Eight seats to go uncontested for new West Suffolk Council in 2019 elections
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 12 April 2019
Fears have been raised that the time demands placed on councillors juggling day jobs and other responsibilities is putting people off standing for election.
The new West Suffolk Council, formed to replace St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils, will feature 141 candidates vying for 64 seats.
But with eight wards being uncontested, and a further eight wards where only two candidates are running, questions have been raised over whether time demands are putting people off standing for election.
Diane Hind, Labour councillor for the Northgate ward who is part of the Charter Group comprising two Labour, one Green and one Independent councillor, said: “As a party we do attempt to put forward a candidate in all elections.
“In the geographical area covered by Bury Branch Labour Party we actually have a candidate in every ward within our branch domain.
“Obviously there are areas that form West Suffolk Council that are uncontested, but more sadly are historically uncontested.
“Of course it isn’t just political parties that can put up candidates, residents themselves can stand as independents.
“The issue is I think partly undervaluing the role of a councillor, but more fundamentally that the demands of the role and the timings of meetings suit the retired, or the business owner.
“It is difficult to juggle working full time and family commitments with serving as a councillor. Even those of more mature years are often caring for grandchildren or elderly relatives.”
With all eight of the uncontested wards having Conservative candidates, the party is guaranteed all eight seats.
The party already enjoys a significant majority, currently holding 53 of the 72 seats.
But John Griffiths, who had been leader at St Edmundsbury and is standing for the Ixworth seat uncontested, said it was more important that good calibre candidates stood.
He said: “I think that’s good news for the Conservatives but the main thing is it’s good news for the wards as those candidates are all people who will do their best for West Suffolk.
“Those who are successful in West Suffolk will be there to represent every person, irrespective of party politics.”