Agenda item

Voting by Ballot at Council Meetings

To consider the report on voting by ballot at Council meetings.


Councillor Oliver presented a report which had been considered by the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee on voting by ballot at Council meetings.  The report recommended that the Council adopt changes to the Constitution to provide for contested appointments made by the Council to be decided by way of ballot. 


Councillor Sell said he could not support the proposals as he believed in transparency. 


Councillor Chambers said he had openness was important, and he was against the secrecy of a private ballot. 


Councillor Hargreaves said the ballot only related to the election of Chairmen and Vice Chairmen where there was a contested vote.  This approach was taken at national level for Members of Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and the Scottish Parliament.  The role of Chairman was impartial and non-political, and in May 2017 there had been a contested vote, at which there had been a ballot.  At the meeting there was a request for a recorded vote, which trumped a ballot, at which he had heard a comment indicating that a member then felt obliged to vote with their political Group.  The vote then became a political vote for a non-political position.  These were only internal elections, in which the public had little interest.  The proposal only related to ballots for appointments. 


Councillor R Freeman said he agreed with Councillor Chambers that transparency was important, but he considered it was hard to vote against one’s own party.  This method was good enough for national Government, so should be adopted.  The Council would in future be a different political make-up and there was a need for a secret ballot in what could be a fractured council. 


Councillor LeCount said he had heard the arguments at the meetings of the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee and he was in favour of the proposal. 


Councillor Dean said he was against the proposal, and did not wish to adopt an antediluvian practice of Westminster.   Members should be open and transparent, and grown up enough to vote for whoever they thought best for the appointment. 


Councillor Rolfe said, speaking as an individual, he respected colleagues on the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee, but this was a retrograde step and the example set by other places was not necessarily relevant.  Members should do what they considered right. 


Councillor Light said she would vote for the proposal, as in this case it was right that people should have a free and fair vote, and not be influenced by others.


Councillor Howell said everything the Council did should be transparent, and he did not support the proposal.


Councillor Foley said he understood the reason behind the proposal, but people should not be afraid to speak their mind, and transparency was key.


Councillor Ranger said it should be borne in mind that the aim was to select someone who would be the best candidate to be the public face of the Council, so it was fair that this process was open and transparent.


Councillor Asker said she did not see a problem with voting by means of a piece of paper, in the same way that the public had elected Members. 


The recommendation being put to the vote, it was lost by 23 votes against to 8 votes in favour. 


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