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14. Feb. 2023

Nailsea Town Council elections

Dissatisfaction is expressed from time to time about Nailsea Town Council. As local elections are coming up in May, residents who feel that they could make a difference have the opportunity stand for election as councillors. What residents may not know is that normally, all of Nailsea’s town councillors are unelected. Here I describe my own experience as a town councillor to illustrate the rotating door by which this happens. I was on the Town Council for a number of years, having been co-opted to fill a vacancy. When elections came along most of we sitting councillors put ourselves up for re-election. In the local media, the calls for candidates at town council elections are hidden away in the public notices that normal people don’t read so that, normally, no other candidates came forward, so no election is called and the sitting councillors were returned unopposed. When councillors decide to leave the Council at other times or, as I did, decide not to stand again, the town council is required to fill the resulting vacancies by co-option. If the number of people who put their name forward for co-option exceeds the available vacancies, they are invited to make presentations at a Town Council meeting and the sitting councillors vote for the people they like. On the one occasion that an election was called in the ward where I was standing, there were three candidates to fill two council positions but the losing candidate was co-opted by the town council to fill a vacancy in another Nailsea ward. Local democracy should be vibrant but local people who might be interested don’t realise that elections are coming up because the notice of elections is placed on pages that normal people don’t read. Whose fault is that? It’s certainly not the fault of residents. Is it a failure of the media to anticipate the upcoming elections and make timely news reports in the pages that normal people do read? Maybe. Unlike in Backwell, where there is a relatively vigorous residents association, there is currently no Nailsea residents’ organisation that can claim good coverage of the town. Consequently, if fault is to be attributed for our unelected town council, I feel that the main responsibility for refreshing the town council lies with the town council itself. Will that happen this time? I’ve never seen any sign of that in the past. North Somerset Council is responsible for organising elections to Nailsea Town Council so, if you would like to help refresh the town council and stand for election as a councillor, take a look at North Somerset Council’s “Local elections - Thursday 4 May 2023” web page where you will see that you have to submit your nomination papers to the returning officer at the Town Hall in Weston-super-Mare between 10am and 4pm on any weekday between Tuesday 21 March and Tuesday 4 April. If you’re not up for it but you know someone who is, why not let them know about this.

David Gray

by email

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