Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Planes? battlebuses? Paid for by the council! Outrageous!

Local government turnout has generally been falling for years and in a democracy of course that is a bad thing. However I was astounded to hear that in Southampton, where I am standing, the Council have organized for a promotional aeroplane to fly over the city for the next few days and have open-top campaign buses with loud hailers urging people to vote!
First I heard of it was in the local press. My agent knows nothing of it. My party knows nothing of it. The proposal has never been discussed by full Council. In fact I'm not sure it has ever been discussed by any elected person on Southampton City Council!
What of the cost? Who is paying?
And what of the effects of such activity? What if the buses concentrate on one or two wards at the expense of others? What if the ward bus concentrates on areas that have particular issues such as Monks Brook? Or areas that in the past have tended to have a Labour bias such as some of the Council estates? Or affluent area of owner occupiers such as Upper Shirley Avenue?
I cannot (and I mean cannot) believe the Council has not consulted on this. Especially when I read that apparently this activity has never been undertaken by any other local authority.
It cannot be right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything that encourages people to use their democratic right to vote has to be a good thing. But I am not sure that these gimmics really work? Maybe £20 off council tax bill if you vote might be more of an incentive? Or how about five free parking tickets in city centre car parks to every voter? Or maybe entry into a draw to win a night out with the much loved Mr Matt Dean.

11:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck in the elections mate. I really hope you win. The council needs you.

11:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As your agent will know, the organisation of elections is the one area of local government activity where council officers are explicitly not accountable to elected members. It would, contrary to your article, have been shocking to read that this proposal had been discussed by full Council or endorsed by any one elected member.

That said, it would have been prudent of the council officers to inform agents and candidates of their plan, not least to avoid the misleading impression of bias you present here.

2:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to really increase turn out why not have voting on a Sunday and have the polling booths in local supermarkets

2:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congratulations matt!

1:10 pm  

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