Only one parish in the Marlborough Area will be voting for its councillors on 2 May

Written by Tony Millett on .

If you were looking forward to exercising your democratic rights to vote for your parish councillors on May 2 you’re very likely to be in for a bit of a shock.  Just one parish in the Marlborough Area has more nominated candidates than seats.

Only Mildenhall Parish will have to go to a polling station vote.  Burbage originally had nineteen nominated candidates for thirteen seats, but seven candidates have withdrawn their nominations so avoiding the need for an election.

As well as many parishes not voting, there will be no voting for Marlborough Town Council.  In the both the East Ward and the West Ward there are seven nominated candidates for the eight seats in each ward.  So two councillors can be co-opted onto the Town Council by the new councillors.  Except that not many of the councillors will be new councillors.

Under the relevant Local Government Act, to avoid an election you only have to have enough candidates nominated to make up the quorum for the council.  And the quorum is either one third of the number of seats on the council or three – whichever is the larger figure.

The less voting required the more money Wiltshire Council will save.  It is reckoned that across the country between a quarter and a third of town and parish councils will go to a vote.

But there are snags. A very few parishes in Wiltshire – Baydon among them – have not nominated any candidates at all.  These parishes and a few other parishes which have not nominated enough candidates to make up their quorum (of which Little Bedwyn Parish Council is one), will have to hold new elections.

Wiltshire has more than 250 town/parish councils and of these eight parish councils will get a letter from the Returning Officer giving them a number of days before they must hold a new election – probably sometime in June.  

There’s another complication: those candidates already properly nominated in the parishes where nominations did not reach the quorum, will not have to face a vote in the new election but will be declared as ‘elected unopposed’.

So how did the Marlborough Area’s Parishes rate?
Aldbourne had 13 nominated candidates for 15 vacant seats.
Avebury had 9 nominated candidates for its 9 seats.
Baydon – NO NOMINATIONS – new election to be called.
Berwick Bassett & Winterbourne Monkton Joint Parish Council:
        Winterbourne Monkton Parish  - 3 candidates for 5 seats.
        Berwick Bassett Parish - 1 candidate for 2 seats – but nomination not valid.
Broad Hinton & Winterbourne Bassett Joint Parish Council:
        Broad Hinton Parish – 5 candidates for 7 seats.
        Winterbourne Bassett – no candidates nominated.
Burbage has 12 nominated candidates for 13 seats.
Chilton Foliat has 5 candidates for 7 seats.
Froxfield  has 4 candidates for 7 seats.
Fyfield and West Overton Joint Parish Council:
        West Overton has 5 candidates for 9 seats.
        Fyfield has 1 candidate for 3 seats.
Great Bedwyn has 9 candidates for 11 seats.
Mildenhall has 8 candidates for 7 seats.
Ogbourne St Andrew has 6 candidates for 7 seats.
Ogbourne St George has 7 candidates for 7 seats.
Preshute has 4 candidates for 7 seats.
Ramsbury (Axford Ward) has 1 candidate for 2 seats.
Ramsbury (Ramsbury Ward) has 8 candidates for 13 seats.
Savernake has 6 candidates for 6 seats.
Marlborough Town Council –    East Ward has 7 candidates for 8 seats.
Marlborough Town Council – West Ward has 7 candidates for 8 seats.

The position of the Joint Parish Councils is interesting and even, perhaps, peculiar. Broad Hinton Parish has 5 candidates for 7 seats and Winterbourne Bassett has no candidates for two seats. But the quorum is worked out on the total number of seats.  So the 5 Broad Hinton councillors will make the joint council quorate and no new election is needed even though the Winterbourne Bassett electors have no representation at all on the Joint Council.

The same is true of the Berwick Bassett and Winterbourne Monkton Joint Parish Council where Berwick Bassett’s two seats will be vacant.

Should you think this is all a pretty poor democratic show and a bit of a ‘buddy business’, then next time around you will just have to put yourself forward as a candidate for your parish council.

The position in the election of unitary councillors for Wiltshire Council is completely different with almost all divisions going to a vote.  However, in six divisions (outside the Marlborough Area) Conservative candidates have been returned unopposed.