When you look at the results of the Parish and Town Council elections held on May 2nd there are some shocking statistics regarding the decline of democratic participation across Dorset.
The lack of voter participation is bad enough and is down to below 30% in many places. But the lack of candidates for the role of parish or town Councillor is truly shocking.
The majority of parish and town councils have some or all of their Councillors returned unopposed. There are many councils with vacancies where there were insufficient candidates to fill the allocated seats. In Dorset on May 2nd twenty-one parish councils had nobody standing at all!
How does this relate to Ferndown Town Council?
Ferndown Town Council does not suffer the democratic malaise to the extent of these twenty-one parishes. But it does suffer. Of the fifteen seats on Ferndown Town Council, three were uncontested. We are lucky though. We have just enough people dedicated to the community to fill the council.
So it seems strange that Ferndown Town Council has now decided to adopt a cabinet style administration. The Conservative majority will in essence remove from the rest of the Councillors the ability to participate in running the council.
Sending a message
What sort of message does that send to those who had stood up to contribute but are now effectively excluded?
They must ask themselves: What is the point of standing for election or putting yourself forward (especially when nobody else wants the job) when you know your views are going to be ignored?
Consensus Not Confrontation
Town and Parish councils are the vital tier one of our democracy. Very few adopt a party aligned adversarial methodology like cabinet control. Most successful Town and Parish councils are inclusive and run by consensus.
Why is Ferndown Town Council breaking with this?
Jim Bellamy the Chairman of South Ferndown Residents Association put it like this in a letter to the Dorset Echo:
More information on the actual events of the Ferndown Town Council meeting that approved this reversion to an adversarial cabinet style administration can be found on the mags4dorset website here: