely within the discretion of parish and town councils. In this instance Illogan Parish Council had decided not to have them sent.
Somewhat perplexingly I was told both that this ‘was a long standing policy of the council’ and that this ‘was a decision made before each by-election on an ad hoc basis’. The reason that ballot cards are not sent is because of the cost involved.
I am concerned that a price is being put on democracy – but I can also see that it might well be better to spend limited financial resources on items that better benefit the community as a whole.
The point is that Illogan Parish Council has not considered the issues of the causes of bye-elections, the costs involved and the possibility of co-opting members together in order to formulate a single coherent policy on the issue.
I am pleased to report that at the last full meeting of the council it was decided to pass a motion that I had placed on the agenda. A working party will be formed to examine all of the issues involved in bye-elections. The working party will be tasked to review the issues and to formulate a single policy which will be recommended to the full council before March 2011.