Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300-302)

17 MARCH 2004


  Q300 Mr Clelland: Do you think all-postal ballots are particularly disadvantageous to independent candidates?

  Ms Wyeth: The truth is I have no experience of that and I really would not know, but I do not like the thought of all-postal ballots. At the moment councillors can go along to the count and see our votes being counted and democracy is very evident and very open, and with all-postal ballots I am not happy about the thought of not being able to go along and see the votes and make sure that the process is working. I am not saying it is not working but it is nice to see it working.

  Q301 Mr Clelland: Do you think that postal ballots favour one political party over another?

  Ms Fletcher: No. I have done some research into the result in Stockton and I looked at wards where there had not been any other factors like a local issue, another type of candidate coming along, that type of thing, and I did a comparison between last year and four years before that, and although obviously the turnout was higher the percentage of the vote was more or less the same, our wards, two Labour and two Conservative were active councillors with active campaigning going off and I thought that was quite interesting. I did wonder, before we went into it, if it would favour one party or another.

  Q302 Mr Sanders: What influences more? Is it the parties campaigning or the access to the vote? You are saying you think it is the parties.

  Ms Fletcher: In the wards which were not unfortunately any of our wards—we cannot not campaign; in some of the other parties' wards there was a general drift downwards, but I think that was perhaps to do with lack of campaigning. I do not think it was particularly the postal ballot that did it.

  Chairman: On that note can I thank you both very much for your evidence. Thank you.

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