May 5

West Sussex County Times Article

Next week, on Thursday 5 May, Britain will go to the polls again.  First of all, there will be elections for our district councils, who have responsibility for local decisions on planning and services such as rubbish collection.

Like the Government, councils across the country are having to take tough decisions in order to save money while maintaining services.  While there always seems to be a media focus on 'cuts', I believe that local taxpayers want to see efficiency in our councils and value for money.

We all know that over the past decade council tax increased because government saw it as a means to raise money by the back door.  In fact, on average, council tax bills doubled.

So it is very welcome indeed that Horsham, Mid Sussex, Chichester and Arun district councils, together with West Sussex County Council, have all frozen their council tax bills this year.

But this year we won't only be voting on local issues.  We will also get the chance to vote - for only the second time ever - in a national referendum.

This time the issue is whether or not to change our voting system from first past the post to the 'Alternative Vote'.

By coincidence, this week I met some Australian guests in the House of Commons.  They were astonished that we should even be contemplating AV, which their country (one of only three in the world, the others being Fiji and Papau New Guinea) uses.

They, like the majority of Australians, want to return to first past the post, which  they regret ever having given up.

I cannot see the fairness in a system which would allow candidates who come second or even third in the ballot to steal the election after lower preferences are counted.

And I detect absolutely no public demand for this change.  Most of my constituents have other issues which they feel far more strongly about - our relations with Europe, for instance.

So it's welcome that Government legislation now before Parliament will require a referendum by law if there is any proposal for a further significant transfer of power to the European Union.

The people should have their say on such important issues.  But in the meantime, we have a say on our voting system next week.

I firmly believe that AV would be the wrong step, making our politics less transparent and accountable.  That's why I'll be voting 'no', and I hope the country does the same.


Document type

Articles

Published

28 April 2011

Back · New Media centre search

"I pledge to work hard for everyone in the constituency, to stand up for local people, and to be a strong voice at Westminster for your concerns"