CHANGES to make elections simpler in the Stroud district are on the way.
From 2016 Stroud District Council will hold an all out election, instead of one every three years followed by a county council election, and boundaries and councillor numbers are likely to change too.
The move to a four yearly cycle, which avoids an extra cost of around £300,000 over four years, was approved by full council on Thursday evening.
This year and next however, one third of the 51 seats will be up for election each time - and six members have said they definitely won’t be standing again on May 22.
It was the last meeting at the council’s Ebley Mill headquarters for members Dennis Andrewartha (Liberal Democrat, Cam West), former council leader Frances Roden (Conservative, Painswick), planning committee chairman Graham Littleton (C, Hardwicke), Daniel Le Fleming (C, Bisley), Philip Booth (Green and Independent, Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe), while Andy Read (Green and Independent, Central) stood down with a year to go earlier this month.
Liberal Democrat Alan O’Connor (Wotton-under-Edge) was dismissed from the council before Christmas because he failed to turn up for meeting in six months, but his seat is up for re-election this year anyway.
It means 18 seats are up for grabs on May 22, with Labour aiming to increase the 17 seats that it uses to share power with the Liberal Democrat group and Green and Independent groups, which have five seats each.
The 21-strong Conservatives would need to win five extra seats to take control of the council.
At Thursday’s meeting, retiring members were thanked for their commitment.
“You have controlled us in an appropriate manner without upsetting too many people,” leader Councillor Geoff Wheeler (Labour, Dursley) told Coun Andrewartha, who joined the council in 2000.
Conservative group leader Coun Keith Pearson echoed his good wishes and paid tribute to Coun LeFleming, who did two terms over 12 years, Coun Littleton who has served 14 years, and Coun Roden who was elected in 2006.
Coun John Marjoram (Green and Independent, Trinity) said Mr Booth, who served two terms, was ‘a very quick witted kind sort of man, not like me - a bit aggressive at times’.
“He worked hard all through that time and was a very diligent ward councillor and we will miss him here,” he said.
Not all political differences were put aside, as a motion of no confidence in the administration was put to the council by the Conservative group. The Tories believe the re-introduction of the committee system by the ruling alliance means some decisions are being taken out of the public arena. The motion was voted down.
The council approved the four year cycle of elections from 2016 and new wards are likely to be drawn up as well.
A Local Government Boundary Commission for England review triggered by the increase in population in Coopers Edge development and future growth projections means the council will consider the number of members it needs from 2016.
It will consider this in June, followed by public consultation. Final recommendations will be published in June 2015.
European Parliament, and parish and town council elections are also set for May 22. Anyone wishing to vote in all three elections must be on the electoral register by Tuesday, May 6. Registration forms for those who are not on it, are available by calling 01453 754