Councils call for a referendum
The four district councils of Somerset today called for a referendum. The idea they propose is to have a referendum on the future of local government in Somerset. The choice would be between One Somerset or Stronger Somerset. this will be a disappointment to a number of LibDem councillors in South Somerset who have been promoting “no change” as an option.
It is a pity nobody thought of this earlier. The ideal time for a referendum would be to hold it on the same day as the Police & crime Commissioner elections. This would save money (no surprise that wasn’t part of the equation) and also allow for a full democratic process.
Why this option is not being considered is not entirely clear. Votes could then be cast in person.
The Leveller suspects that this is because the districts didn’t decide to push for a referendum until the 11th hour. Why did they not make this move two months ago? Then there would have been plenty of time to add the referendum to the 6 May ballot.
Instead we have a muddle of a proposal that suggests the local referendum would be open for 3 weeks. It would commence on 7 May and close on 28 May. Voting would be by post or online and the poll would be run independent of the local councils. It is recommended that it would be run by Civica Electoral Services (formerly Electoral Reform Services).
This is neither a referendum, that simply requires a one day vote, nor a consultation. It is hard to see a logic for a format where you can cast your vote while the debate still rages on around you for a further 3 weeks.
The Leveller supports a proper referendum on the future of our local government. It does not support this ill thought through muddle.