SEAFORD councillor Ralph Taylor (Seaford Gazette, December 1) has a point when he challenges critics of Seaford Town Council to “step up to the plate and stand for election next May”.
Having fought several council elections in the Midlands in the 1970s I know the demands of both winning and losing a council seat.
I am also very well aware of the constraints on councils he described. But he chose not mention the duties incumbent upon local councils which come with their ability to tax us through the council tax, which includes supporting the sort of local causes he was keen to mention – with all due respect Ralph, that’s part of your job as a councillor, that’s why we paid our taxes and why you were elected! I have even less sympathy for his arguments when he raises the issue of standing as an Independent candidate.
He must know the chances of a truly independent person winning an election when pitted against candidates from the major political parties are very slim indeed.
By early April 2011 (I understand the nomination deadline is likely to be noon on April 5) in Seaford alone the political parties will each have had to find 20 candidates for the town council and 10 for the district council.
I wonder how many of the people the parties select will really enjoy the full support that active councillors like Ralph Taylor deserve, and how many will be makeweights drafted in to fill the ballot paper?
I am not making a case against either local political parties, or local elections, but I am concerned about the dominance of one over the other.
Local councillors must continue to be elected to provide the vital element of local accountability which is clearly missing from the undemocratic system of making unelected appointments to the bodies which control our NHS services and others.
However, it is patently obvious that whilst the current system favours the political parties, it does nothing to recruit people into public life who would be willing to “step up to the plate”, but who choose not to identify themselves with the baggage of a political party.
Political parties may be an essential part of national governance, but perhaps the time has come to question their domination of local affairs.