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Councilor calls for local election mailshots

Friday, 2 February 2024 08:20

By local democracy reporter, Alison Stephenson

Cllr Alison Raynsford. (Image: Plymouth City Council)

Some voters can't be canvassed

Some people in Plymouth aren’t getting the opportunity to be canvassed by politicians because it’s not easy for candidates to reach their front doors.

It’s been claimed that’s impacting democracy in the city, as canvassing councillors get left out in the cold.

The city council has now backed a motion to ask the Electoral Commission to investigate “the democratic deficit” which is having “a negative effect on the relationship between the electorate and politicians.”

They want to make it easier for election candidates to be able to knock on doors.

In a motion to full council Cllr Alison Raynsford (Lab, St Peter and the Waterfront) said she couldn’t accesss more than 3,000 homes during her by-election campaign, including whole estates, flats and houses of multiple occupation.

She tried to visit some properties three times to deliver election material, but they were impossible to get near.

“It is extraordinary that we are asking people to vote without ensuring that they have access to information about the people who are vying to represent them,” said Cllr Raynsford.

Posting election leaflets to the households she couldn’t reach would cost £2,350, which is £650 more than the total budget for expenses.

“There’s not a level playing field as there is in a general election when all candidates are allowed one free post. It would cost £50 million to allow free post for local elections and in the current financial climate that would be unacceptable.

“But we do need some statutory change that allows election material to be passed onto voters.

“Our democracy is not perfect but it generally works and needs protecting.”

Cllr Sarah Allen (Lab, Peverell) said democracy was “precious and fragile” and it was important that no one is disenfranchised.

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