City elections reform proposal falls through

A proposal to have all-out elections every four years for the City of Lincoln Council did not get enough votes at the Full Council on December 9 at the Guildhall.

An amendment was proposed as part of new arrangements from a government directive that asked the City Council to vote on new electoral arrangements.

The council had to choose between having a mayor and a cabinet executive, or a leader and a cabinet executive, and settled on the second formula.

Councillors took the view that the elected Mayor and cabinet option was not possible if the 800 year-old tradition of a ceremonial Mayor of Lincoln was to be retained.

The Conservative group in power at the council proposed that instead of yearly elections, the City of Lincoln Council should hold elections every four years.

Their reasoning behind this proposal was that it would save taxpayers over £140,000 over four years, and bring more stability to the council.

It was hoped that four-year elections would also reinvigorate local elections turnouts, which in most city wards are between 20% and 40%.

However, the Labour group argued annual elections are good for democracy, especially at a time when council would have to make some unpopular decisions.

The all-out four-year elections proposal did not get enough votes from the Full Council, as it needed two-thirds of the total votes cast.

With the amendments denied, the Full Council unanimously chose the new leader and cabinet model, similar to the current arrangements.

Within the new model, the council leader is elected at the council’s annual meeting after election, and will remain in office for a four-year term.

The leader can only be removed from office by resolution of Full Council, or may cease to be leader by virtue of death or disqualification.

Arrangements for elections will remain the same, three years out of four.

In each election, one seat in each of Lincoln’s 33 wards will be contested. In the fourth year, the County Council elections are held.

The City of Lincoln Council remains the only district council in Lincolnshire to have yearly elections.

Photo: City of Lincoln Council