Wheels keep turning in Wells
Wells City Council is the only one of its kind in Somerset. But finding councillors to stay the course is proving tricky. John Osman has been granted 6 months leave of absence. But Mr Osman is an experienced councillor who will no doubt be back in due course.
But keeping a full council has proved tricky. A full slate of councillors are elected every four years. So we had an election for all the seats on the council in May 2019.
Yet barely a year later in May 2020 we had three resignations and new elections for councillors in St Cuthbert and St Thomas Wards
By May 2021 another four councillors had resigned and we had elections to fill four vacancies in Central Ward, St Cuthbert’s Wars and St Thomas’s Ward.
Then following Cllr Parker’s resignation earlier this year a by election was called for 13 July (next week). This will be a three way race between Wells independents (Denise Ann Dennis), LibDems (Tony Robbins) and Conservatives (Mandy May Thomas-Atkin.
So a full house once again? Er no. Because another councillor has resigned. This time it is Deputy Mayor Oliver Hartley. He has resigned for personal reasons. And that is fair enough.
We acknowledge that sometimes your workload changes, sickness strikes or family circumstances change. There can be plenty of perfectly valid reasons why a candidate who thought he had the time to serve the council, simply gets blindsided by the events that life can throw at you.
But Wells City Council has been unlucky with the high turnover of councillors. Holding elections to elect new councillors is expensive. Of course as many will say, the price of democracy is worth paying.
Being a councillor is a thankless task. You can be publicly criticised, you don’t get paid and there is an awful lot of work to get through. It is worth bearing all of those things in mind before standing as a councillor.
The high turnover of councillors serves no-one well. Certainly not taxpayers who are paying every few months for another set of elections.