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Local democracy: Six vacant seats on the Town Council

  • by JW

“Get the message across!”

“Not one, but six seats remain empty after the elections. These seats will be open for co-option, where existing councillors can choose from those who put themselves forward. Anyone interested should contact the Town Clerk.” [Sidmouth Cllr Kevin Walker]


There has not been much interest in standing for election to Sidmouth Town Council:  Town Council elections: Thursday 22 June – Vision Group for Sidmouth

One senior councillor has suggested that, because there are no serious controversies happening at the moment, the electorate are ‘reasonably satisfied with things in the Valley’ and so don’t see the need to stand for the town council.

Nevertheless, they also recognise that it is ultimately about ‘democratic accountability’ – and how the lack of candidates coming forward to contest in elections also poses questions about the democratic process.

This sentiment has been echoed by a fellow Member of the council.

Link to the Sidmouth Town Council website

Following on from the post from a fortnight ago, the VGS received the following message from Sidmouth Town Councillor Kevin Walker of Primley Ward:

“Your post is rather misleading as it implies that only one seat on the Town Council (West Ward) remains vacant after the election on the 22nd for East Ward. In fact there will remain 6 vacant seats.

After the May 4th elections 9 councillors were elected unopposed (including me) leaving 9 seats vacant. In three wards (Sidford, East & West) there were no nominations so nominations were reopened with two new nominations for the two Sidford seats (so elected unopposed) and 2 nominations for the one seat in East ward hence the recent election. West ward received no nominations so this seat will now be open for co-option.

This leaves 6 seats vacant (3 in North Ward, 1 in Primley and 1 in Salcombe Regies, as well as West Ward) see
for details. These seats will be open for co-option, where existing councillors can choose from those who put themselves forward. Anyone interested should contact the Town Clerk in the first instance, they will need to fill out an application form and come a long to a special meeting (probably in September or October). It is clearly important that as many people as possible are made aware that these vacancies remain and the procedure for selection.

The process itself poses some questions regarding the democratic accountability of local government in East Devon. Most councils co-opt members to fill vacant seats but the situation in Sidmouth, where only one councillor was actually selected in a contested election and a third of the seats will be co-opted appears unprecedented and unique to Sidmouth compared to other East Devon Towns.

One could speculate on the reasons for this sorry situation but one factor must be the lack of clear communication regarding vacancies and how to apply. Here the Vision Group can play a valuable role, so please correct your post and get the message across.”