Monday, July 16, 2007

Do you have secret ballots on your council?

I'm going be a tiny bit excited at about 7.30 on Wednesday night. We have the first ever meeting of our district's West Area Committee.....

(For Rochford exiles like Trevor Powell, I should explain that we now have a cabinet system with 3 area committees to hopefully enhance local democracy. The 5 Lib Dems on Rochford DC all represent Rayleigh wards, so we are all on the West committee, with 11 Tories.)

Now all the area committee chairs were elected at annual council - by secret ballot , a process I've not seen at council meetings before. One of the first items of business on Wednesday will be the election of a vice-chairman, and bless my soul, one of my colleagues wanted to nominate me. So now I'm in a secret ballot against an interesting and slightly untypical Conservative Councillor Simon Smith .

If voting goes on party lines I'm sure to lose 11-5....

But I've never heard of secret ballots at other council chambers to elect chairs- or to decide anything else. Do you have them in your area?


Hywel said...

Chris - I've a feeling that secret ballots aren't actually allowed in council decisions. I'm not certain though & I don't have access to any of the relevant books at home though to check for certain.

It might be worth you ringing ALDC to check - I won't be back there till later in the week.

Hywel (ALDC Campaigns Officer 1997-2004 for those who damage my ego by not remembering :-)

Trevor said...

Interesting situation Chris. Must admit I thought secret ballots where never held on Councils. Not because they are illegal as such but because any member may by law demand a recorded vote which would then make it impossible to keep it secret.

Either way I hope you don't lose by 14-2 ;-)

Chris Black said...

Hywel- thanks for your comment - however a google search eventually found this for Cheshire County Council:

16 Offices and Appointments

16.1 Subject to Standing Order 17.4, a secret ballot will be held to elect or appoint the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council or Members to any office or position where more than one person is nominated. This includes any paid appointments.

16.2 If a secret ballot is held where more than two nominations are made and no person receives more than half of the votes cast, the name of the person with the least number of votes will be withdrawn. Further ballots will be held until one person receives a clear majority.

Trevor: If it ends up an 8-8 tie then we have to draw lots!

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