South Gloucestershire’s Conservative leader has stood by his criticism of an election in August, which Labour says shows that his party is running scared of voters.
Back in the summer, Labour moved an election for two vacancies – previously held by a Liberal Democrat and an Independent – that had occurred on Dodington Parish Council. The Tory leader publicly criticised this exercise in democracy, arguing that the council could have appointed replacements instead.
At the election, which was held on 24 August, Labour gained one of the seats on offer. As the party had no representation before, it is unlikely that the council’s existing members would have permitted Labour representation.
At South Gloucestershire Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Labour Group Leader Councillor Pat Rooney asked the Tory chief to state his preferred method for filling council vacancies. When pressed he asserted that the by election had cost taxpayers’ money and the positions could have been filled by the existing councillors.
Not all of the district’s Conservatives agree with this approach, however. Tories on Oldland Parish chose to trigger a by election when two vacancies occurred in its Wraxall ward, despite holding a majority on that council.
Councillor Rooney comments:
“Democratic engagement with the voters does cost money, but I firmly believe that council representatives should be elected, not appointed. In the case of Dodington this summer, the council had no Labour representation previously but the voters chose to elect a Labour councillor when given the opportunity.
With the state of the Conservative party at the moment, I am not surprised that its leaders are running scared of voters and want to avoid elections.”