Liberal Democrat Councillor, Tom Wells writes for the Observer
THE GOOD folks of Malvern Wells are due to go to the polls next Thursday to elect a new District Councillor.
But how many will actually bother. Turnout in local by-elections is notoriously low.
You might imagine that I would take this opportunity to extol the virtues of my party’s candidate. And a fine chap he is too!
But instead, I want to consider why so many people are unlikely to venture down to their polling station next week.
The answer, I believe rests in the political system itself.The expenses scandal has, of course, been a major contributing factor. But the malaise is far more deeply rooted.
The very principles of democracy and accountability are at stake.
We have seen the Conservatives imposing a party ‘whip’ on their councillors in order to vote through controversial policies.
Those who don’t obey their political masters risk being suspended, or removed all together from their party.
We have witnessed the unedifying spectre of local councillors desperately fighting their own consciences as they bow to the will of their council leader.
The recent decision by County Council Conservatives to suspend Coun Grove for voting against his party’s budget that would directly result in the removal a fire engine from the town he represents, is a case in point.
And there is less and less transparency in our political decision making.
So let’s get back to where I started.
The people of Malvern Wells have a decision to make next Thursday.
I would encourage them to carefully examine which of the candidates has the ability to stand up to party bullies and speak up for Malvern Wells. I know who I would support.