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Voters get a chance to have their say on STV voting system

24 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Voting ballot box.

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

Voters will be able to have their say on proposals to change the way councillors are elected in a public consultation.

All councillors in Wales are currently elected using a simple majority system, commonly known as first past the post (FPTP), as used in general elections.

Each council will continue to use this method unless it decides to change to a system known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) under 2021 legislation, a change that would not affect town and community council elections.

At the December meeting of Ceredigion council, members were asked to consider the adoption of the alternative system, with a recommendation to retain the existing system, but this was subsequently  withdrawn from the agenda.


Workshops were held after that meeting, the issue returning to the March 21 meeting of full council, with a recommendation of either retaining the first past the post system or holding a public consultation on the alternative system.

Speaking at the March meeting, Aberaeron county councillor Elizabeth Evans was one of many supporting a public consultation.

“38 councillors cannot decide on the wholesale change of how we are elected without going out to the whole of Ceredigion,” said Cllr Evans, adding: “We do need to consult with the people of Ceredigion, and we would be criticised wholly if we didn’t.”

Another supporter was Catrin M S Davies, who said: “I think we have to be ready for the public to express their decision here, that is what democracy is. If we don’t open the consultation to the public – it doesn’t matter what our opinions re on STV – we are voting to decide whether we allow the public to express their opinion.

“It will be complicated, but for the voting side it’s not complicated; the people of Ceredigion are clearly able to deal with the system.”

Cllr Gareth Lloyd felt the proposal should be “put on the backburner” for now, adding: “I would certainly vote to remain as we re and look at it in a few years; now is not the time to use the scarce resources we have.”

Larger wards

The more complex STV system differs in a number of ways, including that every single county council ward would need to be larger and multi-member, with voters ranking the candidates according to their order of preference.

The implementation of new voting arrangements would require additional financial resources to enable the council to implement this significant change in election arrangements.

The public consultation will be launched at a later date; to change to STV for the next set of local government elections in 2027, a resolution to this effect must be made before November 15.

If there is a demand for STV, a special meeting of council would need to be convened, and would require a two-thirds majority to make the change.

If a decision is reached to change the voting system, the council must notify Welsh Ministers and the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales.

Last October, neighbouring Pembrokeshire voted against adopting the STV system at its monthly meeting.

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